Military Factory
flag of Imperial Japan

Mitsubishi Ki-46 (Dinah) Reconnaissance / Heavy Fighter / Bomber Interceptor (1941)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/14/2015

The Mitsubishi Ki-46 began as a reconnaissance aircraft and was later developed into a heavy fighter intended to intercept Allied bombers.

Since May of 1937, the Empire of Japan - both the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service branches - relied on the Mitsubishi Ki-15 aircraft for light bombing and reconnaissance sorties. The aircraft featured an enclosed cockpit for two, a low monoplane wing assembly and spatted main landing gear legs, the latter in a permanently fixed positions. About 500 of these aircraft stocked Japanese inventories and only a few developed variants existed. In December of 1937, a new requirement came down from the Japanese air force for a long-range, fast reconnaissance platform to succeed the outgoing Ki-15.

The Mitsubishi concern returned with an all-new design that held some basic similarities to the Ki-15 in that it used two crew and held low-set monoplane wings. The new aircraft sported a well rounded fuselage with each wing fitting a streamlined engine nacelle powering three-bladed propellers. The fuselage design tapered off into the empennage which was capped by a single - rather cropped - vertical tail fin with applicable tailplanes. The crewed would sit in two segregated cockpits - the pilot in a forward compartment and the observer/rear gunner in a rear compartment ahead of the tail. To fulfill the long-range requirement, fuel was stored in multiple locations about the design including a large storage tank fitted between the forward and aft cockpits. Mitsubishi-brand radial piston engines were fitted into specially-designed streamlined nacelles that complimented the aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft. Armament consisted of only a single self-defense Type 89 machine gun set in a rear-firing position to help protect the aircraft's vulnerable "six". Construction of a prototype ensued and produced the "Ki-46" designation.

First flight of the Ki-46 was recorded on November of 1939 which proved her engines lacked the required output power and overall speed envisioned by the IJAAF. Worked continued on the type and a new Mitsubishi powerplant (Ha.26-I radial of 900 horsepower) was fitted while the IJAAF - satisfied with the aircraft's short-term outlook - ordered serial production of the Ki-46. The newer Ki-46-I reconnaissance version was introduced in July of 1941 and immediately made its mark in service to the IJAAF. 34 examples of this type were completed before manufacture switched to the definitive Ki-46-II refined production form of which 1,093 examples were completed.

First combat operations for the Ki-46 saw her acting over both Manchukuo and China before branching out further into the Pacific. Within time, the aircraft proved a regular sight in the skies across other territories for, from the outset, the Ki-46 was an excellent performing aircraft highly suitable for the fast, high-level reconnaissance role originally envisioned. Its inherent speed made her virtually immune to ground-based fire and assault from enemy interceptors. Such dominance allowed a certain feeling of superiority for the IJAAF and this was used to a grand advantage for as long as this dominance lasted. The Ki-46 would go on to become one of the best reconnaissance aircraft of the war.


Text ©2003-2015 www.MilitaryFactory.com. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted. Email corrections/comments to MilitaryFactory at Gmail dot com.

Specifications for the
Mitsubishi Ki-46 (Dinah)
Reconnaissance / Heavy Fighter / Bomber Interceptor


Focus Model: Mitsubishi Ki-46-III-KAI (Dinah)
Country of Origin: Imperial Japan
Manufacturer: Mitsubishi - Japan
Initial Year of Service: 1941
Production: 1,742


Crew: 2


Length: 37.66 ft (11.48 m)
Width: 48.23 ft (14.70 m)
Height: 12.73ft (3.88 m)
Weight (Empty): 8,446 lb (3,831 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 13,730 lb (6,228 kg)


Powerplant: 2 x Mitsubishi Ha-112II piston engines developing 1,500 horsepower.


Maximum Speed: 391 mph (630 kmh; 340 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,243 miles (2,000 km)
Service Ceiling: 34,449 ft (10,500 m; 6.5 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,970 feet-per-minute (600 m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
Original:
1 x .303 caliber Type 89 machine gun in rear cockpit.

Ki-46-III-KAI:
2 x 20mm cannons in nose
1 x 37mm oblique-angled cannon in upper central fuselage.

Ki-46-IIIb:
2 x 20mm cannons in nose


Variants:
Ki-46 - Prototype Model Designation


Ki-46 I Type 100 - Reconnaissance Version based on the Army Type 100, or Mark I.

Ki-46 II (Mark 2) - Initial Production Model Designation.

Ki-46 II KAI - Trainer Model; seating for three personnel; based on the Ki-46 II.

Ki-46 III - Prototype Model Designation for improved Ki-46 model series; also serves as designation for Reconnaissance Model based on the Army Type 100, also known as the Mark III.

Ki-46 III KAI - Heavy Fighter / Interceptor Model based on the Army Type 100 model; fitted with 2 x 20mm cannons and 1 x 37mm cannon.

Ki-46 III - Strike Fighter Variant based on Army Type 100 sans 37mm cannon.

Ki-36 IIIb - Dedicated Ground Attack Model

Ki-46 IIIc - Proposed Model; unfinished.

Ki-46 IV - Prototype Model; fitted with 2 x Mitsubishi Ha-112-II RU series engines of 1,500 horsepower; increased fuel capacity; turbocompressor optimized.

Ki-46 IVa/b - Unfinished Reconnaissance/Fighter Platforms.


Operators:
China; Imperial Japan