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Japan's Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Killer) fighter; Army Type 2
Allied code name: Nick

Photos

Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, "Nick" fighter:
Japan's Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, "Nick" fighter

Design

In 1937 the Japanese Army issued a requirement for a two engine fighter.1,2,3 The specifications were for a fighter that could go 340 mph at 10,000', operate from 6,500' to 16,250', and cruise for 4 hours and 40 minutes at 220 mph.3 Mitsubishi and Nakajima also submitted designs as well, but the Nakajima was selected.3 Kawasaki submitted the Ki-38 which would later become the Ki-45.1,2

Takeo Doi worked on a design, starting in January 19383, that would help with production.1 This lead to the Ki-45 Kai.1

Prototype

In January 1939 a prototype with two Bristol Mercury engines was first flown.1,2 Later aircraft had the Nakajima Ha-25 radials installed.1,2

The prototype didn't meet specifications mostly due to the engines.3 In late 1939 test flights were stopped while Kawasaki rectified the problems.3 This modified design became the Ki-45 KAI, with KAI meaning "modified."3

Production

The Ki-45 KAI first flew in May 1941.2,3

  • Prototypes: 33, 141, 262
  • Pre production: 121,3
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa, Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIb, Kawasaki Ki-45 KAId: 1,1982
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc: 4771,2
  • Total: 1,7011,2,3
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K.3
    • Production: August 1941 - July 19453

Variants

  • Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai: Had straight tapered wings and fin.1 The cowlings on the engines were smooth.1 The wings, fuselage, and tail surfaces were altered.2 Fuel capacity was increased.2
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa: Heavy fighter.1 Reached units in August 1942.2
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIb: Ground attack and anti shipping.1,2 Had 37 mm gun in ventral tunnel.2
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc: Night fighter.1,2 Introduced in 1944.1 Had a 37 mm gun in a ventral tunnel and two 20 mm cannons firing upwards.1,3
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAId: Anti shipping.1 Ground attack.2 Had 37 mm and two 20 mm cannons in nose.2 The oblique guns were removed.2

Usage

First Use in China

The Ki-45 first entered use in China in August 1942.1 The 16th Sentai first used it in action over Burma in October 1942.1

Night Fighter

Though the Ki-45 didn't have a radar it was successful at shooting down B-29s.2 One encounter resulted in eight B-29s being shot down.2

Kamikaze

A Ki-45 KAIb was used for the first time in a Kamikaze attack on a United States Navy sub chaser off Biak in May 1944.2

Specifications

  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa1,3
Type Fighter1,3, Fighter bomber1, Ground attack2, Night fighter2
Crew 21,2,3
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-25 piston1,2,3
Cylinders Radial1, Radial 142,3
Cooling Air3
Net HP 1,050 each1,2,3
Propeller blades 31,2
Dimensions  
Span 49' 3"3, 49' 3.25"1,2
15.02 m1,2
Length 34' 9.25"1,2, 34' 10"3
10.6 m1,2
Height 12' 1.75"1,2, 12' 2"3
3.7 m1,2
Wing area 344.44 ft2 1
32 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 8,146 lb1,2
3,695 kg1,2
Loaded 11,600 lb3, 11,632 lb1,2
5,276 kg1,2
Performance  
Speed @ 22,965' /
7,000 m
340 mph1,2
547 kph1
Climb  
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
6.3 minutes1
Service ceiling 35,200'1,3
10,730 m1
Range 1,404 miles1,3
2,260 km1
Armament 1: 20 mm3
3: MG3
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG2
Ventral tunnel 2: 12.7 mm Type 91
1: 20 mm2
1: 20 mm Ho-31
Rear dorsal 1: 7.7 mm MG2
1: 7.92 mm Type 981
Oblique dorsal  
Bombs 2: 551 lb1, 1,100 lb3
2: 250 kg1
  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIb2
Type Ground attack2, Night fighter2
Crew 22
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-1022
Cylinders Radial 142
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades 32
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Ventral tunnel 1: 37 mm2
  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc2
Type Ground attack2, Night fighter2
Crew 22
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-1022
Cylinders Radial 142
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades 32
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height 36' 1"2
11 m2
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 8,818 lb2
4,000 kg2
Loaded 12,125 lb2
5,500 kg2
Performance  
Speed @ 22,965' /
7,000 m
340 mph2
547 kph2
Climb 2,300'/minute2
700 m/minute2
Service ceiling 32,810'2
10,000 m2
Range 1,243 miles2
2,000 km2
Armament  
Ventral tunnel 1: 37 mm2
Rear dorsal 1: 7.92 mm MG2
Oblique dorsal 2: 20 mm2

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site