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Nakajima Ki-27 (Nate) - Imperial Japan, 1937

Detailing the development and operational history of the Nakajima Ki-27 (Nate) Fighter.

 Entry last updated on 9/3/2015; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Nakajima Ki-27 (Nate)  
Picture of Nakajima Ki-27  (Nate)

The Nakajima Ki-27 was the Imperial Japanese Army equivalent of the Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A5M.

The Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate" (known early on as "Abdul") was a successful low-monoplane, all-metal with stressed skin fighter design employed by the Empire of Japan throughout the Second World War. Initially conceived of as a private venture design by the Nakajima corporation, the Ki-27 was soon debuted and accepted by the Japanese Army.

The single-engine, one-man fighter was Japan's first monoplane design, becoming a sort of bridge from the old and new fighter development strategies. Qualities that showcased the Ki-27 to the old ways of fighter design including the very identifiable static land gears. A tail skid was still being used when the Ki-27 reached full production. At the cost of self-sealing fuel tanks, pilot protection and other aircraft amenities at the time, the Ki-27 became a nimble and fast fighter, armed with 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns.

In the early years, the Ki-27 enjoyed a period of success against the Chinese and Allied fighter pilots in the Pacific. As Allied fighter designed continued to improve, aircraft like the Ki-27 would begin to lose out to the advanced technologies and be relegated to homeland defense, pilot training or kamikaze use.

In the end, the decision to not protect the pilot nor his fuel tanks became the premise for the aircrafts undoing. The light and nimble Ki-27 would cease to become a factor, in much the same way that its A6M Zero counterpart did, and help the Allied make their push throughout the Pacific. Nevertheless, the Ki-27 enjoyed a long period of success when it was initially delivered and would stay a major part of the Japanese Army movements until the end of the war - albeit in limited fashion by then.

Nakajima Ki-27a Specifications

Service Year: 1937
Type: Fighter
National Origin: Imperial Japan
Manufacturer(s): Nakajima - Japan
Total Production: 3,368

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 24.70 feet (7.53 meters)
Overall Width: 37.11 feet (11.31 meters)
Overall Height: 10.66 feet (3.25 meters)

Weight (Empty): 2,447 lb (1,110 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 3,946 lb (1,790 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 1 x Nakajima Ha-1b air-cooled radial piston engine developing 710 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 254 knots (292 mph; 470 kph)
Maximum Range: 343 nautical miles (395 miles; 635 km)
Service Ceiling: 39,862 feet (12,150 meters; 7.55 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,953 feet-per-minute (900 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

2 x 7.7mm machine guns

2 x 7.7mm machine guns
4 x 55lb bombs

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Imperial Japan

Model Variants

PE - Private Venture Prototype Model
Army Type 97 Fighter Model A - Service Model Designation.
Ki-27a - Production Model Company Designation; fitted with uprated Ha-1b engine with faired-metal canopy.
Ki-27b - Provision for ground attack role in the form of 4 x underwing hardpoints; "clear-vision" canopy.
Ki-27 KAI - Experimental Lightweight Fighter Variant.

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