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  • Nakajima J9Y Kikka / Kitsuka (Orange Blossom) Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber

    Based on the German Me 262 jet-powered fighter, the Nakajima Kikka was one of the Japanese contributions to jet-based aerial warfare before the end of World War 2.

     Updated: 5/6/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Messerschmitt Me 262 "Schwalbe" jet-powered fighter was a wartime breakthrough in the field of military fighter aircraft when it was operational introduced with the German Luftwaffe as the world's first jet-powered fighter. However, its combat history was limited by many circumstances - unreliable engines, jamming guns, a weak nose landing gear, ill-equipped airfields and factories, lack of trained pilots, shortage of materials, production disruptions (due to the Allied bombing campaign), and political interference by Hitler and others. Nevertheless, the Me 262 was a revolution design for the period, able to outrun, out-climb, and out-dive any fighter then known. Its all-cannon armament provided enough firepower to bring down an enemy heavy bomber in a single burst of fire.

    With this in mind, German allies in Japan was able to visit Germany during 1944 and see the progress on several promising projects including the Me 262. Satisfied with the possibilities, German authorities granted Japanese engineers access to the design and plans were shipped by German naval U-boat submarines to Japan for re-engineering and ultimate construction. The Nakajima concern was charged with a new naval fighter initiative based on the Me 262. Included in the specifications was a maximum speed of 430+ miles per hour, an operational range of no less than 125 miles with an 1,100lb war load. The Japanese knew they wanted a multi-role performer with their Me 262 derivative - to serve as a fighter and a fighter-bomber. To help keep runway requirements to a minimum, the standard twin turbojet engines would be supplemented through power from 2 x rocket boosters on take-off. One other key element was that the wings would be designed to fold along a hinged section - allowing the fighter to be made more compact for storage in fortified tunnels, safely away from the Allied bombers. Thought was also placed on the types of materials to be used in the aircraft's construction as well as assembly practices to better serve more unskilled labor. Nakajima engineers would have access to plans covering both the airframe and engines as well as the fuel used to feed said engines.

    All was going to plan until, on May 15th, 1945, the German U-boat carrying a portion of the required plans was intercepted and taken over by the Allies. This left a noticeable gap in the paperwork that the Japanese engineers had before them - operating from an incomplete set of blueprints as well as from the memories of its visiting engineers in Berlin. Nevertheless, the project was furthered as best as possible and this produced a slightly altered, dimensionally smaller version of the Me 262. The aircraft became known as the Nakajima J9Y "Kikka" ("Orange Blossom").

    As finalized, the aircraft took on the same general design form as the Me 262. However, the fuselage was decidedly thinner in the Japanese approach and more slab-sided. Unlike the swept-back wings featured in the Me 262, the Kikka was given straight wing assemblies while retaining the underslung turbojet engine nacelles as in the original. The tail unit was largely the same though the vertical tail section was noticeably smaller in overall area. The cockpit was centralized in the design and the pilot offered good views through the largely unobstructed placement. The tricycle undercarriage was also retained from the Me 262 design.

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    Nakajima J9Y Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1945
    Type: Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber
    National Origin: Imperial Japan
    Manufacturer(s): Nakajima - Imperial Japan
    Production Total: 1

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 26.67 feet (8.13 meters)
    Width: 32.81 feet (10.00 meters)
    Height: 9.68 feet (2.95 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 5,071 lb (2,300 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 9,017 lb (4,090 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Ishikawa Ne-20 turbojet engines developing 1,050 lb of thrust each.

    Maximum Speed: 432 mph (695 kph; 375 knots)
    Maximum Range: 584 miles (940 km)
    Service Ceiling: 40,354 feet (12,300 meters; 7.64 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 1,240 feet-per-minute (378 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 30mm Type 5 cannons in nose assembly

    Up to 1,100lbs of external stores.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Imperial Japan

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    J9Y "Kikka" - Project model designation

    Kokoku Nigo Heiki ("Imperial Weapon No.2") - Alternative name.