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The Nakajima J1N1 Gekko (月光 "Moonlight") was a twin-engined aircraft, used by the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force during World War II and that was used for reconnaissance, as a night fighter, and ultimately also for kamikaze missions. The aircraft's first flight took place in May 1941. It received the Allied code name "Irving", since the early long-range reconnaissance version (the J1N1-C) had been mistaken for a fighter.[1] This was not so surprising, as in mid-1938 the Japanese Imperial Navy had requested a twin-engine fighter designed to escort the principal bomber used at the time, Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" and the Nakajima J1N1 'Gekko' was originally designed to that specification, but testing showed it to be less suitable for the fighter role than the competing Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Development then continued as a long-range reconnaisance aircraft. In early 1943 work began on a night fighter version, with four obliquely-mounted 20mm cannon (two downward and two upward), which went into service in August of 1943. The Gekko enjoyed some early successes against the American B-24 Liberator, but was less successful against the B-29 Superfortress. Production ceased in December 1944, with many of the surviving Irvings being deployed in kamikaze attacks in the later stages of the war.[2]

Sources[]

Bibliography[]

  • Francillon, René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam Aeronautical, 1979. ISBN 0-370-30251-6.

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