Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kawasaki Ki-102 Redux

Derived from the Ki-96 twin-engine single-seat fighter, development of which was abandoned after three prototypes had been completed, the Kawasaki Ki-102 was intended as a two-seat attack fighter for primary deployment in the close-support role. Some assemblies of the Ki-96 prototypes were incorporated into the three Ki-102 prototypes, the first of which was completed in March 1944. A cantilever mid-wing monoplane with a conventional tail unit, retractable tailwheellanding gear and two Mitsubishi Ha-112-II radial engines, the Ki-102 accommodated its two-man crew in separate enclosed cockpits in tandem. Completion of the prototypes was followed by the construction of 20 pre-production aircraft and in October 1944 the type was ordered into production under the official designation Army Type 4 Assault Plane (Kawasaki designation Ki-102b) and production was to total 215 aircraft. With the Imperial Japanese Army still anxious to procure a twin-engine high-altitude fighter, Kawasaki modified six of the preproduction Ki-102s to serve as prototypes of such an interceptor under the designation Ki-102a. This differed from the attack fighter by having improved two-seat accommodation, a revised tail unit and  Mitsubishi Ha-112-II Ru engines with turbochargers.

Successful testing of this version in mid-1944 resulted in a high-priority production order, but problems with the turbocharged engine resulted in only about 15 being delivered to the army before the war ended. The design had also been revised to produce a night-fighter version under the designation Ki-102c, but there was only time to complete two examples. These had increased wing span, a lengthened fuselage, redesigned tail surfaces, primitive Al radar, and armament comprising two 30mm Ho-105 cannon in the underfuselage and two 20mm Ho-5 cannon mounted obliquely in the fuselage to fire forward and upward. Ki-102b aircraft, which were allocated the Allied codename 'Randy', saw comparatively little service, some being used in action over Okinawa, but the majority were held in reserve in Japan.

    prototypes, 3 built
Ki-102a (Type Kō)
    Externally similar to the 102b, but with turbosuperchargers that enabled the engine to maintain its rating at higher altitudes. 57 mm (2.24 in) cannon was swapped in favour of a 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, and the 12.7 mm (.50 in) rear gun was deleted, 26 built.
Ki-102b (Type Otu)
    Ground-attack variant similar to prototypes, except with revised tail wheel, 207 built.
Ki-102c (Type Hei)
    Night Fighter version with lengthened fuselage and span. Radar under a Plexiglas dome, oblique-firing 20 mm cannons, and the 20 mm cannons in the belly replaced with 30 mm (1.18 in) cannons completed the package, 2 built.
    High-altitude fighter prototype with pressurised cabin, two conversions from Ki-102b aircraft using the structural improvements used on the 102c.

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