The DB605 engine was not without troubles even in Germany early on. They beefed up certain parts etc... and were able to use boost thereafter. The Fiat version powering the Italian series 5 fighters, was likewise corected later (1944). Unfortunately the Kawasaki version of the engine never got rid of its problems in the Ki 61-II 'Tony'. (check out my Fiat post recently). Perhaps the Japanese tendency to make a lighter version of the DB601 from the begining in the Ki 61-I fighter (instead of beefing it up) had something to do with this all along.
Hiroyuki Takeuchi, e-mail, 23.03.2012 02:52
Aaron I think it's an overstatement to say that "the majority of B-29s lost to Japanese fighters were shot down by the Ki.61-II". Very few model IIs went into combat units, probably just 55 and 56 sentais plus a few at the Air Evaluation Unit at Tachikawa (Koku-Shinsa Bu). The famous B-29 intercepition unit, the 244 Sentai, were equipped with model Is of various marks which were later replaced by Ki100s instead of Ki61 IIs.
The tactic was to have a "Shinten Seiku Unit" (Sky-Quake Air Superiority Unit) whose aircraft were stripped of armament and armour and ramming the B-29s to break up formation. The sturdy Hiens were suited for such tactic, as several Hien Shinten Seiku Tai pilots such as Matsumi Nakano, Masao Itagaki, and Teruhiko Kobayashi survived the crash to fight again. In fact Nakano and Itagaki rammed other B-29s late and survived again. However, such feats are not recorded in other units using Ki44 or Ki45 planes, the pilots disintegrating with their planes on impact.
Hiroyuki Takeuchi, e-mail, 22.03.2012 03:48
Hi. A comment about armament variants. I think your description of the variant names and armament is based on Francillon and widely spread in western aviation publications but is differenct from what is widely known in Japan. In Japan, the "standard" published information is as follows;
DESIGNATION Armament Model 1 KO(Ki61Ia) 2 x HO103 12.7mm (Fuselage) 2 x Type 89 7.7mm (Wing)
Model 1 OTSU(Ki61Ib) 2 x HO 103 (Fuselage) 2 x HO 103 (Wing)
Model 1 HEI (Ki61Ic) 2 x HO 103 (Fuselage) 2 x MG151/20 (Wing) Model 1 TEI (Ki61Id) 2 x HO 5 20mm(Fuselage) 2 x HO 103 (Wing)
There are no official records nor designation for a 30mm cannon armed model. I am not even sure such existed.
Also, the Ki61I-kai designation was an initial name for the long fuselage models with the 20mm Ho5 guns in the nose. These were later redesignated as Ki61Id. I have never seen a Ki61I-kai-c or Ki61I-Kai-d designation in Japan, although I have seen a lot of it in Western studies.
Aaron, e-mail, 23.06.2011 21:51
Wikipedia lists the Ki.61-II as one of the very few Japanese fighters able to reach the operational altitude of the B-29s raiding Japan with decent firepower. Subsequently, the majority of B-29s lost to Japanese fighters were shot down by the Ki.61-II.
Aaron, e-mail, 23.06.2011 21:44
Ron, Thank you and thanks for sharing all the great information that you have posted. Well, I'm sitting at home on a day off so I dug out the TAIC report 154A1-4. The performance figures of the Ki.61-1 on this report match exactly to the figures given on the confidential report COMPARATIVE PERFORMANCE AND CHARACTERISTICS REPRESENTATIVE ENEMY AND ALLIED AIRCRAFT Jap Fighters report that I have listed elsewhere on this sight. They are: Test Weight: 6,982 lbs. Engine: Kawasaki Type 2/1,160hp/S.L. Range Clean: 1,520mls/156mph/1,500ft/199gallons. Max: 2,010mls/148mph/1,500ft/299gallons. Max.Speeds: 302mph/S.L. 322/5Kft. 340/10Kft. 358/15Kft. 361mph/15,800ft. 352/20Kft. 340/25Kft. 318/30Kft. Climb: 2,440fpm/SL. 2,520/5k. 2,500/10K. 2,300/15K. 1,750/20K. 1,200/25K. 1,000/27K. 500/31,2K. 100/35K. 5,000ft/1.9min. 10K/4.0. 15K/6. 20K/8.5. 25K/11.7. 30K/16.0. In another report PROJECT TED NO. PTR-1115 Roll Rate at Low Speeds: Equal to FM-2, F6F-5 and F7F-3. Inferior to F4U-1D, F4U-4 and F8F-1. High Speeds: Slightly inferior to FM-2. Inferior to F4U-1D and F7F-3. And Greatly inferior to F6F-5, F4U-4 and F8F-1. The FM-2 was the only fighter in this comparison that could outturn the Ki.61-I at any speed. The Tony 1 gave up maneuverability to gain speed but by U.S. standard was still very maneuverable at lower speeds.
Ron, e-mail, 08.06.2011 04:55
Thanks Aaron. Great find!
Aaron, e-mail, 30.05.2011 19:37
Found a military document document marked RESTRICTED dated March 1945. The document(s)is numbered 154A-1 through 154B-4. It is titled TONY 1 and TONY 2. I only have time now to post one part of the document, so I'll start with the Ki.61-II first. Page 154B-2 states that the performance figures are based on fragmentary documentary evidence and resultant extrapolation of engine ratings. Engine: Kawasaki Ha-140/1,440 hp at War Emergency power/5,700ft. Maximum Speed: 335mph/S.L. 423mph/28,000ft. Climb: 3,425fpm/S.L. 3,560fpm/6,000ft. 1,000fpm/37,400ft. 100fpm/43,000ft. 10,000ft/3.2min. 20,000ft/6.6min. Test Weight: 7,232lbs. Maximum Range: 2,120mls./150mph./1,500ft./305gallons. This is the only document I have ever seen that gave the Ki.61 (any variant) a speed of over 400mph.
Ron, e-mail, 06.05.2011 01:28
check the ki 100 site John.
JOHN H., e-mail, 12.04.2011 18:54
WHAT!? NO MENTION OF THE KI 100? IT HAD BETTER NUMBERS THAN THE KI 61. THE JAP COPY OF THE DB 601 ENGINES HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH MAIN BERINGS SO THEY HUNG A GOOD RADIAL ENGINE ON THE KI 61 AIRFRAME AND CALLED IT THE KI 100. LIGHTER,FASTER AND A BETTER RATE OF CLIMB.WOULD LOVE TO HAVE ONE TO PLAY WITH.
Ron, e-mail, 07.03.2011 18:40
I'm amazed how people cling to WW 2 propaganda that was discarded by 1943. This is 2011. Some still won't admit the Ki 61 is a Japanese fighter design. It's as absurd as calling the P-51 with the 'Malcom hood' an American copy of the Spitfire because it has the canopy and engine shared. Heck even the guns in some versions. The Mustang name was British too. These folks keep repeating that Japan bought examples of German Heinkel and Messerschmitt fighters, well so did Russia. Does that make the Soviet LaGG-3 a copy of the He 100 just because it was influenced by some of it's features? They won't say that but they'll say it for the Ki 61. Pure ignorance! Voght and Doi had nothing to do with Heinkel or Messerschmitt! Unfounded propaganda should be exposed for what it is.
Ron, e-mail, 03.02.2011 09:54
Background of the Kawasaki Hien fighter: Takeo Doi graduated from Yamagata University in 1924, and Department of Aeronautics, Faculty of Engineering, Tokyo Imperial University. In 1927, he started his career in Aircraft Department of Kawasaki Dockyard Company Limited, Kobe. (1923 - 1933). The company invited Dr Richard Vogt from Germany as a technical advisor to teach its engineers in the construction techniques of Dornier Flugzeugwerke on aircraft which Kawasaki was building under license. As a chief designer, Vogt trained new-face engineer Doi to be his successor. They worked jointly on several aircraft projects, including the (KDA-5 Army Type 92 biplane fighter, KDA-2 Army Type 88 reconnaissance Surveillance biplane, KDA-3 single-seat fighter, and KDA-5 Army Type 92-I biplane fighter). During this period, Doi was dispatched to Europe, where he worked for one and a half years. In Europe, he studied the art of aircraft engineering in the field of airplane industry. When Doi was in the United Kingdom, he paid attention to the technology of George Dowty, founder of Dowty Aviation Dowty Rotol, a British manufacturing company based in Cheltenham manufacturing propellers.. As Dowty's technology in aviation hydraulic systems was state-of-the-art and met the requirement of the Japanese military, Doi chose his product as the landing gear of Type 92-I biplane fighter. This decision helped Dowty to develop his company, Dowty Aviation, and became a milestone for the expansion of the Dowty Equipment group thereafter. After Vogt returned to Germany, Doi became the key person in the design bureau of Kawasaki Aircraft until the company ceased operations at the end of World War II. His most important and outstanding work was the design of Army Type 3 Fighter Kawasaki Ki-61. The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien was a Japanese World War II fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The first encounter reports claimed Ki-61s were Messerschmitt Bf 109s, then an Italian design, which lead to Allied code name "Tony", assigned by the United States War Department. The Ki-61 Hien demonstrated surprising performance that surpassed the famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero. (- Online astronomy & history site.) The myth that the Ki 61 was an He 100 copy is not borne out here.
vimy, e-mail, 16.12.2010 17:21
the reason why the Tony was chosen over the tojo is a simple one
the pilots prefered the easier to fly and more stable Tony. The Tojo was a beast to fly and required the pilot be experienced in order to handle also, dispite its great statistics it was not very stable in the air which made aiming the guns and keeping a bead on the target very difficult in short, it was a great hot rod but a mediocre war plane.
The Tony, on the other hand was easier to fly and very stable in flight, meaning it was more ideal plane for the inexperienced rookie pilots that filled the ranks of the Japanese air force.
Ron, e-mail, 05.12.2010 02:35
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT REPORT AS WELL. My opinion is that the build and armor of the Tony is more battle worthy than the Tojo's but the reliable, less vulnerable radial engine of the Tojo compensates. I also agree that the manueverability or the early Tony doesn't come with all the safety restricted moves of the Tojo (no snap roll, no stall, no inverted flight, no flick moves ...etc). The Tojo had the climb rate especially vs later model Tonys. I say early and later Tony because the Tony was so much heavier with each model. That's not so true of the Tojo. It gained less than 500 lbs loaded. The last inline Tony gained about a ton since the mock dogfight in August, 1942.
Aaron, e-mail, 16.10.2010 19:09
Ron, I would love to see the actual report on the Ki.61-I vs Ki.43-II, Ki.44-I, Bf.109E and P-40E. It would be very interesting to see how the Ki.61-I bested its foes. It is obvious to see the Hien's ascendency over all but the Ki.44-I. I have not seen any actual test reports of the Tojo so all I have to go on is articles and commonly published figures. From what I have read to date, the Ki.44 has the maximum speed, roll rate and climb advantage. IMO dive, acceleration and ruggedness are similar. The Tony's only clear advantage is a tighter sustained turn. But as I said, this is just my opinion.
Ron, e-mail, 12.10.2010 08:49
Aaron, I saw that website before but I'm still unsuccessful in spotting some of the info you found there. There are some similar that I saw in the past but can't seem to find again. Sometimes Aviation History or Flight Journal magazines ..etc, have some good stuff.
Debtman, You must have your tongue in cheek. Otherwise, a book I want to recommend to you is Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by Rene J Francillon.
While it's true that the Ki 61-I emerged victorious outright in mock dogfights between the standard Ki 43-II, a Ki 44-I, a Bf 109E and a captured P-40E in the summer of 1942, something is lost in the translation on the way to your comment, Debtman. The 30-mm cannons were not the low velocity short range MK 108s. The Ho-155(105) wing mounted 30s on the Ki 61-I KAId had a decent range of 900 m. The cowl guns were 12.7-mm machine guns.
DebtMan, e-mail, 01.10.2010 22:35
The Ki-61 was an hybrid between a leased Me-109 and a captured P-40.During the last stages of WW2,a few number of Tonys was used in kamikaze missions.The standard variants was the Ki-61Ko (4xRu 12.7mm machine-guns),Ki-61 Otsu (2xRu 12.7mm machine-guns and 2xHo-5 20mm cannons) and Ki-61KAIc (4xMK-108 30mm cannons)
Aaron, e-mail, 23.09.2010 09:41
Ron, Thank you for the complement. I am just an anthusiast like yourself. I have been fortunate to come across so many military and manufacturers document only through the computer (internet, which my wife Diana said I had to get years ago, bless her heart). Yes, I totaly agree that the Ki.61 was superior to the P-40E in 1943, but the contemporary P-40 would be the N-1. This curtiss fighter would outclimb and outturn the Hien. But you are correct that the E model was still in great numbers in the Pacific and probobly the model the Tony would most likely apose. However, apples to apples the P-40E was a full year old by that time. The Tony had a very good roll rate at slower speeds. I have not found any posted exact figures at this time. You are exactly right though about the comparison being later US fighters. It is a navy report dated Jan. 26,1943. Controlled sercumstances, I am sure. I would really like to see the Ki.61-1 compared to its actual contemporarys like the P-39N. Especially if the Allison is pushed to the limits.
Ron, I am really starting to wonder. Did you get my e-mail about the sight that has a lot of the info that I have been sharing? If not, please let me know. There are a lot of great sights out there. I would be very interested in all the sights/books that you have found the great information that you have been sharing with the rest of us. Please do not hesitate to e-mail me at Yahoo. No, I'm not going to try to sell you insurance. I work at a hospital in the maintenance department. I am a stationary steam engineer and CPO (pool boy) among other things. My college degree is in accounting....go figure. We'll talk about my kids later if you promise to take one or two....three or four.
michael petersen, e-mail, 25.08.2010 22:44
hi i am building a model and i am going to fly it wing span is 1830 long great isnt it.
Ron, e-mail, 22.08.2010 07:42
Aaron, I certainly appreciate the info you find and share with us. I notice in the comparison you posted, the US fighters are much later models than the Ki 61-I which took air supremacy from the P-40E (it's contemporary) when it entered service with the IJAAF in early 1943. It was better than other Japanese fighters in armor and dive at the time. I read somewhere once that the Tony could out-roll US Navy fighters. Now I hold that suspect. If it was true, perhaps only to the left. I wish I could read that report in detail. In fact you add much in the way of facts to many fighters on this virtual museum. Wish I could find all of your sources, not just this Tony.
Aaron, e-mail, 12.08.2010 08:07
NOTE: The Ki.61-IIa and -IIb also had teardrop canopys. There were about 30 of these examples produced in the spring of 1944 before the deliveries of the Ha.140 engines dried up.
Aaron, e-mail, 12.08.2010 07:57
In an USN comparison test titled PROJECT TED NO. PTR-1115 a Ki.61-1 Tony I Type 3 is compared to the following planes: FM-2, F6F-5, F4U-1D, F4U-4, F7F-3 & F8F-1. In this report it list the advantages of the USN fighters as: a. Greater Speed. b. Higher rate of climb c. Higher rate of roll at high speeds. d. Better altitude performance. e. Faster acceleration. f. Greater high speed maneuverability. The Tony has the following advantages: a. Shorter minimum turning radius (except to the FM-2). b. Greater maneuverability at low speeds. Under the introductory section it states that: The Tony becomes very inferior (under the sub-heading ROLLS) at high speeds due to the excessive aileron stick force. I found it interesting that the FM-2 could outturn the Tony slightly. The only other widespread US fighter that could outturn the Tony (that I know of) was the P-40N.
Ron, e-mail, 08.08.2010 08:00
Controls of the Tony were superior at high speed to those of the '109 but with it's unreliable Ha-140 lightweight power, it was slower at maximum level speed and climb. It had a cleaner view and in the end had a teardrop canopy (Ki 100 Tony). But the '109 had that center-line hub gun and the great synchronized cowl gun rate almost up there with the Russians, so wing guns could go. With the covered tail wheel, wide-stance undercarriage and clean body and wings of the tight turning Tony (even with internal wing guns) together with the trusty powerplant and concentrated punch of the fast-climbing Messerschmitt should have been combined and mass produced. They solved each others nagging problems.
Ron, e-mail, 08.08.2010 06:57
What could have been if in the spring of 1943 the Luftwaffe got their hands on a specimen of the Ki 61 Hien and installed a real DB 601A power plant, and 3 MG 151s all in the nose. The cowl mounted pair with reliable electric synchronization (none of the Browning derived slow rate synchronization suffered by Japanese pilots) with a 20-mm motor hub cannon and no wing guns to compensate for the heavier engine. Voila! You have a much more aerobatic ninja fighter than the Bf 109. The Hien was the first tough Jap fighter. Now it's drawbacks would be gone early on. The best of both fighters in one should result.
Ron, e-mail, 26.06.2010 17:00
I appreciate the comment on dive speed. On comparing this fighter to the Zero, my answer would be that the A6M2 ruled in 1942 till it was demystified and the Ki 61 followed by taking back air superiority on it's debut. Allied tactics were updated to dive against Zeros and that played right into the strength of the Tony. Of course it could still dogfight too (perhaps better than it's European counterparts). With the -II version it had improved altitude performance and range, gaining it's reputation against B-29 raids. Unfortunately, it was still dogged by engine trouble. Enter the Ki 100 surprise!
Mark, 26.05.2010 11:04
Can we cut out the politics and just see comments on the plane - Chinese! PO! 14/06/2009
Steve Tullius, e-mail, 13.03.2010 06:50
Hello, I came across this site looking for information on the captured TONY at yontan , Okinawa. My father was stationed there and i am looking for information on that aircraft that flew in after the capture of the airstrip. Thanks if you can help
TERENCE ENRIGHT, e-mail, 14.02.2010 21:21
FINALLY GOT MY EMAIL RIGHT SOMETIMES IT SAYS .COM AND SOMETIMES .NET OK ONE LAST TIME TEPE88@VERIZON.NET IS THE RIGHT ONE FORGIVE ME AS I AM AN OLD MAN AND COMPUTERS ARE A BUNCH OF JUNK I STILL WOULD LIKE TO GO BACK TO TWO CANS AND A STRING FOR COMMUNICATION
marg enright, e-mail, 11.02.2010 18:17
correcting the email again. hope its right THIS time. terry enright at tepe88verizon.net, me at firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone would like first hand knowledge of this plane. also, still looking for location of the particular plane that he was working on. we heard it made it back to the states. but the trail went cold. any info appreciated. thanks.
marg enright, e-mail, 11.02.2010 18:05
correcting my dads email. email@example.com he was one of the mechanics in New Guinea that was to rebuild this shot down/abandoned plane to fly back to the United States for evaluation. He has detailed pics including insignias that modelers have been asking about.
tony, e-mail, 05.11.2009 20:38
was it a good plane beter than the zero!
marg enright, e-mail, 02.10.2009 20:59
hi,wanted to update my dads email. he worked on this in the south pacific and we have detailed pics, including the insignia under the window, which seems to be unclarifiyed in previous posts. there are other sites, mainly model builders, that want the real info...we have origninal pics which we would love to send to anyone interested. we have been looking for the location of this plane for maybe 30 years. anyone with info??? please post to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com thanks very much.
TERENCE ENRIGHT, e-mail, 15.08.2009 01:53
I WOULD LIKE SOMEONE TO CONTACT ME REGUARDING THE CAPE GLOUSTER TONY FIGHTER AS I MAY HAVE INFORMATION AS I WAS ONE OF THE FOUR GUYS THAT GOT THE PLANE AT THE CAPE I HAVE PRIVATE PHOTOS ANYONE WHO WANTS COPIES SHOULD CONTACT ME AT MY EMAIL AND THEY CAN THEM HAVE FOR FREE
CHINESE, 14.06.2009 19:44
THE CHINESES WAGED THE BATTLES TO DESTROY THE EVIL FORCE OF THE JAPS!
CHINESE-PILOT, 08.04.2009 17:36
CHINESE Ki-61 AFTER THE WW2: http://hk.myblog.yahoo.com/jw!owWqfLiRGBJbisRWdd0UJtGfMNc-/article?mid=4970
Hiroyuki Takeuchi, e-mail, 30.01.2009 05:09
Correction in subtype description which is probably based on the widely spread Francillion data.
Ki61I-ko(a) 2X7.7mm 2X12.7mm Ki61I-otsu(b) 4X12.7mm Ki61I-hei(c) 2X12.7mm (nose) 2X20mm (MG151/20 imported by submarine from Germany) Ki61I-tei(d) 2X20mm Ho-5 nose guns 2X12.7mm wing guns (also called Ki61I-kai, this had a longer fuselage and additional fuselage tank).
The Ki61 was an exceptionally sturdy aircraft. I have read ex-pilot's accounts of this aircraft attaining over 550mph IAS in dives and pulling out.
Chinese-pilot, 29.12.2008 12:18
Hien means "Flying Swallow"(¸¿P) in Japanese and Chinese. It also joined the Chinese Airforce after the WW2.
Mick Dunne, e-mail, 23.11.2008 08:27
The Japanese armaments planning was generally excellent! They certainly started the war with the Best Navy in the world and were no slouches at producing fine aircraft either! However, Kawasaki should NEVER have stuffed around with the German engine...BIG mistake! The Hein was an EXCELLENT fighter...ask the Australian and US pilots who had to fight little suckers!
Jabo, e-mail, 02.07.2008 23:50
I find it interesting how there was insufficent planning of armaments by the japanese to result in an airplane of this nature. Further it was read once where Japan had a multitude of various caliber guns on there warships instead of a standard type.I just wonder why.
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