Kawasaki Ki-108 Twin-Engine Heavy Fighter / Interceptor Prototype Aircraft
The Kawasaki Ki-108 was designed to fulfill a standing heavy interceptor requirement for the Imperial Japanese Army.
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The Ki-102 heavy fighter was introduced late in the Pacific War by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (IJAAS) and only 238 of the type were built before the end came in 1945. Intended as a successor to the Ki-45 "Toryu", this twin-engined, two-seat system provided a long-range reach for ground forces and three major variants were planned including a dedicated night-fighter. Ki-102s would go on to see only limited action in the conflict (reserved for homeland defense) making very little impact on the outcome of the war. Its Allied reporting name was "Randy".
From this base design was to come another planned offshoot in the "Ki-108" heavy fighter / high-altitude interceptor. This form was drawn up along the lines of a high-altitude fighter capable of meeting the new, high-flying American heavy bombers - namely the Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" - making their presence known over Japan. Two Ki-102b model series aircraft (nos. seven and eight) were set aside for the Ki-108's development phase. The Ki-102b was also given the improvements enacted in the Ki-102c night-fighter, primarily its lengthened fuselage. Dimensions included a length of 38.4 feet, a height of 12 feet and a span of 51.4 feet. Unlike the Ki-102 - and more like the Ki-96 - the Ki-108 was slated to carry just one crewmember instead of two. As its primary role lay in high-altitude interception, a pressurized cabin became a default requirement as did high-altitude performance. The aircraft would carry 1 x 37mm Ho-203 cannon in the nose assembly and 2 x 20mm Ho.5 cannons buried under the cockpit floor.
The engine of choice became 2 x Mitsubishi Ha-112-II "Ru" 14-cylinder turbosupercharged, air-cooled radials fitted to the wing leading edges, straddling the slim fuselage. Power was 1,500 horsepower maximum during take-off actions and approximately 1,000 horsepower over 32,000 feet. Estimate performance specifications included a maximum speed of 360 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 44,300 feet and a range out to 1,120 miles.