Saturday 28 April 2012

Questions #1

Our good friend from Croatia, Marko Soletic, sent us some very interesting questions that we thought would be worthwhile to reply in public.

1 - Mitsubishi Ki-71. It was allegedly a version of the Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia", but I've never seen a photo of this plane. Do you know if there are any?

Answer: Only three prototypes of this "Sonia" version with retractable landing gear and a more powerful Ha-112, 1500hp engine were built but no known photos of them have ever surfaced.

2 - Mitsubishi K3M "Pine" and other versions. Is there any recommendable publication which could help me tell the differences between all the "Pine" versions? I purchased 4 AZ Models kits, one for each version but I'm lucking proper documentation to complete the project.

Answer: There are no publications dedicated to the "Pine". It's a very camera-shy aircraft and there are very few photos around. We'll try to post some in a separate posting.

3 - Kawasaki Ki-61-IIKAI. RS Models recently released two kits of this version, razorback and bubbletop. To my surprise, their outline form is not the same as the Fine Molds kits and they appear to have larger wing span; Fine Molds kits have the same span as Ki-61.
Which is correct then? I know that Ki-61-II had larger span, but this was later brought back to standard Ki-61 wing in KAI version. Therefore, I am a bit puzzled now by these new kits. And also, I never saw a picture of Ki-61-II with large wing. Are there any?

4 - Kawasaki Ki-60. According to publications, all 3 prototypes were externally different in aspects of cowlings, wings and maybe something else too, but I can't tell any difference from the photos. Since I have RS models kits of Ki-61 and both boxing contents are the same, although they should represent 1st and 2nd prototype, I would like to ask you if there is some proper documentation that could help me modify the kits so I could have accurate representations of all prototypes?

Answer: Only three prototypes of the Ki-60 were built. The first was completed on March 6, 1941. The second on April 5, 1941 the third around May. One prototype was comparatively tested in Kagamigahara in June 1941 against an imported Bf 109E and a Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" by Army test pilot Kuroe. The Ki-60 was found easier to fly and land than Ki-44 but when "Shoki" used the "butterfly" combat flaps it had a clear advantage over the Ki-60 in combat. Without the "butterfly" flaps the Ki-60 was overall better than the "Shoki". Compared to the Bf 109E the Ki-60 was found equal if not slightly better during air battle. In the end Kuroe-san declared that the Ki-60 was his favourite airplane. The first and the third prototypes were given to the Independent 47 Chutai (Kawasemi butai) but they didn't see combat. At least one survived the war.
Neither Encyclopedia Vol. IV, nor Akimoto-sensei in his most recent "All the Experimental Aircraft in Japanese Army" or any other Japanese source I checked mention any differences between the prototypes. Only Francillon mentions them but his source is unknown. 
Judging from the available photos I see no visible differences between the prototypes.

5 - Are there any photos of the Kawasaki Ki-102Hei (Ki-102c)?

Answer: Design of the Ki-102Hei was completed in May 1945. Completion of the first prototype was scheduled for July 1945; the second was due in August of the same year. On June 28 (or 26) during an air raid, the fuselage (of the first prototype?) was destroyed. The war ended while it was repaired. No known photos exist. 

Feel free to contribute your corrections, additions or comments.

1 comment:

Harold K said...

To expand on what George has posted, I can add only that the Francillon book has a rather small photo of all three KI 60s. There is no visible difference (to me) in the cowlings among the three, despite the fact that Francillon states that the second prototype had a "cleaner engine cowling" and that the third had an "even smoother cowling".
Francillon states that the wing area of the second and third prototypes was 16.2 sq meters versus 15.9 on the first. Needless to say, the photograph of all three is inconclusive in terms of the wing area difference; if indeed there was one.