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Nakajima Ki-84 Frank

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No fighter ace of World War II was deadliner than the pilot of the powerful Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate ('gale'- nicknamed 'Frank' by the Allies). One of the few entirely new fighters developed by Japan once hostilities were under way, the potent Ki-84 climbed faster and was more manoeuvrable than the American P-51D Mustang and P-47N Thunderbolt. Unfortunately for Japan, this impressive warplane came too late to turn the tide.

Given the codename 'Frank' by the Allies, the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate entered service in the summer of 1944. Had it come earlier, this excellent warplane would have posed serious problems for them: it was clearly the best Japanese fighter to serve in large numbers.

The prototype flew at Ojima in April 1943, and was rushed into service while the Allies pursued their relentless advance toward the Japanese home islands. In early clashes in the Philippines the 'Frank' proved a superior combatant, but was outnumbered from the start.

Production aircraft were plagued by inferior workmanship. Fuel and hydraulic problems were never fully solved but the Ki-84 performed effectively anyway proving a fierce opponent in the final battle for Okinawa. Later models used wooden rear fuselage, fittings and wingtips to conserve strategic materials but performance remained superb, an impression confirmed by American tests conducted after the war.

By the close of the conflict, underground factories were being readied to produce 200 Ki-84s per month.


Nakajima Ki-84 Frank

American version of Nakajima Ki-84 Frank Nakajima Ki-84 Frank Japan's greatest fighter Air defender Nakajima Ki-84 Frank
The US Technical Air Intelligence Command evaluated the Ki-84 after the war, prompting admiration from American test pilots. One of Ki-84 was rebuilt in the USA in 1963 and was eventually returned to its homeland in 1973. The Ki-84 was a dangerous opponent against even the latest Allied types. When pitted against Curtiss P-40s in China and slower US Navy Hellcats, it proved deadly. The Ki-84 ended up flying desperate defence missions against B-29 bombers attacking the Japanese homeland. This was less than ideal for the Ki-84, which perfromed better at low altitudes.

Nakajima Ki-84 Frank (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat interceptor fighter and fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Nakajima
Maximum Speed 631 kmh (391 mph)
Maximum Range 2,168 km (1,350 miles)
Ceiling 10,500 meters (34,500 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

2,660 kg (5,830 lbs)
3,890 kg (8,558 lbs)
Wing Area

11.24 meters (36 ft 10 in)
9.92 meters (32 ft 6 in)
3.39 meters (11 ft 1 in)
21.00 square meters (226 sq ft)
Engines One Nakajima Ha-45-23 18 cylinder radial piston engine which provides 1416-kW (1,900 hp)
Armament Two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) Ho-103 synchronised nose machine-guns
Two wing-mounted 20 mm (0.79 in) Ho-5 cannon (later models had four cannon)
Two 250 kgs bombs or two 190 litres (0.50 gal) drop-tanks

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