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Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien Tony

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One of the better-looking fighters of World War II, the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Swallow) was initially developed under the guidance of a German engineer and was powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 601A in-line piston engine. Japan produced this powerplant under license from its designers and called it the Kawasaki Ha-40. The Hien reached units in the Pacific from 1942 and served until Japan collapsed in 1945.

Americans in the Pacific often filed reports stating they had come up against Japanese pilots flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. In fact, Japan never flew the Bf 109 operationally. The fighter in question was the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien fighter, codenamed 'Tony' by the Allies. The Hien was a superb fighter of Japanese design and powered by a Japanese built Daimler Benz engine as fitted to the Messerschmitt.

A clean, streamlined fast and manoeuvrable aircraft the Ki-61 was the only liquid-cooled fighter to enter service with the Japanese air arms during World War II. The Hien scored many aerial victories against the Allies, and it also pioneered the use of armour and self-sealing fuel tanks that had been so useful in Europe.

Ironically the engine that made the 'Tony' possible was also its biggest limitation. The licence built Daimler DB 601A powerplant had little potential for further development. An attempt was made to improve the Ki-61 as the Ki-61-II, with an Ha-140 engine but teething problems delayed its introduction. Thus, although the 'Tony' had an important role in the war, it never achieved the fame of the A6M 'Zero'.


Kawanishi Ki-61 Hien Tony

Kawasaki Ki-61 Nationalist Chinese Hien Kawasaki Ki-61 with three-bladed propeller Kawasaki Ki-61 is a single-seat fighter
This Ki-61 was one of a number of Japanese aircraft to fall into Nationalist Chinese hands. Both Ki-61-I and Ki-61-II were fitted with a three-bladed, constant speed propeller in common with the Bf 109. After trials, an early production Hien was test- flown against a captured P-40E and an imported Bf 109E. The Ki-61 was the superior performer.

Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien Tony (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat fighter
Manufacturer Kawasaki
Maximum Speed 590 kmh (366 mph)
Maximum Range 580 km (360 miles)
Ceiling 10,000 meters (33,000 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

2,630 kg (5,786 lbs)
3,470 kg (7,634 lbs)
Wing Area

12.00 meters (36 ft 4 in)
8.94 meters (29 ft 4 in)
3.70 meters (12 ft 2 in)
20.00 square meters (215 sq ft)
Engines One Kawasaki Ha-40 inverted-vee piston engine which provides 880-kW (1,180 hp)
Armament Two 20 mm (0.79 in) Ho-5 cannon in the nose and 12.7 mm (.50 cal) Type 1 (ho-103)

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