The Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden

Allied codename 'George'

Japan
Japan

side view front view under view

In December 1941 the Kawanishi design team felt that the N1K1 Kyofu offered so much of a promise (it hadn't flown yet), that a land-based derivative was a good possibility. The result of this was the NiK1 Shiden (Violet Lightning), codenamed &George& by the Allied.
The design was undertaken as a private venture, without any request or order to do so, so in order to save money the first design was to be an exact replica of the N1K1 Kyofu, but with a wide-track main landing gear and a tail wheel. In December 1942 the first prototype made it's maiden flight, and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force was very impressed. Eight more prototypes followed, resulting in a production order. Finally it entered service in July 1943

Versions:

Further pictures:

Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden
Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden

 

Technical data on the Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden
Powerplant 1 × Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 radial, rated at 1990 hp (1483.52 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
Length 29 ft 1.75 inch Height 13 ft 3.85 inch
Empty weight 6387 lb Operational weight 8598 lb typical,
9526 lb max
Wing Span 39 ft 4.5 inch Wing Aspect ratio 6.13
Wing Area 252.95 sq ft Service ceiling 41010 ft
Maximum speed 361 mph at 19355 ft Cruising speed 230 mph at 6560 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 19,685 ft in 7 min 50 sec Range 890 miles typical,
1581 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external Up to 88 Imp gal (106 US gal) in 1 drop tank
Machine guns 2 × 0.303 inch Type 97 fixed forward-firing in the forward fuselage Cannons
  • 2 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forwrad-firing in the wing leading edges
  • 2 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forward-firing in underwing gondolas
Bomb load Up to 256 lb carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 132 lb. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 132 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1 Naval or ground based Ground and Naval
First flight (prototype) 27 December 1942 Operational Service 1943 - 1945
Manufacturer Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. Number produced 998 total, 998 this version
Metric system
Length 8.88 m Height 4.06 m
Empty weight 2897 kg Operational weight 3900 kg typical,
4321 kg max
Wing Span 12 m Wing Aspect ratio 6.13
Wing Area 23.5 m² Service ceiling 12500 m
Maximum speed 581 km/h at 5899 m Cruising speed 370 km/h at 1999 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 6.000 m in 7 min 50 sec Range 1432 km typical,
2544 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external Up to 400 liters in 1 drop tank
Machine guns 2 × 7,7 mm Type 97 fixed forward-firing in the forward fuselage Cannons
  • 2 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forwrad-firing in the wing leading edges
  • 2 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forward-firing in underwing gondolas
Bomb load Up to 120 kg carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 60 kg each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 60 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Kawanishi N1K1-J  Shiden
Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden The Shiden (Violet Leightning), codenamed 'George', started as a landbased derivative of the N1K1 Kyofu (Mighty Wind), codenamed 'Rex'. The Shiden had the floats replaced with a landing gear with tailwheel, and the Mitsubishi Kasei was replaced with the Nakajima Homare. Trials proved it to perform well.
3 subvariants were derived from the base version

N1K1-Ja Shiden Same as the N1K1-J Shiden, but with it's machineguns removed
N1K1-Jb Shiden All four of the cannons moved to the wing leading edges, and each hardpoint was hardened to carry a 551 lb (250 kg) bomb
N1K1-Jc Shiden Underwing provisions to carry 4 × 551 lb (250 kg) bombs


Number built: 998
Navy Fighter Shiden Model 11 Other designation for the Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden

Remarks:

The Shiden, or 'George', first appeared in the Pacific Theatre early 1944, and was used in the defence of the Philippines in October 1944. It was an excellent fighter, despite its shortcomings (see weaknesses). At the closing stage of the war it was used for Kamikaze actions, sheer waste in my opinion.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 12/11/00