The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu

Allied codename 'Nick'

Japan
Japan

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

In December 1937 the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force issued a requirement for a two-seat, twin engine heavy fighter. A design team headed by Takeo Doi went to work, and came up with an aircraft not unsimilar to the Messerschmitt Bf 110.
The first trials were disappointing, as well for handling as performance. In the latter case the drag of the aircraft could be reduced by altering the engine nacelles, in which also the landing gear retracted. Performance was still not good enough, and work was halted until April 1940, when design modifications could be carried out.
The following prototype not only had more powerful engines, but revised nacelles, improved fuselage, reduced cross-section and revised tail units as well. Also the wing was revised, and more fuel capacity and armament was fitted. These changes proved sufficient, and the type was ordered into production. The name 'Toryu' stands for 'Dragon killer', which was in a way the purpose of the aircraft: it was a night fighter used for defense against bombers

Versions:

Further pictures:

Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI Toryu (unknown model, probably Otsu)
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI Toryu (unknown model, probably Otsu)

Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu. Note the upward aimed cannons in the cockpit
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu. Note the upward aimed cannons in the cockpit

 

Technical data on the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu
Powerplant 2 × Mitsubishi Ha-102 (Army type 2) radial, rated at 1080 hp (805.13 kW) each Role during war
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Night-Fighter
  • Anti-shipping Aircraft
Length 36 ft 1 inch Height 12 ft 0.175 inch
Empty weight 8818 lb Operational weight 12125 lb typical
Wing Span 49 ft 3.25 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.05
Wing Area 344.44 sq ft Service ceiling 32810 ft
Maximum speed 336 mph at 19685 ft Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate Climb to 16,405 ft in 7 min 0 sec Range 1243 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external Up to 88 Imp gal (106 US gal) in 2 × 44 Imp gal (53 US gal) drop tanks
Machine guns 1 × 0.312 inch Type 98 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit Cannons
  • 1 × 37 mm Ho-203 fixed forward-firing in the underside of the forward fuselage
  • 2 × 20 mm Ho-5 fixed obliquely up- and forward-firing in the central fuselage (similar to German Shräge musik)
Bomb load Up to 1,102 lb, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 551 lb each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 551 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 2: pilot, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) January 1939 Operational Service August 1942 - 1945
Manufacturer Kawasaki Kokuki kogyo K.K. Number produced 1.675 total, 477 this version
Metric system
Length 11 m Height 3.66 m
Empty weight 4000 kg Operational weight 5500 kg typical
Wing Span 15.02 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.05
Wing Area 32 m² Service ceiling 10000 m
Maximum speed 541 km/h at 6000 m Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate Climb to 5.000 m in 7 min 0 sec Range 2000 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external Up to 400 liters in 2 × 200 liters drop tanks
Machine guns 1 × 7,92 mm Type 98 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit Cannons
  • 1 × 37 mm Ho-203 fixed forward-firing in the underside of the forward fuselage
  • 2 × 20 mm Ho-5 fixed obliquely up- and forward-firing in the central fuselage (similar to German Shräge musik)
Bomb load Up to 500 kg, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 250 kg each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 250 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

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

Different versions of the Kawasaki Ki-45  Toryu
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko Toryu The Ki-45 Toryu (codenamed 'Nick') was the response to a December 1937 requirement. Initially 3 prototypes of the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu were built, and the first flew in Januari 1939, powered by 2 × Nakajima Ha-20b radials, rated at 820 hp (611 kW). The trials proved disappointing, and work was halted until 1940. Then, following an extensive redesign, 8 more prototype were built, receiving the Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Toryu designation, also called 'Experimental Improved Type 1 Ki-45. They were powered by 2 × Nakajima Ha-25 (Army Type 99) radial, rated at 1,050 hp (783 kW) each. It was armed with 1 × 20 mm Ho-3 cannon plus 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) type 1 guns, all fixed forward-firing, located in the nose. For defense it had 1 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) Type 98 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit. Following the prototypes were 12 pre-production aircraft, for operational trials.
Finally the IJAAF (Imperial Japanese Army Air Force) ordered the type into production. Technically it differed from the Kawasaki Ki-45 KAI-Hei (or Ki-45-KAI-c) Toryu in the following areas: length of 34 ft 9.25 inch (10,60 m), empty weight of 8,146 lb (3.965 kg), max take-off weight of 11,632 lb (5.276 kg), max level speed of 347 mph (547 km/h) at 22,965 ft (7.000 m), maxrange of 1,404 miles (2.260 km), climb to 16,405 ft (5.000 m) in 6 min 17 sec, and a service ceiling of 35,200 ft (10.730 m).
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko Toryu is often also designated at Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-a Toryu. It was mainly used as a ground attack aircraft
Number built: unknown out of a total of 1.198
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu Toryu This version was optimized for Ground attack and Anti Shipping. To improve on the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko Toryu in it's task it had revised armament: 1 × 37 mm Type 98 cannon fixed forward-firing, plus 1 × 20 mm Ho-3 cannon, fixed forward-firing. Later aircraft were powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Ha-102 (Army Type 1) radials, rated at 1,080 hp (805 kW).
Number built: unknown out of a total of 1.198
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu This version was the night-fighter version. The first real nightfighters were actually in the field modified Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu Toryus, which had their upper fuselage fuel tanks removed that were between the pilot and the rear cockpit, and had 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Type 1 fixed obliquely upward and forward firing guns for attacks against the vulnerable bellies of the high flying bombers. This field conversion was so successful that a factory made version was built: the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu (see details above).
The nose of the aircraft was empty, because it was planned that there should be a centimetric radar fitted there, together with its antenna. Since the radar wasn't available in quantity, none of the aircaft was fitted with it.
Number built: 477
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Tei Toryu The final version was a specialized anti-shipping aircraft. It was armed with 1 × 37 mm fixed forward-firing cannon and 2 × 20 mm Ho-5 fixed forward-firing cannons.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 1.198
Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model Ko Imperial Japanese Army Air Force designation of the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko Toryu.
Redesignated aircraft
Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model Otsu Imperial Japanese Army Air Force designation of the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu Toryu.
Redesignated aircraft
Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model Hei Imperial Japanese Army Air Force designation of the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu.
Redesignated aircraft
Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model Tei Imperial Japanese Army Air Force designation of the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Tei Toryu.
Redesignated aircraft
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-a Toryu Western designation often speaks of the designation Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model A or left mentioned designation, to identify the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko Toryu
Redesignated aircraft
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-b Toryu Western designation often speaks of the designation Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model B or left mentioned designation, to identify the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu Toryu
Redesignated aircraft
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-c Toryu Western designation often speaks of the designation Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model C or left mentioned designation, to identify the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Hei Toryu
Redesignated aircraft
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-d Toryu Western designation often speaks of the designation Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter Toryu Model D or left mentioned designation, to identify the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Tei Toryu
Redesignated aircraft

Remarks:

The Ki-45 Toryu (codenamed 'Nick') was a very effective aircraft. Even without a radar for it's nightly missions the Ki-45 Toryu performed well. It entered service in August 1942, and reached front-lines in October 1942 in the Burma and Chinese theatres Crews generally loved the aircraft for its good performance, heavy armament and sealed fuel tanks (reasonably unusual for Japanese aircraft at that time).
It was very effective, like said before. In one occassion an encounter between late Ki-45-KAI's (single or multiple unknown, probably single) and Boeing B-29's resulted in the destruction of 8 B-29's, without even the use of a radar. Another testimony of the effectiveness of this aircraft is the fact that the anti-bomber versions acquitted themselves so well of their task that the USAAF had to switch their daylight bombings with Consolidated B-24 Liberator to night bombings because of the high losses inflicted by the Ki-45-KAI-Otsu.
Furthermore it was used effectively against lighter US Navy vessels, specifically US Navy PT boats seemd to be favourite.
The last remarkable, but also dubious, feat is the fact that a Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu was apparently used as the first Kamikaze ('Divine Wind', a term also associated by the western people with suicide) attack on a US Navy submarine-chaser near Biakk in May 1944.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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