|Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hien by Bazyli Kot|
The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (飛燕, "flying swallow") was a Japanese World War II fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The first encounter reports claimed Ki-61s were Messerschmitt Bf 109s: further reports claimed that the new aircraft was an Italian design, which led to the Allied reporting name of "Tony", assigned by the United States War Department. The Japanese Army designation was "Army Type 3 Fighter" (三式戦闘機). It was the only mass-produced Japanese fighter of the war to use a liquid-cooled inline V engine. Over 2,500 Ki-61s were produced, first seeing action around New Guinea in 1943, and continuing to fly combat missions throughout the war. - WikipediaFrequent reader and valued member of the Commentariat, Virgil Xenophon, left this comment on the last Friday Flyby -
Too bad there are so few surviving late-war high performance Japanese fighters like the in-line liquid-cooled Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien, the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (looked a lot like a P-47), The Kawanishi N1K-2J "Shiden-Kai" or the Mitsubishi J2m Raiden. (of which only one survives)Now Virgil speaks the truth here. Doing a little research I discovered this note at the foot of the Wikipedia article on the Hien -
Three airframes are known to exist:Some of you may recognize that last entry as the Old AF Sarge's favorite little air museum, yup, Pungo. So that's a development I'll be tracking with great interest. (And may mention in these spaces from time to time, as data becomes available.)
- A Ki-61-II-Kai (Ser. no. 5017 ) is on static display at the Tokko Heiwa Kaikan Museum in Chiran Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.
- A Ki-61 (unknown type and serial number) is owned by Kermit Week's Fantasy of Flight museum. It is currently stored and in need of restoration.
- A Ki-61-II-Otsu ( Ser. no. 640 ) is currently under restoration to flying condition and will become part of the Military Aviation Museum collection in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA.
Now the Hien was a favorite of mine as a kid. Nearly everybody had a model of the Zero, very few kids of my acquaintance had a Ki-61! So Virgil's comment brought back some memories.
Again I am surprised at the dearth of photos from the Japanese side. Especially considering the high quality cameras Japan is now famous for.
Of course, when I was a kid, "Made in Japan" was an insult. Not anymore! Said the guy who drives a Honda (ホンダ)!
So how about those other aircraft Virgil mentioned?
|Kawanishi N1K-2J "George"|
The Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū (強風 "strong wind", Allied reporting name "Rex") was an Imperial Japanese Navy floatplane fighter. The Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden (紫電 "Violet Lightning") was an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service land-based version of the N1K. Assigned the Allied codename "George", the N1K-J was considered by both its pilots and opponents to be one of the finest land-based fighters flown by the Japanese during World War II. - Wikipedia
|Nakajima Ki-84 "Frank"|
The Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" (キ84 疾風"Gale") was a single-seat fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Frank"; the Japanese Army designation was Army Type 4 Fighter (四式戦闘機 yon-shiki-sentō-ki). Featuring excellent performance and high maneuverability, the Ki-84 was considered to be the best Japanese fighter to see large scale operations during World War II. It was able to match any Allied fighter, and to intercept the high-flying B-29 Superfortresses. Its powerful armament (that could include two 30 mm and two 20 mm cannon) increased its lethality. Though hampered by poor production quality in later models, a high-maintenance engine, a landing gear prone to buckle, and lack of experienced pilots above all else, Hayates proved to be fearsome opponents; a total of 3,514 were built. - Wikipedia
|Mitsubishi J2m "Jack"|
The Mitsubishi J2M Raiden (雷電, "Thunderbolt") was a single-engined land-based fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Jack". The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the A6M Zero to meet the 14-Shi (14th year of the Showa reign, or 1939) official specification. It was to be a strictly local-defense interceptor, intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of manoeuvrability. The J2M was a sleek, but stubby craft with its over-sized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with an extension shaft. Pilot visibility was poor, but a domed canopy introduced later in production partially alleviated this concern. - WikipediaSadly, as Virgil mentioned, there aren't many of these birds left.
One Hayate was operated and flown by the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, before being returned to Japan for display at the Arashiyama Museum in Kyoto. This aircraft is now exhibited at the Tokko Heiwa Kinen-kan Museum at Chiran, Japan. It is the only surviving Ki-84.
At least three Shiden Kai aircraft survive in American museums. One is at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida.
A surviving J2M is on display at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California. - WikipediaPity that...
The following clip is from my favorite flight sim. Not real, I know, but actual footage of the Hien is rare, and this was too cool not to post. (Did I mention that it's from my favorite flight sim?)