Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony

The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien was a Japanese World War II fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The Japanese Army designation was "Army Type 3 Fighter" 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.

The Ki-61 looked so different compared with the usual radial-engined Japanese fighters that the Allies at first, believed it to be of German or Italian origin, possibly a license-built Messerschmitt Bf 109. The first Ki-61 seen by Allied aircrew had been misidentified as a Bf 109 by USAAF Capt. C. Ross Greening during the Doolittle Raid. In early reports, when it was thought to have been a German fighter, the Ki-61 had been code-named "Mike". The final, and better known code name adopted was "Tony", because the Ki-61 looked like an Italian aircraft.

The new Ki-61 Hien fighters entered service with a special training unit, the 23rd Chutai, and entered combat for first time in early 1943, during the New Guinea campaign. Because the Ki-61 was so new, and had been rushed into service, it inevitably suffered from teething problems. Almost all of the modern Japanese aircraft engines, especially the Ki-61's liquid-cooled engines, suffered a disastrous series of failures and ongoing problems, which resulted in the obsolescent Ki-43 still forming the bulk of the JAAF's fighter capability.

The Kawasaki Ki-61 was also used for ramming the American B-29 bombers, commanded by Captain Takashi Fujita, who organised a ramming flight called "Hagakure-Tai" ("Special Attack Unit"). The tactic of using aircraft to ram American B-29s was first recorded in late August 1944, when B-29s from Chinese airfields attempted to bomb the steel factories at Yawata. However, these pilots gained no reprieve and despite their successes they were obligated to continue these deadly and dangerous ramming tactics until they were killed, or else wounded so badly that they could no longer fly. They were regarded as doomed men and were celebrated among the ranks of those who were going to certain death as Tokkotai (kamikaze) pilots.

General characteristics
  • Crew: One
  • Length: 8.94 m (29 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 12.00 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 3.70 m (12 ft 2 in)
  • Wing area: 20.00 m² (215.28 ft²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 2R 16 wing root, NACA 24009 tip
  • Internal fuel capacity: 550 l (121 Imp gal)
  • External fuel capacity: 2 x 200 l (44 Imp gal) drop tanks
  • Empty weight: 2,630 kg (5,800 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,470 kg (7,650 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× Kawasaki Ha-40 liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, 875 kW (1,175 hp)

  • Maximum speed: 580 km/h (360 mph) at 5,000 m (16,405 ft)
  • Range: 580 km (360 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,600 m (38,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 15.2 m/s (2,983 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 173.5 kg/m² (35.5 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 0.25 kW/kg (0.15 hp/lb)
  • Time to altitude: 7.0 min to 5,000 m (16,405 ft)

  • 2× 20 mm Ho-5 cannon, 120 rpg each
  • 2× 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Ho-103 machine guns, 250 rpg each
  • 2× 250 kg (551 lb) bombs

** Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien - Warbird Fare

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