Kawasaki Ki-48 Bomber Aircraft, Technical Specifications – Japan

Kawasaki Ki-48 Bomber Aircraft Technical Specifications

  • Crew – 4 people
  • Engine – ” Nakajima Na. 115
  • Power – 1150 hp
  • Wingspan-17.45 m
  • Wing area – 40.0 sq. m
  • Empty aircraft weight-4550 kg
  • Maximum take-off weight-6,750 kg
  • Maximum speed at altitude/near the ground – 505/350 km / h
  • Practical ceiling – 10,100 m
  • Maximum range-2400 km
  • Armament: 3×7. 7 mm Type 89 machine guns or 2×7. 7 mm Type 89 machine guns and 1×12. 7 mm Type 1 machine gun
  • The maximum bomb load is 800 kg.

Kawasaki Ki-48 Bomber Aircraft Details

At the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Japanese first encountered the Soviet Tupolev SB high-speed bomber supplied to the Chinese Air Force. Already in the first air battles, the SB bomber proved to be almost invulnerable to Japanese fighters, since its speed characteristics were similar to the speed of the latest Nakajima Ki fighter.27. Therefore, impressed by the flight characteristics of the SB, the air headquarters of the Japanese Army demanded to create such an aircraft. Already in December 1937, the Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K. K. aircraft company received an order for the development of a twin-engine light bomber capable of reaching a maximum speed of 480 km/h at an altitude of 3000 m, and cruising at 350 km/ h; gaining an altitude of 5000 m in 10 minutes and carrying 400 kg of bombs. It was assumed that its defensive armament would consist of three to four 7.7-mm aviation machine guns. Separately, the possibility of using the aircraft in low-temperature conditions, i.e. in the territories of Northern China and the Soviet Far East, was stipulated.

In January 1938, work began in the Kawasaki Design Bureau on the Ki. 48 light bomber project under the leadership of T. Doi. When creating this aircraft, the experience gained by the designers of this company in creating the twin-engine Ki fighter was widely used.45. The new bomber, which was a twin-engine all-metal monoplane with a retractable landing gear with a tail wheel, was designed according to the mid-plane scheme, which made it possible to free up space in the fuselage for the bomb bay. It was powered by two Nakajima Na 14-cylinder air-cooled engines. 25, with a power of 950 hp, with variable pitch screws. Its crew consisted of four people: the pilot, navigator-bombardier, gunner-radio operator and navigator-gunner. The defensive armament of the aircraft consisted of three 7.7-mm Type 89 aircraft machine guns: the nose mount was served by the navigator-bombardier, and the radio operator shooter and navigator-shooter, respectively, were the upper and lower machine gun mounts. The aircraft carried a total bomb load of 300 kg, which consisted of twenty-four 15 kg bombs or six 50 kg bombs.

The prototype Ki. 48 made its first flight in July 1939. During flight tests, this aircraft fulfilled all the requirements of the task, and its handling and maneuverability were noted by test pilots as very successful. At the same time, its design flaws were also revealed, and, first of all, the tail flutter. Therefore, it was necessary to rework it, and only after the stabilizer was raised by 400 mm and the rigidity of the tail boom was increased, the flutter problem was solved. In the summer of 1940, this aircraft was adopted by the Japanese Army Air Force under the designation ” light twin-engine bomber Army type 99 model I-Ko “(Ki. 48-I-Ko) and in July launched into mass production at the Kawasaki plant in Gifu. And soon these aircraft entered service with the 45th Hikosentai (Aviation Regiment), replacing the outdated Kawasaki Ki bombers.32. Already in the autumn of the same year, the 45th Hikoshentai, relocated to Northern China, took part in combat operations. Without encountering serious opposition from the Chinese Air Force, the Ki.48-I bombers performed satisfactorily. Especially Japanese pilots were satisfied with its speed characteristics – 505 km / h at an altitude of 5600 m. The Japanese were seriously preparing for future battles in the Pacific, so the Japanese Air Force fully used all the capabilities of the new Ki. 48 bomber, which was used not only as a front-line bomber, but also as a long-range and night bomber. The following year, 1941, a new improved model of the Ki.48-I-Otsu bomber appeared, with improved machine-gun installations. By the beginning of the Pacific War, the Ki. 48-I had become the most common Japanese Army Air Force light bomber in the Pacific Theater of operations. It served in the 8th, 27th, 75th and 90th Hikoshentai, which fought in Burma, Malaya against the British; in the Philippines against the Americans, and later against the Dutch in the East Indies. In these battles with the allies, all the shortcomings of the Ki.48-I were revealed, for example, its speed did not allow it to escape from allied fighters, and the lack of crew armor protection and tank protection made it very vulnerable. Therefore, to reduce combat losses, the Japanese had to transfer these aircraft to the category of night bombers,which immediately reduced their effectiveness. A total of 557 Kawasaki Ki.48-I-Ko and Ki.48-I Otsu bombers were produced until June 1942.

However, by this time, the Kawasaki Design Bureau had developed a new version of the Ki. 48, which received instead of Na engines.25 new, more advanced 14-cylinder Nakajima Na.115 air-cooled engines with 1,150 hp, with a two-speed supercharger. The first flight of Ai.48-II completed in February 1942. Externally, the Ki. 48-II bomber differed from its predecessor in an elongated and reinforced fuselage, which received a keel ridge to improve stability. In addition, the Ki. 48-II was equipped with sheet rubber-protected fuel tanks and armored seats for the crew: 12.5-mm armor plate for the navigator-bombardier; 6.5-mm armor plate for the pilot’s seat and 16.5-mm armor plate, as well as 16.5-mm armor plates to protect the ammunition. Already in April, the Ki.48-II aircraft was put into production under the designation “twin-engine light bomber army type 99 model II-Ko”, and soon its second model appeared-Ki-48-II-Otsu, in the dive bomber version, with air brakes in the form of grilles mounted under the wing. Despite the fact that the bomb load of the Ki. 48-II significantly increased to 800 kg (twice as much as its predecessor), it was still very small, and in this respect the Japanese aircraft was much inferior to the Allied bombers.

Its major drawbacks also included weak defensive weapons. In addition, by mid-1943, the Ki. 48-II had a low speed, becoming easy prey for Allied fighters. Therefore, during the fighting in New Guinea, the Japanese lost a lot of Ki. 48 bombers in the air and on the ground, and all attempts by Japanese aircraft designers to strengthen the armament of this aircraft ended in failure, although in 1943 the third model of the Ki.48 bomber-II-Hoi appeared. In this aircraft, the upper machine gun mount instead of the 7.7-mm Type 89 machine gun received a 12.7-mm Type 1 aviation machine gun, and in addition to the nose and lower 7.7-mm machine guns, a third 7.7-mm machine gun was placed in the cockpit of the navigator-bombardier-for firing through the side windows. However, despite all the improvements, by this time the Ki. 48-II was clearly outdated, and in October 1944, after the release of 1408 aircraft, its production was discontinued. At the same time, the Ki. 48-II in 1944-1945 was still actively used as a dive bomber in the Philippines, and as a night fighter over Okinawa. But soon most of the remaining Ki. 48-II were converted into bomber aircraft for kamikazes, which received the designation ” special army attack aircraft type 99 “(Ki. 48-II KAI). Their alteration was carried out by the First arsenal of Army aviation. In this version, all unnecessary equipment was removed from the aircraft, and the control system, designed in serial execution for two pilots, was converted to single control. In the bomb bay, one bomb weighing 800 kg was installed, and in the nose of the aircraft a long rod of the firing mechanism of the fuse was mounted, protruding far forward in front of the fuselage. A total of 1,977 Ki-48 bombers of all models were manufactured in Japan between 1940 and 1944.

The Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War exhibits a model of the Japanese Kawasaki Ki. 48 light bomber, recreated using authentic fragments of this aircraft, discovered during a search expedition in 2010 to the Kuril Islands of Shumshu and Paramushir. After the restoration work, these exhibits, including the model of the Kawasaki Ki. 48 bomber, took their place in the open area of weapons, military equipment and engineering structures on Poklonnaya Gora.

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