Tachikawa Ki-74 (Pat / Patsy) Long-Range Reconnaissance Bomber
The end of World War 2 in 1945 signaled the end of the Tachikawa Ki-74 long-range reconnaissance bomber project for Japan.
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In the realm of World War 2 Japanese Empire aviation, Tachikawa certainly does not carry the same weight as do names such as Mitsubishi and Nakajima. However, the company was responsible for a family of aircraft using the "Ki" designator that dated back to the two-seat biplane trainer "Ki-9" of 1935. During the war years the company also lent its expertise in the design, development, and production of other aircraft including its own "Ki-74", a long-range reconnaissance bomber of the war and appeared in just sixteen examples.
For this product, Tachikawa engineers elected for a twin engine layout, consistent with other high-speed platforms of the period - namely the famous British de Havilland DH.98 "Mosquito". These powerplants would be fitted into streamlined nacelles located along the lead edges of each monoplane wing. To squeeze every bit of speed out of the airframe, a well-streamlined fuselage was designed. The tail unit utilized a conventional single-finned layout with low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of the "tail-dragger" configuration with two single-wheeled main legs (under the engine nacelles) and a diminutive tailwheel at rear.
Developed of the Ki-74 was primarily for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF), the air arm of its massive land army. The long-range reconnaissance /bomber role was an ongoing requirement of the military as its many conquests across Asia and the Pacific would require a long endurance thoroughbred. As such, the aircraft was in the design stage as soon as 1939 but other military commitments by both the IJAAF and Tachikawa ensured that a first flight was not made until March of 1944.
The original prototype was outfitted with Mitsubishi Ha-211-I radial piston engines of 2,200 horsepower output but this switched to Ha-211 radials that were turbosupercharged in the following pair of prototypes. After technical issues prevented their long-term adoption, the Mitsubishi Ha-104 Ru, a turbosupercharged 18-cylinder air-cooled radial of 2,000 horsepower output, was selected instead (driving four-blade propeller units). This engine outfitted the next thirteen airframes that were to serve in the preproduction role ahead of finalized production models.
As built, the Ki-74 carried a crew of five personnel throughout its deep fuselage. it displayed a length of 58 feet, a wingspan of 61 feet, and a height of 16.8 feet. Empty weight was listed at 22,490lb with a gross weight nearing 42,770lb. Power from the Ha-104 radials provided a maximum speed of 355 miles per hour with a cruising speed in the 250-mile range. The aircraft's service ceiling reached 39,370 feet and range was out to 4,970 miles.
As a high performance, high speed mount, the aircraft was modestly armed with a sole 12.7mm Ho-103 heavy machine gun - its best defense was outrunning any ground-based fire or incoming interceptor. It was also designed to carry a bombload up to 2,200lb to fulfill its secondary bomber role.
Despite the work put into the Ki-74 product, it never materialized beyond the aforementioned sixteen prototypes and preproduction aircraft. The war situation in Japan grew to the point that only emergency programs were furthered and war materials rationed to the extreme. The Ki-74 entered into the final stages of its development when the war with ended the Japanese surrender in August of 1945 - leaving the aircraft to not see any operational service in the conflict and a rather low-profile history overall.
When word of the Ki-74's development had reached Allied ears, it was assigned the nickname of "Pat", authorities believing it to be a high speed fighter type. However, as more information became available and the true role of reconnaissance / bomber came to light, the name was revised to "Patsy". None of the airframes survive today.