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Kawasaki C-1

Japan (1974)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Kawasaki C-1 Medium-Lift Transport Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 6/13/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Kawasaki C-1  
Picture of Kawasaki C-1 Medium-Lift Transport Aircraft

Entering operational service in 1974, the indigenously designed and developed Kawasaki C-1 military transport has faithfully served the JASDF ever since.

With restrictions as to what type of weapons development and exportation could occur in Japan during the immediate post-World War 2 decades, the island nation delivered few notable products to help stock its own "self-defense" army, navy, and air force services. As such, there stood heavy reliance on the United States military during the tumultuous Cold War period with the Soviet Union and its supporting nations. One of the more important indigenous programs to have had emerged from Japan became the Kawasaki "C-1" used to suffice a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) requirement for a high-wing, short-field operations tactical military transport. First flight was achieved on November 12th, 1970 and the type formally introduced during December of 1974. Thirty-one were ultimately procured by the JASDF and have seen consistent service since.

The need for such an aircraft emerged for the JASDF during the 1960s when it found itself lacking any true modern transports for its fleet was comprised mainly of obsolete World War 2-era, prop-driven transports (Curtiss C-46s) which had reached their technical limits. The decision was made to pursue a jet-powered replacement which eventually led Japanese authorities to endorsing a local product instead of purchasing an existing foreign offering. Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (NAMC) was selected to head the program and already held experience with the earlier prop-driven NAMC "YS-11", a commercial-minded endeavor which eventually failed to find much global success. Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) was then tapped by NAMC for its production know-how and Mitsubishi was to build the intended turbofan engine - a local copy of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D - of which the design would carry two. Fuji was called to construct the outer wing sections and NAMC delivered the engine pods and control surfaces. Worked began in 1966 and, based on the JASDF requirements, engineers returned with a high-winged form featuring tail-based cargo access and a T-style tail unit. The type was adopted as the C-1 with first deliveries in February of 1974. The last airframe came in 1981 with the final five examples being outfitted with extra internal fuel stores.
Finalized aircraft featured a crew of five made up of two pilots, a loadmaster, flight engineers, and dedicated navigator. The aircraft exhibited an empty weight of 53,400lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 85,320lb. The cargo hold held space for up to 60 infantry or 45 paratroopers, 36 medical litters with staff or palletized cargo as required. Power for the C-1 was through 2 x Mitsubishi (Pratt & Whitney) JT8D-M-9 turbofan engines developing 14,500lbf of thrust each. This provided a maximum speed of 500 miles per hour, a range out to 805 miles, and a service ceiling of 38,000 feet.

The three completed prototypes were designated as C-X (later XC-1) and these were followed by the definitive C-1/C-1A production models. The EC-1 (also C-1Kai) was a C-1 outfitted for the Electronic Warfare (EW) training role and the C-1FTB (an XC-1 prototype) was set aside as a testbed. The National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) showcased a sole modified C-1 as the "Asuka" and used it in Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) research.

Beyond these marks, the C-1 line was not expanded. There were proposed forms that fell to naught - an in-flight refueler, EW production quality forms, etc... The C-1 was also not sold abroad.

Currently (2014), the C-1 line is set to be succeeded by another Kawasaki product - the similar-minded C-2 - undergoing development. About thirty of this type will be procured to replace an aging stock of C-1 aircraft as well as Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports now in service with Japanese forces. Japan eventually obtained the American C-130 to help offset the inherently short ranges of its C-1 design - forced onto Kawasaki engineers by Japan post-war military development restrictions.
Kawasaki C-1 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Year: 1974
Type: Medium-Lift Transport Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Kawasaki Heavy Industries - Japan
Production: 31
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 5
Length: 95.14 ft (29 m)
Width: 100.39 ft (30.60 m)
Height: 32.81 ft (10.00 m)
Empty Weight: 51,412 lb (23,320 kg)
MTOW: 85,319 lb (38,700 kg)

Installed Power
2 x Mitsubishi (Pratt & Whitney) JT8D-M-9 turbofan engines developing 14,500lb thrust each.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 501 mph (806 kph; 435 kts)
Maximum Range: 808 mi (1,300 km; 702 nm)
Service Ceiling: 38,058 ft (11,600 m; 7.21 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,500 ft/min (1,067 m/min)

None. Hold limited to cargo: 60 infantry, 45 airborne, 36 patient litters with staff or cargo pallets.

Operators List

Series Model Variants
• C-1 - Base Series Designation
• XC-1 - Prototype Designation; three completed
• C-1/C-1A - Basic transport variant
• EC-1 - Electronic Warfare trainer platform
• C-1FTB ("Flight Test Bed") - Development airframe
• "Asuka" QSTOL ("Quiet Short Take-Off and Landing") - Test airframe by the National Aerospace Laboratory; fitted with 4 x FRJ710 turbofan engines; single example used.