In January 1940 the Asahi Shimbun (Asahi Press) asked the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo to design an aircraft with the range of 9,321 miles / 15,000 km, a cruising speed of 186 mph / 300 kph, and fly in the sub-stratosphere. The aircraft was intended to make a nonstop flight from Tokyo to New York to break a long distance flying record.
In March 1940 the project was approved by the Japanese Army and designated the A-26. The A stood for Asahi Shimbun and the 26 for the year 2600 (1940).
Dr H. Kimura, of the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, provided the basic design. Ryokichi Endo, of Tachikawa Hikoki K.K., made the mechanical drawings.
Initially Dr H. Kimura wanted to use two Nakajima Ha-105 (1,000 HP) engines but the Nakajima Ha-115 (1,170 HP) ended up being used.
It was decided to provide a sealed cabin so that the crew wouldn't have to wear oxygen masks at altitude for long periods of time.
The Ki-77 was of an all-metal construction.
Professor Fukazu of the University of Tokyo designed the wings with 6° of dihedral and an aspect ratio of 11 which was felt would provide ease of production along with long range flying. The fuel tanks were located in the wings.
With the war starting in December 1941 work was put aside until the summer of 1942 when the Japanese Army wanted an aircraft that could be flown to Germany and Italy. It was designated the Ki-77.