Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Early Naval Fighters - Navy Type 3 Carrier Fighter

Navy Type 3 Carrier Fighter (A1N1 and 2) The ageing Mitsubishi Type 10 Carrier Fighters accepted by the Navy in 1921 were in need of replacement and in April 1926, the Navy asked competing manufacturers, Mitsubishi, Nakajima and Aichi, to submit proposal for a replacement.

Nakajima placed an order with the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company (later Gloster Aircraft) in England to construct a modified version of its year-old Gamecock Gambet, that would have increased structural strength and be suitable for carrier operations. For this purpose, the wing of the original Gamecock was increased in span from 9.18m to 9. 70m which increased the wing area from 24.4sq m to 26.3sq m for better performance in manoeuvrability and carrier-deck take offs and landings. To assist with the necessary modifications, Nakajima assigned Takao Yoshida as chief designer to work with Gloster.

Competing aircraft, the Mitsubishi Taka-type and the Aichi H-type, were powered by watercooled engines, and incorporated such features as a jettisonable undercarriage and flotation system for emergency alightings on water, all of which led to overweight and reduced manoeuvrability. The Nakajima G (for Gloster), although not equipped with flotation devices, used the air-cooled Jupiter VI engine. This was lighter in weight, had increased manoeuvrability and provided a very stable gun platform. These features made the aeroplane attractive to the Navy, and it was officially accepted in April 1929 as the Type 3 Carrier Fighter, with short designation A1N1.

In 1930, an improvement was made by using the 460hp Kotobuki engine with a metal propeller. This became the Type 3-2 Carrier Fighter (A1N2), making the earlier Jupiter-powered version the Type 3-1 Carrier Fighter (A1N1). This was the first Nakajima naval fighter, although not purely Japanese because of its Gloster origin. It was considered the best fighter in Japan at that time.

When Japan became involved in the Shanghai Incident, so did the Japanese Navy's A1N2 fighters, the first Japanese fighters to engage in combat. On 22 February, 1932, the aircraft carrier Kaga's three A1N2s led by Lieut Nogiji Ikuta, from the land base in Shanghai, shot down a Boeing P-12 flown by the American pilot Robert Short, after two minutes of combat. On 26 April during an attack on Hangchow airfield, A1N2s scored several victories and probables on Chinese flown aircraft, making it the classic fighter during the Shanghai Incident.

Single-engine single-seat fighter biplane. All-wooden structure with fabric covering. Pilot in open cockpit. 420hp Nakajima Jupiter VI nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller (A1N1), 450hp Nakajima Kotobuki 2 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, driving a fixed-pitch two-bladed metal propeller ( A1N2). Two forward-firing side-mounted 7.7mm machine-guns. Bomb load: Two 30kg (66Ib) bombs.

Approximately 150 built excluding prototype. About fifty A1N1s 1929-30and about 100 A1N2s 1930-32.

Specifications (A1N2)
General characteristics
    Crew: One
    Length: 6.50 m (21 ft 3¾ in)
    Wingspan: 9.70 m (31 ft 10 in)
    Height: 3.30 m (10 ft 10 in)
    Wing area: 26.3 m² (283 ft²)
    Empty weight: 882 kg (1,944 lb)
    Max takeoff weight: 1,375 kg (3,031 lb)
    Powerplant: 1 × Nakajima Kotobuki 2 9 cylinder radial engine, 336 kW (450 hp)
    Maximum speed: 241 km/h (130 kn, 150 mph)
    Cruise speed: 148 km/h (80 kn, 92 mph)
    Range: 370 km (200 nmi, 230 mi)
    Service ceiling: 7,000 m (23,000 ft)
    Wing loading: 3.05 kg/m² (6.7 lb/ft²)
    Power/mass: 0.24 kW/kg (0.15 hp/lb)
    Climb to 3,000 m (9,843ft): 6 min 10 sec
    Guns: 2 × fixed, forward-firing 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns
    Bombs: 2 × 30 kg (66 lb) bombs

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