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Tachikawa Ki-70 (Clara) Prototype Fast Reconnaissance Aircraft

Tachikawa of Japan completed only three of its Ki-70 high-speed photographic reconnaissance prototypes during World War 2.

 Updated: 12/11/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

From 1941 onwards, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) relied on the twin-engine Mitsubishi Ki-46 (Allied codename of "Dinah") for fast reconnaissance work. 1,742 of its kind were produced across several major marks. In time, thought was given to pursuit of replacing this early war implement and this gave rise to the little-remembered Tachikawa Ki-70 ("Clara").

For speed, the Ki-70 was to retain a twin-engine layout mated to a well-streamlined fuselage. The nose section was heavily glazed for excellent vision with the cockpit stepped just aft. Along the dorsal spine rear was another heavily glazed section for views to the sides and rear. The crew numbered three. Rounded monoplane wings were set at midships with the tail unit consisting of a split vertical fin arrangement along a singular horizontal plane. The powerplant of choice became a pair of Mitsubishi Ha-104M engines of 2,070 horsepower output driving four-bladed propeller units. Dimensions included a length of 14.5 meters, a wingspan of 17.8 meters, and a height of 3.46 meters. Empty weight was 13,000 lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaching 23,590 lb.

Due to the fast speeds and relatively high altitudes that the Ki-70 was required to operate at, its armament was strictly defensive in nature - centering around a modest 1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun and 1 x 7.7mm machine gun pairing. The rear cockpit was to be a dedicated machine gunner's position.

Tachikawa managed to complete the initial prototype in 1943 to which a first flight took place that same year. The program eventually netted a total of three prototypes in all yet none were able to prove the product sound - the Ki-70 was a slower aircraft than the one it was intended to replace and handling issues were not all that favorable. By the end of the war, the Ki-70 initiative was abandoned in favor of more critical wartime endeavors.

Performance specifications for the Ki-70 included a maximum speed of 360 miles per hour, a cruising speed in the 305 mph range, a service range of 1,540 miles, and a service ceiling up to 36,100 feet.

Tachikawa Ki-70 (Clara) Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1943
Type: Prototype Fast Reconnaissance Aircraft
National Origin: Imperial Japan
Manufacturer(s): Tachikawa - Imperial Japan
Production Total: 3

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 3
Overall Length: 47.57 feet (14.5 meters)
Overall Width: 58.40 feet (17.80 meters)
Overall Height: 11.35 feet (3.46 meters)

Weight (Empty): 13,007 lb (5,900 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 23,589 lb (10,700 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 2 x Mitsubishi Ha-104M 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,070 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 360 mph (580 kph; 313 knots)
Maximum Range: 1,541 miles (2,480 km)
Service Ceiling: 36,089 feet (11,000 meters; 6.84 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,280 feet-per-minute (1,000 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun
1 x 7.7mm medium machine gun

Global Operators / Customers

Imperial Japan

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

Ki-70 - Base Series Designation; only three prototypes produced.