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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Kawanishi N1K Shiden (violent lightning / lightning flash) fighter
Allied code name: George, George 21

Photos

  • Kawanishi N1K4-J Model 32 Shiden fighter
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden fighter

 

Design

Kawanishi based the design for the N1K1-J Shiden on the N1K1 floatplane. Work on the design began privately in early 1942. The airframe was the basically the same.

Undercarriage Weakness

The Shiden's undercarriage was rather weak as it had to be long to allow for room for the large propeller. The retraction system was complex and caused many problems.

Engine Issues

The Nakajima Homare radial engine's production qualities were rather poor and caused many problems.

Wings

There were special wing flaps control systems on the wings.

N1K2 Changes

In 1943 Kawanishi started making changes to the N1K1.

The wing was lowered and the forward fuselage was lengthened to move the engine and center of balance forward. The cowling was modified. The tail surfaces were new. The frame was simplified to make construction easier and the N1K2 weighed 500 lb / 227 kg less.

Prototype

The first prototype of the Shiden was finished in December 1942. The prototype of the N1K1-J first flew on December 27, 1942.

The N1K1 had a Homare 11 engine (1,820 HP). The Homare 11 didn't deliver the power it was supposed to and it was 45 mph / 72 kph slower than anticipated.

The mid wing also restricted pilot's vision. The undercarriage was shown to be very weak.

Three prototypes were given to the Japanese Navy but they stalled as they didn't want to acknowledge a privately developed aircraft.

The N1K2 prototype first flew on December 31, 1943. It was given to the Imperial Japanese Navy in April 1944 for testing.

Production

  • Kawanishi N1K1-J Prototypes: 9
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1942 - 1943
  • Kawanishi N1K1-J: 998, 1,007
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo (530), Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Himeji (468)
    • Production: 1943 - 1944 (Naruo), 1943 - 1945 (Himeji)
  • Kawanishi N1K2: ~400, 415, 428
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J and Kawanishi N1K2-Ja: 423
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J Prototypes: 8
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1943 - 1944
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J: 64
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Himeji (42), Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. at Tsurashima (9), Aichi Kokuki K.K. at Eitoku (1), Showa Hikoki K.K. at Shinonoi (1), Dai-Juichi Kaigun Kokusho at Hiro (1), Omura Kaigun Kokusho at Omura (10)
    • Production: 1945
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J and Kawanishi N1K2-K: 351
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1944 - 1945
  • Kawanishi N1K3-J Prototypes: 2
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Himeji
    • Production: 1945
  • Kawanishi N1K4-J Prototypes: 2
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1945
  • Kawanishi N1K4-A Prototype: 1
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1945
  • Total: 1,007, 1,435
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo (901), Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Himeji (512)
    • Production: 1943 - ?, 1943 - 1945

Variants

  • Kawanishi N1K1: Cannons mounted under wings in gondolas.
  • Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden Model 11: Used the Homare 21 engine.
  • Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden Model 11a: No nose guns. Two 20 mm cannons mounted in the wings and two 20 mm cannons mounted under the wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K1-Jb Shiden Model 11B: Racks under the wings for two 551 lb / 250 kg bombs. Four 20 mm cannons in wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K1-Jc Shiden Model 11C: Racks under the wings for four 551 lb / 250 kg bombs. Four 20 mm cannons in wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K1-J Kai: Experimental interceptor with rocket beneath rear fuselage.
  • Kawanishi N1K2-J, Navy Interceptor Fighter Shiden Kai Model 21: Fighter. Had better landing gear. Tail surfaces were improved. Engine cowling was cleaner. Mounted the Homare 21 engine. Four 20 mm cannons in wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Model 21A: Fighter bomber. Racks under the wings for four 551 lb / 250 kg bombs. Four 20 mm cannons in wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K2-K: Two seat trainer. Four 20 mm cannons in wings.
  • Kawanishi N1K3-J Shiden Kai Model 31: Two 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns mounted in the fuselage. Engine was moved forward by six inches.
  • Kawanishi N1K3-A Shiden Kai 2 Model 41: Carrier borne.
  • Kawanishi N1K4-J Shiden Kai 3 Model 32: Carrier borne. Had Homare 23 engine (2,000 HP).
  • Kawanishi N1K4-A Shiden Kai 4 Model 42: Carrier fighter. Had Homare 23 engine (2,000 HP).
  • Kawanishi N1K5-J Shiden Kai 5 Model 25: All purpose fighter. Two 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns in the nose. Four 20 mm Type 99 cannons in the wings. Engine was the Homare 44. Prototype destroyed in an air raid.

Usage

N1K1s started appearing in early 1944. N1K2s started being delivered in July 1944.

It's first major action was the defense of the Philippines in October 1944.

Units

  • Kokutais: 201st, 341st, 343rd, Genzan

Held Its Own

In February 1945, Warrant Officer Kinsuke Muto of the 343rd Kokutai, fought twelve United States Navy Hellcats by himself. He shot down four of them.

Production Disruption

It was planned to produce the N1K2 in eight factories, but B-29 raids disrupted production.

Specifications

  N1K1-J Prototypes
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9B Homare 11
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,820
Propeller Blades 4 metal
Propeller Diameter 10' 9 29/32"
3.3 m
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Type 97
Wing Gondolas 2: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
  N1K1-J
Type Fighter, Interceptor Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H Homare 21
Homare Model 21
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,825, 1,990
Propeller Blades 4 metal
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4", 39' 4.25", 39' 4.4", 39' 4 7/16"
12 m
Length 29' 1 25/32", 29' 1.75", 29' 2"
8.885 m, 8.89 m
Height 13' 3.8", 13' 3 27/32", 13' 3 7/8", 13' 4"
4.06 m
Wing area 252.95 sq ft, 252.951 sq ft
23.5 sq m
Weight  
Empty 6,387 lb
2,897 kg
Load - Normal 8,598 lb
3,900 kg
Load - Maximum 9,526 lb
4,321 kg
Performance  
Speed 574 kph
Speed at 19,355' / 19,357' / 5,900 m 363 mph
584 kph
315 knots
Speed - Cruising at 6,560' / 2,000 m 230 mph
200 knots
Speed - Cruising at 19,685' / 6,000 m 230 mph
370 kph
Climb 3,300'/minute
1,006 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' / 6,000 m 7.8 minutes, 7.9 minutes, 7 minutes 50 seconds
Service Ceiling 41,010'
12,500 m
Range 890 miles
890 statute miles
1,432 km
773 nautical miles
Range with drop tanks 1,581 miles
1,581 statute miles
2,544 km
1,374 nautical miles
Armament 4: 20 mm
2: MG
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
2: 7.7 mm Type 97
Wings 2: 20 mm, 20 mm Type 99
4: 20 mm Type 99
Wing Gondolas 2: 20 mm Type 99
Bombs 2: 132 lb
2: 60 kg
OR  
Drop Tanks 88 Gallons
400 liters
  N1K2-J Shiden Kai, "George 21"
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber, Interceptor Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H Homare 21
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,990
Propeller Blades 4, 4 metal
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4", 39' 4 7/16", 39' 4.5"
12 m
Length 30' 7 29/32", 30' 8"
9.345 m, 9.35 m
Height 12' 11", 12' 11 29/32", 13'
3.96 m
Wing Area 252.951 sq ft
23.5 sq m
Weight  
Empty 5,858 lb
2,657 kg
Load - Normal 8,818 lb
4,000 kg
Load - Maximum 10,714 lb
4,860 kg
Performance  
Speed 595 kph
Speed at 18,370' / 18,375' / 5,600 m 369 mph
594 kph
321 knots
Speed - Cruising 230 mph
370 kph
Speed - Cruising at 9,845' / 3,000 m 230 mph
200 knots
Climb 3,300'/minute
1,006 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' / 6,000 m 7.4 minutes, 7 minutes 22 seconds
Service Ceiling 35,300'
10,760 m
Range 1,066 miles, 1,488 miles
1,066 statute miles
1,715 km
926 nautical miles
Range with drop tanks 1,488 miles
1,488 statute miles
2,395 km
1,293 nautical miles
Armament 4: 20 mm
Wings 4: 20 mm
Bombs 551 lb, 1,100 lb
2: 551 lb
250 kg
2: 250 kg
  N1K2-K
Type Trainer
Crew 2
Armament  
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
  N1K3-J
Type Fighter, Interceptor Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H Homare 21
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,990
Propeller Blades 4 Metal
Armament  
Nose 2: 13.2 mm Type 2
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Bombs 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  N1K3-A
Type Carrier Borne Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H Homare 21
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,990
Propeller Blades 4 Metal
Armament  
Nose 2: 13.2 mm Type 2
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Bombs 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  N1K4-A
Type Carrier Borne Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H-S Homare 23
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,000
Propeller Blades 4 metal
Armament  
Nose 2: 13.2 mm Type 2
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Bombs 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  N1K4-J
Type Fighter, Interceptor Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H-S Homare 23
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,000
Propeller Blades 4 metal
Armament  
Nose 2: 13.2 mm Type 2
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Bombs 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  N1K5-J
Type Fighter, Interceptor Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Mitsubishi Ha-43 11 MK9A
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,200
Propeller Blades 4 Metal
Armament  
Nose 2: 13.2 mm Type 2
Wings 4: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Bombs 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War II, Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa, 1989
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site