Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum) Advanced Bomber Crew Trainer / Transport / Anti-Submarine Warfare
The Kyushu K11W Shiragiku played the all-important role of bomber crew trainer for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War 2.
Authored By Captain Jack; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Oft-forgotten, but no less important to the Japanese war effort of World War 2, was the Kyushu K11W Shiragiku ("White Chrysanthemum") advanced bomber crew trainer. The aircraft served as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy and was produced from 1942 to 1945 in some 798 examples. Though primarily a trainer, a second limited-production model existed as a submarine hunter and transport while many K11's ultimately fell into the macabre role of Kamikaze suicide planes by war's end. The K11W directly replaced the aged Mitsubishi K3M types and proved a serviceable and economic aircraft in her defined roles.
The Imperial Japanese Navy put forth a requirement for an advanced and modern crew trainer to train its bomber personnel. Watanabe Ironworks Company (Watanabe Tekkosho KK Design Team) designed their K11W1 prototype and achieved first flight in November of 1942. Further evaluation of the airframe completed in an impressively short amount of time with few setbacks noted in the program and the type was ordered for production under the formal designation of "Navy Operations Trainer Shiragiku". However, by the end of 1942, Watanabe of Fukoaka Japan had been reorganized to become the Kyushu Aeroplane Company and so the designation for the new trainer became "Kyushu K11W". First production examples were delivered in the summer of 1943.
Design was quite conventional and utilitarian in nature. The K11 sported mid-mounted monoplane wings with curved wingtips. The assemblies were set just ahead of amidships. The radial piston engine was fitted to the extreme forward of the fuselage and powered a two-bladed propeller system. The cockpit area was heavily glazed and contained the pilot and gunner trainee seated in tandem. The gunner trainee also doubled as the radio operator. The stout profile of the K11 allowed a lower deck to be installed in the deep fuselage, this area containing room for the bombardier, navigator and the instructor. The lower deck sat beneath the wing assemblies and rectangular windows could be identified along the fuselage sides. The empennage featured a slab-sided appearance and was capped by a traditional tail system featuring a single vertical tail fin and applicable horizontal planes with curved edges. The undercarriage was of the conventional "tail dragger" arrangement made up of two main single-wheeled landing gear legs and a single-wheeled tail leg - all being fully retractable.
Power was supplied from a single Hitachi GK2B Amakaze 21 series 9-cylinder radial piston engine rated at 515 horsepower. Maximum speed was listed at 143 miles per hour at 5,600 feet. Cruising speed was 109 miles per hour. Range was an impressive 1,093 miles while the service ceiling capped off at 18,440 feet.
Armament was strictly practice-minded and included a single 7.7mm Type 92 rear-firing machine gun on a flexible mount for gunnery training and a practice ordnance load of 2 x 66lb bombs. When used in the Kamikaze role, the K11W1 was fitted with a single 550lb bomb for maximum effect.
While the K11W1 was the designation for the base bomber crew trainer, the K11W2 was a limited-production Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant that doubled as a transport platform. The major difference between the two was in the K11W2's use of all-wood construction as opposed to the costlier K11W1's use of all-metal (though the latter with fabric-covered control surfaces). A third proposed variant existed under the designation of Q3W1 "Nankai" ("South Sea"). This unfulfilled design would have fought as an maritime patrol anti-submarine aircraft however the prototype was lost to a landing accident in January of 1945.
The existence (and importance) of the stout K11W trainer series was little known to the Allies and, as such, no traditional "codename" was assigned to her.