Hi X, Anyone would agree at least at first. But bear in mind most Hayabusas had light machine guns or a mix of one reliable 7.7-mm and one 12.7-mm that was less reliable. Only later did they improve to the point of twin heavy machine guns. Still they had claimed more allied planes than any other Jap fighter! And mostly US planes tough as any in the war. The difference that I suspect accounts the most for this would be that no allied plane could shake one on their tail close-in (short of diving away) like they could a Luftwaffe plane. If the Ki 43 pilot (and his buddies) had all day to shoot at you, it had enough ammo to do damage; but if you tried the same on his six, its like trying to swat a fly (or a swarm of flies). Anyway, that's my opinion. Too many Allied pilots were slow to learn not to give the Oscar the firing time on target required. Overclaiming is another factor but not so much more so than with any other Japanese fighter type. Also the Ki 43 and Ki 84 confused Allied pilots who mistook one for the other with favorable consequences for the Nakajima pilots. Just take the death of ace Tom McGuire for instance.
Of course by mid-war, the slow (max. speed) but quick (accelerating) Oscars were losing the battle left and right despite many above average pilots, but that's true also in the rest of the Axis. Against the Japanese (especially Oscars and Zeros), US pilots learned their lesson and kept up their speed with hit and run tactics only.
X, 07.07.2012 07:20
2 x 12.7mm machine-guns are totally useless in fierce battles like the ones over Europe
Ron, e-mail, 14.04.2012 23:10
I want to make a slight correction to my last post. The Ki 43-II got the more powerful engine and the IIa got the armored seat etc.. in Nov. 1943 as I said but the A6M5b entering production in June only had the armored glass. The armored seat came in the A6M5c starting production in Oct. 1944 - 11 months after the Hayabusa and furthermore the Zero did not get a more powerful engine and performance was degraded compared to the Ki 43-IIa. So for whatever it's worth, the Zero needed the new 1560 hp MK8P Kinsei-62 by then as planned by the design team (A6M5 in time for autumn 1943 combat) but nooo! Only the postwar A6M8 got that thanks to the Navy higher-ups. So the armor issue makes the Oscar look good when compared to the Zero at least. So the Zero became the kamakazi standard.
Ron, e-mail, 11.04.2012 06:33
I believe the last pre-series Ki 43 had the experimental 1150 hp Ha-105, pilot armor, and 12.7 mm cowl guns in 1940 and still surpassed the Ki 27 (Nate) in maneuverability due to the new combat flaps. Unfortunately on January 9, 1941 it began production with the old but plentiful 7.7 mm guns and the underpowered 975 hp Ha-25 radial and you guessed it, armor protection was thus all unloaded as a result! Why make things difficult to mass produce? Right? Thus it didn't have to be obsolete off the bat but it was for expediency. Big mistake! The cost in pilots lost proved too high and those missing upgrades were slowly restored over the years. In the Ki 43-Ib had mixed armament of one 12.7 mm and one 7.7 mm. The Ki 43-II had the Ha 115 type 2 motor with 1150 hp at just under 10,000 ft. By November 1943 the Ki 43-IIa had it's armor back. 2 years gone and we're almost back to 1940 prototype level! It had TWO 12.7 mm guns though. That was on it's way too. Patience... I must admit that the A6M Zero was still without any armor until mid 1944 by comparison. And after that it's performance constantly fell while that of the Ki 43 surpassed it. The Hayabusa only progressed... then the Ki 84 Hayate replaced it (Ki 44 as well) and in good numbers too. It's Mitsubishi rival was the ill fated A7M Reppu (Sam) no show. Credit Nakajima!
Ron, e-mail, 31.12.2011 09:01
Itokawa and his design staff were not proud when they built the first Nakajima prototype to the unrealistic requirements of the JAAF. It was rejected by the Army as a result. Demoralized, the Itokawa's team set their own more realistic goals, trying different variations of construction, engines, and so on, unhampered by the initial contract specs and design concessions. By the 12th prototype, it was accepted. After the next 10 experimental craft, combat flaps were added for phenomenal turns. Production was now begun. I found that interesting, compliments of Richard M. Bueschel's Military History.
y.k, 18.12.2011 10:29
Yes. After the end of WW2 captured Japanese planes were operated in Indochina.
Naga, 14.12.2011 03:54
My limited knowledge of this aircraft does not cover users, but somewhere I heard that France operated a small number of the type. Is this true?
Aaron, e-mail, 10.07.2011 17:45
Ron, The A6m2 compared to the Ki.43-1 was only more maneuverable over all in the vertical plane. The Ki.43s tighter/faster turn, quicker roll rate and faster acceleration gave it dominance on the horizontal plane. Fire power and top speed being the A6m's only advantage. Top speed does not come into play in swirling dogfight.
Ron, e-mail, 04.07.2011 07:02
"As compared to the Mitsubishi A6M2 Reisen, the Ki-43-Ic had a substantially lower wing loading but was nevertheless slightly inferior to the carrier-based fighter in overall maneuverability. The A6M2 was superior to the Ki-43-Ic in zoom climbing speed, although the Ki-43-Ic had a slight edge over the A6M2 in steady climbing rate to 16,400 feet. The primary weakness of the Ki-43-Ic was its light armament..."(Parker info.com). It had twin 7.7-mm cowl guns at first. The Nakajima fighters were known to be more work for the pilot in aerobatics than the Zero. The Ki 43-I did 308 mph max. The A6m2 did 331 mph and at a higher altitude despite the higher ceiling of the Oscar. This is before either plane clipped it's wingspan for roll rate.
The record shows Buffalos of Malaya etc.. did make aces against more Hayabusas than Zeros. And my former post wasn't my invention. It's what I read. I suggest they utilized it's dive advantage for hit and run and steered clear of the cannon armed Zeros (my guess). Pilot quality is probably a big factor between the Japanese navy and army pilots too. Remember the incident with Russia?
Aaron, e-mail, 26.06.2011 22:02
aiergirl, All facts aside, I am very currious as to why you believe a Buffalo could hang on the tail of and Oscar but not a Zero.? The Ki-43 can outroll, outturn, out accelerate and over distance can out climb the contemporay A6M.
Aaron, e-mail, 23.06.2011 20:28
Sorry, I almost forgot the most important features of the Japanese fighters. The large ailerons of the Zero and the combat flaps of the Peregrine Falcon. These features made these two aircraft the tightest turning monoplane fighters of WW2 with one sole exception. The Ki.27 (Nate). (Not real sure about the A5M2-4 Claud)...?
Aaron, e-mail, 23.06.2011 20:07
aiergirl, I am truly sorry about your sensitivity, but those are the specifics and they DO make the difference.
Aaron, e-mail, 23.06.2011 20:01
Hi aiergirl, and WOOPS!,
OK, it is possible that a skilled Buffalo pilot could lock onto the tail of a Ki.43 or A6M2 and do some real damage if he was facing an average JAAF/JNAF pilot. That is true with just about all aircraft of similar power. BUT given pilots of even fairly good skills and the answer is NO WAY...PERIOD. First the most maneuverable Buffaloes to see combat were the B-239 flown by the Finnish. They mostly carried 4x12.7mm guns. They were much lightened and somewhat modified from the Buffaloes that the U.S. and U.K. put into service. They had early self sealing gas tanks and mild pilot armor. Power was 1,000hp at War Emergency compared to 950 (A6M2) and 980 (Ki.43-I). Now for the important information that determines the ability to maneuver in the vertical and horizontal planes. The power loading of these A/C at Combat power and weight: B-239: 5.325 lbs/hp. A6M2: 5.16 lbs/hp. Ki.43-I: 4.6 lbs/hp. Translation: the lower number means better acceleration, climb and turning ability at lower speeds. The wing loadings at Combat power and weight were: B-239: 25.5 lbs/ft2. A6M2: 20.3 lbs/ft2. Ki.43-I: 19.07 lbs/ft2. Translation: The lower the wing loading the better the ability to turn tight at lower speeds. The F2A-1 (B-239) would have been one of the most maneuverable aircraft in the U.S. inventory at the beginning of the war. But, it would have been the slowest (301 mph) and the worst equipped. Finnish pilot Hans Wind did exceptional against poorly trained Soviet pilots in I-153s and even Yak-1s. But he didn't have to face Saburo Sakai in a Zero or Satoshi anabuki in an Oscar.
aiergirl, 20.06.2011 13:54
I'm a little over-sensitive about wartime misinformation and over-simplification. A skilled Buffalo pilot could hang with a Ki 43-I but not an A6M2 for example. Knowing specifics could make the difference.
, e-mail, 20.06.2011 13:53
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa
Ron, e-mail, 05.11.2010 05:56
Some tidbits I recently learned about the death of McGuire: 1. There was a 20-mm shell in his P-38s wreckage. 2. The 2 surviving U.S. pilots thought they were in a fight hat dayt with only one Nakajima fighter, until after the war. They didn't know the plane that shot down Rittmayer was a Ki 84 Frank. They thought it was the same Oscar that started the fight.
Thus the story we know is cooked perhaps. Just a little bit. The drop tanks used as the reason for his death... something more happened. True the Hayate was new in the area, maybe mistaken for an Oscar at that point. But that 20-mm shell didn't come from Akira's Ki 43 Hayabusa. It came from Mizunori's Ki 84. Am I wrong? Did we buy a cover story to save embarrassment?
Ron, e-mail, 31.10.2010 03:10
In 1942 P-40s and P-39s were out-numbered by swarms of Oscars the limited firepower of the Ki 43 was not an individual 1 on 1 comparison. They could gang up on the US fighters like bees. Their combined victories could have also lent itself to inflated individual claims in my opinion. It has been suggested that US P-39s in particular fell victim to the Oscar in comparison to Soviet P-39s fighting the Luftwaffe. While the P-39 could shake a Bf 109 off it's tail at low level, a Ki 43 on it's 6 had all day to pierce the vulnerable coolant lines of the inline engine behind the pilot. There was no out-turning an Oscar. The P-40s may have returned home while the P-39 often didn't because the Warhawk's engine was in the front and the Oscar was in the back. After the US tactics changed and the P-38s and other new US fighters arrived, the Oscar would simply get bounced from on high. However, lest the Allied pilot slipped and did a close-in maneuver and lost speed, the Ki 43 would latch on to the overweight fighter long enough do do damage.
Ron, e-mail, 28.10.2010 04:24
It is sobering to read that the Oscar racked up more victories than any other Japanese fighter. 50% of all kills by the Japanese were at the hands of Oscar pilots! It's no wonder it was the favorite of so many IJAAF aces. That's interesting when you consider the Zero outnumbered it almost 2 to 1. On the other hand, individually the very top aces of the Imperial Navy reached scores about double the Armies best (2 or 3 upwards of 100 or more vs 3 or 4 in the 50s). Also only 5 or 6 IJAAF aces outscored (the top US ace) R. Bong's 40 kills, while 11 IJNAF aces did likewise.
The Ki 43 like the A6M did their Ninja thing like only they could.
Aaron, e-mail, 07.10.2010 07:03
The Ki.43 was, in some ways, more dangerous to deal with than the Zero, chiefly because it had a better rate of roll, was armed with 12.7mm machine guns, had better acceleration, a tighter turning circle and a substatially better rate of climb in distance. That made it an awsome aerobatic apponent that you did not want to engage in a dogfight, especially at low speeds. It had minimal self sealing tanks and pilot armor that eluded the Zero.
Aaron, e-mail, 19.09.2010 03:19
The ki.43 also had superior initial acceleration compared to the contemporary A6m. This was due to its better power loading.
Aaron, e-mail, 15.09.2010 19:15
On a military sheet marked CONFIDENTIAL is a list of several Japanese fighter specifications and performances. The sheet is called COMPARATIVE PERFORMANCE AND CHARACTERISTICS REPRSENTATIVE ENEMY AND ALLIED AIRCRAFT. It lists the Oscar 2 Type 1 Nakajima at a gross weight: 5,500lbs. Engine power is listed at 1,160hp/S.L. and 1000hp/17500ft. Armament: 2x12.7mm w/250rpg. Maximum range: 1,745mls./137mph. w/257gallons of fuel. Radius: 715mls. Maximum speed: 289mph/S.L. 341mph/19,500ft. Rate of climb: 3,290fpm/S.L. 10,000ft/3.0min. 20,000ft/6.5min. That appears to give it a maximum climb of about 3,400fpm around 5,000ft. Service ceiling is listed at 38,200ft. but it does not say at what climb rate. 2,850fpm is listed at 17,500ft. Take off distance in calm weather is listed as 450ft. There are no specifics of how these figures were obtained. I have read several articles from pilots stating that the Ki.43 could outroll and outturn the contemporary A6M but at a cost of firepower.
Ron, e-mail, 29.08.2010 01:37
When Master Sgt. Akira Sugimoto in his humble Ki 43 'Oscar' spotted 4 USAAF new P-38L Lightnings above at 1,500 ft altitude and to his left head-on, little did he know he was about to bring down Major Tom McGuire who was intent on becoming the top US ace. In fact it was the last day for both. Akira evaded McGuire and Weaver and struck the left engine of Doug Thropp Jr. who was about to release his drop tanks, but McGuire ordered him to "save your tanks" and Major Jack Rittmayer drove Akira off of Doug's tail. So The Ki43 switched to attack Weaver's P-38. Tommy tried to save his wingman by turning the borrowed P-38L after Sugimoto's fly weight Hayabusa. At low level the Lightning fully stalled, snap-rolled on it's back and crashed on Neros Island in flames. After escaping into the clouds and landing his damaged Ki43, Akira was shot by Filipino guerillas. A Ki 84 was late coming to the fight with the P-38s. Rittmayer exchanged fire head-on and went down. The Hayate faced the other 2 and they disengaged after a few shots. The avenging Nakajima 'Frank' was flown by Mizunori Fukuda, a 21 year old instructor. McGuire was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for saving Weaver. Can you believe some folks think he was in a dogfight with a couple Zeros!
Ron, e-mail, 27.08.2010 21:40
In the way I tend to regard the Jack as a navy Tojo I guess. I can see that. They do the same role - point defense interceptor. But I still believe it helps to specify Jack if it's not a Tojo. (Incidently Mitsubishi and Nakajima again Like the Zero and Oscar were) I'm a little over-sensitive about wartime misinformation and over-simplification. A skilled Buffalo pilot could hang with a Ki 43-I but not an A6M2 for example. Knowing specifics could make the difference.
Ron, e-mail, 27.08.2010 21:06
Yeah. Army counterpart. OK. Like if the Japanese pilots called the Republic Lancer or Thunderbolt an army Hellcat or Corsair for purposes of identification. Similar but different. One could argue it helps mis-identify and still tends to degrade the impression of US rank and file aptitude. The fact that it was commonly done doesn't make it any smarter. It's embarrassing. It's something the US media would do!
jerry, e-mail, 26.08.2010 22:10
I didn't mean to imply that it was correct to equate the Oscar with the Zero, I'm just saying it was commonly done by Allied pilots at the time (more as a nickname for identification purposes, than for any comparison of the two plane's capabilities).
Ron, e-mail, 29.01.2010 07:25
That's like tv news calling every Russian fighter a MiG! To us that's heresy. But sad to say, it doesn't insult the intelligence of the general public. Calling an Oscar, a Zero is the same as calling a Spitfire a Hurricane. See what the RAF pilots would think of you then. An A6M 'Zero' is answering the same criteria as it's Army rival so the Ki 43 Oscar has similar broad strengths and weaknesses (Like a P-39 and P-40 in their own way). Now I am tempted to point out a few pertinent differences. The Zero had 4 guns, 7.7 mm and 20 mm and no armor till 1944! Then some 13.2 mm started replacing the 7.7 mm and armor protection was added incrementally. The Oscar took a different approach. It started out with armor (by Japanese standards) and had only 2 guns for the duration of the war! It skipped the low ballistic 20 mm and started with the 7.7 mm cowl guns, then one 7.7 mm and one 12.7 mm, then twin 12.7 mm. The twin 20 mm guns were late comers. The appearance was similar but for the tail. The Zero had that Mitsubishi cone tip like the A5M Claude before it and the J2M Jack that followed. Niether of these Mitsubishis would be mistaken for a Zero by a trained pilot except head-on at a distance. Maybe. But the Oscar is a Nakajima fighter with the slightly rounded rudder shared by that family of fighters, from the Nate to the Frank. It reminds me of the Ki 61 Tony misidentified as a German Bf 109 (or Italian Macchi C 202 - hence the code name Tony) in Japanese service or else a copy, as if it wasn't their own Kawasaki design around the same inline engine. The fact that it took air superiority away from the US fighters when it appeared in the Pacific may have had a little something to do with this WW 2 propaganda. To this day some Americans still believe it. I need a drink!
jerry, e-mail, 01.12.2009 21:22
In addition to "Oscar", the Ki-43 was commonly nicknamed the "Army Zero" for it's resemblance and similar performance characteristics to the more famous Navy A6M.
Ronald, e-mail, 11.09.2009 09:54
Everywhere you look the books say the Ki 43-II used two 12.7 mm MGs in the cowl, unless you look at the evidence at the combat fighter bases. It seems these Browning based Type 1 Ho-103 heavy machine guns were too unreliable and slow so the field crews replaced one of them with the old reliable Vickers based 7.7 mm Type 89. At least the early Ho-103s risked shooting down their own Oscars, so they protected the engine from the gun's misfire, with armor. Judging from their sister Italian weapons, the Breda-SAFAT 7.7 mm and 12.7 mm with the same ammo and lineage, I estimate these synchronized cowl guns may have fired at the rate of 700+ r/m for the 7.7 mm, and 450 r/m for the 12.7 mm IJAAF guns. Both 7.7 mm guns were vickers by design and both 12.7 mm guns were Browning (but the Breda was reliable). Does anyone know the real rates? We know that the synchronized Bredas fired 665 r/m ave, and 575 r/m ave. respectively and unsynchronized they fire 850 r/m and 700 r/m while the faster Japanese versions both fired 900 r/m. Obviously the IJAAF was impressed with prewar Italian MGs and ammo. Small exploding rounds were effective against fighters of the 1930s but the metal skinned fighters were another story (not to mention bombers). Tachikawa was the main builder of production Ki 43-IIIa fighters. But it was the -IIIb that got the 20 mm Ho-5 twin cannon and these were only prototypes.
Torbjörn Kampe, 16.06.2009 19:14
I love this Ki-43. And this teknikal date. And Ki-43 figter ess.
Hiroyuki Takeuchi, e-mail, 30.01.2009 03:41
There are several subtypes to the Ki43II, without official designation changes. The very first type had full span wings like the Ki43I. This type recorded a max speed of 515km/h. The next variant with clipped wings recorded 530km/h. With the "rocket" exhaust systems fitted to later models, the figure went up to 548km/h.
Also, although the number of Ki43IIIs completed is not clear, it seems to have been available in substantial numbers from late 1944. Tachikawa took over Ki43 production after the introduction of the Ki84, and they built about 2500 Ki43s (no subtype information available) so I would not be surprised to see at least a 1000 Ki43IIIs manufacutred. Units like the 64th Sentai chose it as their replacement for the Ki43II over the Ki84 and all of their front line machines were Ki43IIIs by the war's end. Many Kamikaze unit photographs equipped with the Ki43III also exist so they did see substantial action in combat during 44-45.
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