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Nakajima E8N (Dave)

Shipborne Reconnaissance Floatplane Aircraft

Nakajima E8N (Dave)

Shipborne Reconnaissance Floatplane Aircraft


The Nakajima E8N became a pre-World War 2 floatplane design and saw combat action in the decisive Battle of Midway during 1942.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Imperial Japan
YEAR: 1935
MANUFACTURER(S): Nakajima Aircraft Company - Imperial Japan
OPERATORS: Imperial Japan; Nazi Germany (single example); Thailand

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Nakajima E8N2 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 28.87 feet (8.8 meters)
WIDTH: 36.02 feet (10.98 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.60 feet (3.84 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 2,910 pounds (1,320 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 4,189 pounds (1,900 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Nakajima Kotobuki 2 KAI II 9-cylinder radial piston engine developing 630 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 186 miles-per-hour (300 kilometers-per-hour; 162 knots)
RANGE: 562 miles (905 kilometers; 489 nautical miles)
CEILING: 23,852 feet (7,270 meters; 4.52 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,510 feet-per-minute (460 meters-per-minute)

2 x 7.7mm machine guns

2 x 66lb conventional drop bombs.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• MS - Nakajima developmental designation; seven prototypes completed.
• E8N - Base Series Designation
• E8N1 - Fitted with Nakajima Kotobuki 2 Kai 1 radial engine of 580 horsepower.
• E8N2 - Fitted with Nakajima Kotobuki Kai 2 radial engine of 630 horsepower.
• Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1 - Longform IJN designation for E8N series.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Nakajima E8N (Dave) Shipborne Reconnaissance Floatplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/4/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
With advancements in both military aircraft an warship designs during the first-half of the 20th Century, it now became a viable option for navies to feature aircraft aboard their naval assets. These became seaplanes and floatplanes, essentially aircraft fitted with specialized equipment to allow for water landings and take-offs. A catapult system typically allowed for the latter to be handled directly from the deck of a warship and a powered crane was used for recovery of the aircraft upon its return.

The Japanese understood better than most the value of such machines as their naval arm would prove the principle force in its rise to dominance across the Pacific during World War 2 (1939-1945). As such, much investment was made in bringing about capable aircraft for the seaplane/floatplane role - these would serve critically in reconnaissance and limited assault of enemy naval units as well as land-based "targets-of-opportunity".

In the early 1930s, the IJN called on various local aircraft-makers like Aichi, Kawanishi and Nakajima to bring about a new, all-modern and effective shipborne reconnaissance seaplane. The type would be used to succeed the aging line of Nakajima E4N models currently in service and introduced back in 1931 (153 of this type were produced in all). Basing the new aircraft on this proven biplane seaplane, the Nakajima concern went to work on a successor and designed a new biplane wing and a revised tail unit. For the testing and evaluation phase, some seven total prototypes were built and designated as "MS". A first-flight was recorded during March of 1934.

The Nakajima MS bested the competition and was selected for serial production. In service, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) designated the MS as "Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1" with service introduction had during October of 1935. Production spanned from 1935 until 1940.

The aircraft's design was typical of the period: a biplane wing arrangement was used that was of single-bay configuration with N-style struts as support. These planes were fitted ahead of midships with the twin-seat (tandem), open-air cockpits positioned over midships proper. The fuselage was tubular with the engine held in the forward section driving a two-bladed propeller unit. The empennage tapered in the usual way and showcased a single vertical stabilizer with the horizontal planes set low. As a seaplane, the E8N was fitted with a floatplane undercarriage comprised of a single large float under centerline and small outboard floats held under each lower wing mainplane. The aircraft was armed through 2 x 7.7mm machine guns and held provision for up to 132lb of external ordnance (2 x 66lb conventional drop bombs).

Two distinct production versions made it in to service, the E8N1 and E8N2. The initial model, E8N1, was powered by the Nakajima Kotobuki 2 Kai 1 series air-cooled radial piston engine of 580 horsepower. The follow-up E8N2 models were given the uprated Kotobuki Kai 2 series radials of 630 horsepower. As finalized, the E8N2 variant could manage a maximum speed of 186 miles per hour but cruised closer to 115 miles per hour. Range was out to 560 miles and the aircraft's service ceiling reached nearly 24,000 feet.

The E8N was an important player for its time in the IJN - particularly in the period leading up to World War 2 as it had become a veteran of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) by then. It was positioned aboard many of the important IJN vessels and gave good service for its time aloft in several roles - general reconnaissance and artillery spotting, Search And Rescue (SAR) and dive bombing. Total production ultimate reached 755 aircraft - certainly outpacing that of the earlier E4N.

By the time of World War 2, the series had been superseded by more modern aircraft and led a relatively short frontline service life during the conflict. At least one participated in the famous Battle of Midway (June 4th - 7th, 1942), a decisive American victory over the IJN but, beyond 1942, the E8N was relegated to other secondary roles while more capable seaplane types from competing aircraft concerns took over its over-water, at-sea roles. At least one of the series was sold to the Germans in 1941 but this offering saw only limited service as well. The Royal Thai Navy became the only other recognized foreign operator of the type.

The E8N was known to the Allies under the name of "Dave".


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: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (186mph).

Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Nakajima E8N2'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 (755)
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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