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Kawasaki Ki-48 Sokei (Lily)

Fast Bomber / Dive Bomber Aircraft

Kawasaki Ki-48 Sokei (Lily)

Fast Bomber / Dive Bomber Aircraft


After witnessing the usefulness of the Soviet Tupolev SB-2 bomber seires, Japanese authorities adopted the Kawasaki Ki-48 of similar form and function.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Imperial Japan
YEAR: 1940
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Kawasaki - Imperial Japan
OPERATORS: China; Imperial Japan; Indonesia; Taiwan

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Kawasaki Ki-48-IIb Sokei (Lily) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 41.83 feet (12.75 meters)
WIDTH: 57.25 feet (17.45 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.47 feet (3.8 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 10,031 pounds (4,550 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 14,881 pounds (6,750 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Nakajima Ha.115 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,150 horsepower each and driving three-bladed propeller units.
SPEED (MAX): 314 miles-per-hour (505 kilometers-per-hour; 273 knots)
RANGE: 1,491 miles (2,400 kilometers; 1,296 nautical miles)
CEILING: 33,136 feet (10,100 meters; 6.28 miles)

1 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine gun in trainable nose mounting.
1 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine gun in trainable dorsal mounting.
1 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine gun in trainable ventral mounting.

Up to 1,764lb of conventional drop ordnance (drop bombs).
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• Ki-48 - Base Series Designation
• Ki-48-Ia
• Ki-48-Ib
• Ki-48-II
• Ki-48-IIa
• Ki-48-IIb
• Ki-48-IIc
• Ki-48-II KAI Kamikaze (Type Tai-Atari)
• Ki-81
• Ki-174


Detailing the development and operational history of the Kawasaki Ki-48 Sokei (Lily) Fast Bomber / Dive Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 3/15/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Kawasaki Ki-48 proved itself a serviceable twin-engine light bomber mount for the Japanese military of World War 2 (1939-1940). Having already worked on bringing the famous Ki-45 "Toryu" twin-engine heavy fighter along, Kawasaki turned its attention to an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) requirement calling for a twin-engine aircraft built along the lines of a light fast bomber. The primary quality of the mount was to be speed and thusly the IJAAF looked for an airframe capable of reaching 300 miles per hour and operate at altitudes over 16,000 feet. The Kawasaki result became the Ki-48 model and was known to the Allies as "Lily".

After passing its requisite tests and evaluations, the Ki-48 was pressed into service during 1940 against Chinese forces during the Japanese expansion westward (the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)). The aircraft succeeded the outgoing Kawasaki Ki-32 line (Allied codename of "Mary"), a single-engine, low-wing monoplane with fixed, spatted leg fairings introduced in 1938. The newer Ki-48 proved itself through its inherent speed which was overall good for the period. However, the design was limited in several respects - its bomb load was light (approximately 1,700lb) and armor protection for the crew and critical systems alike was lacking on the whole (the latter did keep operational weights in check). Speed was its critical quality and in this way the Ki-48 did not disappoint in the early going. The light bomber role for the aircraft was later expanded to include dive bombing with appropriate modifications in place (strengthening of the fuselage, dive brakes).

Beyond the Chinese Front, Ki-48s were pressed into service along all major areas involving Japanese air power. This included invasion assaults of the Philippine Islands, Burma and New Guinea. However, in time, the true performance and structural limitations of the Ki-48 began to show as improved Allied fighter designs arrived. Ki-48s could be run down by interceptors such as the famous American Vought F4U Corsairs and Grumman F6F Hellcats which dominated the theater. The lack of proper armoring on critical Ki-48 parts meant that aircraft could fall under the pressure of Allied aircraft guns or ground-/water-based Anti-Aircraft (AA) cannon. Their bomb loads limited them tactically and improved Allied tactics rendered them obsolete by the end of the war in 1945. Nevertheless, as the noose tightened along the various Japanese holdings, the old aircraft soldiered on into the final year of the war. Some were still in use during the critical Battle of Okinawa (an Allied victory) while other surviving airframes were modified as "kamikaze" (suicide) aircraft, stripped of much of their combat faculties and weight while being loaded with explosive content in turn.

Initial prototype models (numbering four) were registered simply as "Ki-48" and these were powered by 2 x Nakajima Ha.25 series radial engines of 950 horsepower each. After a modification to the tail unit, five preproduction models were constructed and evaluated. Initial production mounts were then designated as Ki-48-Ia which appeared in 1940. The Ki-48-Ib followed with this form intended to improve upon the Ia's meager defensive armament. Total Ki-48-I production was 557 units.

As limitations in its design began to show through, the Ki-48-II was introduced in three prototypes for testing. This begat the Ki-48-IIa of April 1942 with its lengthened fuselage, increased internal space for bombs, increased armor protection and better engine output. IIa models were powered by 2 x Nakajima Ha.115 series radials of 1,130 horsepower each. Maximum speed was 314 miles per hour with a range of 1,500 miles and service ceiling of 33,135 feet. Production of II-series models went on to include the Ki-48-IIb which became a purpose-built dive bomber complete with dive brakes. The Ki-48-IIc followed in 1943 with a revised defensive armament package. Ki-48-II series production netted 1,408 units.

In all, Ki-48 production netted 1,997 units.

As kamikaze aircraft, the Ki-48 was slightly modified from existing airframes during the conversion process - aircraft were outfitted with 1,700lb of explosives and piloted by minimal crew, usually two, to their final destinations. Kamikaze conversions of Ki-48s produced the Ki-48-II KAI Type "Tai-Atari" designation. Kawasaki went on to propose a few other notable Ki-48 models that never materialized including the Ki-81, a modified offshoot of the original Ki-48, and the Ki-174, a more radical single-seat attack platform. Neither version saw the light of day.

Beyond their operation by the IJAAF, the Ki-48 was put to use against its former owners by Chinese Nationalist forces through the 5th Squadron of 6th Group. These were captured specimens put back into the fight and they remained in Chinese service after the end of the war and the rise of communist China, not being retired until 1952. Indonesia recorded use of one Ki-48 in its war against the Dutch during its fight for independence (recognized in 1949). For the Japanese, the aircraft served across 20 flight groups and training establishments during World War 2. It was formally retired at the close of the global conflict.


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: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (314mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Kawasaki Ki-48-IIb Sokei (Lily)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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

  * 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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