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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.

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 ©
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.


YEAR: 1974
MANUFACTURER(S): Kawasaki Heavy Industries - Japan
LENGTH: 95.14 ft (29 m)
WIDTH: 100.39 ft (30.6 m)
HEIGHT: 32.81 ft (10 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 51,412 lb (23,320 kg)
MTOW: 85,319 lb (38,700 kg)
POWER: 2 x Mitsubishi (Pratt & Whitney) JT8D-M-9 turbofan engines developing 14,500lb thrust each.
SPEED: 501 mph (806 kph; 435 kts)
CEILING: 38,058 feet (11,600 m; 7.21 miles)
RANGE: 808 miles (1,300 km; 702 nm)
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.
Variants / Models

• 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.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (501mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Kawasaki C-1's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (31)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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