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  • Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III) High-Speed Research Aircraft

    A single Kawasaki Ki-78 high-speed research aircraft was developed by the Japanese Empire during World War 2 - intent on challenging the World Absolute Speed Record.

     Updated: 5/17/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Kawasaki Ki-78 (KENsan III) began its development as a high-speed research aircraft intended challenge air speed records of the 1930s. All-new wings were devised to trial various load factors at speed and the program was given life through a 1938 initiative under the direction of the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo and the aircraft manufactured by Kwasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K. Only one flyable examples was ever completed as World War 2 (1939-1945) disrupted the project and forever changed its fortunes.

    The design incorporated a sleek fuselage, devoid of any unnecessary protrusions, with fine contouring throughout and clean lines throughout. An inline piston engine was selected to power the aircraft and this installed at the nose in the usual way. The cockpit, lightly framed, was set at midships. A raised dorsal spine blocked any useful views to the pilot's rear but this was not a combat aircraft. The empennage tapered elegantly to the rear to which a single rudder and low-set horizontal planes were fitted. The tail-dragger undercarriage was retractable with the two main legs sitting under the wings. The aircraft was constructed of all-metal including its skinning.

    The smallest possible cross-section, coupled with a powerful engine, was selected for the aircraft. Overall length reached 26.5 feet with a wingspan of 26.2 feet and a height of 10 feet. Empty weight was 4,255lb against an MTOW of 5,070lb.

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    Kawasaki Ki-78 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1942
    Type: High-Speed Research Aircraft
    National Origin: Imperial Japan
    Manufacturer(s): Kawasaki - Imperial Japan
    Production Total: 1

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 26.57 feet (8.1 meters)
    Width: 26.25 feet (8.00 meters)
    Height: 10.01 feet (3.05 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 4,255 lb (1,930 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 5,071 lb (2,300 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Diamler-Benz DB601A V-12 inverted liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,550 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 435 mph (700 kph; 378 knots)
    Maximum Range: 373 miles (600 km)
    Service Ceiling: 26,247 feet (8,000 meters; 4.97 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    Global Operators / Customers

    Imperial Japan (cancelled)

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Ki-78 - Base Series Designation

    KEN III - Original project designation