Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Carrier Fighters - Nakajima A2N1 Navy Type 90 Carrier Fighter

In 1928 the Japanese Navy imported and tested a Boeing 69B (F2B-1) carrier fighter powered by a 420 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-B Wasp engine, and in the following year, the fourth Boeing 100 (essentially similar to the F4B-1) was also imported for testing. The two aircraft being demonstrated to Japanese aircraft manufacturers as examples of then-current US shipboard fighter technology. Nakajima, having completed its contract for building the A1N1-2 Type 3 Carrier Fighter, which had been based on the Gloster Gambet, was now free to investigate a new design as a replacement, and used the Boeing 69B as their starting point.

Takao Yoshida designer of the A1N1, was assigned design responsibility for the new fighter and he used many of the features of the Boeing fighter in his design. Within the company designation NY, it was called the 'Type 3 Fighter', soon optimistically changed to 'Type 90 Carrier Fighter' with the assumption of navy acceptance. Structurally, the fuselage was very similar to that of the Type 3 Carrier Fighter, and the wing was tapered like the Boeing 69B's. The undercarriage resembled those of the imported Boeing 100.

Two prototypes, both powered by the Nakajima-built Jupiter V1 engine were built in 1929. Evaluated by the Navy in the following year, these prototypes were rejected as they were considered to offer no improvement over the A1N1. I May 1931, under the leadership of Jingo Kurihara, anew prototype was designed and completed. Its wing with rounded tips closely resembeled that of the Boeing 100, it was lighter and was powered by a 580 hp Nakajima Kotobuki 2 engine. A second prototype was completed with even greater improvements, and in early 1932 it was submitted to the Navy for evaluation. It was soon recognised as a remarkable improvement over that of the Type 3 Carrier Fighter and e=was officially accepted in April 1932 as the Type 90 Carrier Fighter, with short designation, A2N1. It was put into production immediately.

The A2N1, was a single-engine fighter biplane, with a fabric-covered all-metal fuselage with wood and metal wings covered in fabric.

Several models were evolved during its production. The first model was the Type 90-1 Carrier Fighter (A2N1) which had the fuel tank inside the fuselage as had the Boeing 100. Armament consisted of two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine-guns, and the upper wing had no dihedral. The first change was the Type 90-2 Carrier Fighter (A2N2) which became the main production version. It had saddle fuel tanks located on both sides of the fuselage like the Vought Corsair, and two machine-guns on top of the fuselage. The Type 90-3 Carrier Fighter (A2N3) was identical to the previous model except that 5 degrees dihedral was added to the upper wing. There was also a two-seat trainer version which was officially adopted in June 1934 as the Type 90 Carrier Fighter Trainer (A3N1).

About 100 Type 90 Carrier Fighters were produced by Nakajima and the Sasebo Naval Arsenal. The A2Ns were the first Japanese-built carrier fighters which could meet on equal terms the rest of the world's best fighters. This type was used by the Naval aerobatic team of Genda, Okamura and Nomura.

Technical Data

Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki KK (Nakajima Aeroplane Co Ltd).

Type: Single-engined Carrier-borne Fighter.

Crew (1): Pilot in open cockpit.

Powerplant: One 460-580 hp Nakajima Kotobuki 2 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, driving a two-blade Hamilton-Standard fixed-pitch metal propeller.

Armament: two fixed forward-firing 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine-guns.

Dimensions: Span 9.37 m (30 ft 9 in); length 6.183 m (20 ft 3 1/4 in); height 3.025 m (9 ft 11 in); wing area 19.74 sq m (212.486 sq ft).

Weights: Empty 1,045 kg (2,303 lb); loaded 1,550 kg (3,417 lb); wing loading 78.5 kg/sq m (16.1 lb/sq ft); power loading 3.37 kg/hp (7.4 lb/hp).

Performance: Maximum speed 158.2 kt (182 mph) at 3,000 m (9,843 ft); cruising speed 90 kt (103.6 mph); climb to 3,000 m (9,843 ft) in 5 min 45 sec; service ceiling 9,000 m (29,527 ft); range 270 nm (311 miles); endurance 3 hr.

Production: A total of 100 A2N1-A2N3 were built between 1932-1936 by Nakajima Hikoki KK and the Sasebo Naval Arsenal. Also 66 A3N1s were built between 1936-1939.

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