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Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary)

Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft

Imperial Japan | 1938

"The Kawasaki Ki-32 existed as a light bomber for the Japanese Empire during the early part of World War 2 - fewer than 1,000 were made.."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/23/2020 | 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-32 ("Mary") light bomber was one of the rare inline piston-engined aircraft entries designed, manufactured, and fielded in number by the Empire of Japan during World War 2 (1939-1945). Air-cooled radial piston types were largely relied upon by way of many aircraft designs largely due to the fact that Japanese aero-industry lacked the knowhow and experience in realizing a reliable, powerful inline solution (as the Germans did with the DB600 series). As such, the Ki-32 was completed with the in-house Kawasaki Ha-9 liquid-cooled powerplant which gave the design good performance for the early war years - despite nagging reliability issues.

The Ki-31 was born through an Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) initiative calling for an all-modern, single-engine, twin-gunned monoplane fighter able to carry a 992lb bombload while maintaining speeds between 185 and 250 miles-per-hour while flying at an altitude between 6,550 and 13,000 feet - in essence an attack platform with fighter-like performance.

The call fell to both Kawasaki and its competitor, Mitsubishi, and both concerns pushed their respective designs to the service in subsequent months. The Kawasaki form utilized its inline engine to set it apart from the Mitsubishi offering - which was powered by an air-cooled Nakajima radial unit - though both followed the same form-and-function in terms of general arrangement. From this work spawned eight prototypes completed by Kawasaki which began to showcase cooling and tuning issues with the inline engine - leading the Army to select the Mitsubishi aircraft under the designation of "Ki-30".

The Kawasaki light bomber was suspended for the interim.

As a dedicated light bomber, the Ki-32 followed combat concepts developed by global players throughout the late-Interwar years and was, therefore, highly conventional in its arrangement. The engine was set in the nose section in the usual way with the two man crew seated in tandem just aft of the installation. The crew compartment was shared and covered over by a greenhouse-style canopy over midships. The fuselage was aerodynamically refined for the most part, tapering elegantly at the empennage which was capped by a rounded rudder fin with low-mounted horizontal planes. The mainplane wing members were positioned ahead of midships and given tapering from root to tip. The tips were rounded off. Like other 1930s developments, the Ki-32 had a fixed "tail-dragger" undercarriage with the main legs under center mass being spatted for some inherent aerodynamic efficiency.

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The engine of choice became the Kawasaki Ha-9-IIb V12 inline outputting at 850 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Performance included a maximum speed of 265 miles-per-hour with a cruising speed near 185 mph, a service range out to 1,220 miles, a service ceiling up to 29,265 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 1,500 feet-per-minute.

Standard armament included a single 7.7mm machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing installation partnered with a 7.7mm machine gun on a trainable mounting in the rear cockpit. Beyond this was a modest bomb carrying capability totaling no more than 992lb of conventional drop ordnance (held internally). With this arrangement, the aircraft could dive bomb ground targets or strafe with equal lethality - it also retained a limited capability to engage intercepting enemy aircraft.

On the whole, the design held much in common with contemporaries in the Aichi D3A1, Mitsubishi Ki-30, Mitsubishi Ki-51, and Fairey Battle.

Despite the selection of the Mitsubishi design, the fate of the Ki-32 changed when the IJA found itself in need of warplanes during the late 1930s and moved to resurrect the Kawasaki light bomber - indeed the Ki-32 went on to outpace the rival Ki-30 in terms of production quantity. Following service approval, the Ki-31 entered serial production which spanned from 1938 until May of 1940 and this resulted in a total of 854 aircraft being built. The series was quickly baptized during the bloody Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and proved serviceable enough until technology gains overtook it by 1942 - at which time the series was relegated to training and other second-line roles. Comparatively, 704 Ki-30 attackers were produced into September of 1941.

The reliability issues inherent in the inline engine was never truly ironed out and forced a Japanese continuation with reliance on air-cooled radial powerplants for the foreseeable future.

The Ki-32 served no fewer than seven Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) squadrons for its time in the air and also went on to see operational service with the Manchukuo Air Force and, in 1945, with Indonesia (captured specimens). In the latter, many were lost in the Indonesian National Revolution of 1945-1949.

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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-32 Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft.
1 x Kawasaki Ha-9-IIb V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 850 horsepower driving three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
264 mph
425 kph | 229 kts
Max Speed
29,281 ft
8,925 m | 6 miles
Service Ceiling
1,221 miles
1,965 km | 1,061 nm
Operational Range
1,500 ft/min
457 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Kawasaki Ki-32 Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft.
38.2 ft
11.65 m
O/A Length
49.2 ft
(15.00 m)
O/A Width
9.5 ft
(2.90 m)
O/A Height
2,348 lb
(1,065 kg)
Empty Weight
8,289 lb
(3,760 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary) Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft .
1 x 7.7mm machine gun in fixed, forward-firing position.
1 x 7.7mm machine gun in trainable rear gunners position.

Up to 992lb of conventional drop bombs held externally.
Notable series variants as part of the Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary) family line.
Ki-32 ("Mary") - Base Series Designation.
Army Type 98 Single-Engine Light Bomber - Formal Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) designation.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 854 Units

Contractor(s): Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo KK - Japanese Empire
National flag of Indonesia National flag of modern Japan

[ Manchukuo; Indonesia (post-war); Imperial Japan ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (264mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary) Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Kawasaki Ki-32 (Mary) Single-Engine, Twin-Seat Light Bomber Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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