Profile Publications No. 141 The Nakajima B5N Kate

Finished in the later colour scheme o f dark green and pale grey, this B5NI carries the tail code o f the force based on Usa. In the background, a Japanese submarine travelling on the surface. Another Usa-based B5N1, with empty bomb racks. The tail code indicates the individual aircraft (15) o f the Attack Bomber class (3) o f the Usa Naval Air Corps (indicated by the first two Japanese characters). An aircraft o f the Kure Kokutai landing on a carrier flight deck. and as these are normal on a carrier deck, a manual folding system, utilising a lever inserted by a crewman in the lower surface of the outer wing panel, replaced the hydraulics. The Fowler flap mechanism also gave difficulties, and it was decided to replace this by a simpler arrangement in which the whole trailing edge section hinged downwards. The variable pitch airscrew was replaced by a constant speed unit, and from the second aircraft onwards integral fuel tanks were installed in the wing centre section, whilst the engine type was a 770 h.p. Hikari 3. A variety o f detachable racks was developed to enable the aircraft to carry a selection of bombs or a torpedo, and these could be removed and changed quickly by the ground crew. The pilot was seated in the front cockpit, with a poor view forwards in the tail down position. As a good view is essential for carrier operation, his seat could be raised for landing and takeoff so that his eyes were level with the top of the windscreen frame. Simple blind flying instrumentation was carried. The observer/navigator/bomb-aimer satin the second cockpit facing forward and had a small window in each fuselage side to enable him to seethe fuel contents gauge on the top o f the centre section fuel tanks. For bomb aiming he opened small indoors the floor, offset to the left o f the stores carried under the fuselage. The wireless operator/rear gunner satin the rear with his machine gun normally stowed inside the fuselage. Early radio sets were o f the low frequency type and used along trailing aerial. Crew communication was by speaking tube, and no oxygen was usually carried. The crew normally wore a bulky, kapok filled lifejacket of most inefficient design. In this form the B5NI entered service with the Navy in 1937 as the standard carrier borne torpedo and level bomber, which it was to remain until 1944. It was known as the Navy Type 97 Model 1 Carrier Attack Bomber. The Mitsubishi 10-Shi design was similar in layout to the Nakajima product, but was more conservative in its technical approach. The wing was cliptical, possibly as a result o f the success achieved with this inform the Type 97 Fighter, but the undercarriage was fixed and spatted, and wing folding was manual from the start. The motor was a Mitsubishi Kinsei of 1.000 h.p. which gave it abetter takeoff perfor­mance than the Nakajima design, and atop speed o f 235 m.p.h. as opposed to the 229 m.p.h. of the service B5N1. It was decided that this aircraft would also be produced for service and 125 were built during 1937. They entered service as the Navy Type 97 Model 2 Carrier Attack Bomber (B5M I), and during the war were also referred toby the codename “Kate” .In spite o f the good performance o f this aircraft, it was the Nakajima design that was chosen for large scale production and as standard equipment for the carriers. The reasons for this decision seem to lie in the greater development potential resulting from the advanced technical features o f the B5N1, and the fact that at the time, the Mitsubishi design staff were trying to cope with modifications to the Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter, designing anew dive bomber for the 11 -Shi specification, which was eventually won by Aichi with the D3A (Val), and preliminary work on the 12-Shi Fighter, which was quite enough for them to goon with. The Navy Type 97 Model 2 Carrier Attack Bombers (B5M1) were used only for antisubmarine patrols from Southern China and Hainan. Once in service, work continued on the Nakajima B5N1, as with any military aircraft, to improve the performance, and in December 1939, anew model (B5N2) appeared, fitted with a Nakajima Sakae two row radial motor o f 1,000 h.p. in a smaller cowling. Thought to abe view o f the same B5N1 from Kure, photographed on the deck o f the carrier Akagi. 6
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