Nakajima Ki.44 Type 2 Shoki : They knew better…..

Nakajima Ki-44 Type 2 Shoki : They knew better.....

The Shoki was without doubt the “lost oportunity” of the Japanese Army AF (JAAF). Ordened to be a fast and well-armed interceptor by the JAAF ,it made it first flight in Aug. 1940. Ironically when they were operationally test flown at the start of WW2 their potential customers were so in love with their traditional lightly armed and highly manouverable Nakajima Hayabusas that only saw problems in a basically sound design.That didn’t change by the time it was introduced into service; the JAAF fighter pilots couldn’t see that the time of the Hayabusa’s kind of fighter was past. While they should have be making the Shoki in spades they only ordened them in relatively small quantities and continued to built and operate the Hayabusa. Capital error, their foes by then knew how to treat those kind of fighters and their fast well-armed/armored fighters -Ki-44’s counterparts- reigned supreme. Employed in China and Sumatra mainly and later in Japan, in any event, the Shoki proved their efficiency and punch everytime it entered combat, even in that summer of 1945… but by then it was way too late.

In my opinion, one of the best looking radial-engined fighters.

Artist: Shigeo Koike.

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4 thoughts on “Nakajima Ki.44 Type 2 Shoki : They knew better…..

  1. The Ki 44-II Shoki was a reliable fighter. All the later Japanese fighters tended to be unreliable. Just on that basis it should have been produced more. It was also a competent mid-war interceptor. In one combat a small force of Shokis downed 10 B-29s!
    As a dogfighter, it may not have turned tighter than all other Japanese fighters (19 sec full turn) but in vertical tactics it beats them all. It could dive over 500 mph with the Allied fighters and climbed to 5km in 4:17 min. which none of them could do! It was considered a good match for the P-38.

    When it was replaced by the unreliable Ki 84 and the obsolete Ki 43 continued production, I think it should have been the other way around. The Shoki should have continued production, not the Ki 43. B-29s needed to be intercepted and the Shoki could do this better than either the Ki 43 or even the Ki 84 because it’s power faded more with altitude than the Ki 44-II.
    The 20mm Ho-3 cannon armed Ki 44-IIc was best suited for this role but less than 400 were produced. It should have been far more.

    It could also give a Spit VIII a run for it’s money in the vertical plane too.
    It had more than enough range for a point defence interceptor. Pilots who appreciated it’s strengths held their own.

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