The alliance between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War 2 (1939-1945) allowed for the transfer of technology to occur between the two parties. Plans (for both aircraft and rocket engine), components and a complete example of the German Messerschmitt Me 163 "Komet" rocket-powered interceptor were loaded onto a pair of German U-boat submarines which set sail for the Japanese islands. When only one of these boats arrived in Japan, engineers were left with a technological puzzle to solve in getting their Me 163 into the air. With some ingenuity, the Me 163 was finally completed and taken aloft - only to crash on its maiden flight, this sole example becoming a total loss.
Mitsubishi headed development, and was to manage license manufacturing, of the J8M "Sharp Sword" for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). It would also carry the designation of "Ki-200" for the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and both were based largely on the Me 163B production model. A first flight of the J8M was had on July 7th, 1945 and seven were completed before the end of the war which was to come that August. The product very closely mimicked the form and function of the original German design.
During the waning months of the war - by which point American Boeing B-29 "Superfortresses" were bombing Japanese cities with near impunity - the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) partnered with the concern of Rikugun for an off-shoot of the Ki-200 to help bolster Japanese air defenses but provide far better endurance than the 7.5 minutes of flying time witnessed in the German design. A dimensionally larger airframe to carry additional fuel stores was drawn up and power was to come from a Mitsubishi "Toku" Ro.3 liquid-fueled rocket motor offering 4,410lb of thrust. Estimated performance included a maximum speed of 560 miles per hour, an endurance of 10.5 minutes. a service ceiling of 39,470 feet and a rate-of-climb of 2,430 feet per minute. The aircraft could see 20,000 feet of altitude in as little as 2.5 minutes. Designated Ki-202 "Shusui-Kai" ( "Sharp Sword, Improved"), the name showcasing its direct evolution from the earlier Ki-200 design.
Dimensions included a length of 7.7 meters, a wingspan of 9.7 meters and a height of 2.75 meters. Empty weight was 3,570lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 11,055lb. Outwardly, the Ki-202 resembled the Me 163 in certain areas but drawings indicated a longer, sleeker appearance with slender fuselage lines. The wing mainplanes were appropriately swept back and a single vertical tail rudder was featured (no horizontal tailplanes were used). The pilot sat under a framed canopy at the nose of the aircraft, views to the rear restricted by the raised fuselage spine.
Like the German model, the Ki-202 would take off under its own (rocket) power and jettison its wheeled dolly upon clearing the ground. Landing would involve the pilot gliding his aircraft down and contacting the ground on a spring-loaded belly-mounted skid aided by a tailwheel. In this way, the aircraft could be reused once refueled, rearmed and placed back atop its wheeled dolly.
Proposed armament, intended to counter the advanced and well-defended B-29 bomber, was 2 x 30mm Ho-155-II series cannons. These guns were to be mounted in the wing roots and gave a good response to the large targets they would be charged with brining down.
The war ended much too quickly for Mitsubishi to make any notable progress on prototypes. The aircraft ended its days in the planning stages and nothing more, its impact left to the imagination.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
25.2 ft (7.68 m)
31.9 ft (9.72 m)
9.0 ft (2.75 m)
3,571 lb (1,620 kg)
11,056 lb (5,015 kg)
+7,485 lb (+3,395 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Rikugun Ki-202 production variant)
1 x Mitsubishi Toku Ro.3 liquid-fueled rocket motor developing 4,410 lb of thrust.
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