Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) - Imperial Japan, 1942
Detailing the development and operational history of the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) Twin-Engine Heavy Fighter Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 4/5/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu proved to be a most capable platform as a twin-engine fighter - particularly this KAIc nightfighter variant.
By 1937, interest in a twin-engine fighter had peaked for the Imperial Japanese Army so much so that a requirement was put forth for the nation's first. Kawasaki entered into the fray successfully and presented the Ki-45 series shortly thereafter. The Ki-45 Toryu (meaning "Dragon Killer" or "Dragon Slayer" and nicknamed "Nick" by the Allies) would go on to find success at many differing levels, but more importantly, it would provide the Imperial Army with the much needed Ki-45 KAIc dedicated night-fighter platform (detailed elsewhere on this site), and challenge the night time bombing campaign of the Allies over control of the Pacific Theater.
Design of the Ki-45 followed standard two-engine fighter design for the time. Engines were mounted on a low-wing monoplane, each engine on either side of the streamlined fuselage. Accommodations consisted of two personnel seating in a divided glazed canopy. A single tail fin made up a standard tail assembly, giving the Ki-45 a identifiable Bf 110-like appearance. Armament of the base Ki-45 KAIa consisted of one forward-firing 20mm cannon, two 12.7mm (.50 caliber machine guns mounted in the nose and a single 7.92mm self-defense machine gun in the rear cockpit position making the Ki-45 system a most potent adversary. Provision was also allowed for up to two 551lb bombs held underwing. The Ki-45 KAIb model series appeared soon enough and was designed as a dedicated ground attack / anti-shipping variant. The system sported a 20mm cannon in the nose, a fuselage-mounted 37mm cannon, the standard 7.92mm machine gun in the rear cockpit and the system also retained the bomb-carrying provision of its predecessor. A large caliber (75mm) cannon was also trialled with the system for the anti-shipping role.
The Ki-45 would be airborne in prototype forms by 1939, though developmental setbacks would stave off production till mid-to-late September of 1941. The system was quickly thrown into action against bomber formations of the United States Army Air Force and achieved particular successes against B-24 Liberator types. A dependable and hard-hitting platform, the Ki-45 system excelled against such slow-moving targets. The Ki-45 was transformed into a dedicated nightfighter in the Ki-45 KAIc model series with obliquely-mounted 37mm cannon and advanced search radar. The C-model went on to become the definitive Ki-45. As excellent a system as Japan fielded however, the Ki-45 was relegated to homeland defense as Allied advancements in the Pacific continued to hamper offensive operations by the Japanese.