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Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1

Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1



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Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1

The Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) was an unusual fighter by Japanese standards, with high speed and a good rate of climb emphasised at the expense of manoeuvrability.

Development

The first significant Nakajima fighter was the Ki-27, a much more traditional Japanese fighter, with manoeuvrability emphasised over speed, protection and firepower. This was followed by the Ki-43, the most common Japanese army fighter of the Second World War. This too was a manoeuvrable but lightly armed aircraft, and after a successful period after the Japanese entry into the war would prove to be vulnerable to more modern Allied fighters.

Work on the Ki-44 began in 1938, at almost the same time as the Ki-43. The Japanese Army Air Force decided that it needed two types of fighters - the manoeuvrable dog-fighter for normal use and a defensive interceptor for use against high flying enemy bombers. As a result Nakajima were asked to design a fighter that could reach 13,120ft in 5 minutes, with a top speed of 373mph at that altitude, and armed with two 12.7mm and two 7.7mm machine guns.

The Nakajima design team, led by Toro Koyama, were faced with an immediate problem. None of the 'fighter' engines available in Japan provided enough power to achieve this level of performance, and so they decided to use the Nakajima Ha-41, a two-row 14-cylinder radial engine capable of providing 1,250hp. This was seen as a 'bomber' engine, and was used in Nakajima's own Ki-49 heavy bomber, but twin-row radials would go on to power some of the most successful American fighters of the war.

The Ki-44 was a low-wing monoplane, with short stubby wings. The wings had a straight leading edge but a tapering trailing edge. The fuselage was circular near the engine but narrow and flat-sided near the tail, a design that helped to improve its stability in the air. The aircraft carried two guns in the wings and two in the upper fuselage.

The first prototype Ki-44 (serial number 4401) was completed in the summer of 1940, and was rather heavier than expected. The new aircraft handled well, but its performance was not quite good enough. A series of modifications were tried out on the three prototypes, and eventually a top speed of 389mph at 13,120ft was achieved (although with all guns removed). With the guns installed the aircraft was expected to reach 360mph, and the new design was accepted by the Japanese army.

Compared to the Ki-43 the new aircraft was heavier, slightly shorter and had a 4ft narrower wingspan. As a result the Ki-44 had a higher wing loading than the Ki-43, and was thus less manoeuvrable, but its top speed and rate of climb were both better. The Ki-44 entered production as the Army Type 2 Single-Seat Fighter Model 1, and a total of 1,225 were built by the time production ended late in 1944.

Variants

Ki-44

The designation Ki-44 was given to the three prototypes and seven pre-production aircraft. All ten of these aircraft were armed with two 7.7mm and two 12.7mm machine guns.

Ki-44-Ia

A small batch of production aircraft were built early in 1942, armed with the same guns as the prototypes. These aircraft became the Ki-44-Ia later in the year after the appearance of the Ki-44-Ib (some sources suggest that these aircraft were actually the pre-production aircraft).

Ki-44-Ib

The Ki-44-Ib entered production later in 1942 and was armed with four 12.7mm machine guns.

Ki-44-Ic

A small number of Ki-44-Ics were produced, carrying the same guns as the Ib but with a modified mainwheel fairing. Only forty -Ib and -Ic aircraft were built before production moved onto the -II series, with more powerful engines.

Ki-44-II

The Ki-44-II was the designation given to five prototypes and three pre-production aircraft powered by the Nakajima Ha-109 (Army Type 2 radial engine). This provided 1,450hp but had the same diameter as the Ha-41 and so could easily be installed in the Ki-44.

Ki-44-IIa

A small number of Ki-44-IIas were built, with two 12.7mm machine guns in the wing and two 7.7mm machine guns in the fuselage.

Ki-44-IIb

The Ki-44-IIb was the main production version of the -II, and was armed with four 12.7mm machine guns.

Ki-44-IIc

The Ki-44-IIc was a cannon armed version of the aircraft. Most were armed with four 20mm Ho-3 cannon, although some were given two 40mm Ho-301 cannon or two 37mm Ho-203 cannon and two 12.7mm machine guns but this was a less effective configuration. The Ki-44-IIc was more effective against the B-29s than the earlier machine-gun armed versions.

Ki-44-IIIa

The Ki-44-III was the final version of the aircraft, and was powered by the 2,000hp Nakajima Ha-145 radial engine. The Ki-44-IIIa was armed with four 20mm Ho-5 cannon.

Ki-44-IIIb

The Ki-44-IIIb was armed with two 20mm Ho-5 cannon and two 37mm Ho-203 cannon. Production of the Ki-II and Ki-III came to an end late in 1944 when it was replaced on the production lines by the Nakajima Ki-84.

Combat Record

At first the Ki-44 was unpopular with the JAAF pilots, who preferred the more manoeuvrable Ki-43. As they got more used to the new aircraft most changed their opinion, coming to like the fast sturdy fighter.

The first unit to use the Ki-44 was a purpose-formed service-test unit, the 'Kingfisher' company, or 47th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (Independent Air Company). This unit received its aircraft in Japan before in November 1941 moving to Canton. It then moved to Indo-China, from where it took part in the invasion of Malaya. After initial problems with reliability the aircraft was a success, claiming its first victory early in January 1942 when a Brewster Buffalo was shot down over Johore. The unit was then upgraded to become the 47th Fighter Regiment, before being recalled to Japan to defend the Tokyo area.

After this successful combat debut the Ki-44 was ordered into production. Forty aircraft were ordered in January 1942, and was accepted later in the year as the Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1. The aircraft was given the name Shoki, after a demon that was said to defend the Japanese Home Islands against threats. This acceptance came after the aircraft had taken part in comparative trials, against an imported Messerschmitt Bf 109E, a captured Curtis P-40E, a Nakajima Ki-43-II and an early Kawasaki Ki-61. The Ki-61 was judged to be the best aircraft, but was still under development, and the Ki-44 outperformed all of the other competitors. It was already clear that more power was needed, but a suitable engine was available, and the Ki-44-II entered production.

During the summer of 1942 more units began to convert to the Ki-44. The 9th Sentai was posted to Nanking, where it remained for the rest of the war. The 85th was originally posted to the same area, while the 87th moved to Manchuria. This was a short posting, and early in 1943 the unit was moved to Palembang in the Dutch East Indies, to defend the oil refineries on Sumatra.

The units based in China were able to hold their own until 1945. At first the Ki-44 was faced with American P-40s and P-38s, aircraft that it could out-manoeuvre. This changed with the arrival of the P-51 Mustang early in 1944. This aircraft was faster and had a tighter turning circle than the Ki-44. Late in 1944 the China based Ki-44s came face-to-face with the B-29 Superfortress for the first time, and the results were at best discouraging. The Japanese fighter struggled to shoot down the American bomber, and the fighter units suffered heavy losses in the attempt. During 1945 the Americans gained control of the air over China, although the B-29s moved away as more suitable island bases became available.

The 87th Sentai at Palembang had a rather less successful introduction to combat. At first the area was quiet, but in January 1944 the Royal Navy launched two raids on Palembang. The first, on 4 January, caught the Japanese entirely by surprise and returned to the carriers unscathed. The second, on 24 January, saw the 87th Sentai lose several aircraft on the ground and more in the air. One Ki-44 shot down to Avengers, but the 87th lost twelve aircraft and seven pilots in the action. During the rest of 1944 the pressure on Sumatra increased, and towards the end of the year the 87th was pulled back to Japan.

The Ki-44 took part in the defence of the Philippines. The 22nd Sentai moved to the area in September 1944 and was joined by the 29th and 246th Sentais after the American invasion in October 1944. The three Ki-44 Sentais were overwhelmed by the massive American invasion force, losing most of their aircraft on the ground. The survivors were then ordered back to Japan.

At the start of 1945 seven Sentais were allocated to the defence of Japan, six based on the Home Islands and one on Formosa. By this time it had become clear that the Ki-44 was little use against the B-29s, which cruised at the very upper limit of its operational range. The heavy defensive firepower of the B-29s also caused great problems. One response was the introduction of ramming attacks, starting on 24 November 1944 when a pilot from the 47th Sentai flew into a B-29. The 47th formed a special suicide squadron, but the numbers of aircraft involved were too small to make any real difference in the skies over Japan. Other counter-measures were proving more effective, and the B-29s moved from high altitude day raids to low altitude night raids. The Ki-44 units were not short of opponents, for in February 1945 the British and American navies came within striking distance of Japan, and their carrier-borne fighters began to appear in increasing numbers over Japan. They were soon joined by long range P-51s and from July Japan was under constant daylight attack. The number of Ki-44s available dropped dramatically, and by the end of the war only three Sentais were still reasonably well equipped with aircraft.

Stats (Ki-44-IIb)

Engine: Nakajima Ha-109 radial
Power: 1,520hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 31ft 0in
Length: 28ft 10.5in
Height: 10ft 8in
Empty Weight: 4,641lb
Maximum take-off Weight: 6,603lb
Max Speed: 376mph at 17,060ft
Cruising Speed:
Service Ceiling: 36,745ft
Range: 1,056 miles
Armament: Four 12.7mm machine guns


Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/01/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (meaning "Demon Queller" and codenamed "Tojo" by the Allies) was a single engine monoplane interceptor appearing in production throughout the war years. The system was designed with performance in mind and, as such, design focused more on a superior rate-of-climb and overall speed leaving other factors such as vision and maneuverability something to be desired. Despite their impressive fighter performance statistics, the Ki-44 was relegated to defense of the Japanese homeland as the Allied continually shrank Japanese territorial gains throughout the Pacific. Their heavy caliber armament did, however, proved mightily effective against the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses.

Development of the Ki-44 began in 1940 as a dedicated interceptor designed to a Japanese Army Air Force specification for a high speed platform with a good rate-of-climb. The design centered around the large Nakajima Ha-41 engine that had its origins as a bomber powerplant. The large engine was fitted into a streamlined fuselage design with a distinctly shortened and smallish tail assembly. The pilot's cockpit was positioned about midway on the upper portion of the fuselage. The engine sat some distance ahead of the pilot, offering some limitations to forward visibility particularly when taxiing the aircraft. The wings were low-mounted and positioned just forward of the cockpit and were designed with a small area making the Shoki a handful of an aircraft to land due to its high landing speeds. The initial prototype was airborne by August of 1940 and was showcased against an imported Messerschmitt Bf 109E model - the mainstay German Luftwaffe fighter in Europe - and proved superior to the German design in performance figures.

Trials for the Ki-44 were conducted in late 1941 with the first air group forming in December of that year. Homeland and territorial defense groups were formed thereafter in an attempt to protect vital industrial and oil positions from the aggression of Allied bomber groups attempting to cripple Japan from within. Suicide groups near Tokyo were also formed to combat B-29 Superfortresses. In all, some 12 air groups were allocated the Ki-44 Shoki in various defensive roles with the Japanese Air Force.

Power for the Ki-44-IIb was sponsored by a single Nakajima-brand Ha-109 radial engine delivering 1,519 horsepower. Performance specs included a top speed of 476 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 36,750 feet. A range of 1,060 was reported as was a rate-of-climb nearing 3,940 feet per minute. In all, these were impressive specifications for a dedicated single-seat interceptor of the time.

Standard armament of the Ki-44-IIb model centered around 4 x 12.7mm Ho-103 series heavy caliber machine guns. Two were mounted into the cowl and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blade, forcing this pair to have a lower rate-of-fire - reported at about 657 rounds-per-minute. Conversely, a second pair of 12.7mm machine guns of the same type were mounted one to a wing and offered up to 900 rounds-per-minute. Some 760 rounds of total 12.7mm ammunition were afforded to all guns.

Notable variants in the Shoki series included the base Ki-44 prototype, the Ki-44 Type I, the Ki-44 Type II, the Ki-44 II, Ki-44 IIc, the Ki-44 IIIa and the Ki-44 IIIb models. The ki-44 was the base prototype while the Ki-44 Type I was powered by the Nakajima Ha-41 series engine. The latter had a performance speed of 363 miles per hour and was armed with 2 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine guns and 2 x 12.7mm Ho-103 machine guns. The Ki-44 Type II was fitted with the Nakajima Ha-109 engine and delivered up to 378 miles per hour performance. This version was fitted with 4 x 12.7mm Type I machine guns. he Ki-44 II was another prototype model, this fitted with a Nakajima Ha-109 engine of 1,520 horsepower. The Ki-44 IIc was the first variant that showcased heavy-duty firepower, these armed with 4 x 20mm Ho-3 series cannons or coupled as 2 x 40mm Ho-301 cannons with 2 x 12.7mm Ho-103 machine guns. Cannon armament proved most effective against the high-altitude, well-defending Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. The Ki-44 IIIa sported 4 x 20mm Ho-5 cannons and an engine delivering up to 2,000 horsepower. The Ki-44 IIIb was fitted with 2 x 20mm Ho-5 cannons and 2 x 37mm Ho-203 cannons.

Manchukuo and Imperial Japan were wartime operators of the Shoki whereas China and Indonesia became operators of the type in post-war Asia. Production of the Ki-44 spanned from 1940 into 1944 to which some 1,225 examples were produced in total. The Ki-44 was eventually replaced by the Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" by the closing months of the war.


Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1 - History

The Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon or Devil-Queller) interceptor was the only interceptor fighter serving with the Japanese Army when the B-29 campaign against Japan began. At that time, it was the fastest-climbing Japanese fighter in service, and was one of the few aircraft capable of reaching the B-29s at the altitudes at which they operated.

The Ki-44 Shoki originated in parallel with the Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) single-seat fighter. At the same time that Nakajima was working on the initial design of its Ki-43 single-seat fighter for the Japanese Army, the Koku Hombu (Air Headquarters) issued a specification for Nakajima to begin work on an interceptor as a parallel project. This project was assigned the Kitai number of Ki-44 (next in line from the Hayabusa Ki-number). Unlike previous Japanese combat aircraft design philosophy, it was decided that the Ki-44 was to be built strictly as an interceptor, with emphasis being placed on speed and climb rather than on maneuverability. The specification called for a maximum speed of no less than 373 mph at 13,125 feet.
This altitude was to be attained in a time no greater than 5 minutes. Armament was to consist of a pair of 7.7-mm and a pair of 12.7-mm machine guns.

The design team was directed by Najajima's project engineer, T. Koyama. The engine selected for the new interceptor was Nakajima's own Ha-41 fourteen-cylinder double-row radial. This engine had actually been intended primarily for bomber aircraft, and had a rather large diameter. Nevertheless, the design team was able to marry this engine to a fuselage of narrow cross section, producing an aircraft which always looked to me like it had "too much engine". The fuselage was designed with a large side area to help ensure a stable gun platform. The fin and rudder were mounted well to the rear of the horizontal tail. The vertical tail has always looked to me as though it was "too small", but this is undoubtedly a misperception. The wing area was
relatively small for an aircraft of the size and weight of the Ki-44, leading to a high wing loading and a relatively high landing speed. A set of "butterfly" combat flaps were fitted for improved maneuverability.

The first Ki-44 prototype took to the air for the first time in August of 1940. The prototype was armed with two synchronized 7.7-mm Type 89 machine guns in the upper engine cowling and one 12.7-mm Type 1 (Ho-103) machine gun in each wing outboard of the main undercarriage leg. The first test flights were generally encouraging, and handling was considered rather good despite the high wing loading. However, the landing speed was somewhat greater than that for which most Japanese pilots were accustomed, and the big engine restricted the forward visibility while the plane was taxiing on the ground. However, the inflight visibility was considered as being excellent.

Unfortunately, the performance of the Ki-44 was below that called for in the original specification. Maximum speed was only a disappointing 342 mph at a weight of 5622 pounds. It took 5 minutes 54 seconds to reach an altitude of 16,400 feet. A series of modifications were made to the prototypes to increase the performance and reduce the drag. The rigidity of the engine mount was modified, the supercharger intake was revised several times, and the cowling flaps were changed. Thus modified (and with armament removed), the maximum was up to 354 mph, still below specification. The firewall installation was then modified to improve the engine cooling, thus making it possible to remove the five cooling vents mounted on each side of the forward fuselage just aft of the cowling gills. With these vents sealed up, drag was substantially reduced and speed was now 389 mph
(still without the armament). This speed now exceeded the original specification. Although this speed had been achieved with an unarmed plane, calculations indicated that production aircraft with armament fitted would be able to reach a maximum speed of 360 mph, and the Japanese Army deemed that this was good enough to make the aircraft fit for production. The design was accepted by the Japanese Army for service under the designation of Army Type 2 Single-seat Fighter Model 1 (Ki-44-I). It was given the popular name of Shoki, which means "Demon" or "Devil-Queller", depending on which reference you pick up.

Seven pre-production aircraft were built, the last being delivered in September of 1941. The armament was the same as that of the prototypes--two 7.7-mm machine guns in the engine cowling and two 12.7-mm machine guns in the wings. The guns were aimed by a telescopic gunsight which protruded through the windshield. The original 3-piece cockpit canopy (in which the front and rear pieces were fixed and only the center section slid backwards) was replaced by a two-piece canopy in which the entire rear section slid backwards. The radio mast was moved from a mounting on the cockpit to a position on the starboard side of the forward fuselage, and the rudder was redesigned. Provision was made for two 28.6 Imp gall drop tanks carried underneath
the wing center section.

The pre-production aircraft and two of the prototypes (which had been brought up to pre-production standard) were turned over to the Army for service trials on September 15, 1941. They were handed over to an experimental squadron, the Kawasemi Butai, for service trials. The unit was sent to China for combat trials, and in May 1942 was renamed 47th Dokuritsu Dai Chijugo Chutai. In September of 1942, all tests were completed and the type was accepted for service with the JAAF.

Three variants of the Model 1 were produced, the Ki-44-Ia, Ib, and Ic. They differed primarily in armament and in minor equipment changes. The Ki-44-Ia was fitted with 2 7.7-mm machine guns in the fuselage and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings. The Ki-44-Ib was armed with four 12.7-mm machine guns (two in the fuselage, two in the wings), and had the oil cooler moved to a position under the cowling gills. The Ki-44-Ic had similar armament to the Ib, but had the lower hinged portions of the main wheel fairings moved from the landing gear legs to the fuselage.

The Shoki was first encountered by the Allies over China. It was assigned the code name Tojo by Allied intelligence working in that theatre. This name was a departure from the standard Allied coding convention, in which boys' names were assigned to Japanese fighters. However, a special request was made that the Tojo name should be allowed to stick, and all coordinating Allied intelligence agencies readily agreed. A total of about 1225 aircraft were built.


Category: Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo)

Mark Rossmann submits his 1/48 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki. Mark used AeroMaster’s “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170) decals to represent the Ki-44-II Otsu flown by Captain Hatano, leader of the 3rd Chutai of the 47th Sentai.

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark also provided the following narrative with his build:

“B-29 Hunter – Ki-44-II Otsu -47th Sentai”

History: Nakajima Type 2 heavy fighter, the Ki-44 Shoki, was developed from the 1939 Air Headquarters (Koko Hombu) requirement for a different type of fighter. In all previous requirements, responsiveness, classic dog-fighting as in WWI, and agility were utmost however, this requirement was for rate-of-climb, speed, and ability to withstand battle damage. Initial trials against the Zero saw it totally fail, and only equaled the performance of the Ki-27 and Ki-43.

Many changes were made, including a set of Ki-43 like “butterfly combat flaps fitted for improved maneuverability, and aerodynamic changes, especially to the engine housing. The aircraft was finally production ready with only 40 Ki-44-I’s built before the -II Otsu commenced production. The Otsu was the best of the series with a top speed of 376 mph at 17,060 feet with ascent to 16,000 feet in 4 minutes, 17 seconds, and armed with 4 machine guns. The -III Hei only had a few built before suspension in late 1944 in order to build the Ki-84.

With high wing loading, this created fast speeds for landing and tricky handling. It was thought fighter pilots with over 1,000 hours of flight time in their log books should only fly it. This caution was found to be unneeded and by late war it was decided relatively inexperienced pilots could handle it.

Mark L. Rossmann

Pilot opinion was subjective. Those that flew the nimble Ki-27 and Ki-43 disliked it intensely, as it lacked maneuverability and for its high speed landing. However, it was respected for its outstanding dive characteristics, rapid roll rate, and being an excellent gun platform consisting of a pair of 7.7 mm (.303 in) and a pair of 12.7 mm (.50 cal.) machine guns. Later, the “IIc” had a single 20 mm cannon replacing the wing mounted machine gun. Limited numbers of aircraft had devastating 40 mm wing mounts. Those willing to accept the plane’s characteristics and to exploit them were few and far between.

Limited success was partly due to only 1227 variants of this type being produced, which was 9% of the single engine JAAF aircraft produced during the war. It was deployed mostly in China, also in Burma, East Indies, and the Philippines. The Ki-44 (Ki for “kitai” which is airframe type number) Shoki (“The Demon Queller”, a Taoist temple deity traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings), or named by the Allies as “Tojo”, is mostly known for its Homeland Defense deployment against the B-29.

Mark L. Rossmann

The 47th Chutai : Nine aircraft were received by an experimental unit, the 47th Chutai “Kawasemi Buntai (“Kingfisher Flight, 47th Squadron”), commanded by Major Toshio Sakagawa at Saigon, Indochina in early September 1941. As a result of the “Doolittle Raid”, having laid bare the lack of a Home Defense lead by the 244th with its obsolete Ki-27s, the wake-up call ordered the 47th Chutai to return to Japan on April 25, 1942. The 47th was assigned to the 10th Air Division and rated as the “best” with many skilled pilots, even though the 244th gained most of the limelight.

In October 1943, the 47th worked its way into “Sentai” status at Choufu Air base. Its tail emblem was a stylized version of the number 47 with each Chutai (squadron) displaying it in its own color for this model, yellow for the 3rd Chutai. It disbanded at the end of the war at Ozuki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, then operating the Ki-84.

On November 1, 1944, the 47th saw its first B-29 homeland action when an F-13 photo-recon variant of the B-29 from the 3rd Photographic Group came in at 32,000 feet to map the Kanto plain. At 1300 hours, the 47th scrambled available Tojos and began their long climb toward the bomber. Leading was Captain Jun Shimizu, the 1st Chutai commander. As the formation reached 27,000 feet, the planes began wallowing and started stalling with some pilots dropping their noses to climb at a shallower angle. Captain Shimizu and his wingman, Lt. Matsuzaka, got within 3,000 feet of the F-13, struggling to keep their planes controlled, fired short bursts with no hits.

Mark L. Rossmann

The IIc version was armed with heavy cannons, using caseless ammunition with low muzzle velocity, which was effective in close attacks against B-29s. Using the IIc, there was a special kamikaze unit (a company of four aircraft minimum) of the 47th Sentai, which specialized in bomber collision tactics, called the Shinten unit (Shinten Seiku Tai – Sky Shadow) which was based at Narimasu airfield during the defense of Tokyo.

On February 10, 1945, a B-29 mission to Ota, the 47th Sentai intercepted. 1st Lt. Heikichi Yoshizawa flew inverted straight at the formation, then rolled upright flashing barely 30 feet above the Superforts, he slammed into one of them killing him instantly. That morning, he had pinned a small doll to his flying suit for good luck, telling his wingman, 2nd Lt. Ryozo Ban, “Follow me today!” Ban replied, “Yes sir, yes sir, I will follow you to heaven or hell!” Ban was hit by defensive fire and had to make an emergency landing at Shimodate airfield. Lt. Yoshizawa is recorded as the leading B-29 ace of the 47th with four B-29s destroyed.

By April of 1945, the P-51 “Sunsetter” units on Iwo Jima were escorting the B-29s. Japanese Army Air Force units were ordered not to engage the U.S. escorts, but to go after the bombers and to save themselves for the final defense. At this time, the 47th was transitioning to the Ki-84.

Mark L. Rossmann

The Ki-44, which was used on the eve of World War II in Indochina, evolved into a heavily armed fighter suited for attacking heavy bombers, something the Lufwaffe resurrected near the end of their “Defense of the Reich”. The “Tojo” was never destined to become a great fighter, or the mount of aces. Those who did make their mark in this aircraft did so by ramming B-29s at high altitudes or stalking them at low altitudes with the deadly 40mm canon. This was not what was envisioned in the originalKoko Hombu” requirement.

Mark L. Rossmann

Kit: Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima Ki-44 II ko Shoki (Tojo) “85th Flight Regiment” (JT37)

Decals: Aeromaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170)

The only draw back to the kit was that it came with the scope site which protruded through the front windshield. Later built planes came with the optic site, which this has. I used “Formula 560” canopy glue to fill in the hole. It would have been nice if the optional site and windshield were available in the kit.

A. Tamiya TS-17 Aluminum for fuselage and wings.

B. Testors Flat White for Home Defense bands.

C. Tamiya TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black for anti-glare panel.

D. Tamiya TS-47 Chrome Yellow for wing leading edges.

E. Tamiya AS-29 Grey Green (IJA) for fabric areas.

F. Vallejo Model Color Mahogany Brown 70.846 for propeller.

Final Note : In reference #2, last page, shows a picture of a Ki-44 on display at Wright-Patterson AFB. This last surviving “Tojo” was scrapped and there are no intact examples of this aircraft type left in the world. Another source says a wing center section is preserved at the Northwestern Polytechnical University Aviation Museum at Xi’an China.

1. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF – Aviation Elite #5 Koji Takaki & Henry Sakaida Osprey Publishing Limited (2001)

2. Ki-44 “Tojo” Aces of World War 2 – Aircraft of the Aces #100 Nicholas Millman Osprey Publishing Limited (2011).

3. Japanese Army Air Force Aces of World War 2 1937-45 – Aircraft of the Aces #13 Henry Sakaida Osprey Publishing Limited (1997).

4. World War II Airplanes Vol. 2 Enzo Angelucci & Pablo Matricard Rand McNally (1978).

5. AeroMaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II. (1995)

6. Hasegawa Instruction Sheet (1995)

Thanks to Mark for submitting his build and article on the Nakajima Ki-44 II Otsu Shoki!


Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1 - History


Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Ki-44 is available online from Squadron.com

Introduction

The Ki-44 Shoki &ldquoTojo&rdquo was the design platform for a home defense fighter. In 1938, Nakajima Aircraft of Japan received an order for a high speed air defense interceptor, that was known as the Imperial Army Type 2 Fighter, also called the Ki-44, almost simultaneously with an order for the Ki-43 Oscar. High speed and better climb rate were favored at the sacrifice of maneuverability. These requirements were met through the use of Japan's most powerful engine at the time, the HA-41 which was originally intended for bomber use.

Tei Koyama had the chief responsibility for designing the Ki-44. He accepted the visibility restrictions creating an aircraft that was smaller than either the Ki.27 Nate or Ki.43 Oscar creating a small, thinly tapered fuselage with a large frontal surface. A two way radio and drop tank was also incorporated into his design. The Ki-44 featured Nakajima designed "butterfly" combat flaps (Fowler Flaps) to improve maneuverability. This greatly improved its ability to maneuver in combat as well as reduce landing roll and take off distance. It did however also have poor visibility at takeoff and landing due to the large cowling. Many pilots transitioning from the Ki-27 Nate realized this in addition to its instability during low speed flight. However, in a comparison test program it beat the Bf-109 and Ki-60 (forerunner of the Ki-61) in a series of trials. The Imperial Japanese Army adopted it in 1942 as the Type 2 Single Seat Fighter. During a comparison with the IJN Zero-sen the Tojo was found to climb to interception altitudes better than the Zero but despite a larger engine was not significantly faster.

It was nicknamed Shoki (Demon) and code named "Tojo" by the Allies. The type 2 Model II carried a more powerful engine, the HA-109, with its two-stage supercharger. There were three versions, the Koh, Otsu and Hei distinguished by visible external changes. A total of 1,227 Ki-44's were built between 1940 and 1944. For the new to the Ki-44 modelers like me this kit, the Ki-44-II Otsu release from Hasegawa in 1/32nd scale (# 08200), is for the second version of the Shoki. The two main characteristics that indicate which version you have are:

Ki-44-I has a telescopic gunsight which protrudes through the front windscreen in the initial version. Later versions used a reflector gunsight. The oil cooler was initially found in a copper ring inside the front of the engine cowl similar to the Ki-27. The second version, Ki-44 II, which is also the version provided with this kit (#8200), has a reflector gunsight and an external oil cooler (this change started with KI-44 serial # 1054) on the lower engine cowling. Initial armament was comprised of two 7.7mm (.30 cal) cowl guns and two 12.7mm (.50 cal) wing mounted guns. A few were armed with a pair of 40mm wing guns, and the cowl guns used the 12.7mm guns with the 12.7mm guns in the wings late in the war in the Ki-44-IIb variant. This bomber buster was made in the units with serial numbers 1356 to 1749. The 40mm guns, utilizing novel caseless rocket propulsion for the bullet was a disappointment due to low muzzle velocity. Thus, the armament was changed in later versions to four 12.7mm guns starting with airframe number # 1750 with two 12.7mm (.50 cal) cowl guns and two 12.7mm (.50 cal) wing mounted guns. Some early Ki-44-IIc units were equipped with the telescopic gunsight so as always it is best to model your kit using photo reference.

The 40mm equipped Shoki&rsquos never really proved of value during the Philippines campaign. Most of them were destroyed on the ground. When Clark airfield was overrun some examples were captured giving us a good photo opportunity using TAIU photographers to clearly photograph on February 14, 1945, a Ki-44-IIb serial number 1747 and a Ki-44-IIc, serial number 2068 for posterity. TAUI numbered the captured aircraft serial number 2068 as &ldquoS-11&rdquo which was an aircraft from the last production run. By then the decision to stop Ki-44 production, it was by then a five year old design, for the newer Ki-84, was the order of the day.

Nakajima only assembled two major models of the Ki-44, the Ki-44-I and the Ki-44-II. Errors were made in categorizing the Ki-44-II in many publications because the time honored tradition of later models having the large or heavier weapons. However, this did not occur with Shoki production. A final prototype, the Ki-44-III was built but never progressed due to the war&rsquos end. Some Ki-44&rsquos soldiered on for the Nationalist Chinese Army in Nanking and also by the communist forces as part of the Red Army of China. None were reported used in combat but some photos exist. No news of the final disposition of those aircraft has surfaced yet.

Construction

Hasegawa released kit # 08200, the Ki44-II Otsu SHOKI (TOJO) w/40mm CANNON in December 2009. It is a well moulded kit with very fine details. I usually build in 1/48th scale and have built several Hasegawa Ki-44 kits in 1/48th so I was looking forward to this kit. There is a minimal parts count and it goes together rather quickly unless you want to take some time to detail the cockpit interior. Even then, the cockpit is sparse and detailing it did not take very long primarily due to my use of an Eduard "BIG ED" detailing set providing painted etched metal parts for the cockpit and unpainted detailing items for the rest of the airframe, inside and out. Due to the diminutive size of the actual aircraft it is not overly large in 1/32nd scale.

Markings are provided for two natural metal finish (NMF) aircraft, one from the 1st Chutai, the second from the 2nd Chutai, both part of the 47th Hiko Sentai at Narimatsu Airfield, Japan. These were much more colorful than the versions found at Clark Airfield in the Philippines since they incorporate the white homeland defense ID bands with the hinomarus. The color box art also supplements the painting information in the kits building instructions. I honestly had a problem selecting which color scheme to use. Both versions are quite attractive and colorful. I opted for the box art version, construction number (C/N) 1435, the markings for the 2nd Chutai aircraft.

For the pilot entry pegs I drilled a hole and glued in a metal straight pin. I then cut off the front of the Eduard etched peg part # 24 and slipped on the square perforated peg/step onto the glued in pin. The cut off part was glued on to the end to represent the red painted cap found on the entry step. The next step was to attach the landing gear status pins on the wings and paint them. They are similar to those found on the Fw-190 and usually missing on most Ki-44 builds. Once you look for and see this part on historical period photos of the Ki-44 it makes sense to put them on the aircraft. While they were not an implicit part of the Eduard Big Ed etched parts nor found in its instructions, I did use two pieces of unused etched from the etched metal sheet for these parts.

I inserted a metal pin at the top of the vertical stabilizer to represent a small antenna tail mast because this is missing from the kit plastic. I used E-Z-Line for the antenna wire. The point of insertion for the drop down antenna wire into the fuselage, on the starboard side of the airframe, has a well moulded plastic extension which was used to glue on the drop down portion of the antenna wire. I attached the exhausts after the cowl was painted and avoided repainting them. Testors exhaust metalizer was used on the exhausts. I could do this out of sequence because Hasegawa provided a keyed attachment point for the exhaust to the fuselage mating.

Conclusion

This kit went out of production (OOP) in 2011, unfortunately, and is becoming more difficult to find although there are still some out there on local hobby shop shelves including frequent appearances on eBay. Given there are usually two 1/32nd scale Ki-44 releases available at all times from Hasegawa, an alternative of using the Wolfpack Designs resin 40mm guns permits you convert the available kits into the 40mm version since all the other parts are there to build this version.


Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) 'Tojo', Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter Model 1 - History

Nakajima Ki 44-II Shoki (Tojo)

Catalogue Number:

Sword Kit No. 72047 - Nakajima Ki 44-II Shoki (Tojo)

Contents & Media:

63 grey styrene, 3 clear styrene, and 2 resin parts, 1 PE fret of 29 parts (some coloured), and decals for 3 options.

Review Type:

Good quality mouldings, fine panel lines and good detail levels for the scale. Looks to be a very straight-forward build.

Disadvantages:

The resin engine is lacking in detail and refinement, and the instructions could be more helpful with matching assembly options to decal schemes.

The engine aside, this is an excellent kit of an attractive subject. I think that it&rsquos the best 1/72 Ki 44-II kit currently available. Recommended.


Sword's 1/72 scale Ki-44 is available online from Squadron.com

Background

The Ki 44 Shoki (Allied code-name Tojo) was conceived as a point defence fighter for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The design emphasis was on rapid climb and speed, rather than the more traditional Japanese characteristics of exceptional manoeuvrability and light weight. This requirement was released only a short time after the one that led to the Ki 43 Hayabusa (code-name Oscar). The Ki 43 adhered very much to traditional Japanese design tenets, and after its early successes would suffer when encountering mid-war US fighter designs.

The prototype Ki 44 first flew in August 1940, but its speed and rate of climb were well below performance targets, largely due to exceeding its design weight. Quite a number of detail and design changes were made, and seven pre-production airframes were completed by August 1941. Their best speed of 360 mph was still 13 mph below target, but was accepted none the less. The 47th Independent Air Company was formed to evaluate these seven aircraft plus two prototypes. The unit served in to the Canton region manned by pilots who were experienced and successful veterans from the fighting in China.

Evaluation experience with the type led the army to order the Ki 44 into production with a 1,250-hp Nakajima Ha-41 engine as the Ki 44-1. After the first few Ki 44 I&rsquos were built the two 7.7mm guns in the nose were replaced with 12.7mm guns, giving the aircraft four in total as it already had two of this calibre in the wings.

The next version was the Ki 44-II which gained a more powerful Ha-109 1,520-hp engine, some armour and fuel tank protection, plus a stronger undercarriage. Early in 1943 a few Ki 44-II&rsquos were equipped with four 20mm cannons in place f the 12.7mm machineguns, and there were also versions that retained the 12.7&rsquos in the nose but had two wing-mounted 37mm or 40mm cannons in place of the machine guns. Some late Ki 44-II&rsquos had ejector exhaust stubs to provide some thrust augmentation.

A Ki 44-III with a 2,000-hp Ha-145 engine, larger wings was developed. It was armed with four cannon, either all 20mm, or two each of 20mm and 37mm calibre. But such was the promise of Nakajima&rsquos next fighter that production was not proceeded with the. This next design was the Ki 84 Hayate (Frank).

Despite high expectations the Ki 44 proved unable to deal effectively with the first B-29 raids mounted from China, and production ceased in December 1944. Small numbers of Ki 44&rsquos also saw service with Manchukuo, whilst captured examples were used by the Republic of China Air Force (Nationalist) and also by the Red Army, later People&rsquos Liberation Army, Air Force (communist Chinese).

Tamiya released a Ki 44 kit in the 1970s, although I think it may actually have been 1/75-scale. The far more readily available kit is by Hasegawa, and it has been around since the 1980&rsquos. This kit is like many of their earlier efforts with quite fine engraved panel lines, low parts count, basic interior detail and simple assembly. Typically for Hasegawa it has been re-boxed with different markings many times. So all in all the Ki 44 is a rather overlooked subject in 1/72-scale, which makes Sword&rsquos new release all the more welcome.

FirstLook

The kit reviewed here has essentially the same parts as Sword&rsquo other s Ki 44&rsquos kit (SW7242), but with the addition of a pre-coloured PE fret and different decal options. It comes in a typically Czech end-opening box with computer generated artwork on the front. The instructions provide a parts map and easy to follow diagrammatic assembly format. The diagrams are well drawn, and in fact far better than some mainstream brands. There is also a brief history of the aircraft. Paint colours are given in Czech and English, with all other text in English. The painting and decal guide is quite adequate black & white shaded 4-view drawings with colour profiles on the rear of the box. Only generic colour call outs are provided for detail parts. However the painting and markings guide does give cross-references to the Gunze Aqueous, Mr Colour and Humbrol paint ranges. The parts are enclosed in a zip-lock bag, with the clear, resin and PE parts each in small bags of their own.


World War II Database


ww2dbase The Ki-44 Shoki ("Demon") Type 2 Single Seat Fighters were designed for speed and climbing, targeting specifically high-flying bombers. The first flight took place in Aug 1940, and they entered service on an experimental basis in Dec 1941 when nine Ki-44s were assigned to the 47th Independent Air Company in Saigon, Indochina (Vietnam). They entered regular service in 1942. Though generally disliked by pilots for their perceived odd appearance, they were used in all areas of the Japanese Empire, operating in their intended defense roles. Some were converted to special attack aircraft at the end of the war, employing an unique tactic of mid-air collisions with Allied bombers, particularly the B-29s.

ww2dbase Allied code name for these fighters was "Tojo".

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Oct 2006

Ki-44-IIb

MachineryOne Nakajima Ha-109 14-cyl radial engine rated at 1,519hp
Armament4x12.7mm Type 1 machine guns
Span9.45 m
Length8.80 m
Height3.25 m
Wing Area15.00 m²
Weight, Empty2,105 kg
Weight, Loaded2,995 kg
Speed, Maximum605 km/h
Service Ceiling11,200 m
Range, Normal1,700 km

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Alan Chanter says:
29 Apr 2008 02:03:22 AM

The Nakajima Ki-44 (Army Type 2) Shoki was developed alongside the Ki-43 (Army Type 1) high performance interceptor and was of similar configuration to its stablemate apart from a different engine. Flown for the first time in August 1940 the new fighter successfully passed its trials and was ordered into production as the Army Type 2 Single-seat fighter model 1A Shoki (Ki-44-1a).

Initially the Shoki (Devil-queller) was unpopular with service pilots. Its high landing speed and limited manoevrability (caused by a comparatively high wing loading for its day) could make it a difficult aircraft to handle by inexperienced pilots, but with increased experience these same pilots soon grew to respect the Ki-44 as a capable fighting machine.

When production ended in late 1944 a total of 1,225 aircraft of all versions had been built by Nakajima (including prototypes). The Ki-44 (codename Tojo by the Allies) was primarily deployed for the Air Defence of the home islands against bomber attacks.

2. Bill says:
17 Feb 2009 08:58:55 AM

info on above photo: Nakajima Ki-44-IIb Army Type 2 Single-Seat Fighter Model 2B. Used by Imperial Japanese Army Air Force.

3. BILL says:
27 Mar 2009 05:31:33 PM

The Manchoukuo Air Force also used the Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (code word Tojo) by the Allies. Manchoukuo was a Puppet State under Japanese control during WWII.

4. Bill says:
27 Apr 2010 03:30:10 PM

During World War II, to get more performance
out of the aircraft a Ki-44-I Hei,Shoki was
experimentally fitted with Sumitomo Pe-7
conta-rotating propellers that were 9 feet 10 inches in diameter. Another Ki-44 was also
fitted with a constant-speed four-blade metal propeller.
Armament:
The Ki-44 was armed with different weapons
from the 7.7mm Type 89 machine-gun and 12.7mm
Type 1 machine-gun.
The aircraft also carried a mix of cannons during its service life 20mm Ho-3,37mm Ho-203
and 40mm Ho-301 cannons on the Ki-44IIc.
Total production 1,167 aircraft.
The Ki-44 Shoki also saw service with the
Manchoukuo Air Corps, but in limited numbers.

5. Bill says:
6 Nov 2010 03:00:12 PM

The Nakajima Ki-44 IIB, Tojo was armed with
2x12.7mm Machineguns in the upper fuselage
and 2x12.7mm Machineguns in the wings total
ammo carried for all weapons was 760 rounds

The Tojo was powered by a Nakajima Ha 109
radial engine of 1,519 hp.
After WWII, the Ki-44 was also operated by
both the Nationalist and Communist Chinese
Air Forces.
The fighter was operated in limited numbers
by the Manchoukuo Air Force.

6. Bill says:
6 Nov 2010 04:09:10 PM

The Ki-44 was disliked by its pilots because
of its lack of manueverability, but in the
hands of a experienced pilot it was still a
deadly combat aircraft.

On the other hand, in the hands of the less
experienced pilot it was a deadly aircraft.
Pilots were killed and injuried due to
operational losses and accidents. The Ki-44
sacrificed maneuverability for speed and climb some pilots would strip unnecessary equipment for extra altitude performance.

7. Bill says:
6 Nov 2010 06:23:12 PM

The Nakajima Ki-44 was able to intercept the
the B-29s over the Home Islands, the fighter
over its production life different types of
armament.

The last model the Ki-44-IIIba that never got
beyond prototype stage, could have carried 2x37 and 2x20mm cannons. It was powered by a
Nakajima Ha-115, 14 cylinder radial engine
of 2,000hp.

8. Anonymous says:
16 Feb 2016 06:35:39 PM

Yoshida claimed 6 B-29 kills with the Ki 44 Shoki.
Some say about 12 Ki 44-IIc interceptors had 37mm Ho-203 cannons but others doubt this.
The 40mm Ho-301 was unpopular for it's lack of range but shot down at least 1 B-29 putting a hole in it 1.5m wide!
The 20mm Ho-3 quartet was perhaps better. It had a much heavier shell and higher velocity than most any 20mm cannon in WW2 but RoF was very slow. 4 combined, offset this @ about 20 rps! I believe this saw action. Ammo would last longer at 400 rpm (perhaps 200 sync).
The later 20mm Ho-5 was the fastest of WW2 but alas, perhaps the lightest shell.

I like the Shoki but more should have been made, especially with cannons. Most all of them were only armed with 4 HMGs. Putting out a combined cone of fire @ 45 rps, these were good for dogfighting.

It could turn a full circle in 20 seconds but all other Japanese fighters could turn better. Compared to the Ki 43 @ 11 seconds, you can see why vets didn't like it. But by any other nation's standards, it was good.

It could outdive any Japanese fighter except perhaps a Ki 61. And it could outclimb most anything, especially the Ki 61. So it was a natural for vertical tactics. Newer pilots (unspoiled by the Ki 43) put this to good use.

It was powered by a reliable engine. This is very rare in newer fighters. For this reason alone, it should have been produced in stronger numbers. But then I'm not Japanese.
The choice of their aces was still the slow Ki 43 in 1945!
The Ki 43 accounted for more than half of ALL Japanese fighter claims in WW2, so what can I say? Claims don't always mean victories, but that goes for all types. No Army aces were lost at Midway, putting them at an advantage over the Navy aces in numbers? Perhaps, but most Navy aces were landbased.

Anyway, the Shoki was still competitive with late model Allied fighters. It could stop the B-29 too, unlike the Ki 43 or A6M!
For that reason alone the Shoki should have been produced more. It was replaced by the unreliable Ki 84 due to the plagued Ha 45 engine. The Ki 84 should have hedged it's bets by utilyzing the Ki 44 engine initially, like the Russians did with the Yak-9U. The new powerful engine needed to mature, so they put the last engine (as in the Yak-3) in the new fighter and it still had improved performance. The stop-gap worked until the new engine was reliable. Nakajima should have done likewise. Or produced more Ki 44-IIc fighters. Am I repeating myself too much?

The nifty Ki 44 Shoki was underappreciated. If it had been produced in A6M scale numbers, it would be more famous than the problematic Ki 61 contemporary.

As soon as the Ki 61 lost most of it's number on a transfer flight, The Ki 44 should have taken up the slack. Use 3 drop tanks if necessary! Those Ki 61 losses were unsustainable for a non-combat flight. Another reason to ramp up Ki 44 production. The Ki 61 crankcase should have been redesigned, the shaft properly tempered and the engine beefed up like they did in Germany, not lighten it.

The Ki 44 was short range but only by Japanese standards.
A long range version should have dealt with that. Even if it takes 4 or 5 drop tanks it would have done better than the unreliable Ki 61 in the tropics.

9. Ron says:
19 Apr 2016 12:10:06 AM

Reliable engine of 1,519 hp!
More than 1,000 made!

No other Japanese fighter, could match that!
Other reliable fighters in quantity (Ki 43 and A6M) could not match the hp of the Ki 44. The A6M8 did but missed the action!
The Ki 100 and J2M5 had as much reliable hp too but not even 1,000 were made of either.

Thus, it is a shame more Tojos weren't produced and with long range cannons, since this could've made it a stronger
B-29 interceptor force.

It could compete with the new Allied fighters too, like the P-38 or the Spitfire. It was great in vertical tactics. It could climb and dive with them all.
Other reliable Japanese fighters were not as fast as the Ki 44 (Ki 43, A6M, and even the Ki 100).

Not bad for an early war Japanese fighter, contemporary of the Oscar and Zero.

It could still do a full turn in under 20 seconds too (considered good outside of Japan).

10. Anonymous says:
23 Feb 2017 10:52:49 PM

WoF for 2x7.7mm Type 89 sync: 0.24k/s.
For 2x12.7mm Ho-103: 1.03.
So Ki 44-I WoF: 1.27

2x40mm Ho-301: 8.775k/s
2x12.7mm sync: 0.486k/s
= 9.261k/s
But under 2 sec. of 40mm short range ammo: 150m.

2x37mm Ho-203: 1.9k/s
2x12.7mm Ho-103: .486k/s
= 2.386k/s
12.5 sec. of 37mm ammo.
900m range.
This 37mm worked in the Ki 44-II or it wouldn't have been retained for the Ki 44-IIIb. The III series was canceled however.

11. Ronald Boren says:
24 Feb 2017 10:29:56 PM

The Shoki guns were mostly a quartet of 12.7mm Ho-103s, 2 fire through the prop with a weight of fire of 0.486kg per sec 425 rounds per min. rate.
The 2 in the wings are about twice as fast with a WoF of 1.03k/s RoF of 900 r/m.
The se had a range of 900m.

Initially the Ki 44-I had the 7.7mm guns in the nose with a RoF around 657 r/m and 600m range.

The 40mm Ho-301 wing-cannons were certainly used by the Ki 44-II. RoF: 450 r/m.
It was not retained for the Ki 44-III since it was not a success with most pilots.

The 37mm Ho-203 was more conventional but it was less definite if the Ki 44 used it. Since the Russians report capturing a few that had 25 r/g of 37mm ammo in the wings of one unit that had success intercepting B-29s, I keep an open mind. True, the cannon would have to address the feed cage for wing installation but that would be in reach of Nakajima. The later High velocity 37mm Ho-204 had belt feed and a RoF @ 400 r/m for perspective. The Shoki had stubby strengthened wings to survive the mild recoil of the lower velocity Ho-203 cannon.

Some second hand sources say that some Shokis had a quartet of 20mm Ho-3 cannons, but not original sources, so many rule this cannon out. 2.896k/m is the WoF if the Ki 44-II did in fact use it. Unlike the 20mm Ho-5, this 20mm used the heaviest 20mm shell of WW2: 162g! It was slow @ 400 r/m (188 sync) and 900m range. The planned Ki 44-III switched to the new 20mm Ho-5 for the 850 r/m RoF.

12. Anonymous says:
4 Mar 2017 01:17:06 AM

Consider the self-propelled shells to be like 20 mini air to air rockets but without hanging under the wing to foul up your slipstream and slow you down. Just fire 4 at a time at most, to conserve ammo.

13. Ronald Boren says:
6 Mar 2017 11:48:50 PM

A 4 round burst would have also benefited from the world-class rate of fire for a 40mm cannon (not counting nose-guns making up half the salvo).
More 40mm ammo would've been nice too.
accuracy was a problem for the recoiless projectiles but point-blank fire would help accuracy plus the Shoki had the best gun platform. Also, without recoil, firing in unison from both wings wouldn't be required for holding aim.

Use against B-29s was suicidal compared to dogfighting. To withstand such bomber box defensive fire to reach 150m range before firing was the bombers fight.
But closing on the tail of a fighter that had few tricks a Shoki couldn't match better than most Japanese fighters, would be more like it. Even head-on with 40mms would be intimidating. The range disadvantage would be much reduced besides.

Still, I like the Ki 44-III idea of 4x20mm Ho-5 cannons just like the 4x20s on the Ki 84-Ib. 10 seconds of firing time with all 4 cannons with a WoF per sec /4.040kg! This still leaves 12 sec. for the nose-cannons with the remaining 20mm ammo.
Pattern of fire density was about 42 rounds per sec. All harmonized!
Even with the requested 4 slower 20mm Ho-3 cannons, WoF was about 2.9kg/s with a pattern density of only about 20 shells. But these packed about twice the punch per hit of the new Ho-5!
Firing time was 15 sec at full firepower and then about 17 sec more with just nose-cannon.
That is formidable against all comers.
Had all Shokis been so armed, they would be more famous today. Maybe more than 1,225 would have been built and less of the obsolete Ki 43 with just 2 MGs. Japan needed interceptors more than anything else in 1944-45. The Ki 84 was no better up high than the Ki 44 and was less reliable. The Hayate should have replaced the Ki 43, not the Ki 44.

Can you imagine many 1,000s of cannon packing Shokis intercepting all raids?
Instead we see the all MG Shokis eclipsed by the 4x20mm cannon Raidens as the best interceptors despite being in only half the numbers and less reliable than the older Shoki.

14. Ronald Boren says:
9 Mar 2017 03:06:32 PM

I know the Shoki was disliked by most pilots. But it had some real plusses.

1. The 1519 hp Ha-109 was reliable!
All the fighter designs in Japan that followed, were not reliably powered. Only the Ki 100 was an exception and it was in smaller quantity and slower in max level speed.

2. It was an interceptor when Japan needed interceptors above all else. It was good at it for an early war design too. No US plane could climb better. It could also dive with a Spit VIII. Vertical tactics were super. It's controls were better with speed than most Japanese fighters. The 37mm cannon model would do some serious damage to B-29s. These should have been produced in stronger numbers instead of the Ki 43 in the last war years alongside the Ki 84. But what do I know?

15. Anonymous says:
14 Sep 2017 07:12:51 AM

Pilots requested 20mm cannons.
They mostly switched the 40mm back to 12.7mm guns. Had they received 20mm cannons, they would've been happy.
The 40s may have worked on a close-in fighter like the Ki 43 Oscar. It certainly needed more firepower.
It was so agile, it could score hits on Allied fighters that did hit and run tactics. The Tojo could pull lead in vertical tactics vs fighters with these cannons, I guess. But vs B-29s, they may as well ram.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


Japanese Aircraft of WWII

Very soon after the design of the Ki-43 Hayabusa had been started by Nakajima, the company received instructions from the Imperial Japanese Army to initiate the design of a new interceptor fighter. In this case however, manoeuvrability was required to give precedence to overall speed and rate of climb, and the company's design team selected the 1,250 hp (932 kw) Nakajima Ha-141 as the powerplant for this new project. Of similar configuration to the Ki-43, the new Nakajima Ki-44 prototypes also incorporated the manoeuvring flaps that had been introduced on that aircraft, and carried an armament of two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) and two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns. First flown on August 1940, the Ki-44 was involved in a series of comparative trials against Kawasaki's Ki-60 prototype, based on the use of the Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine, and an imported Messerschmitt Bf 109E. The result of the evaluation and extensive service trials, showed the Ki-44 to be good enough to enter production, and it was ordered under the designation Army Type 2 Single seat Fighter Model 1A Shoki (demon), company designation Ki-44-Ia, which carried the same armament as the prototypes. A total of only 40 Ki-44-I aircraft was produced, including small numbers of the Ki-44-Ib armed with four 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, and the similar Ki-44-Ic with some minor refinements.

When introduced into service the high landing speeds and limited manoeuvrability of the Shoki made it unpopular with pilots, and very soon the Ki-44-II with a more powerful Nakajima Ha-109 engine was put into production. Only small numbers of the Ki-44-IIa similarly armed to the Ki-44-Ia, were built, the variant being followed by the major production Ki-44-IIb which apart from the different engine was identical to the Ki-44-Ic. The Ki-44-IIc introduced much heavier armament, comprising of four 20 mm cannon or alternatively two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns and two 40 mm cannon, and these proved to be very effective when deployed against Allied heavy bombers attacking Japan. However the increased power had done nothing to eliminate the reasons for its unpopularity with the pilots, and in fact, the higher wing loading of this version meant that it had some violent reactions to high speed manoeuvres however, it later regained their respect because of its capability as an interceptor.

Final production version was the Ki-44-III with a 2,000 hp (1491 kw) Nakajima Ha-145 radial engine, an increase in wing area and enlarged vertical tail surfaces, but comparatively few were built before production ended in late 1944. They included the Ki-44-IIIa and the similar Ki-44-IIIb, armed with four 20 mm cannon, and two 20 mm and two 37 mm cannon respectively.

Nakajima had built a total of 1,225 Ki-44's of all versions, including prototypes, and these were allocated the Allied codename 'Tojo'. They were deployed primarily in Japan, but were used also to protect vital targets, as in Sumatra where they defended the oil fields at Palembang.

1 comment:

I like the Tojo. Typically, it had all HMGs unlike the rival Navy Jack with 20mm cannons. The pilots requested 20mm cannons to intercept US bombers. They were answered with the short-range 40mm Ho-301 instead. Novel, but unworkable vs bombers with heavy defensive fire. You have to brave that fire to ramming distance before opening fire since these had such low velocity and low accuracy. Many Tojos did resort to ramming B-29s. Most pilots stripped these cannons off their Tojos. Why couldn't they have just been given 20mm cannons as they wanted? Even if the 20mm Ho-5 wasn't ready, the Ho-3 was.

I could see adapting to the 40mm cannon for dogfights if I had to. The Ki 44 was unbeatable as a vertical tactics fighter. The Ho-301 was unbeatable in low recoil for wing mounting and cycle rate in class. However the 10 r/g of 40mm ammo wound limit bursts to just 2 r/g. This both retains the high fire rate for the caliber, and conserves the pitiful ammo supply. Granted, the pilot would need to get the hang of close-in shooting like a basketball player with pocket mortar rockets, but every hit would score a KO! Of course, the HMGs still had ample ammo supply. The cannon was reserved for the kill shot.

There is reported success of maybe a dozen 37mm cannon armed Tojos knocking down 10 B-29s in a day. The Russians found 25 r/g in their wings when thisAsian base was captured. Who knows? The Ki 44 had stubby re-enforced wings and the 37mm Ho-203 was of moderate recoil power. Or maybe there was a reason it was a success only one day.


Nakadžima Ki 44 Šóki [Tojo]

Nakajima Ki-44-I
from mid-1942 began to come into the loadout Sentaí, armament 2x machine gun Type 89 Model 2 caliber 7.7 mm (500 rounds on the gun) and 2x Ho-103 12.7 mm caliber (250 rounds), oil cooler pipe in front of the engine, they are actually pre-series aircraft.

Nakajima Ki-44-IIa Ko
the engine Nakajima Ha-109, armament corresponds to the Ki-44-Ia, can carry bombs 2x 30 - 100 kg.

Nakajima Ki-44-IIb Otsú
mass production, reinforced wings in the place of storage of weapons, most of the armament of 4x Ho-103, different variants of weaponry and cannons Ho-301

Nakajima Ki-44-IIc Hei
all the armament of machine guns Ho-103, somewhere mentioned in the wings of the Ho-3, supported by the use of reflex sights

Nakajima Ki-44-IIIa and Ki-44-IIIb
the engine Nakajima Ha-145 performance 2020 horsepower, larger wing area, armament 4x cannon Ho-5, Ki-44-IIIb was in the arsenal of 2x Ho-5 caliber 20 mm and 2x Ho-203 caliber 37 mm. It was made only few pieces, the production is then passed on to a more modern Nakajimu Ki-84.

Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki Kabushiki Kaisha.
The total was made 1225 pieces of the Ki-44 all versions..

Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki / Tojo

History & development:
Dai-Nippon Teikoku Rikugun Kōkū Hombu (Imperial army air force) in company 中島飛行機株式会社 - Nakajima Hikōki Kabushiki Kaisha (hereinafter referred to as Nakajima) ordered in 1938 design, for Japan, until then, completely out of the ordinary spill of a fighter plane - when the award was this time the emphasis is on dexterity, but above all on high speed, climb rate and armament. The release of these specifications was a truly revolutionary act, because so far, once was the aircraft maneuverable was eliminated from the competition, or the pilots did not accept. But if we look at the course of the fighting, in which are engaged the traditional japanese fighter aircraft Nakajima Ki-27 characterized extreme finesse with a sturdy and heavier I-16 with a much larger armament, and their pilots have learned the weaknesses of the Ki-27, and use vertical maneuvers in a way "Hit – run", then we understand that the award of these specifications was necessary. In the specifications it was required, inter alia, reaching a speed of 600 km/h and climb to a height of 5 000 m in 4 minutes.

Work on the project began leading the development of Toru Kojama without delay, for achieving high performance was selected the engine Nakajima Ha-41, which provided reasonable performance and that he had already Kojama a good experience, since it was used for bomber Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu. The weight of the engine was higher than a fighter jet looked pretty, but the designer preferably a big performance. The engine gave respectable 1 250 hp at takeoff and at an altitude in the altitude of 3 700 m was the performance of the 1 280 horsepower, thanks to the efficient turbocharging with single-stage mechanical compressor. The plane had a stubby fuselage, i.e. the front part of the engine, the rear part was on the contrary quite subtle. The wing then was small and on them were installed the flaps of the japanese type, most resembling the type of Fowler. These flaps increase lift during takeoff and landing.

The first flight of the prototype was in August 1940, but the prototype seemed like a fairly bad kid, suffered from the vibration of the engine, just faired the engine considerably was and the performances of the airplane thus remained far behind the specifications. The first prototype všal was soon followed by the second and the third prototype, all engage in intensive trials that bring growth performance, e.g. the maximum speed has increased from the originally obtained value of 550 km/h on a very solid 626 km/h. I must, however, be noted that all three prototypes were tested completely without weaponry.
In the tests, but soon involved also the first pre-series aircraft, which already have the weapons built-in, it's on the japanese ratios again powerful, we must remember that at that time coming into the loadout light Ki-43-Ia Oscar with in the japanese army air force still the usual armament of two machine guns Type 87 rifle caliber 7.7 mm, the new aircraft Ki-44 receive armament of two machine guns Type 87 above the engine and into each half of the wings after one machine gun Ho-103 of 12.7 mm caliber. Under the wings it was possible to hang up two of the tank after 130 l. the Two aircraft were classified tentatively into service in China in September 1941. The first unit that the new aircraft try and get them into the fight was 47.Sentai. The pilots, who migrated to new planes of light and resourceful Ki-27 had a cruel disillusionment. The new machines have a high wing loading and thus all the properties that result from this: a little dexterity, high landing and starting speed. Massive engine pilots to a very restricted view at startup. These pilots didn't have new planes even a little bit in popularity and add that to the still immaturity of the first machines.

Japan, however, had meanwhile become a direct participant in the world war and the new machines were from January 1942 planted tentatively in the fighting over the Malaysia. The aircraft was officially accepted into armaments in September 1942 as: "army fighter type 2 model 1". All the pre-series machines were given the designation Nakajima Ki-44-Ia Ko (キ44-I甲)and the actual mass-produced aircraft from the race in Life have been tagged as "army fighter type 2 model 1B" in the system Kitai Ki-44-Ib Otsu(キ44-I乙)and he was assigned to combat name Shoki, which is often translated as Demon, more rightly should be used to translation an Exorcist of demons. Armament was reinforced by replacing the fuselage machine guns Type 87 machine guns Ho-103, the evaluation of this adjustment is different, some sources indicate that synchronization has reduced the practical rate of fire of up to 60% and so a machine gun Ho-103 became in its essence a dummy and over the engine were often dismantled. Other sources again report that in the framework of the relief were dismantled under-wing weapons. At the end of 1942 it was delivered several machines to the new version, designated Ki-44-Ic Hei(キ44-I丙), this version got under the engine is converted into impact the oil cooler of the honeycomb type and it was replaced by a tubular radiator, which was in front of the engine block.

The aim of the efforts of the designers was to increase further raising the performance, and so one of the prototype appeared dvoulisté counterrotating propellers, but this route was discarded as a complex reducer coming out as too material solution and the performance increase was not proportional.
Much more successful was the installation of a new engine Nakajima Ha-109, which was again dvojhvězdicový čtrnáctiválec, this time the supercharged two-stage mechanical supercharger. The engine had an even higher weight, but provide a higher starting performance 1 520 horsepower and a two-stage compressor to keep the performance 1 340 horses up to a height of 5 250 m. of the Machine with this engine were designated as the "army fighter type 2 model 2" or the Ki-44-II. First into production were even at the turn of the year 1942-43. Other improvements has not been seen because concerning passive safety, the improvements lived to see the chassis and foremost was introduced, the protection of internal fuel tanks and armoring of the pilot seat and boxes of ammunition. Performance increased despite the higher weight.

The first machines were delivered in the version Ki-44-IIa Ko(キ44-II甲)with equipment corresponding to the Ki-44-Ia, and here all the information related to armaments and noncontradictory ends. The introduction of the type Ki-44-IIb Otsu(キ44-II乙)begins to inconsistencies in the description of the equipment and often some authors write up of the meaningless combination. For sure I would consider the introduction of armament 4x machine gun Ho-103 of 12.7 mm caliber, and later, which was photographically documented installation of cannons Him-301, which were certainly interesting air cannons, that in the event of an enemy bomber to be able to knock out of the fight. This air cannon was, however, discarded a very small effective range. For unfounded can be considered assertion, that in the wings were installed cannons Him-3 the caliber of 20 mm, the length of this weapon is 1 765,3 mm over a length of 1 245 mm machine gun Ho-103 also, the weight is doubled. In addition, this combination of equipment has never been documented photographically. In the same category would have ranked even mounting cannons Ho-203 the caliber of 37 mm. Thus armed aircraft were referred to as Ki-44-IIc(キ44-II丙), but some works has been in the past 10-15 years has been revised and so the Ki-44-IIc Hei, was assigned to the armament of four machine guns Ho-103, certain, and photographically doležená is fitting better reflection of the reticle, some of the machines of the last production blocks had the exhaust system without the manifold ring, each cylinder had its own outfall pipe.

Units that were equipped with fighter aircraft Shoki, were downloaded from the queue and assigned to the defense of the parent islands, there to help fend off the waves B-29. Airstrikes Superfortessů started 5.June 1944 and the small lightning is swirling jets is, however, do not impair enough to air raids have stopped. A total of can be to evaluate the aircraft Shoki as quite successful, but on piloting rather difficult machines but with relatively little effective weaponry, if he should be deployed against strategic bombers B-29. For the most successful action of the Ki-44 can be considered the destruction of the 10 B-29 from the 120 nalétávajících, it happened 19.in February 1945, two of these B-29 were destroyed in the suicide attack.
For the suicide attacks was a fighter Shoki lightened the wing guns, so adjusted, is the use of special units Shimbu-tai.

The company Nakajima built in mid-1945, still a few aircraft Ki-44-IIIa(キ44-III甲) with the engine Ha-145 about the performance of the 2 020 horsepower with a larger bearing area (19 m2) and with the more massive armament of four cannons Him-5 the caliber of 20 mm and a Ki-44-IIIb(キ44-III乙), in which the wing cannons Ho-5 were replaced by cannon Ho-203 caliber 37 mm (according to me, is this version the source of the inaccuracies previously mentioned) both versions allegedly have undergone complete flight trials, but the equipment already included were not, because it replaced a more modern and more powerful aircraft Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate.

The allies had with identifying types of aircraft problems, the japanese names were too hard to say, therefore, proceeded to award code names in the case of Shoki were allocated the names of the two and that John and Tojo, and later to unify the naming on Tojo, which was the name of the japanese prime minister. Properly should be used male names. The present day is not preserved no specimen of this small nimble fighters, which was a total made 1 225..


Nakadžima Ki 44-IIb Šóki [Tojo]

This post has not been translated to English yet. Please use the TRANSLATE button above to see machine translation of this post.

Poslední dobou v mnoha pramenech dochází upřesnění technických dat různých typů japonských letadel, to je jistě dobré, ale občas jsou tyto informace a upřesnění, řeknu-li to mírně - matoucí.
To i případ Toja. Dříve se ve všech dostupných pramenech uvádělo, že 40 mm kanon Ho-301 v každém křídle a dva kulomety Ho-103 (12,7 mm) to byl jasný znak pro Ki-44-IIc Hei. Současná literatura (beru pouze renomované autory) zase uvádí pro verzi Ki-44-IIc Hei výzbroj čtyř kulometů Ho-103 a verze Ki-44-IIb Ocú měla křídla (univerzální?), do kterých se vešly Ho-103, Ho-5 (20 mm) nebo Ho-301. V případě montáže kanónů Ho-301, každý s deseti beznábojnicovými granáty, je tu otázka další výzbroje, podle mně musela být, 10 nábojů vystřelíte snadno za pár vteřin (kadence byla 420 ran/min) a co potom, když vás napadne stíhač? Další otázka je zaměření (Hurricane Mk.IID zaměřoval své čtyřicítky pomocí dvou kulometů ráže 7,7 mm, když dopadaly střely na cíl, tak pilot odpálil kanóny). V nových pramenech se dočtete, že kulomet Ho-103 nad motorem asi ani nebyl, protože měl velmi malou kadenci, to díky střelbě okruhem vrtule (synchronizaci), ale klasické Tojo Ocu mělo 2x Ho-103 nad motorem a dva v křídlech, náboje 200/250. Ki-44-IIa Kó nad motorem měla 2x kulomet typu 89 ráže 7,7 mm a 500 nábojů na zbraň (v křídlech Ho-103). Můj osobní názor je, že při použití kanónů Ho-301 byly nad motorem právě dva ráže 7,7 mm.

Na závěr ještě zajímavost střely 40mm kanónu byly beznábojnicové (po výstřelu v nábojové komoře nic nezůstalo), byly to vlastně reaktivní granáty.

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Watch the video: Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki Tojo (August 2022).