Yokosuka D4Y Suisei

The Yokosuka D4Y Suisei was a dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Its Allied reporting name was "Judy". The D4Y was one of the fastest dive-bombers in the entire war, and only the delays in its development hindered its service, while its predecessor, the more robust but slower Aichi D3A remained in service for years. Despite this limited use, the speed and the range of the D4Y was nevertheless valuable, and the type was used with success as reconnaissance aircraft as well as in kamikaze missions.

Production of the D4Y1-C continued in small numbers until March 1943, when the increasing losses incurred by the D3A resulted in production switching to the D4Y1 dive-bomber, the aircraft's structural problems finally being solved. Although the D4Y could operate successfully from the large and fast fleet carriers that formed the core of the Combined Fleet at the start of the war, it had problems operating from the smaller and slower carriers such as the Hiyō class which formed a large proportion of Japan's carrier fleet after the losses received in the Battle of Midway. Catapult equipment was therefore fitted, giving rise to the D4Y-1 Kai model.

The last version was the D4Y4 Special Strike Bomber. This one-seat kamikaze aircraft, capable of carrying one 800 kg (1,760 lb) bomb, was put into production in February 1945. It was equipped with three RATO boosters for terminal dive acceleration. This aircraft was an almost ideal kamikaze model: it had a combination of speed (560 km/h/350 mph), range (2,500 km/1,550 mi) and payload (800 kg/1,760 lb) probably not matched by any other Japanese aircraft.

The D4Y5 Model 54 was a planned version designed in 1945. It was to be powered by the Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 radial engine rated at 1,361 kW (1,825 hp), would have a new four-blade metal propeller of the constant-speed type, and would have more armour protection for the crew and fuel tanks. Ultimately, 2,038 of all variants were produced, mostly by Aichi.

The D4Y was actually faster than the A6M Zero. Some were employed as D4Y2-S night fighters against the high flying B-29 Superfortress bombers late in the war, a unique role for a single-engine dive bomber. The night fighter conversions were made at the 11th Naval Aviation Arsenal at Hiro. Each D4Y2-S had all bomb equipment removed and a 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon with its barrel slanting up and forwards (similar to the German Schräge Musik system) installed in place of the gunner's cockpit. However, the lack of radar for night operations and slow climb rate, combined with the B-29's high ceiling, made the D4Y2-S ineffective as a night fighter. Little is known of their operations.

General characteristics
  • Crew: two
  • Length: 33 ft 6 in (10.22 m)
  • Wingspan: 37 ft 9 in (11.50 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 3 in (3.74 m)
  • Wing area: 254 ft² (23.6 m²)
  • Empty weight: 5,379 lb (2,440 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 9,370 lb (4,250 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Aichi Atsuta AE1P 32 liquid-cooled inverted V12 piston engine, 1,044 kW (1,400 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 550 km/h (342 mph)
  • Range: 1,465 km (910 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,700 m (35,105 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 14 m/s (2,700 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 180 kg/m² (37 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 0.25 kW/kg (0.15 hp/lb)

  • 2× forward-firing 7.7 mm machine guns
  • 1× rearward-firing 7.92 mm machine gun
  • 500 kg (1,102 lb) of bombs (design), 800 kg (1,764 lb) of bombs

** Yokosuka D4Y Suisei - Warbird Fare

Yokosuka P1Y Ginga

The Yokosuka P1Y Ginga (Galaxy) was a twin-engine, land-based bomber developed for the Japanese Imperial Navy in World War II. It was the successor to the Mitsubishi G4M and given the Allied reporting name "Frances".

The P1Y was designed by the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal to Navy specification 15-Shi, calling for a fast bomber with speed matching the Zero, range matching the G4M, a 907 kg (2,000 lb) bombload, and the ability to dive-bomb as well as carry torpedoes. As the result, the construction suffered from excess complexity, difficulty of manufacture, and poor serviceability. Problems with the availability of enough reliable Nakajima Homare engines led to their replacement by the Mitsubishi Kasei in the P1Y2-S night-fighter version.

The first flight was in August 1943. Nakajima manufactured 1,002 examples, which were operated by five Kokutais (Air Groups), and acted as land-based medium and torpedo bombers from airfields in China, Taiwan, Marianas, Philippines, Ryukyu, Shikoku, and Kyūshū. During the last stages of the war the P1Y was utilized as a kamikaze aircraft against the United States Navy during the Okinawa Campaign in Operation Tan No. 2.

A night fighter version, the P1Y2-S Kyokko (Aurora), with Mitsubishi Kasei engines, was equipped with radar and Schräge Musik style (upward firing as well as forward firing) 20 mm cannon. A total of 96 were produced by Kawanishi, but due to inadequate high-altitude performance against B-29s, many were converted back to Ginga bombers.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 15.00 m (49 ft 2⅜ in)
  • Wingspan: 20.00 m (65 ft 7¼ in)
  • Height: 4.30 m (14 ft 1¼ in)
  • Wing area: 55 m² (592 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 7,265 kg (16,020 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 10,500 kg (23,149 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,762 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 18-cylinder radial engines, 1,361 kW (1,825 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 547 km/h (295 knot, 340 mph) at 5,900 m (19,400 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 370 km/h (200 knots, 230 mph) at 4,000 m (13,125 ft)
  • Range: 5,370 km (2,900 nmi, 3,337 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,400 m (30,840 ft)
  • Wing loading: 191 kg/m² (39.1 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 0.20 kW/kg (0.16 hp/lb)

  • 1× flexible, nose-mounted 20 mm Type 99 cannon
  • 1× flexible rear-firing 13 mm Type 2 machine gun
  • 1× 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) of bombs or
  • 1× 800 kg (1,800 lb) torpedo

** Yokosuka P1Y Ginga - Warbird Fare

Aichi B7A Ryusei

The Aichi B7A Ryusei (Shooting Star) Allied reporting name "Grace" was a large and powerful carrier-borne torpedo-dive bomber produced by Aichi Kokuki KK for the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service during the Second World War. Built in only small numbers and deprived of the aircraft carriers it was intended to operate from, the type had little chance to distinguish itself in combat before the war ended in August 1945.

the B7A first flew as a prototype in May 1942, but teething problems with the experimental NK9C Homare engine and necessary modifications to the airframe meant that the type did not enter into production until two years later in May 1944. 9 prototype B7A1s were built and 80 production version B7A2s completed by Aichi before a severe earthquake in May 1945 destroyed the factory at Funakata where they were being assembled. A further 25 examples were produced at the 21st Naval Air Arsenal at Omura.

In June 1944, IJN Taihō, the only Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier then large enough to operate the B7A Ryusei in its intended role, was sunk during the Battle of the Philippine Sea before enough B7As were even available to embark. Thereafter, the B7A was relegated to operating from land bases, primarily with the Yokosuka and 752nd Kokutais. The Japanese completed only one other carrier capable of operating the B7A, IJN Shinano, but she was sunk by an American submarine in November 1944, just ten days after being commissioned.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 11.49 m (37 ft 8.33 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.40 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.07 m (13 ft 4.5 in)
  • Wing area: 35.40 m² (381.041 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 3,810 kg (8,400 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 5,625 kg (12,401 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 1,360 kW (1,825 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 567 km/h (306 kn, 352 mph)
  • Range: 3,038 km (1,888 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,250 m (36,910 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 9.6 m/s (1,889.8 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 158.9 kg/m² (32.5 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 0.24 W/kg (0.147 hp/lb)

  • 2× 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 cannons in wings
  • 1× 7.92 mm (0.312 in) Type 1 or
  • 1× 13 mm (0.51 in) Type 2 machine gun in the rear cockpit
  • 800 kg (1,764 lb) of general ordnance or
  • 1× 800 kg (1,764 lb) torpedo

** Aichi B7A Ryusei - Warbird Fare

Aichi D3A Val

The Aichi D3A, Allied reporting name "Val" was a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was the primary dive bomber in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and participated in almost all actions, including Pearl Harbor. The Aichi D3A was the first Japanese aircraft to bomb American targets in World War II, commencing with Pearl Harbor and US bases in the Philippines, such as Clark Air Force Base. During the course of the Second World War, the Val dive bomber sank more Allied warships than any other Axis aircraft.

Armament was two forward-firing 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 97 machine guns, and one flexible 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 92 machine gun in the rear cockpit for defense. Normal bombload was a single 250 kg (550 lb) bomb carried under the fuselage, which was swung out under the propeller on release by a trapeze. Two additional 60 kg (130 lb) bombs could be carried on wing racks located under each wing outboard of the dive brakes.

Starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the D3A1 took part in all major Japanese carrier operations in the first 10 months of the war. They achieved their first major success against the Royal Navy during their Indian Ocean raid in April 1942. Val dive bombers scored over 80% hits with their bombs during attacks on two heavy cruisers and an aircraft carrier during the operation. During the course of the war, Val dive bombers had to frequently combine their attacks upon enemy warships with the IJN Kate torpedo plane; consequently enemy vessels were often sunk by a combination strike of bombs and torpedoes.

General characteristics
  • Crew: Two (pilot and gunner)
  • Length: 10.2 m (33 ft 5 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.37 m (47 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 3.85 m (12 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 34.9 m² (375.6 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,408 kg (5,309 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,650 kg (8,047 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× Mitsubishi Kinsei 44, 798 kW (1,070 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 389 km/h (205 kn, 242 mph)
  • Range: 1,472 km (795 nmi, 915 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,300 m (30,500 ft)

  • 2 × fixed, forward-firing 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Type 97 machine guns
  • 1 × flexible, rearward-firing 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Type 92 machine gun
  • 1 × 250 kg (551 lb) or 2 × 60 kg (132 lb) bombs

** Aichi D3A Val - Warbird Fare

Heinkel He 112

The Heinkel He 112 was a fighter aircraft designed by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four aircraft designed to compete for the Luftwaffe's 1933 fighter contract. Small numbers were used for a short time by the Luftwaffe, and small runs were completed for several other countries, but less than 100 were completed in total. It remains one of the least known production fighter designs.

The first prototype, He 112 V1, was completed on 1 September 1935, but as the planned Junkers Jumo 210 engine was unavailable, a 518 kW (695 hp) Rolls-Royce Kestrel Mk IIS was fitted. Initial test flights at the factory revealed that drag was much higher than expected, and that the aircraft was not going to be as fast as originally predicted. The V1 was sent off to be tested by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) in December at Travemünde.

The second prototype, V2, was completed on 16 November. It had the 477 kW (640 hp) Jumo 210C engine and a three-blade propeller, but was otherwise identical to the V1. Meanwhile, the data from the V1 factory flights was studied to discover where the unexpected drag was coming from. The Günter brothers identified the large, thick wing as the main culprit, and designed an entirely new smaller and thinner wing with an elliptical planform. As a stop-gap measure, V2 had its wings clipped by 1.010 m (3 ft 7 in) to allow it to compete with the 109. This made the He 112 creep over the wing loading requirements in the specifications, but with the 109 way over the limit, this was not seen as a problem, and the V2 was sent off for testing.

The V3 took to the air in January. Minor changes included a larger radiator, fuselage spine and vertical stabilizer, but it was otherwise largely the same as the clipped wing V2. Other changes included a single cover over the exhaust ports instead of the more common "stack", and it also included modifications to allow the armament to be installed in the cowling. It was expected to join the V2 in testing, but instead was assigned back to Heinkel in early 1937 for tests with rocket propulsion. During a test, the rocket exploded and the aircraft was destroyed, but in an amazing effort the V3 was rebuilt with several changes, including an enclosed cockpit.

The He 112 V1 started in the head-to-head contest when it arrived at Travemünde on 8 February 1936. The other three competitors had all arrived by the beginning of March. Right away, the Focke-Wulf Fw 159 and Arado Ar 80 proved to be lacking in performance, and plagued with problems, and were eliminated from serious consideration.

At this point, the He 112 was the favorite over the "unknown" Bf 109, but opinions changed when the Bf 109 V2 arrived on 21 March. All the competitor aircraft had initially been equipped with the Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine, but the Bf 109 V2 had the Jumo. From that point on, it started to outperform the He 112 in almost every way, and even the arrival of the Jumo-engined He 112 V2 on 15 April did little to address this imbalance.

Testing continued until October, at which point some of the additional zero series aircraft had arrived. At the end of September, there were four He 112s being tested, yet none was a match for the Bf 109. From October on, the Bf 109 appears to have been selected as the winner of the contest.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 9.22 m (30 ft 11 7/8 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.09 m (29 ft 9¾ in)
  • Height: 3.82 m (12 ft 6¾ in)
  • Wing area: 17 m² (183 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,617 kg (3,565 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,248 kg (4,957 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Junkers Jumo 210Ga liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, 522 kW (700 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 510 km/h (317 mph)
  • Range: 1150 km (715 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,500 m (31,200 ft)
  • Wing loading: 132 kg/m² (27.1 lb/ft²)

  • 2 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns with 500 rpg
  • 2 × 20 mm MG FF cannons with 60 rpg, in the wings

** Heinkel He 112 - Warbird Fare

Dewoitine D.520

The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft that entered service in early 1940, shortly after the opening of World War II. Unlike the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406, which was at that time the Armée de l'Air's most numerous fighter, the Dewoitine D.520 came close to being a match for the latest German types, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109. It was slower than the Bf 109E but superior in manoeuvrability. Because of a delayed production cycle, only a small number were available for combat with the Luftwaffe.

The D.520 was designed in response to a 1936 requirement from the Armée de l'Air for a fast, modern fighter with a good climbing speed and an armament centred around a 20 mm cannon. At the time the most powerful V 12 liquid cooled engine available in France was the Hispano-Suiza 12Y, which was less powerful, but lighter, than contemporary engines such as the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Daimler-Benz DB 601. Other fighters were designed to meet the specifications but none of them entered service, or entered service in small numbers and too late to play a significant role during the Battle of France.

The Groupe de Chasse I/3 was the first unit to get the D.520, receiving its first aircraft in January 1940. These were unarmed and used for pilot training. In April and May 1940, operational units received 34 production D.520s; the type proving to be very popular with the pilots. In comparative trials on 21 April 1940 at CEMA at Orleans-Bricy against a captured Bf 109E-3, the German aircraft had a 32 km/h (20 mph) speed advantage owing to its more powerful engine. However, the D.520 had superior maneuverability, matching its turning circle, although displaying nasty characteristics when departing and spinning out of the turn repeatedly during the tests. The Bf 109, owing to its slats, could easily sustain the turn on the edge of a stall.

By 10 May 1940, when Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, 228 D.520s had been manufactured, but the Armée de l'Air had only accepted 75, as most others had been sent back to the factory to be retrofitted to the new standard. As a result, only GC I/3 was fully equipped, having 36 aircraft. They met the Luftwaffe on 13 May, shooting down three Henschel Hs 126s and one Heinkel He 111 without loss. Four more Groupes de Chasse and three naval Escadrilles rearmed with the type before France's surrender.

In air combat, mostly against Italians, the Dewoitine 520s claimed 114 air victories, plus 39 probables. Eighty five D.520s were lost. By the armistice at the end of June 1940, 437 D.520s had been built with 351 delivered. After the armistice, 165 D.520s were evacuated to North Africa. GC I/3, II/3, III/3, III/6 and II/7 flew their aircraft to Algeria to avoid capture. Three more, from GC III/7, escaped to Britain and were delivered to the Free French. A total of 153 D.520s remained in mainland France. One of the most successful D.520 pilots was Pierre Le Gloan, who shot down 18 aircraft (four Germans, seven Italian and seven British), scoring all of his kills with the D.520, and ranked as the fourth-highest French ace of the war.

A very small number of D.520s were briefly operated by Free French Forces for training purposes. Along with the three examples that had flown to Britain in June 1940, two other D.520s were recovered from retreating Vichy forces in Rayak, Lebanon. These D.520s were flown by pilots of the Normandie-Niemen unit before the unit was sent to the USSR, where they flew the Yakovlev Yak-1 that had many similarities with the D.520.

After the war, the D.520s that remained in France were used as trainers. One example was field-modified as a two-seater in late 1945. In March 1946, after further experiments, the Armée de l'air ordered a further batch of 20 D.520s to be converted; however, only 13 of these D.520 DC conversions were completed. The last flight of an operational D.520 was made on 3 September 1953 with EPAA (Esquadrille de Presentation de l'Armée de l'Air). Initially this unit had flown Yak-3s, formally of the Normandie-Niemen fighter squadron; these were later replaced with seven D.520s, three of them being two-seaters.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.2 m (33 ft 5? in)
  • Height: 2.57 m (8 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 15.87 m² (171 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,123 kg (4,680 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 2,677 kg (5,902 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,785 kg (6,140 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 690 kW (930 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 560 km/h (302 kn, 347 mph)
  • Range: 1,250 km (675 nmi, 777 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 14.3 m/s (2,820 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 167 kg/m² (34.2 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 257 W/kg (0.156 hp/lb)

  • 1 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 (60-round drum) cannon
  • 4 × 7.5 mm (0.295 in) MAC 1934 (675 rpg) machine guns

** Dewoitine D.520 - Warbird Fare

Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

The M.S.406 was a French Armée de l'Air fighter aircraft built by Morane-Saulnier starting in 1938. Numerically it was France's most important fighter during the opening stages of World War II.

Although sturdy and highly maneuverable, it was under-powered and weakly-armed when compared to its contemporaries. Most critically, it was out-performed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E during the Battle of France. The M.S.406 held its own in the early stages of the war, but when the war restarted in earnest in 1940, 387 were lost in combat or on the ground for 183 kills in return. The type was more successful in the hands of Finnish and Swiss air forces who developed indigenous models.

In late 1930s a war with Germany was clearly looming, and the Armée de l'Air placed an order for 1,000 airframes in March 1938. Morane-Saulnier was unable to produce anywhere near this number at their own factory, so a second line was set up at the nationalized factories of SNCAO at St. Nazaire converted to produce the type. Production began in late 1938, and the first production example flew on 29 January 1939. Deliveries were hampered more by the slow deliveries of the engines than by lack of airframes.

By April 1939, the production lines were delivering six aircraft a day, and when the war opened on 3 September 1939, production was at 11 a day with 535 in service. Production of the M.S.406 ended in March 1940, after the original order for 1,000 had been delivered to the Armée de l'Air, and a further 77 for foreign users. Additional orders for Lithuania and Poland were canceled with the outbreak of the war.

The MS 406 equipped 16 Groupes de Chasse and three Escadrilles in France and overseas, and 12 of the Groupes saw action against the Luftwaffe. The aircraft was very manoeuvrable and could withstand heavy battle damage, but was outclassed by the Bf 109 and losses were heavy. After the armistice, only one Vichy unit, GC. 1/7, was equipped with the MS. 406.

Germany took possession of a large number of M.S.406s and the later M.S.410s. The Luftwaffe used a number for training, and sold off others. Finland purchased additional M.S.406s (as well as a few 406/410 hybrids) from the Germans, while others were passed off to Italy and Croatia. Those still in French hands saw action in Syria against the RAF, and on Madagascar against the Fleet Air Arm. Both Switzerland and Turkey also operated the type; the Swiss actually managing to down a number of both German and Allied aircraft, 1944-1945. During the Pacific campaign, Vichy authorities in French Indochina were engaged in frontier fighting against Thai forces from 1940 to 1943. A number of M.S.406s stationed in Indochina downed Thai fighters before the French Air Force's eventual abandoning of the theatre in March 1943. Some examples of the M.S.406 were captured by the Thai Air Force.

General characteristics
  • Crew: one pilot
  • Length: 8.17 m (26 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.62 m (34 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 2.71 m (8 ft 10 in)
  • Wing area: 17.10 m² (184.06 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,893 kg (4,173 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 2,426 kg (5,348 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y31 liquid-cooled V-12, 640 kW (860 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 486 km/h (303 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
  • Range: 1,000 km (620 mi)
  • Rate of climb: 13.0 m/s (2,560 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 141.9 kg/m² (29.1 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 260 W/kg (0.16 hp/lb)

  • 1× 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon
  • 2× 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns

** Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 - Warbird Fare

Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg More Favorites

Back To Top