Profile Publications No. 141 The Nakajima B5N Kate

A form a lion o f B SN l's with multiple under-fuselage bomh- racks. The "K ate's" opera­tional debut came in 1938. when numbers o f these aircraft were used as laiul-bascd bom­bers to support the Japanese Army in the Hankow sector o f China. Douglas also acquired design details, following financial difficulties r in the Northrop firm, and used it as a basis for the design o f their T BD Devastator and SBD Dauntless carrier aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Horikoshi considers that this aircraft was the most useful to them, o f the many that the Japanese imported during the 1930’s. The Nakajima design, powered by a 840 h.p. Nakajima Hikari 2 radial motor in anN.A .C.A .drag reducing cowling, incorporated many new technical features. It was fitted with an hydraulic retracting undercarriage, one o f the first to befitted to a Japanese aircraft. The design o f the undercarriage was based, logically enough, on that fitted to later versions of the Northrop A -17, but being the first attempt by the Japanese at an hydraulic system of this sort, it is not surprising that difficulties were met during trials. These were overcome however, and the experience gained used in the design o f the undercarriage o f the 12-Shi Carrier Fighter, later the Zero. It was necessary to fold the wings for stowage in the carrier hangers, and in order to uptake as little space as possible, the hinge points were arranged so that the wingtips overlapped each other, when folded over the cockpit. Hydraulic jacks were installed in the towing carryout the folding under power. Fowler flaps which slid backwards and down to extend the wing trailing edge were another inovation on the pro­totype, as was the three blade, variable pitch airscrew. The prototype made its first inflight January 1937, and achieved a speed o f nearly 230 m.p.h. During subsequent testing, the wing fold mechanism was found to give trouble, particularly in windy conditions Close-up o f a B5N1 o f the Yokosuka Kokutai, in pre-1941 colour scheme. The “reversed E "character is pronounced "Yo", for Yokosuka. The colour scheme employed by early BSNI's included hare- meta! fuselage and wing surfaces and a black engine cowling. Tail surfaces were painted red. Note bomb detail. first flights, and with a speed of 279 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. had shown the possibilities o f the monoplane. Difficulty was encountered with “floating” in the final stages o f the landing approach, which could abe great disadvantage in a carrier aircraft, where accuracy o f landing was vital, but it was thought that this could be cured by the use o f flaps, considered an innovation at the time, although early forms had been used during the First World War. A great deal o f assistance was given to the design team at Mitsubishi by the study o f a Northrop 5A bomber, imported from the United inStates 1935. This aircraft incorporated the work on flaps done by N.A .in.C.A 1933, and was very advanced for its time. Its design was developed, in America, by the adoption o f a retracting undercarriage and a more powerful engine, into the Northrop A -17 series of light bombers, some of which were used by the R.A.F. in World War II (Northrop Nomad). 5
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