In Japan's road to finding a viable, four-engined long-range bomber, the country attempted to develop various solutions in an effort to stock its Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) services. There were several notable entries into the field that included the Nakajima G5N, the Nakajima G8N (both detailed elsewhere on this site), and, ultimately, the "Kawanishi TB". While the United States enjoyed success through their Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" and Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" designs, the IJA and IJN - despite their many attempts, ultimately lacked such proven performers even into the last fighting days of the war in 1945.
The Kawanishi TB entry fell under the all-encompassing banner of "Project Z", a program arranged to find a four-engined "heavy" for the IJA and IJN, giving the services a strategic bombing capability that would be required to beat the United States into submission (or, at the very least, disrupt American logistics to the Asia-Pacific Theater). This meant reaching the West Coast of the United States with regularity and this, in turn, required the facilities of a four-engined design to meet the range. While Japanese airbases were to be set up across the Pacific, range would also be a concern for any aircraft design attempting to attack the American mainland and return home to fight again.
The six-engined Nakajima G10N "Fugaku" was also drawn up under the Project Z label and its primary competitor was offered by Kawanishi as the four-engined "TB" (TB = "Toyo Bakugeki" / "Overseas Bombing") or "KX-9". The focus of the G10N, primarily championed by the IJN, was in defensive armament at high-altitude for self-preservation. Conversely, the TB fell more in line with IJA requirements, a bombing platform capable of very-high-altitude operation with a reduced war load to keep operating weights in check.
Finalized dimensions of the bomber included a running length of 91.8 feet, a wingspan of 106.2 feet, and a height of 2.29 feet. Empty weight was estimated at 57,600lb against an MTOW of 156,000lb when fully loaded to the extreme. Because of its extreme operating weights, coupled with the slim design of both wings and engine nacelles, Kawanishi engineers drew up plans to have the main landing gear legs jettison a pair of its wheels after take-off. The lighter aircraft (taking into account dropped ordnance and mission fuel burn) on the return trip would make do with its remaining wheel sets.
Power would stem from 4 x Nakajima Ha-45 "Homare" 18-cylinder, supercharged (three stage), air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,100 horsepower each and driving four-bladed propeller units (constant speed). Estimated performance specs included a maximum speed of 375 miles-per-hour, a range out to 15,880 miles (requiring food and water stores as well as sleeping quarters for the crew), and a service ceiling up to 41,665 feet (requiring fuselage pressurization). Another consideration was the Nakajima Ha-43 series radial of 2,000 horsepower output. Fuel would be carried in both wings and in stores about the fuselage proper.
Planned armament consisted of 1 x 13mm Navy Type 2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) in remote-controlled turrets at both the port side and starboard sides (waist / beam positions) and similar armament was to be fitted at the tail (rear-facing emplacement). This modest armament was acceptable as the bomber was expected to out-fly any potential emerging threat rather than defend against it. Internally, the aircraft was rated to carry up to 12,000lb of conventional drop bombs - limited largely by the slim-line approach of its fuselage and other onboard requirements related to range and crew sustainment. Provision for external hardpoints were also planned to help enhance drop-ordnance options.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
91.9 ft (28.00 m)
106.6 ft (32.50 m)
23.0 ft (7.00 m)
57,596 lb (26,125 kg)
155,977 lb (70,750 kg)
+98,381 lb (+44,625 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Kawanishi TB production variant)
4 x Nakajima Ha-45 "Homare" supercharged 18-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,100 horsepower each driving four-bladed propellers.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Kawanishi TB production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 13mm Type 2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) in fuselage port side remote-controlled turret.
1 x 13mm Type 2 HMG in fuselage starboard side remote-controlled turret.
1 x 13mm Type 2 HMG in rear-facing tail position.
Up to 12,000lb of conventional drop bombs held in an internal bomb bay. Provision to be added for external war loads as well.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
TB ("Toyo Bakugeki") - Base Project Designation.
KX-9 - Original project designation of 1943.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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