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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Mitsubishi Ki-46 reconnaissance; Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model 1
Allied code name: Dinah

Design

In December 1937 the Japanese Army asked Mitsubishi to develop a long range reconnaissance aircraft.

It needed to have these specifications:

  • Fly 249 mph / 250 mph / 400 kph from 13,125' / 13,500' / 4,000 m to 19,685' / 20,000' / 6,000 m
  • Maximum speed 373 mph / 375 mph / 600 kph at 13,125' / 13,500' / 4,000 m
  • Endurance of six hours

The Mitsubishi Ki-46 was designed by Tomio Kubo in 1938. He also used the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo to help with the aerodynamics of the Ki-46.

Crew

A fuel tank separated the cockpits that contained the pilot and radio operator.

Landing Gear

It was found that the landing gear would collapse during landings. The rear strut was made stronger, but the Ki-46 still suffered landing issues.

Prototype

The Ki-46 prototype first flew in November 1939 at Kagamigahara.

During tests it was found that the prototype meet all the Army's requirements except for speed. Even with this deficiency it was ordered for production.

During tests of the Ki-46-II ground crews complained it would be difficult to maintain the aircraft in the field.

Production

In December 1944 the Nagoya plant was severely damaged by an earthquake and a bombing raid. Production was then moved to Toyama.

Production ended in 1945.

  • Prototype: 1
    • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi at Nagoya
    • Production: ? - November 1939
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-I: 34
    • Production: 1939 - 1940
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-II: 1,093
    • Models first came off production line in March 1941
    • Production: 1940 - 1944
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-III prototypes: 2
    • Production: 1942
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-III: 609, 611
    • First flew in December 1942.
    • Ki-46-III KAI first flew in October 1944.
    • Production: 1942 - 1945, Early 1943
  • Mitsubishi KI-46-IV: 4
    • Production: 1943 - 1944
  • Total: 1,742
    • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. at Nagoya and Toyama
    • Production: July 1941 - September 1945

Variants

  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-I, Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model I: Prototype. Production.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-II: Production. Had two stage supercharged engines. The superchargers enhanced performance at altitude.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-II KAI, Army Type 100 Operations Trainer: Radio navigation trainer. Used by the Shimoshizu Rikugun Hikogakuko (Shimoshizu Army Flying School).
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-III, Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model 3: New exhaust system to improve thrust. Direct fuel injection. Increased fuel. Forward fuselage was redesigned. Cockpit was elongated that eliminated the step in the nose. Landing gear strengthened.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-III KAI, Army Type 100 Air Defense Fighter: Interceptor. Two 20 mm Ho-5 cannons in nose and a 37 mm Ho-203 cannon mounted obliquely in the fuselage.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-IIIb, Army Type 100 Assault Plane: Ground attack.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-IIIc: Never got off drawing board.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-IV: Had turbo charged Mitsubishi Ha-112 engines.
  • Mitsubishi Ki-46-IVa, Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model 4A: Nose mounted cannon.

Usage

Units

  • Reconnaissance Plane
    • Sentais: 2, 8, 10, 15, 38, 81, 82, 88
    • Chutais: 17, 18, 19, 50, 51, 55, 63, 70, 74, 76, 81, 85
    • Hikotai: 38
    • Shimoshizu Rikugun Hikogakuko (Shimoshizu Army Flying School)
    • Tokorozawa Rikugun Koku Seibigakuko (Tokorozawa Army Air Maintenance School)
  • Air Defense Fighter
    • Sentais: 28, 106
    • Chutais: 4, 16, 81, 82, 83
    • Hikotai: 16

Before the War

From October 20 - 22, 1941, Ki-46-IIs were moved to Indo-China. Their commander, Captain Ikeda, was instructed to reconnoiter the areas of Malaya that were to be invaded.

Immune to Intercept

In the early months of World War II the Ki-46s were faster than the Allied fighters and could elude interception.

Once the P-38F and Spitfire V were deployed in the southwest Pacific the Ki-46s became vulnerable.

Fast for Long Distance

Two Ki-46-IVs flew 1,400 miles / 1,430 miles / 2,301 km at an average speed of 435 mph / 438 mph / 700 kph in February 1945.

Germans Wanted To Copy

The Luftwaffe was unsuccessful in negotiating a manufacturing licence for the Ki-46.

Specifications

  Mitsubishi Ki-46-I Prototype
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-26-I
Net HP 900 each
Propeller blades 3 constant speed
Performance  
Speed 335 mph
529 kph
  Mitsubishi Ki-46-I
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-26-I, Army Type 99 Model 1
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 900 each
Propeller blades 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 48' 2.75"
14.7 m
Length 36' 1", 36' 1 1/16"
11 m
Height 12' 8.75"
3.88 m
Wing area 344.444 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 7,449 lb
3,379 kg
Loaded 10,631 lb
4,822 kg
Performance  
Speed at 13,350' / 4,070 m 335.5 mph
540 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 7 minutes 45 seconds
Service ceiling 35,530'
10,830 m
Range 1,305 miles
2,100 km
Armament  
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89
  Mitsubishi Ki-46-II
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-102, Army Type 1
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,050 each, 1,080 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal constant speed
Fuel Capacity 365 gallons
1,675 liters
Dimensions  
Span 48' 2", 48' 2.75"
14.7 m
Length 36' 1", 36' 1 1/16"
11 m
Height 12' 8", 12' 8.75"
3.88 m
Wing area 344.444 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 7,194 lb
3,263 kg
Loaded 11,133 lb, 12,787 lb
5,800 kg
Performance  
Speed 375 mph
604 kph
Speed at 19,030' / 5,800 m 375 mph
603 kph
Speed - Cruising at 13,125' / 4,000 m 249 mph
400 kph
Climb to 26,250' / 8,000 m 17 minutes 58 seconds, 18 minutes
Service ceiling 35,170'
10,720 m
Range 1,537 miles
2,473 km, 2,474 km
Armament 1: MG
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
  Mitsubishi Ki-46-III
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-112-II, Army Type 4
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,500 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal constant speed
Fuel Capacity 417 gallons
1,895 liters
Dimensions  
Span 48' 2.25", 48' 2.75"
14.7 m
Length 36' 1", 36' 1 1/16"
11 m
Height 12' 8.75"
3.88 m
Wing area 344.44 sq ft, 344.444 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,446 lb
3,831 kg
Loaded 12,619 lb, 14,330 lb
6,500 kg
Performance  
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 391 mph
629 kph, 630 kph
Climb to 26,250' / 8,000 m 20 minutes 15 seconds, 20.25 minutes, 20.3 minutes
Service ceiling 34,450'
10,500 m
Range 2,485 miles
4,000 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-5
Drop Tank - Ventral 101.2 gallons
460 liters
  Mitsubishi Ki-46-III KAI
Type High altitude interceptor
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-112-II, Army Type 4
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,500 each
Propeller blades 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 48' 2.25", 48' 2.75"
14.7 m
Length 37' 8 3/16", 37' 8.25"
11.485 m, 11.49 m
Height 12' 8.75"
3.88 m
Wing area 344.444 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,446 lb
3,831 kg
Loaded 13,730 lb
6,228 kg
Performance  
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 391 mph
630 kph
Climb to 26,250' / 8,000 m 19 minutes
Service ceiling 34,450'
10,500 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament  
Nose 1: 37 mm
2: 20 mm, 20 mm Ho-5
Fuselage - Obliquely Mounted 1: 37 mm Ho-203
  Mitsubishi Ki-46-IVa
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-112-II Ru
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,500 each
Propeller blades 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 48' 2.75"
14.7 m
Length 36' 1 1/16"
11 m
Height 12' 8.75"
3.88 m
Wing area 344.444 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,840 lb
4,010 kg
Loaded 13,007 lb
5,900 kg
Performance  
Speed at 32,810' / 10,000 m 391 mph
630 kph
Speed - Cruising at 13,125' / 4,000 m 280 mph
450 kph
Climb to 32,810' / 10,000 m 16 minutes 30 seconds
Service ceiling 36,090'
11,000 m
Range 2,485 miles
4,000 km

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 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site