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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (devil queller, demon) fighter; Army Type 2
Allied code name: Tojo

Photos

  • Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki, Army Type 2 fighter

Design

The Nakajima Ki-44 was designed for speed and rate of climb. Most Japanese Imperial Army fighters were designed for maneuverability. Because of this it was initially unpopular with pilots.

Specifications

  • Climb to 13,125' / 4,000 m in 5 minutes
  • Speed of 373 mph / 600 kph at 13,125' / 4,000 m
  • Armament of two 7.7 mm and two 12.7 mm guns

Design Team

The design team was led by T. Koyama.

Updates

The Nakajima Ki-44 was based on the Ki-43 Hayabusa but had maneuvering flaps.

Prototype

The Ki-44 prototype was first flown in August 1940 at Ojima Airfield, Ota. It was found that aerodynamic modifications were need to get the Ki-44 to perform up to expectations. The Ki-44 was tested against a Kawasaki Ki-60 prototype and a Messerschmitt Bf 109E and was found to perform well enough to be put into production.

The Ki-44-II prototype first flew in August 1942.

The Ki-44-III prototype first flew in June 1943.

Production

The pre production model was first delivered in 1941. The Ki-44-I production model started delivery in January 1942.

  • Nakajima Ki-44 prototypes: 3
    • Production: 1940 - 1941
  • Nakajima Ki-44 pre-production: 7
    • Production: 1941
  • Nakajima Ki-44 prototypes and pre-production: 10
  • Nakajima Ki-44-I: 40
    • Production: January - October 1942
  • Nakajima Ki-44-II prototypes: 5
    • Production: June - August 1942
  • Nakajima Ki-44-II pre-production: 3
    • Production: September - November 1942
  • Nakajima Ki-44-II and Nakajima Ki-44-III: 1,167, 1,175
    • Production: November 1942 - December 1944
  • Total: 1,225
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K.K. at Ota
    • Production: 1942 - 1944, ? - December 1944

Variants

  • Nakajima Ki-44 prototype: Had Nakajima Ha-41 radial engine (1,250 HP). Had two 7.7 mm and two 12.7 mm machine guns.
  • Nakajima Ki-44 pre production: Modified canopy. Rudder was modified. Under wing drop tanks were installed.
  • Nakajima Ki-44-I: Production.
  • Nakajima Ki-44-Ia:
  • Nakajima Ki-44-Ib, Army Type 2 Single Seat Fighter Model 1B: Four 12.7 mm machine guns. Oil cooler moved to be under the cowling grills.
  • Nakajima Ki-44-Ic:
  • Nakajima Ki-44-II: More powerful engine. The pilot received more armor. The fuel tanks had added protection.
  • Nakajima Ki-44-IIa:
  • Nakajima Ki-44-IIb, Army Type 2 Single Seat Fighter Model 2B:
  • Nakajima Ki-44-IIc: Had 20 mm, 37 mm, and 40 mm cannons installed.
  • Nakajima Ki-44-III: Had Nakajima Ha-145 radial 18 engine installed (2,000 HP). Tail surfaces and wings were larger.
  • Army Type 2 Single Seat Fighter Model 3A: Two 20 mm Ho-5 and two 37 mm Ho-203 cannons.

Usage

The Ki-44s were deployed primarily to the home islands, but some were located in Sumatra protecting the oil fields at Palembang.

Units

  • Sentais: 9th, 22nd, 29th, 47th, 70th, 85th, 87th, 246th
  • Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai: 47th
  • Army Fighter Training Schools: Akeno, Hitachi

Accidents

Due to a high wing load, a high landing speed, and difficult handling the Ki-44 did some many accidents. Snap rolls, spins, and stalls were forbidden to be done in the Ki-44.

China Burma India Theater

The Ki-44 was first used in combat in the China Burma India theater. It later defended the oil fields at Palembang.

Crashing Into Bombers

In November 1944 a special unit was formed in Japan, using volunteers, that would crash their Ki-44s into B-29s.

Specifications

  Ki-44
Type Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-41, Army Type 100
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,250
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 31'
9.45 m
Length 28' 10"
8.79 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Type 89
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Type 1
  Ki-44-Ia
Dimensions  
Span 31' 1/16"
9.45 m
Length 28' 8.5"
8.75 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Wing area 161.458 sq ft
15 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,286 lb
1,944 kg
Loaded 5,622 lb
2,550 kg
Maximum load 6,363 lb
2,886 kg
Performance  
Speed at 12,140' / 3,700 m 360 mph
579 kph, 580 kph
Speed - Cruising at 13,125' / 4,000 m 249 mph
400 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 5.9 minutes, 5 minutes 45 seconds
Service Ceiling 35,500'
10,820 m
Range 575 miles, 575 - 1,070 miles
925 - 1,722 km, 926 km
Range - Maximum 1,070 miles
1,722 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Type 89
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Type 1
  Ki-44-Ib
Armament 4: 12.7 mm MG
Nose 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
  Ki-44-Ic
Armament 4: 12.7 mm MG
Nose 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
  Ki-44-II
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-109, Army Type 2
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,450, 1,520
Propeller blades 3 metal constant speed
  Ki-44-IIa
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Type 89
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Type 1
  Ki-44-IIb
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-109
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,520
Dimensions  
Span 31', 31' 1/16"
9.45 m
Length 28' 9 7/8", 28' 10", 28' 10.1"
8.785 m, 8.79 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Wing area 161.458 sq ft, 161.46 sq ft
15 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,643 lb
2,106 kg
Loaded 6,094 lb
2,764 kg
Maximum load 6,598 lb
2,993 kg
Performance  
Speed at 12,140' / 3,700 m 376 mph
605 kph
Speed at 17,060' / 5,200 m 376 mph
605 kph
Speed - Cruising at 13,125' / 4,000 m 249 mph
400 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 16,505' / 5,000 m 4.28 minutes, 4 minutes 17 seconds, 4.3 minutes
Service ceiling 36,745'
11,200 m
Range 805 miles, 805 - 1,056 miles
1,295 - 1,700 km, 1,296 km
Range - Maximum 1,056 miles
1,700 km
Armament 4: MG
4: 12.7 mm MG
Nose 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
  Ki-44-IIc
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-3
OR 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103, Type 1
Wings 2: 20 mm Ho-3
OR 2: 37 mm Ho-203
OR 2: 40 mm Ho-301
Bombs 2: 220 lb
2: 100 kg
  Ki-44-III
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-145
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,000
Propeller blades 4 metal constant speed
  Ki-44-IIIa
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-5
Wings 2: 20 mm Ho-5
  Ki-44-IIIb
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-5
Wings 2: 37 mm Ho-203

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site