Profile Publications No. 105 The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu

This early production Toryu, an Ha-25-powered Ki-45 KAla, was found in Japan at the end o f the war wing area by 3 sq. meters (32-3 sq. ft.) and that the Ha-25 engines be mounted lower on the wing in nacelles of smaller diameter incorporating the supercharger intake in the upper lip. The tail surfaces were also redesigned whilst a slimmer fuselage with straight contours was adopted. Recommended equipment changes included the use of a reflector-type gunsight, the replacement of the 7-7 mm. Type 89 rear-firing flexible gun by a 7-92 mm. Type 98 (Japanese version of the German MG 15) and the use of a pair of 12-7 mm. Type 1 machine guns in the nose in lieu of the previous 7-7 mm. Type 89. Two months later, in October 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army agreed to these changes and detailed design was completed by Kawasaki in May 1941. The first prototype of the redesigned aircraft, designated Ki-45 KAI (KAI being the abbreviation for Kaizo or modified), was rolled out at the Gifu plant in August 1941 and entered flight trials the following month. By the end of 1941, two additional prototypes and twelve preproduction aircraft had been manufactured and the flight trial results finally gave complete satisfaction, the Imperial Japanese Army adopting the aircraft as the Army Type 2 Model A Two-seat Fighter Toryu (Dragon Killer) (Kitai designation: Ki-45 KAla) and instructing Kawasaki to manufacture the aircraft in its new Akashi plant as well as in its main Gifu plant. INTO SERVICE In early August 1942, following completion of the Army flight test programme, Torytts were delivered to the 5th Sentai (Group) which, initially, operated as a Conversion Unit prior to its deployment to New Guinea in July of the following year. However, the first operational units were the 21st Sentai, which took its Ki-45 KAla to Burma in October 1942, and the 16th Sentai, which arrived a month later on the Chinese mainland. Entering service at a time when the Japanese air forces had wrested the control of the skies from the Allied air forces the Torytts were often used for anti-shipping and ground attack duties in which they met with considerable success. How­ever, like its German counterpart, the Bf NO, the Toryus proved to be of limited value when operated as a long-range fighter, the mission for which both aircraft had been designed. Although quite manoeu- verable for a twin-engined fighter this aircraft was outclassed when pitted against Allied single-engined fighters and its slow-firing 20 mm. cannon proved of little value in air-to-air combat. However, when opposing P-38s at medium altitude the Toryus easily outmanoeuvred the American aircraft which suffered even more of the inherent lack of manoeuvr­ ability of twin-engined fighter aircraft. Another feature of the aircraft which won popularity was the fuel tank protection, an unknown luxury in con­temporary Japanese aircraft. Whilst Toryus were blooded in Southeast Asia the production gained tempo and the Akashi plant, in Hyogo Prefecture, 50 miles west of Osaka, delivered its first Ki-45 KAla in December 1942. In September 1942 one Toryu had been assembled at Akashi from components inbuilt the Gifu plant. Six months after the roll-out of the first Tory it at Akashi the production of this plant surpassed that of Kawasaki’s main plant and in September 1943 the Gifu plant ceased manu­facturing Ki-45 KAIs. Just as the Ki-45 KAla entered service Kawasaki initiated design of a more powerful version, the Ki-45-II with two 1,500 h.p. Mitsubishi H a-112-11. However, in December 1942, the Japanese Army Air Headquarters instructed Kawasaki to complete the aircraft as a single-seater, the project being re­numbered Ki-96. This aircraft and its derivative, the Ki-102 and Ki-108, represented a major redesign and as such will be dealt within a future Profile. To improve the Toryu’s effectiveness as an anti­ shipping and ground attack aircraft a specialized model, the Ki-45 KAIb, was produced in the Gifu and Akashi plants. Initially the Army Type 2 Model B Two-seat fighter differed from the Model A solely by the replacement of the two 12-7 mm. Type 1 machine guns by a single 20 mm. Ho-3 cannon mounted centrally in the nose of the installation of a hand- loaded 37 mm. Type 98 cannon in the ventral tunnel. However, later production aircraft were powered by Ki-45 KAla photographed at Clark inField the Philippines in 1945. Note the hole left in the lower nose by the removal o f the landing light. 6
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