Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank) Fighter Aircraft
The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate was one of the more important Japanese fighters in the final year of World War 2.
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Out of the many fine fighters available to the Japanese Army in the closing months of World War 2, none were of greater import than the arrival of the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (meaning "gale" and known as "Frank" to the Allies. The single engine fighter was a respected performer capable matching up against the Allied North American Mustangs while fielding enough firepower to take down the high-flying and well-defended Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. Though Japan had developed various capable platforms towards the end of the war, the Ki-84 Hayate was really one of the only designs to ever see production quantities of note, for some 3,500 examples were produced up until the final days of the war - this production covering just about a year and a half.
Like all late-stage Japanese fighter designs, the Hayate was designed with superior views from the cockpit, a powerful and proven engine, slender and aerodynamic fuselage and armament consisting of a mix of machine gun and cannon. The heart of the system was a Nakajima-brand Ha-45 type radial piston engine capable of delivering some 1,800 horsepower. The engine allowed for a top speed of nearly 400 miles per hour, a service ceiling of close to 35,000 feet and an operational range of just over 1,000 miles. Additionally, the airframe and powerplant proved the Ki-84 to be quite maneuverable in a dogfight even when sparring against the best American counterparts. Base armament of early models included a 2 x 12.7mm machine gun array in the upper forward fuselage part of the nose and 2 x 20mm cannons buried in the wings. Later models - in particular the Ki-84-III "bomber destroyer" - would sport an even more impressive 2 x 20mm cannon setup in the fuselage nose and 2 x 30mm cannons in the wings. Bombs could also be carried under wing and would be of the 551lb variety.
Ultimately, the avoidance of the Allied bombing campaign became impossible and as such, production and resources were in short supply. The number of Hayates in service performed admirably yet those in service were in such constant use that the series suffered reliability issues as a whole. Despite this, the Nakajima Ki-84 was of a stellar design and, given more in the way of numbers and time, might have made more of an impact in defense of Japan. The Ki-84 was in service until the last few days of the conflict.