Nakajima Ki-84-Ia Hayate: “Fly it like you stole it” (VI).

The Hayate (Gale) was arguably the best Japanese mass produced fighter (with Ki-100 permission) of late-WW2. It was conceived as a replacement for the Nakajima’s own previous Ki-43. Compared to its predecessor the Ki-84 was well protected and armed and much faster, although less maneuverable. The Japanese had learned the hard lessons of modern fighter design and tactics. First flown in the Spring of 1943, they entered service, after a protracted development, at the end of 1944. Still not totally refined, the Hayate nevertheless proved to be a deathly asset in the few proper hands available. Circa thirty five hundreds where produced.

A rare inflight photo of the captured Hayate restored and evaluated by the Technical Air Intelligence Unit, late 1944.  Looking every bit a sort of beefed-up Ki-43 or slimmed-down Ki-44. Notice its tailplane set well ahead of the vertical surfaces; as its project engineer, T. Koyama, liked it.

Mitsubishi T-2(Z): ジャガー

Designed to supersede the T-1 in the advanced trainer role, the T-2 was the first supersonic aircraft developed by the Japanese aircraft industry. Clearly inspired by the SEPECAT Jaguar two-seat trainer -engines included-, the T-2 made its first flight in the summer of 1971. Ninety production T-2s followed, both unarmed and armed. Operated only by the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the T-2 was retired in 2006.

Stunning photo of an unarmed T-2(Z). The Japanese “Jaguar” was a pretty slick feline, specially flying in this “clean” configuration.

Kawasaki Ki-48-I: Cuteness Overload.


Already a veteran in late 1941, the Ki-48 became the main light bomber of the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) during all the Pacific War. Seeing extensive service in Burma, Malaya, New Guinea, etc. Too slow and pitifully armed, even in the improved -II variants, the design soldiered with the usual Japanese aplomb until the very end…, Kamikaze sorties included. Some saw service later with the Chinese (red and otherwise) and in Indonesia.

Rare, rare colour photo taken from the belly gun position of another “Sokei”, maybe. It was such a lovely toylike thing.

Photo source.

Kawasaki Ki-78: Fast where it shouldn’t be.

This alluring high-speed research aircraft was started as a civilian project named the KEN III (Kensan III or Research III) by the University of Tokyo in 1938. By 1941, in view the speed potential of the design and, maybe, the prestige involved in attaining the World Speed Record the project was put in the hands of the Kawasaki company. Two prototypes were ordered, but only one was completed. It made its maiden flight on Dec. 1942. Overweight and with a dangerous high-wing loading accordingly, the Ki-78 proved to be dangerous at low speeds and also not fast enough. All work stopped in early 1944.

Such a gorgeous little gem with the typical Daimler-Benz DB 601A nose style and cool ridiculously short laminar-flow wings. Of notice the pair of “gills” on the rear fuselage which provided the cooling air for the two engine radiators, equipped also with a fan driven by a small turbine. Awesome.

Artist: J. B. Roberts.

Mitsubishi Ki-21-I: Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere deliverer.

The Imperial Japanese AF, like the Imperial Japanese Naval AF, started WW2 equipped with a well-proved mid-1930s heavy bomber. One of the more advanced designs of its era, the Ki-21 shared a lot of features with its G3M naval counterpart. Also like the G3M, the circa two thousand built, served in all the areas where their respective services operated, until the very end.

The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) was the Ki-21’s combat debut. Photo taken during the bombing of Chongqing, China (Sept. 14, 1940).

Mitsubishi Ki-2: More than words.

Like other japanese companies of the interwar era, the Mitsubishi established technical relation with the germans. Both the K-2 light bomber and its heavy weight relative, the K-1, were conceived taken as a basis Junker’s late 1920s K37 bomber. Being of Junkers’ heritage these all-metal bombers were obviously sturdy and no-nonsense. That said, by the time they entered service, in the second half of the 1930s, they looked and were dated. They served well though, there wasn’t much opposition anyway. All in all something less than two hundred of k-2s were produced.

They had a short but feisty career during the Japan’s China imbroglio. This utterly nipponese poster commemorates the Second Sino-Japanese War….., Great Wall included. Those K-2’s have suffered an artist’s “facelift” -they weren’t that stylish.