Military Plane discussion thread - Let’s talk Fighter/Attacker planes.

  • Despite what alcoholic retards are saying, there are no plans to shut down the Kiwi Farms.

Cedric_Eff

No secret, it's the meat. Don't skimp on the meat.
kiwifarms.net
Tell that to the various Argentine Skyhawk pilots who had to be fished out of the South Atlantic after these mofos pulled aerial handbrake turns with their thrust nozzles and blew them out of the sky.

The AV8-B, on the other hand...
This too is an joke plane.
7A17867F-778D-4FF7-B179-08FFFB133569.jpeg

It was Lockheed’s idea of an upgraded F-104 with minor performance improvements and also having the same engines as the F-16.
 

TiggerNits

Yankee vampire living off the blood of the poor
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Tell that to the various Argentine Skyhawk pilots who had to be fished out of the South Atlantic after these mofos pulled aerial handbrake turns with their thrust nozzles and blew them out of the sky.

The AV8-B, on the other hand...
I want to defend the harrier, because I actually have some hours in it, but jesus fucking christ does it break a lot and every maintenance officer that flies them goes full n manic-depressive. We should have just kept flying suped up A-4s instead. But the guys I know in the F35B say that they love the 35 for being what the harrier probably should have been.

Also, compared to the AV-8C the B was supposedly a thousand times better. Since they actually allowed nuggets in the B+ after more than a decade of barring anyone with less than 800 hours in turbine from touching them

This too is an joke plane.
View attachment 1111194
It was Lockheed’s idea of an upgraded F-104 with minor performance improvements and also having the same engines as the F-16.
Legend says this was Kelly's very last "official" design pitch for Skunkworks, and he even said it was a bad idea
 

BONE_Buddy

Still Alive.
kiwifarms.net
I want to defend the harrier, because I actually have some hours in it, but jesus fucking christ does it break a lot and every maintenance officer that flies them goes full n manic-depressive. We should have just kept flying suped up A-4s instead. But the guys I know in the F35B say that they love the 35 for being what the harrier probably should have been.

Also, compared to the AV-8C the B was supposedly a thousand times better. Since they actually allowed nuggets in the B+ after more than a decade of barring anyone with less than 800 hours in turbine from touching them



Legend says this was Kelly's very last "official" design pitch for Skunkworks, and he even said it was a bad idea
The F-35B is better than the jump jet and its decedents. There are a lot of reasons why, but the biggest is the fact that it is a fifth generation compared to a 3.5-4th generation aircraft.

Does it make sense to roll a STOVL concept into a stealth airframe? No. It really doesn't. The Turbofan (which was an interesting choice to begin with) has to go into what would have been internal bomb bay space. Otherwise the aircraft would not have been stealthy by default.

This runs you into another problem. Bombs on external pylons are not stealthy, and since you took up most of your internal space with the turbofan, you have to mount your weapons on the outside, if they are of any size or number.

Why they didn't go with an easier to maintain and only marginally less useful low-observable airframe, and pair with an aggressive electronic warfare escort. Like how the Navy did with the Super-Hornet/Growler combo, I do not know.

There is another design flaw, while it isn't causing problems right now, will severely cripple the fleet in the future.

You see, in order to get the weight low enough to that they could take this conventional takeoff aircraft, and turn it into a STOVL, they had to cut very aggressively.

Effectively they halved the useful airframe life due to accidentally removing too much frame reinforcement. This is the cancer that is "concurrent engineering."

This should be fixed on late block F-35Bs, but earlier block aircraft will either have to be retired, or sent in for an even more expensive rebuild. I don't envy that choice.
_
TL:biggrin:R: Is the F-35B better than the Harrier aircraft? Yes. Is it as good as it should have been? No, and that is a bit of a travesty.
 

TiggerNits

Yankee vampire living off the blood of the poor
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
The F-35B is better than the jump jet and its decedents. There are a lot of reasons why, but the biggest is the fact that it is a fifth generation compared to a 3.5-4th generation aircraft.

Does it make sense to roll a STOVL concept into a stealth airframe? No. It really doesn't. The Turbofan (which was an interesting choice to begin with) has to go into what would have been internal bomb bay space. Otherwise the aircraft would not have been stealthy by default.

This runs you into another problem. Bombs on external pylons are not stealthy, and since you took up most of your internal space with the turbofan, you have to mount your weapons on the outside, if they are of any size or number.

Why they didn't go with an easier to maintain and only marginally less useful low-observable airframe, and pair with an aggressive electronic warfare escort. Like how the Navy did with the Super-Hornet/Growler combo, I do not know.

There is another design flaw, while it isn't causing problems right now, will severely cripple the fleet in the future.

You see, in order to get the weight low enough to that they could take this conventional takeoff aircraft, and turn it into a STOVL, they had to cut very aggressively.

Effectively they halved the useful airframe life due to accidentally removing too much frame reinforcement. This is the cancer that is "concurrent engineering."

This should be fixed on late block F-35Bs, but earlier block aircraft will either have to be retired, or sent in for an even more expensive rebuild. I don't envy that choice.
_
TL:biggrin:R: Is the F-35B better than the Harrier aircraft? Yes. Is it as good as it should have been? No, and that is a bit of a travesty.
And here's the REAL kicker for all of this

When the fuck is an LHA ever not going to be in range of an actual carrier or USAF assets? We're not the brits, we have full fucking force projection. STOVL probably shouldn't be something we have put any effort in to from day one, it just doesn't make sense
 

Spunt

A Leading Source of Experimental Internet Gas
kiwifarms.net
You want a joke VTOL plane? I present to you the Yakovlev Yak-38:

Yak-38_(14598742).jpg


The Harrier and its derivatives had one large engine, that had its thrust piped to four nozzles that could be moved downwards for STOVL purposes.

The Yak 38 had THREE engines. Two main ones with moveable nozzles at the back, and a forward, vertically mounted third one that was only used for vertical flight. If a Harrier's engine failed while hovering, you got a bumpy landing as you fell straight down, and probably a chance to eject. If one of the Yak-38's three engines failed during a hover, their tripod arrangement would cause the aircraft to spin like a Catherine Wheel, land upside-down, and turn its pilot to blancmange. And these being 70's era Soviet engines, this happened a lot.

Assuming it got into the air, the Yak-38 had no range whatsover, not helped by a pointless third engine that was complete deadweight unless you were hovering. Its payload was also pathetic, with just four hardpoints on its stubbly little wings. It had no radar, and could only carry the USSR's rubbish IR homing missiles. Not that it had any combat capability at all, it was slow, overweight and unlike the Harrier it couldn't VIFF (Vector In Forward Flight) to increase its agility. It was mincemeat for just about any opposition.

But at least they tried I suppose.
 

TiggerNits

Yankee vampire living off the blood of the poor
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
You want a joke VTOL plane? I present to you the Yakovlev Yak-38:

View attachment 1111512

The Harrier and its derivatives had one large engine, that had its thrust piped to four nozzles that could be moved downwards for STOVL purposes.

The Yak 38 had THREE engines. Two main ones with moveable nozzles at the back, and a forward, vertically mounted third one that was only used for vertical flight. If a Harrier's engine failed while hovering, you got a bumpy landing as you fell straight down, and probably a chance to eject. If one of the Yak-38's three engines failed during a hover, their tripod arrangement would cause the aircraft to spin like a Catherine Wheel, land upside-down, and turn its pilot to blancmange. And these being 70's era Soviet engines, this happened a lot.

Assuming it got into the air, the Yak-38 had no range whatsover, not helped by a pointless third engine that was complete deadweight unless you were hovering. Its payload was also pathetic, with just four hardpoints on its stubbly little wings. It had no radar, and could only carry the USSR's rubbish IR homing missiles. Not that it had any combat capability at all, it was slow, overweight and unlike the Harrier it couldn't VIFF (Vector In Forward Flight) to increase its agility. It was mincemeat for just about any opposition.

But at least they tried I suppose.
The best part of the original Red Dawn was the Yak 38 failing to take off and being blow'd up real good by a hand grenade
 

BONE_Buddy

Still Alive.
kiwifarms.net
VTOL on fixed wing aircraft is a much of a meme as variable geometry.
I agree with the caveat that Transport VTOL is a viable technology.

Just to give a quick comparison, the V-22 Osprey compares well to the CH-47F Chinook in just about every performance category including, most importantly, over double the operating range. Over 400+ nm of realistic heavy lift capability radius. The late model Chinook does have an advantage of about 4,000 lb in the operational lift category. This is largely because of not having a tilt-wing design, which if a decent design were found, would remove a 10% lift degradation.

The ability to deploy far longer distances with no refueling or relays makes VTOL transports extremely useful.
 

TiggerNits

Yankee vampire living off the blood of the poor
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I agree with the caveat that Transport VTOL is a viable technology.

Just to give a quick comparison, the V-22 Osprey compares well to the CH-47F Chinook in just about every performance category including, most importantly, over double the operating range. Over 400+ nm of realistic heavy lift capability radius. The late model Chinook does have an advantage of about 4,000 lb in the operational lift category. This is largely because of not having a tilt-wing design, which if a decent design were found, would remove a 10% lift degradation.

The ability to deploy far longer distances with no refueling or relays makes VTOL transports extremely useful.
Yeah, that's because the airframes being supplanted have very few if any outright advantages. VTOL taking rotor wing capabilities with tilt rotor makes a ton of sense. There's been something ridiculous like only 9% of the airframe losses per thousand hours of flight time that the 22 had suffered compared to that of the blackhawk in its first decade of operational status and the maintenance hours needed per flight hour is less thanks to cruising at higher altitudes and fewer rpm.
 

nfys nst

almost became interesting
kiwifarms.net
Since everybody only posts American and weird German prototype WW2 stuff, I feel the need to bang some nice machines from other nations as well.
As there are so many amazing planes from all nations and specifications from that time period, I'll just start off with some of the more well-known Japanese single-engine fighters so I don't end up writing a book. I'll probably do other types, nations and maybe some cool prototypes later if I'm in the mood. Not gonna talk about the Zero since everybody and their mother knows it.

First off, I'll (hopefully be able to) explain naming conventions, this shit can be quite confusing and frankly stupid at times. Don't read this unless you have autism or want to contract autism. The TL;DR is: The IJNAAF (Navy) and IJAAF (Army) use different naming conventions that you can, in the case of the Navy, use to get basic information on the aircraft. In case of the Army, they're almost completely arbitrary.
The Americans understandably weren't willing to deal with this bullshit and just gave western names to Japanese planes. Fighters got male names, bombers, reconnaisance and transports got female names, gliders were named after birds, trainers after trees. Be American, be smart, don't contract autism.
Army aircraft use "Ki"- (short for "Kitai", aircraft), a number, a dash (-) followed by a Latin numeral and, in some cases, a lower case letter (a, b, c, d...) or Ko, Otsu, Hei, Tei etc. (there's more of those, but I don't know all of them, I'm not a Dr. or some shit), with the latter being the more common method. A full example would be Ki-84-I ko (or Ki-84a). Ki is just short for "Kitai" (aircraft). The number used to be chronological, the plane after the Ki-43 would be called Ki-44, but this number system was randomised during the war, so we get stuff like the Ki-200 (a copy of the German Me-163 rocket interceptor). The -with the latin numeral shows the series, it's essentially like the letter system the Americans used (B-24A/B/C...), the Ko/Otsu/Hei or lower-case letter denotes a variant in a series, like how the Americans used production blocks (P-51D-25 for example). The Army uses the same naming conventions for all types of aircraft, so you can't tell it's a fighter, a bomber or a trainer etc.

The Navy uses a more in-depth system of letter-number-letter-number, e.g. A6M3; the first letter denotes the aircraft's role, A is a carrier fighter, J is a land-based fighter, B is a carrier-based torpedo bomber etc. The first number denotes the number of the aircraft for the role, the second number denotes the manufacturer and the last number the major variant, kind of like the American letter system I already used above. Additionally, these names are further supported by "Model xx", the model being 2 numbers, the first number designating the airframe, the second the engine, starting from 11 (the first type of the airframe with the first type of the engine). The A6M3 would be Model 32 (commonly shortened to Mod 32), for example. On top of that, like in the Army, planes could have a ko, otsu/a, b, c etc at the end of their designation, denoting (relatively) minor production changes, kind of like how the Americans used production blocks
To finally tie all of this autistic drivel together, the A6M5 Mod 52ko would be a carrier based fighter, the 6th design built for that role, built by Mitsubishi and the fifthmajor variant, using the fifth version of the airframe and the second version of the engine, with the ko denoting a further small change, in this case carrying more ammo over the regular A6M5 Mod 52.

Both services can also add "Kai", sometimes in capital letters, after a name, "Kai" basically means "improved" and denotes a major upgrade, it's rarely used, however.

Army fighters

Ki-43 Hayabusa ("Oscar")
The IJAAF's lesser known direct contemporary of the A6M Zero, pretty much only remembered because the Flying Tigers fought those things over China and because it somehow lost all exhibition bouts against the Zero despite being the objectively superior aircraft in a direct dogfighting engagement. Its handling characteristics were very similar to a Zero, except it wouldn't lock up and would stay ludicrously agile at all speeds; whereas Allied pilots noted you could shake off a Zero with some rolls at mid-high speeds, the Ki-43 would stay glued to your ass like shit to a shoe. Of note also is the type's use of "butterfly"-type flaps, an advancement of the fowler-type, further enhancing the plane's already insane agility. The main production Ki-43-II variant was powered by a Ha-113 powerplant with 1200 HP, a powerful engine for such a small and lightweight aircraft. The Japanese also loved explosive stuff and built extremely deadly high-explosive shells for all their air-to-air weapons, so on a bad day you'd end up having this thing on your ass slinging exploding .50 cal rounds from its 2 cowling-mounted Ho-103 machineguns at you with your only chance of surviving being a steep dive. Similar to the Zero, the type soldiered on until the end of the war and would fare increasingly poorly in combat. Also has its own movie and theme song.

Ki-44 Shoki ("Tojo")

This goofy son of a bitch is another amazing aircraft many people unfortunately don't know about. Entering service in early 1942, this aircraft eschewed the traditional Japanese philosophy of putting agility over everything and instead favoured climb rate and speed. The Japanese definition of an aircraft with "poor agility" heavily differs from everybody else's though, it was still considerably more agile than basically all western aircraft in service at the time that weren't Spitfires or F4Fs. The main production variant, the Ki-44-II series, sported a top speed of ~615 kph, a crazy climbrate thanks to a Ha-109 14-cylinder radial engine with 1550 HP mounted to a plane with a gross weight of just over 2,5 tons, a fast roll rate and high maximum dive speed of well over 800 kph. Fortunately for American pilots, the type mostly saw action on the Asian continent before being becoming one of the preferred aircraft in home defence operations against B-29 raids. Either armed with 2 Ho-103 .50 caliber machineguns and 2 rifle-caliber Type 89 machineguns (Ki-44-I, Ki-44-II ko) or 4 Ho-103 machineguns (Ki-44-II otsu), one variant, the Ki-44-II hei, was notably armed with 2 rapid-fire 40mm cannons using caseless ammunition designed for use against bombers.

Ki-61 Hien ("Tony")/Ki-100


The Ki-61 is particularly interesting, as it is one of the few Japanese planes powered by an inline engine, in this case by an improved licence-built DB 601, now called Ha-40, the same engine that powered the early Bf 109 Es over Britain, delivering some 1150 HP. Similarities to German and Italian planes were so striking, some Americans actually believed the Japanese used licence-built planes, leading to the reporting name "Tony", as it resembled an Italian fighter. These planes entered service in early 1943 and performed admirably. Many early F4U pilots noted the Ki-61 to be the most challenging Japanese plane to shoot down. Top speed for the Ki-61-I was about 580 kph, the Ki-61-II could go roughly 620.
The aging engine later underwent major redesign, being redesignated Ha-140 and now producing 1500 HP to power the Ki-61-II Kai, an all-around improved version of the Ki-61. The inline engine proved tricky to maintain however and production quality tended to be low, making high command call to replace the engine with the reliable Ha-112 "Kinsei" radial engine with 1600 HP.

Additionally, by January 1945, the plant producing Ha-140 engines had been destroyed and quite a lot of finished airframes now would not be able to fly. In their desperation, the Army decided to convert the airframes to use the readily available radial engine, creating the Ki-100, which interestingly never received a reporting name by the Americans. Although merely an improvised bandaid, the Ki-100 performed quite impressively as a fighter, being able to fulfill various roles. Many Ki-100 pilots also enjoyed better training than their peers, with a captured P-51 being used to simulate engagements, giving them a more fair fighting chance. The Ki-100 had a top speed of about 590 kph.

Ki-84 Hayate ("Frank")
This one's one of the more well-known Japanese aircraft, and for a good reason. Nakajima took the lessons learned from their previous projects, the Ki-43 and Ki-44, and combined them to build a world-class aircraft that could easily match the big boys fighting over Europe. Its Ha-45 "Homare" 18-cylinder powerplant was quite a marvel of engineering, putting a large amount of engine into a deceptively small amount of space, however, it was quite maintenance intensive and difficult to manufacture. Entering service en masse in 1944 after exceptionally promising calculations and testing, IJAAF high command had put massive hopes into the aircraft, holding all development on other aircraft beforehand and forcing all available factories to crank out as many of these aircraft as possible. The oftentimes horribly rushed production and poor quality of maintenance that was provided on the frontlines greatly marred the plane's reputation until today. A well-built and maintained Ki-84 is, as already mentioned, an outstanding machine with no real weaknesses, combining speed, climbrate, agility and armament into a deadly package. A mid-production variant powered by the Ha-45-21 engine, providing 2000 HP, could reach a top speed of ~680 kph, and the obscure late-production machines probably only deployed against the Soviet Union in northern China are said to have been able to hit over 700 kph. Most Ki-84s were armed with 2 .50 cal machineguns in the cowling and 2 20mm Ho-5 cannons in the wings, with very small production blocks being armed with 4 20mm cannons or 2 20mm cannons and 2 30mm cannons.


Navy fighters

J2M Raiden ("Jack")

The peculiar J2M Raiden was designed and built by Mitsubishi as an interceptor, focusing on climbrate and heavy armament to tackle attacking forces at a moment's notice. Like most Japanese fighters, the J2M is a lightweight design powered by a large engine, in this case an MK4/Ha-32 "Kasei" with 1800 horsepower. The engine went through several developments over the plane's short service life, mostly by attempting to increase the plane's performance at high altitudes, although none of these measures garnered large success.
Being deployed in early 1944 after troublesome development, the J2M fortunately was a rare sight for American airmen. Of particular note is the cowling; in order to increase the aircraft's speed, its cowling and subsequently its propeller shaft were elongated, with the propeller shaft also turning a cooling fan, similar to the system used by the German FW 190 multirole fighter, giving the aircraft excellent cooling characteristics. American testing of captured planes revealed that the system was so efficient that the engine faced the risk of being over-cooled. In combat, the Raiden impresses through its amazing rate of climb, acceleration, vertical agility and powerful armament of either 2 rifle-caliber machineguns 2 20mm Type 99 Model 2 canonns (J2M2) or 4 20mm cannons, 2 Type 99 Model 1 and 2 Type 99 Model 2 (J2M3 (pictured above, I love that artwork) and J2M5). Most people who know their stuff and some cool pdf of a computer calculated comparison against an F6F-5 put the J2M3's top speed at ~615 kph, although estimates vary wildly. Blame the slant-eyes for being sore losers and burning many of their documents and speaking moon-runes so nobody can bother searching through their archives as the Japanese don't care that much about their history.

N1K2-J Shiden-Kai ("George")

Another (in-)famous fighter, the N1K2 built its fame through its interesting development cycle, good performance and by merit of being the steed of the elite 343rd Naval Air Group, a squadron made up exclusively of all surviving Japanese aces, formed in December 1944.
The N1K2-J started off as a humble seaplane, designated N1K1, but when it was finished by 1943, it was evident Japan didn't need a plane of that specification anymore. However, the N1K1 had proved to be a promising aircraft, so it was decided to be reworked to a land-based fighter and the N1K1-J Shiden was born. To start where we left off with naming conventions, a - with a letter after the name designates a role change of an aircraft, in this case from seaplane to land-based fighter. Directly after the N1K1-J started production, the designers got together and revamped the design to make it less of a weird stopgap measure. This resulted in the N1K2-J, a fine fighter. It uses the same "Homare" engine the Ki-84 uses and performs quite similar, except it's quite a bit slower at only ~635 kph. It's armed to the teeth with 4 20mm cannons, carrying 900 shells in total. Particularly noteworthy is its automatic flap system, depending on pressure exerted to the plane's wings, it will automatically extend its flaps to tighten its turning circle, taking workload off the pilot and making the plane even more deadly than it already is. The 343rd performed impressively where they were deployed and actually lost more planes to the N1K2's shitty landing gear than to enemy action, being the only late-war air group that destroyed more planes than it lost in combat.
 
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Cedric_Eff

No secret, it's the meat. Don't skimp on the meat.
kiwifarms.net
Since everybody only posts American and weird German prototype WW2 stuff, I feel the need to bang some nice machines from other nations as well.
As there are so many amazing planes from all nations and specifications from that time period, I'll just start off with some of the more well-known Japanese single-engine fighters so I don't end up writing a book. I'll probably do other types, nations and maybe some cool prototypes later if I'm in the mood. Not gonna talk about the Zero since everybody and their mother knows it.

First off, I'll (hopefully be able to) explain naming conventions, this shit can be quite confusing and frankly stupid at times. Don't read this unless you have autism or want to contract autism. The TL;DR is: The IJNAAF (Navy) and IJAAF (Army) use different naming conventions that you can, in the case of the Navy, use to get basic information on the aircraft. In case of the Army, they're almost completely arbitrary.
The Americans understandably weren't willing to deal with this bullshit and just gave western names to Japanese planes. Fighters got male names, bombers, reconnaisance and transports got female names, gliders were named after birds, trainers after trees. Be American, be smart, don't contract autism.
Army aircraft use "Ki"- (short for "Kitai", aircraft), a number, a dash (-) followed by a Latin numeral and, in some cases, a lower case letter (a, b, c, d...) or Ko, Otsu, Hei, Tei etc. (there's more of those, but I don't know all of them, I'm not a Dr. or some shit), with the latter being the more common method. A full example would be Ki-84-I ko (or Ki-84a). Ki is just short for "Kitai" (aircraft). The number used to be chronological, the plane after the Ki-43 would be called Ki-44, but this number system was randomised during the war, so we get stuff like the Ki-200 (a copy of the German Me-163 rocket interceptor). The -with the latin numeral shows the series, it's essentially like the letter system the Americans used (B-24A/B/C...), the Ko/Otsu/Hei or lower-case letter denotes a variant in a series, like how the Americans used production blocks (P-51D-25 for example). The Army uses the same naming conventions for all types of aircraft, so you can't tell it's a fighter, a bomber or a trainer etc.

The Navy uses a more in-depth system of letter-number-letter-number, e.g. A6M3; the first letter denotes the aircraft's role, A is a carrier fighter, J is a land-based fighter, B is a carrier-based torpedo bomber etc. The first number denotes the number of the aircraft for the role, the second number denotes the manufacturer and the last number the major variant, kind of like the American letter system I already used above. Additionally, these names are further supported by "Model xx", the model being 2 numbers, the first number designating the airframe, the second the engine, starting from 11 (the first type of the airframe with the first type of the engine). The A6M3 would be Model 32 (commonly shortened to Mod 32), for example. On top of that, like in the Army, planes could have a ko, otsu/a, b, c etc at the end of their designation, denoting (relatively) minor production changes, kind of like how the Americans used production blocks
To finally tie all of this autistic drivel together, the A6M5 Mod 52ko would be a carrier based fighter, the 6th design built for that role, built by Mitsubishi and the fifthmajor variant, using the fifth version of the airframe and the second version of the engine, with the ko denoting a further small change, in this case carrying more ammo over the regular A6M5 Mod 52.

Both services can also add "Kai", sometimes in capital letters, after a name, "Kai" basically means "improved" and denotes a major upgrade, it's rarely used, however.

Army fighters

Ki-43 Hayabusa ("Oscar")
The IJAAF's lesser known direct contemporary of the A6M Zero, pretty much only remembered because the Flying Tigers fought those things over China and because it somehow lost all exhibition bouts against the Zero despite being the objectively superior aircraft in a direct dogfighting engagement. Its handling characteristics were very similar to a Zero, except it wouldn't lock up and would stay ludicrously agile at all speeds; whereas Allied pilots noted you could shake off a Zero with some rolls at mid-high speeds, the Ki-43 would stay glued to your ass like shit to a shoe. Of note also is the type's use of "butterfly"-type flaps, an advancement of the fowler-type, further enhancing the plane's already insane agility. The main production Ki-43-II variant was powered by a Ha-113 powerplant with 1200 HP, a powerful engine for such a small and lightweight aircraft. The Japanese also loved explosive stuff and built extremely deadly high-explosive shells for all their air-to-air weapons, so on a bad day you'd end up having this thing on your ass slinging exploding .50 cal rounds from its 2 cowling-mounted Ho-103 machineguns at you with your only chance of surviving being a steep dive. Similar to the Zero, the type soldiered on until the end of the war and would fare increasingly poorly in combat. Also has its own movie and theme song.

Ki-44 Shoki ("Tojo")

This goofy son of a bitch is another amazing aircraft many people unfortunately don't know about. Entering service in early 1942, this aircraft eschewed the traditional Japanese philosophy of putting agility over everything and instead favoured climb rate and speed. The Japanese definition of an aircraft with "poor agility" heavily differs from everybody else's though, it was still considerably more agile than basically all western aircraft in service at the time that weren't Spitfires or F4Fs. The main production variant, the Ki-44-II series, sported a top speed of ~615 kph, a crazy climbrate thanks to a Ha-109 14-cylinder radial engine with 1550 HP mounted to a plane with a gross weight of just over 2,5 tons, a fast roll rate and high maximum dive speed of well over 800 kph. Fortunately for American pilots, the type mostly saw action on the Asian continent before being becoming one of the preferred aircraft in home defence operations against B-29 raids. Either armed with 2 Ho-103 .50 caliber machineguns and 2 rifle-caliber Type 89 machineguns (Ki-44-I, Ki-44-II ko) or 4 Ho-103 machineguns (Ki-44-II otsu), one variant, the Ki-44-II hei, was notably armed with 2 rapid-fire 40mm cannons using caseless ammunition designed for use against bombers.

Ki-61 Hien ("Tony")/Ki-100


The Ki-61 is particularly interesting, as it is one of the few Japanese planes powered by an inline engine, in this case by an improved licence-built DB 601, now called Ha-40, the same engine that powered the early Bf 109 Es over Britain, delivering some 1150 HP. Similarities to German and Italian planes were so striking, some Americans actually believed the Japanese used licence-built planes, leading to the reporting name "Tony", as it resembled an Italian fighter. These planes entered service in early 1943 and performed admirably. Many early F4U pilots noted the Ki-61 to be the most challenging Japanese plane to shoot down. Top speed for the Ki-61-I was about 580 kph, the Ki-61-II could go roughly 620.
The aging engine later underwent major redesign, being redesignated Ha-140 and now producing 1500 HP to power the Ki-61-II Kai, an all-around improved version of the Ki-61. The inline engine proved tricky to maintain however and production quality tended to be low, making high command call to replace the engine with the reliable Ha-112 "Kinsei" radial engine with 1600 HP.

Additionally, by January 1945, the plant producing Ha-140 engines had been destroyed and quite a lot of finished airframes now would not be able to fly. In their desperation, the Army decided to convert the airframes to use the readily available radial engine, creating the Ki-100, which interestingly never received a reporting name by the Americans. Although merely an improvised bandaid, the Ki-100 performed quite impressively as a fighter, being able to fulfill various roles. Many Ki-100 pilots also enjoyed better training than their peers, with a captured P-51 being used to simulate engagements, giving them a more fair fighting chance. The Ki-100 had a top speed of about 590 kph.

Ki-84 Hayate ("Frank")
This one's one of the more well-known Japanese aircraft, and for a good reason. Nakajima took the lessons learned from their previous projects, the Ki-43 and Ki-44, and combined them to build a world-class aircraft that could easily match the big boys fighting over Europe. Its Ha-45 "Homare" 18-cylinder powerplant was quite a marvel of engineering, putting a large amount of engine into a deceptively small amount of space, however, it was quite maintenance intensive and difficult to manufacture. Entering service en masse in 1944 after exceptionally promising calculations and testing, IJAAF high command had put massive hopes into the aircraft, holding all development on other aircraft beforehand and forcing all available factories to crank out as many of these aircraft as possible. The oftentimes horribly rushed production and poor quality of maintenance that was provided on the frontlines greatly marred the plane's reputation until today. A well-built and maintained Ki-84 is, as already mentioned, an outstanding machine with no real weaknesses, combining speed, climbrate, agility and armament into a deadly package. A mid-production variant powered by the Ha-45-21 engine, providing 2000 HP, could reach a top speed of ~680 kph, and the obscure late-production machines probably only deployed against the Soviet Union in northern China are said to have been able to hit over 700 kph. Most Ki-84s were armed with 2 .50 cal machineguns in the cowling and 2 20mm Ho-5 cannons in the wings, with very small production blocks being armed with 4 20mm cannons or 2 20mm cannons and 2 30mm cannons.


Navy fighters

J2M Raiden ("Jack")

The peculiar J2M Raiden was designed and built by Mitsubishi as an interceptor, focusing on climbrate and heavy armament to tackle attacking forces at a moment's notice. Like most Japanese fighters, the J2M is a lightweight design powered by a large engine, in this case an MK4/Ha-32 "Kasei" with 1800 horsepower. The engine went through several developments over the plane's short service life, mostly by attempting to increase the plane's performance at high altitudes, although none of these measures garnered large success.
Being deployed in early 1944 after troublesome development, the J2M fortunately was a rare sight for American airmen. Of particular note is the cowling; in order to increase the aircraft's speed, its cowling and subsequently its propeller shaft were elongated, with the propeller shaft also turning a cooling fan, similar to the system used by the German FW 190 multirole fighter, giving the aircraft excellent cooling characteristics. American testing of captured planes revealed that the system was so efficient that the engine faced the risk of being over-cooled. In combat, the Raiden impresses through its amazing rate of climb, acceleration, vertical agility and powerful armament of either 2 rifle-caliber machineguns 2 20mm Type 99 Model 2 canonns (J2M2) or 4 20mm cannons, 2 Type 99 Model 1 and 2 Type 99 Model 2 (J2M3 (pictured above, I love that artwork) and J2M5). Most people who know their stuff and some cool pdf of a computer calculated comparison against an F6F-5 put the J2M3's top speed at ~615 kph, although estimates vary wildly. Blame the slant-eyes for being sore losers and burning many of their documents and speaking moon-runes so nobody can bother searching through their archives as the Japanese don't care that much about their history.

N1K2-J Shiden-Kai ("George")

Another (in-)famous fighter, the N1K2 built its fame through its interesting development cycle, good performance and by merit of being the steed of the elite 343rd Naval Air Group, a squadron made up exclusively of all surviving Japanese aces, formed in December 1944.
The N1K2-J started off as a humble seaplane, designated N1K1, but when it was finished by 1943, it was evident Japan didn't need a plane of that specification anymore. However, the N1K1 had proved to be a promising aircraft, so it was decided to be reworked to a land-based fighter and the N1K1-J Shiden was born. To start where we left off with naming conventions, a - with a letter after the name designates a role change of an aircraft, in this case from seaplane to attacker. Directly after the N1K1-J started production, the designers got together and revamped the design to make it less weird, basically. This resulted in the N1K2-J, a fine fighter. It uses the same "Homare" engine the Ki-84 uses and performs quite similar, except it's quite a bit slower at only ~635 kph. It's armed to the teeth with 4 20mm cannons, carrying 900 shells in total. Particularly noteworthy is its automatic flap system, depending on pressure exerted to the plane's wings, it will automatically extend its flaps to tighten its turning circle, taking workload off the pilot and making the plane even more deadly than it already is. The 343rd performed impressively where they were deployed and actually lost more planes to the N1K2's shitty landing gear than to enemy action, being the only late-war air group that destroyed more planes than it lost in combat.
Mitsubishi really needs to give their planes Americanized names like Frank or George. I’d be funny.
 
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millais

The Yellow Rose of Victoria, Texas
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
View from the cockpit of Rudolf Stark's Fokker D.VII, painted by the pilot himself. Somewhere out there is the original full color painting, but for now all we have is a greyscale reproduction from his war memoirs.

That's pretty much how it looks in the flight sim too. He even painted the perspective to show how he lined up the iron sights on the righthand lMG 08/15 to take a rightward deflection shot, just like you would in the flight sim.

I believe he did all the paintings after the war from memory, so just goes to show how strong an impression the aircraft made on him if he could do a photo-realistic painting of the cockpit view years after spending only the last few months of the war in the new D.VII
 
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