Kyushu J7W Shinden (Magnificent Lightning) Interceptor Aircraft Prototype
The Kyushu J7W Shinden was specifically developed to combat the destructive Boeing B-29 Superfortresses wreaking havoc on Japanese infrastructure.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The unorthodox Kyushu J7W Shinden ("Magnificent Lightning") was a "wonder-weapon" of the Empire of Japan in the closing months of World War 2. It utilized a "canard configuration" and was intended as a high-speed, high-agility interceptor developed specifically to counter the B-29 Superfortress scourge devastating Japanese infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities. Though flown, only two were ever constructed before the end of the war signified the end of the Shinden legacy. As such, the little interceptor was never made operational for the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was, however, the only canard configuration aircraft to be ordered in quantity production during the war.
The Canard Concept - Nothing New Under the Sun
The canard concept was trialled by a variety of manufacturers around the globe during the war. Most notably was perhaps the American Curtiss XP-55 Ascender first flying in 1943. Like the Shinden, the Curtiss design fitted the powerplant to the rear of the short and slim fuselage, had swept-back wings and was built in a handful of examples (3) before the project was cancelled. Only one of the three Ascenders survived without accident. Regardless, the two aircraft essentially shared many common design principles.
The J7W idea was devised by Captain Massaoki Tsuruno and, from the outset, envisioned as a jet-powered interceptor to be its culminating form. As turbojet technology everywhere was trying to progress under wartime constraints, the idea would have to wait. Nevertheless, Tsuruno's idea was presented to the First Naval Air Technical Arsenal in April of 1943 and accepted for development. Three evaluation glider models were developed and constructed under the collective designation of MXY6. These systems proved vital in validating the handling capabilities of a canard-based design and one was even fitted with a single Ha-90 series 4-cylinder 22 horsepower air-cooled engine. Testing started sometime in 1943 and proved the design sound. In June of 1944, the construction of the first JW1 prototype began at Kyushu Aircraft Company facilities. Within a short 10 month period, the Shinden prototype was completed in April of 1945 and first flight was achieved on August 3rd, 1945. A second prototype entered construction but was never to fly. The first prototype took to the air two more times and netted a total of just 45 minutes flight time. A quantitative production contract was signed with high expectations. However, the deteriorating condition in the Japanese mainland and the American atomic bombs dropping on two major Japanese cities - Hiroshima and Nagasaki - on August 6th and August 9th - ended all hope for the Shinden. The Empire's war effort concluded on August 28th, the Allied occupation of the Japanese mainland.