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Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III)

High-Speed Single-Seat, Single-Engine Research Aircraft

Imperial Japan | 1942

"A single Kawasaki Ki-78 high-speed research aircraft was developed by the Japanese Empire during World War 2 - intent on challenging the World Absolute Speed Record."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/16/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The Kawasaki Ki-78 (KENsan III) began its development as a high-speed research aircraft intended challenge air speed records of the 1930s. All-new wings were devised to trial various load factors at speed and the program was given life through a 1938 initiative under the direction of the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo and the aircraft manufactured by Kwasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K. Only one flyable examples was ever completed as World War 2 (1939-1945) disrupted the project and forever changed its fortunes.

The design incorporated a sleek fuselage, devoid of any unnecessary protrusions, with fine contouring throughout and clean lines throughout. An inline piston engine was selected to power the aircraft and this installed at the nose in the usual way. The cockpit, lightly framed, was set at midships. A raised dorsal spine blocked any useful views to the pilot's rear but this was not a combat aircraft. The empennage tapered elegantly to the rear to which a single rudder and low-set horizontal planes were fitted. The tail-dragger undercarriage was retractable with the two main legs sitting under the wings. The aircraft was constructed of all-metal including its skinning.

The smallest possible cross-section, coupled with a powerful engine, was selected for the aircraft. Overall length reached 26.5 feet with a wingspan of 26.2 feet and a height of 10 feet. Empty weight was 4,255lb against an MTOW of 5,070lb.

Power stemmed from the German Daimler-Benz DB601A V-12 inverted liquid-cooled inline piston engine of 1,550 horsepower. Additional power was had by the injection of water/methanol. Performance included a maximum speed of 435 miles per hour, a range out to 373 miles and a service ceiling of 26,000 feet.

The Ki-78 was picking up speed before World War 2 began and, with interest, authorities of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) moved to take over the Ki-78 project in full. Two prototypes were contracted for and work on the first began in September of 1941. The aircraft was completed in 1942 and recorded its first-flight on December 26th. Despite its good showing as a speedy mount, the Ki-78 held little military value and the program was ended in January of 1944. Just one aircraft was completed along with a sole mock-up. The second prototype lay incomplete before being scrapped.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Kawasaki Ki-78 High-Speed Single-Seat, Single-Engine Research Aircraft.
1 x Diamler-Benz DB601A V-12 inverted liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,550 horsepower.
435 mph
700 kph | 378 kts
Max Speed
26,247 ft
8,000 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
373 miles
600 km | 324 nm
Operational Range
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Kawasaki Ki-78 High-Speed Single-Seat, Single-Engine Research Aircraft.
26.6 ft
8.10 m
O/A Length
26.2 ft
(8.00 m)
O/A Width
10.0 ft
(3.05 m)
O/A Height
4,255 lb
(1,930 kg)
Empty Weight
5,071 lb
(2,300 kg)
Notable series variants as part of the Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III) family line.
Ki-78 - Base Series Designation
KEN III - Original project designation
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Kawasaki - Imperial Japan
National flag of modern Japan

[ Imperial Japan (cancelled) ]
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Image of the Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III)
Image from the Public Domain.

Going Further...
The Kawasaki Ki-78 (KEN III) High-Speed Single-Seat, Single-Engine Research Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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