Nakajima B5N Kate

The Nakajima B5N Kate was the standard torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for much of World War II. While the B5N was substantially faster and more capable than its Allied counterparts, the TBD Devastator and Fairey Swordfish, it was close to obsolescence by 1941. Nevertheless, the B5N operated throughout the whole war, due to the delayed development of its successor, the B6N. In the early part of the Pacific War, flown by well-trained IJN aircrews and as part of well-coordinated attacks, the B5N achieved particular successes at the battles of Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Midway, and Santa Cruz Islands.

The B5N soon saw combat, first in the Sino-Japanese War, where combat experience revealed several weaknesses in the original B5N1 production model. These were mainly concerned with the lack of protection that the design offered its crew and its fuel tanks. Keen to maintain the high performance of the type, the Navy was reluctant to add weight in the form of armour, and instead looked to obtaining a faster version of the aircraft in the hopes of out-running enemy fighters. The B5N2 was given a much more powerful engine, and various modifications were made to streamline it. Although its performance was only marginally better, and its weaknesses remained unremedied, this version replaced the B5N1 in production and service from 1939. It was this version that would be used by the Navy in the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Apart from this raid, the greatest successes of the B5N2 were the key roles it played in sinking the United States Navy aircraft carriers Yorktown, Lexington and Hornet.

Although primarily used as a carrier-based aircraft, it was also used as a land-based bomber upon occasion. The B5N had a crew of three: pilot, navigator/bombardier/observer, and radio operator/gunner.

General Characteristics
  • Crew: 2: pilot, navigator/radar operator
  • Length: 41 ft 2 in (13.57 m)
  • Wingspan: 54 ft 2 in (16.52 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.3 m)
  • Wing area: 454 ft² (42.18 m²)
  • Empty weight: 13,356 lb (6,058 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 17,700 lb (8,028 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 18,649 lb (8,549 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× Rolls-Royce Merlin 21/21 or 23/23 (left/right) liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,480 hp (21 & 23) (1,103 kW) each

  • Maximum speed: 318 kn (366 mph, 610 km/h) at 21,400 ft (8,500 m)
  • Range: 782 nmi (900 mi, 1,500 km) with 410 gal (1,864 litre) fuel load at 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
  • Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,839 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,740 ft/min (8.8 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 39.9 lb/ft² (195 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.189 hp/lb (311 W/kg)

  • 4 × 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon (fuselage)
  • 4 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns (nose)

** Nakajima B5N Kate - Warbird Fare

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