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The Nakajima Ki-44 Shōki (鍾馗, Zhong Kui) was a single-engine fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. The type first flew in August 1940 and entered service in 1942. The Allied reporting name was "Tojo"; the Japanese Army designation was "Army Type 2 Single-Seat Fighter" (二式単座戦闘機).

It was less maneuverable than its predecessor, the nimble Ki-43, and pilots disliked its poor visibility on the ground, its higher landing speed, and severe restrictions on maneuvering. Yet, it was obvious the Ki-44 was clearly superior overall as a combat aircraft compared to the Ki-43.[1] As an interceptor it could match Allied types in climbs and dives, giving pilots more flexibility in combat and greater pilot confidence than the Ki-43. Moreover, the basic armament of four 12.7mm machine guns or two 12.7mm guns and two 20 mm cannons [N 2] was far superior to the older Ki-43's two 12.7mm machine guns. These characteristics made the fighter, despite performance restrictions at altitude, a useful B-29 Superfortress interceptor and one of the Japanese High Command priorities during the last year of war. However, like most of the Japanese aircraft flown in the last part of the war, the low availability of properly trained pilots made them easy targets for experienced, aggressive, and well trained Allied pilots flying superior aircraft.[2]

Notes[]

  1. The 12.7x81 cartridge propelled the 35.4 g AP bullet 760 m/s, the 38 g HE 796 m/s, and the 33 g HE (2.2%) 770 m/s, with an effective firing range of 750 m. Not always reliable.
  2. A few aircraft carried two Ho-301 40 mm cannons of limited performance.

Sources[]

  1. Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Aircraft of World War II. Glasgow, UK: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-00-470849-0. Page 100.
  2. Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Page 101.
Bibliography
  • Brindley, John F. Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki ('Tojo'), Aircraft in Profile no.255. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1973. No ISBN.
  • Bueschel, Richard M. Nakajima Ki.44 Shoki Ia,b,c/IIa,b,c in Japanese Army AIr Force Service. Canterbury, Kent, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-85045-040-3. (Also published by Atglen, PA: Schiffer Books, 1996. ISBN 0-88740-914-8).
  • Ferkl, Martin. Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (in English). Ostrava, Czech Republic: Revi Publications, 2009. ISBN 80-85957-15-9.
  • Francillon, Ph.D., René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970 (second edition 1979). ISBN 0-370-30251-6.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (seventh impression 1973). ISBN 0-356-01447-9.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. WW2 Aircraft Fact Files: Japanese Army Fighters, Part 2. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-354-01068-9.
  • "Nakajima Ki.44 (鍾馗 : 二式単座戦闘機. / Shōki : nishiki tanza sentōki.)" (in Japanese). Maru Mechanic No. 9, March 1978.
  • Millman, Nicholas. Aircraft of the Aces 100: Ki-44 "Tojo" Aces of World War 2. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2011. ISBN 978-1-84908-440-6.

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