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.