The Mitsubishi G3M 

Allied codename 'Nell'

Japan
Japan

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

In 1933 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto decided he needed a medium bomber that would be able to deliver a moderate weapons load over considerable ranges. These aircraft could not be operated from aircraft carriers, so it would have to be operated from land.
The resulting design by Mitsubishi was originally designated Ka-9 by Mitsubishi was a twin engined, twin-finned monoplane which had, according to agreements, no further specific military requirements except performance and range. Trials with the first prototype proved the exceptional range, maneuverability and handling characteristics and good performance. The Imperial Japanese Navy reacted enthousiastically, and issued a new 9-Shi specification for Mitsubishi calling for a fully developed attack bomber this time.
The result was the Ka-15 derived closely from the Ka-9 as a cantilever mid-set monoplane of essentially all-metal construction with fabric-covered control surfaces, an oval-section fuselage, cantilever tail unit with twin vertical surfaces, a dihedraled wing that was tapered in thickness and chord and carried conventional outboard ailerons and inboard flaps on its trailing edges, and tailwheel landing gear that included main units that retracted rearward into the underside of the nacelles for the two wing-mounted engines.

Versions:

Further pictures:

A Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' in full flight
A Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' in full flight

A couple of Mitsubishi G3M's on an airfield
A couple of Mitsubishi G3M's on an airfield

 

Technical data on the Mitsubishi G3M2
Powerplant 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radial, rated at 1075 hp (801.4 kW) each Role during war
  • Medium Bomber
  • Scout Bomber
  • Maritime/Coastal patrol reconnaissance Bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Transport
  • Trainer
Length 53 ft 11.625 inch Height 12 ft 1 inch
Empty weight 10936 lb Operational weight 17637 lb max
Wing Span 82 ft 0.25 inch Wing Aspect ratio 8.33
Wing Area 807.32 sq ft Service ceiling 29950 ft
Maximum speed 232 mph at 13715 ft Cruising speed 173 mph at 13125 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 9,845 ft in 8 min 9 sec Range 2722 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 852 Imp gal (1,023 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.303 inch Type 92 trainable rearward-firing in a retractable dorsal turret
  • 2 × 0.303 inch Type 92 trainable lateral-firing, 1 in each beam position
  • 1 × 0.303 inch Type 92 trainable lateral-firing in the side of the cockpit
Cannons
  • 1 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 1 trainable rearward-firing in the dorsal turret
Bomb load Up to 1,764 lb, carried on underfuselage hardpoints with a total rating of 1,764 lb. General disposables load consisted of:
  • up to 1,764 lb of free-fall bombs
Torpedoes/rockets
  • 1 × 1,764 lb torpedo in stead of bombs
Crew 7: pilot, co-pilot, navigator/bombardier, radio operator, three gunners Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) April 1934 (Ka-9 prototype) Operational Service 1937 - 1945
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. Number produced 1.027 total, 993 of all G3M2 models
Metric system
Length 16.45 m Height 3.68 m
Empty weight 4961 kg Operational weight 8000 kg max
Wing Span 25 m Wing Aspect ratio 8.33
Wing Area 75 m² Service ceiling 9129 m
Maximum speed 373 km/h at 4180 m Cruising speed 278 km/h at 4000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 3.000 m in 8 min 9 sec Range 4381 km max
Fuel capacity internal 3.874 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 7,7 mm Type 92 trainable rearward-firing in a retractable dorsal turret
  • 2 × 7,7 mm Type 92 trainable lateral-firing, 1 in each beam position
  • 1 × 7,7 mm Type 92 trainable lateral-firing in the side of the cockpit
Cannons
  • 1 × 20 mm Type 99 Model 1 trainable rearward-firing in the dorsal turret
Bomb load Up to 800 kg, carried on underfuselage hardpoints with a total rating of 800 kg. General disposables load consisted of:
  • up to 800 kg of free-fall bombs
Torpedoes/rockets
  • 1 × 800 kg torpedo in stead of bombs

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

Different versions of the Mitsubishi G3M 
Mitsubishi Ka-9 This was a single aircraft, built according to the 8-Shi specification of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The aircraft was meant to be a proof-of-concept to see if an aircraft was possible. Therefor it was only needed to pessess a certain performance and range, and did not need to fulfil other military requirements.
The Ka-9 was powered by 2 × Hiro Type 91 12-cylinder Vee, rated at 500 hp (373 kW) each. Like said above: it revealed axcellent maneuverability, handling characteristics, range and good performance. The success of this aircraft assured Mitsubishi an exclusively awarded 9-Shi specification for an Attack Bomber, without the necessity of competitive trials with other manufacturers.
Number built: 1
Mitsubishi Ka-15 The Ka-15 was the result of the 9-Shi specification of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Ka-15 was closely related to the Ka-9, and was a cantilever mid-set monoplane of essentially all-metal construction with fabric-covered control surfaces, an oval-section fuselage, cantilever tail unit with twin vertical surfaces, a dihedraled wing that was tapered in thickness and chord and carried conventional outboard ailerons and inboard flaps on its trailing edges, and tailwheel landing gear that included main units that retracted rearward into the underside of the nacelles for the two wing-mounted engines.
This pre-production batch was used for developmental work, and most aircraft differed from one another:
  • Ka-15, Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6: Unglazed nose with bomb-aiming window under the pilots' cockpit. Powerplant of 2 × Hiro Type 91 liquid-cooled Vee, rated at 750 hp (559 kW) each, driving fixed-pitch four-blade MW 116 wooden propellers. One aircraft was tested with ski undercarriage
  • Ka-15, No. 3: Identical airframe. Powerplant consisted of 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 2 14-cylinder air-cooled radial, rated at 830 hp ((618,7 kW) each, driving fixed-pitch four-blade MW 126 wooden propellers.
  • Ka-15, No. 4: Identical airframe. Powerplant consisted of 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 3 14-cylinder air-cooled radial, rated at 910 hp ((678,4 kW) each, driving variable-pitch three-blade Hamilton Standard CS 16 metal propellers.
  • Ka-15, Nos. 7, 9, 10 and 12 through 21: Glazed nose accomodatimg the bomb aimer/navigator and incorporating an optically flat aiming window and an astrodome. The powerplant was identical to the Ka-15 No. 3 (Kinsei 2 with MW 126 propellers)
  • Ka-15, No. 8: Identical to Ka-15 No. 7, except for increased dihedral.
  • Ka-15, No. 11: Identical to Ka-15 No. 7, except for the powerplant which was identical to the powerplant of No. 4 (Kinsei 3 with Hamilton Standard propeller)

Number built: 21
Mitsubishi G3M1 (codename 'Nell') In June 1936 the G3M was put into production. Three subversions existed, explained below. Only 34 G3M1 in total were built.
Number built: 34
Mitsubishi G3M1a Subversion of the Mitsubishi G3M1. This version was powered by 2 × Hiro Type 91 radial, and had a solid (as opposed to glazed) nose.
Number built: unknown out of 34
Mitsubishi G3M1b Subversion of the Mitsubishi G3M1. This version was powered by 2 × mitsubishi Kinsei 3 radial, and had a solid (as opposed to glazed) nose.
Number built: unknown out of 34
Mitsubishi G3M1c Subversion of the Mitsubishi G3M1. This version was powered by 2 × mitsubishi Kinsei 3 radial, and had a glazed nose.
Number built: unknown out of 34
Mitsubishi G3M2 This version was closely related to the G3M1 aircraft, and differed only in small details. It was powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 41 or 42 radial, rated at 1,075 hp (802 kW) each. Also internal fuel capacity was increased slightly.
Within the same designation of G3M2 another batch was created. This batch had a small set of changes to the original G3M2 batch. It was powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 45 radial. Armament was changed by removing the retractable dorsal and ventral turret, and adding a 'turtleback' fairing with a trainable 20 mm cannon
Number built: 581 plus an unknown amount out of 412 G3M2 and G3M3 built bij Nakajima
Mitsubishi G3M3 The G3M3 was built solely by Nakajima, and was similar to the G3M2. It was powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 51 radial, rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW) each. Internal fuel was increased to 1,140 Imp gal (1,369 US gal, 5.182 liters), resulting in a maximum range of 3,871 miles (6.230 km).
After the G3M was withdrawn from first-line duties it was used for duties such as Glider towing, bomber training and maritime reconnaissance, fitted with an air-to-surface radar.
Number built: unknown out of 412 G3M2 and G3M3 built bij Nakajima
Mitsubishi L3Y1 (codename 'Tina') A number of obsolete G3M1's were converted to transports. These transports had a row of windows in the fuselage, and it's defensive armament was reduced to 1 × 0.303 inch (7,7 mm) trainable machine gun in a dorsal turret.
Number converted: unknown
Mitsubishi L3Y2 A number of obsolete G3M2's were converted to transports. These transports had a row of windows in the fuselage, and it's defensive armament was reduced to 1 × 0.303 inch (7,7 mm) trainable machine gun in a dorsal turret.
Number converted: unknown
Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 11 Official Navy designation of the Kinsei 3 powered G3M1
Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 21 Official Navy designation of the Mitsubishi built G3M2.
Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 22 Official Navy designation of the Mitsubishi and Nakajima built G3M2, with Kinsei 45 radials and revised defensive armament.
Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 23 Official Navy designation of the Nakajima built G3M3, with Kinsei 51 radials.
Navy Type 96 Transport Model 11 Official Navy designation of the L3Y1
Navy Type 96 Transport Model 12 Official Navy designation of the L3Y2

Remarks:

The G3M was the first of a bomber that had a very long range. The advantages of this became apparent when G3M's attacked the British warships HMS Repulse and HMSPrince of Wales, sinking both of them. Like most Western Commanders, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips had miscalculated the state of development of the Japanese armed forces, and thought he was out of range of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force. This was one of the most dramatic results of the G3M 'Nell' during World War 2, for it was an error that wouldn't be repeated by Allied commanders.
The G3M moved swiftly through the Pacific with the Japanese onslaught, and performed well against surprised and inadequately equipped enemies. However, the advent of well prepared, well trained and well equipped Air force units of the enemy turned the tables against it. In 1943 the G3M was hopelessly outclassed, and the outdated design without any armor protection for crew, equipment and fuel tanks had become easy meat for any fighter. When finally the G3M was withdrawn from first-line duties it had served from August 1937 during the second Sino-Japanese conflict till the demise of the Japanese Navy after Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea. By then it had had many successes like the first trans-oceanic bombing raid in history on 14 August 1937 as well as terrible losses during the last year of it's front-line operational life. Luckily for the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force there was a successor at hand...
After its withdrawal the G3M served in many roles, such as maritime reconnaissance, glider tug, bomber trainer and transport.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 5/20/01