Kyushu Q1W Tokai (Eastern Sea) / (Lorna) Anti-Submarine Bomber
Though ordered in 1942, the Kyushu Q1W Tokai arrived in the final year of World War 2.
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The Kyushu Q1W "Tokai" (translating to "Eastern Sea" and codenamed "Lorna" by the Allies) was an anti-submarine bomber utilized by the Empire of Japan in the last year of World War 2. The type was produced in limited numbers and fielded from land bases despite its use by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The aircraft was remembered for being underpowered for the task at hand but serviceable enough to be ordered into quantitative production as the world's first purpose-built dedicated anti-submarine aircraft in the world. Only some 153 examples were ever produced.
In late 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy delivered its requirements for the development of the "17-shi" aircraft, a specialized anti-submarine platform under the formal designation of "Navy Patrol Plane Tokai". Japan was beginning to suffer increasing losses from American submarine activities in the Pacific and tons upon tons of wartime goods were being lost on a monthly basis across Japanese shipping lanes in the Theater. The aircraft firm Kyushu (formerly Watanabe) delivered the Q1W "Tokai" and first flight was achieved in September of 1943. The aircraft proved to have good handling qualities and an evaluation period followed. The system would not enter production until 1944, becoming operational in January of 1945. Working against the aircraft was also the fact that an intended advanced search radar was not installed and the Tokai would have to make do with a limited search radar system instead. In practice, the Tokai was done in by her underpowered engines and slow speed, becoming fodder for Allied fighter planes who themselves were ever-increasing in speed and firepower. The Japanese Empire would capitulate by the end of August 1945 and the legacy of the Tokai would effectively be ended in turn - along with any other Japanese war-making instruments.
Though often compared externally to the Junkers Ju 88 medium bomber, the Japanese Q1W held little direct relation to her German contemporary. The Tokai was in fact a dimensionally smaller overall design and charged with a more dedicated battlefield role. She shared the same "pencil" shaped fuselage appearance to which was affixed the heavily glazed upper crew compartment at the extreme forward end. The nose and forward fuselage floor was also heavily glazed to provide for adequate views for the bombardier. The fuselage was tubular and tapered off into a conventional empennage with a single vertical tail fin and a pair of high-mounted horizontal planes. Wings were cantilever mid-to-low-monoplanes mounted along the sides of the forward fuselage with large wing root surface areas and noticeable dihedral (upward angle). A single, stubby radial engine installation was underslung to each wing in partially-contoured nacelles. Each engine powered a three-bladed propeller system and sported noticeable conical propeller hubs. The undercarriage was traditional for the time, featuring two main single-wheeled landing gear legs and a diminutive single-wheeled tail wheel leg. The main landing gears semi-recessed into their respective engine nacelles. Crew accommodations amounted to three personnel.
Armament was purely defensive, and somewhat adequate for a military aircraft of this classification. A rear-firing 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun was fitted to a flexible mount in the rear of the crew cabin while one or two 20mm Type 99 forward-firing cannons were sometimes fitted as optional. Internally, the Q1W1 could make use of up to 1,100lbs of ordnance made up of bombs (2 x 550lbs) or depth charges, the latter for submarine hunting sorties.
Production of the Kyushu Q1W was severely limited and therefore only a handful of designations existed for its variants. Q1W1 was used to designated the single prototype and its Mark 11 first-run production model, the "Eastern Sea". Q1W2 represented the Mark 21 production model differentiated by its use of wood along the tail surfaces. Q1W1-K "Tokai-Ren" ("Eastern Sea-Trainer") was a single example four-seat trainer that never materialized in number.
The Q1W1 reported the following performance specifications from its twin Hitachi Amakaze-31 series 9-cylinder radial piston engines, each rated at 610 horsepower: Maximum speed of 201 miles per hour with a range of 839 miles. Service ceiling was limited to 14,730 feet with a rate-of-climb equaling 751 feet-per-minute. Empty weight was 6,839lbs with a maximum take-off weight of 11,720lbs.
As the Japanese war effort crumbled, Q1W1's were utilized in the role of dastardly Kamikaze suicide strikes against Allied naval vessels.