The following is a translation we did from Maru Mechanic #33. An article written by 2nd Lt Oishi Sozo who flew Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" with the 47th Sentai.
I joined the 47th Sentai in the middle of October 1944. At that time I was still training with the "Shoki". The aircraft had a ridiculously large 1450hp engine on the nose and the main wing was so small it looked a duck's. No aircraft type built during the war had higher landing speed than the "Shoki". On top of that the elevator was way too sensitive. Just before landing if you pulled the elevator too much, the plane flew away leading to accidents. The plane could easily stall and crash on the ground. The fuselage section right behind the pilot could snap into two, the front half could roll over a few times hit the ground, and keep dragging itself upside down. This is what usually happened in case of an accident. It's amazing that pilots with only 200 hours flying time with a "Hayabusa" were required to fly the "Shoki" right after the "Hayabusa", expecting no accidents to happen.
I was trained with "Shoki" at Hitachi Hiko Shidan. The first time a landed a "Shoki" my eyes were bloodshot. Just after I touched the ground, I was asked to take off again, but the plane just couldn't leave the ground. I thought that was strange but I noticed the propeller pitch lever was on "cruising flight". I changed it to "low pitch" and finally took off. The first 2-3 times I took-off and landed with a "Shoki" was like stepping on a tiger's tail but once I got used to the aircraft, I was able to control it very well and easily make a 3-point landing. It was a nice plane, with no problems and good speed.
But eventually I came to realise that the "Shoki" was not a good type to fight against B-29s flying at high altitude. On November 1, 1944 B-29s from Saipan came over the Kanto area on a reconnaissance mission. Maybe all the fighter aircraft in the Kanto area took-off. The three B-29 formation flying at 12,000 meters managed complete their mission and fly away. On that day I took-off too but gradually my oil pressure got lower and at 7,000 meters it was almost zero. The engine barely run. Exactly at that time I saw the three B-29s flying above me but I was not able to do something because the altitude difference was too high. But I just couldn't sit there and watch them go so I lifted the nose and was about to hit the machine cannon button. At exactly that moment my poor "aiki" (beloved plane) stalled.
After that incident, when a young LTJG brought the combat report to the headquarters, the staff officer there shouted "why the hell didn't you ram the enemy bombers with your planes?" With such staff officers with next to no knowledge about aircraft there was virtually no way to win the war.
The US planes with their superchargers were able to fly at very high altitude but our planes were lagging behind in technology. The maintenance crew did their best to fix the problem with the oil pressure during high altitude. They used a larger diameter oil pipe and we could fly as high as 9,500 meters.
Contrary to reconnaissance missions, the B-29 formations flew at 9,000 meters during bombing missions and so were finally able to catch up with them. But when we reached the 9,000 meters, it was always individually, not as a group, so we had to deal with the rain of defencive fire a ten B-29 formation was throwing at each one of us.
On November 24 the first air raid took place. In December and January there were air raids almost every second day. Corporal Mita of the "Shinten Seiku-tai", which originated from my 2nd Chutai (Fuji-tai), was the first to perish in a ramming attack in the Kanto area. The next year, on January 9, Sergeant Sachi was also lost during a ramming attack. He crashed head long with a B-29, his aircraft was completely destroyed but the B-29 lost only its starboard outward engine. With one less engine it flew out of formation and other aircraft of ours were able to attack and shoot it down. I was amazed that the bomber was still able to fly after suffering such damage. On the same day, our precious WO Awamura Takashi, passed away. He was my comrade with the 2nd Chutai of the 47th, was very smart and had trained all the young 2nd Lieutenants. On that day he attacked B-29s twice but on the third time realising he was out of ammunition, destroyed the elevator of a B-29 with the propeller of his aircraft downing the enemy bomber. He managed to bail out with his parachute but he fell in the sea 20km from the nearest coast. Although aircraft were sent to look for him, unfortunately he was not found.
Below are three in-action photos from a vintage publication featuring Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" of the 47th Sentai in their Narimasu base.