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Nakajima J9Y Kikka / Kitsuka (Orange Blossom)

Imperial Japan (1945)
Picture of Nakajima J9Y Kikka / Kitsuka (Orange Blossom) Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber

Based on the German Me 262 jet-powered fighter, the Nakajima Kikka was one of the Japanese contributions to jet-based aerial warfare before the end of World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Nakajima J9Y Kikka / Kitsuka (Orange Blossom) Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber.  Entry last updated on 5/6/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Messerschmitt Me 262 "Schwalbe" jet-powered fighter was a wartime breakthrough in the field of military fighter aircraft when it was operational introduced with the German Luftwaffe as the world's first jet-powered fighter. However, its combat history was limited by many circumstances - unreliable engines, jamming guns, a weak nose landing gear, ill-equipped airfields and factories, lack of trained pilots, shortage of materials, production disruptions (due to the Allied bombing campaign), and political interference by Hitler and others. Nevertheless, the Me 262 was a revolution design for the period, able to outrun, out-climb, and out-dive any fighter then known. Its all-cannon armament provided enough firepower to bring down an enemy heavy bomber in a single burst of fire.

With this in mind, German allies in Japan was able to visit Germany during 1944 and see the progress on several promising projects including the Me 262. Satisfied with the possibilities, German authorities granted Japanese engineers access to the design and plans were shipped by German naval U-boat submarines to Japan for re-engineering and ultimate construction. The Nakajima concern was charged with a new naval fighter initiative based on the Me 262. Included in the specifications was a maximum speed of 430+ miles per hour, an operational range of no less than 125 miles with an 1,100lb war load. The Japanese knew they wanted a multi-role performer with their Me 262 derivative - to serve as a fighter and a fighter-bomber. To help keep runway requirements to a minimum, the standard twin turbojet engines would be supplemented through power from 2 x rocket boosters on take-off. One other key element was that the wings would be designed to fold along a hinged section - allowing the fighter to be made more compact for storage in fortified tunnels, safely away from the Allied bombers. Thought was also placed on the types of materials to be used in the aircraft's construction as well as assembly practices to better serve more unskilled labor. Nakajima engineers would have access to plans covering both the airframe and engines as well as the fuel used to feed said engines.

All was going to plan until, on May 15th, 1945, the German U-boat carrying a portion of the required plans was intercepted and taken over by the Allies. This left a noticeable gap in the paperwork that the Japanese engineers had before them - operating from an incomplete set of blueprints as well as from the memories of its visiting engineers in Berlin. Nevertheless, the project was furthered as best as possible and this produced a slightly altered, dimensionally smaller version of the Me 262. The aircraft became known as the Nakajima J9Y "Kikka" ("Orange Blossom").

As finalized, the aircraft took on the same general design form as the Me 262. However, the fuselage was decidedly thinner in the Japanese approach and more slab-sided. Unlike the swept-back wings featured in the Me 262, the Kikka was given straight wing assemblies while retaining the underslung turbojet engine nacelles as in the original. The tail unit was largely the same though the vertical tail section was noticeably smaller in overall area. The cockpit was centralized in the design and the pilot offered good views through the largely unobstructed placement. The tricycle undercarriage was also retained from the Me 262 design.
Originally, engineers had centered on using the Tsu-11 engine of 440lb thrust but these were soon believed to be too underpowered. They then moved to the Ishikawajima Ne-12 turbojet of 750lb ouput but these did not live up to the proposed performance figures, leading to the final selection of the Ishikawajima Ne-20 turbojet of 1,045lb thrust each. These were based on photographs held of the BMW 003 which was to originally power the Me 262 (Junkers Jumo 004s were used instead).

Construction of a flyable prototype moved at speed. Japan lost its German ally in May of 1945 with the death of Adolf Hitler by suicide and the formal surrender of Germany proper to end the war in Europe in full. The Nakajima prototype was ready in months and made its maiden flight on August 7th from the Kisarazu Naval Base. The design proved successful on the whole with no major issues reported. Four days later, a second test flight was undertaken but complicated by misaligned rocket boosters on take-off. The aircraft was able to land safely.

Performance figures for the Kikka included a maximum speed estimate of 435 miles per hour with a range out to 585 miles. Its service ceiling was in the 39,350 foot range while rate-of-climb was near 1,235 feet per minute. These were good figures for an early jet fighter, met only by the latest generation of fast piston-driven fighters like the North American P-51 Mustang, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and the Supermarine Spitfire of the Allies. It is noteworthy that the figures were below the ones stated for the in-service Me 262.

How the Kikka may have fared against the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers and their high-altitude operating spaces is left to the imagination for the Japanese surrender followed on August 15th to officially end the Pacific Campaign. This marked the end of all progress on the Nakajima Kikka for the work was confiscated by the Americans and taken back stateside for dissection. Two flights were only ever completed by the prototype Kikka and a second airframe was undergoing construction at the time of the surrender. It is said that some eighteen other airframes were also being manufactured but these would have made no immediate impact in the short-term. None of the airframes had even been outfitted with its proposed cannon armament (2 x 30mm Type 5) in the nose nor their bomb carrying/release hardware for testing. The Americans did not even reassemble their Kikkas and fly them as they did the Me 262.

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) followed suit with the IJN by requesting a version of the Me 262-based Kikka as the Nakajima Ki-201 "Karyu". This aircraft was at a more infant planning stage than the Kikka and never furthered beyond the paper stage before the end of the war. These were intended for delivery in March of 1946 should the war had proceeded this far.






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 Rating
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (432mph).

    Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
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LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
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  MOS
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Nakajima J9Y's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
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Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: Imperial Japan
Service Year: 1945
Classification Type: Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber
Manufacturer(s): Nakajima - Imperial Japan
Production Units: 1
Global Operators:
Imperial Japan
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Nakajima J9Y model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
26.67 ft


Meters
8.13 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
32.81 ft


Meters
10 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.68 ft


Meters
2.95 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
5,071 lb


Kilograms
2,300 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
9,017 lb


Kilograms
4,090 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Ishikawa Ne-20 turbojet engines developing 1,050 lb of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
432 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
695 kph


Knots
375 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
584 mi


Kilometers
940 km


Nautical Miles
508 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
40,354 ft


Meters
12,300 m


Miles
7.64 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,240 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
378 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (2):

PROPOSED STANDARD:
2 x 30mm Type 5 cannons in nose assembly

PROPOSED OPTIONAL:
Up to 1,100lbs of external stores.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Variants: Series Model Variants
• J9Y "Kikka" - Project model designation
• Kokoku Nigo Heiki ("Imperial Weapon No.2") - Alternative name.