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Nakajima B5N (Kate)


Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber Aircraft


Imperial Japan | 1941



"By the time of World War 2, the Nakajima B5N of the Imperial Japanese Navy was regarded as the best carrier-borne torpedo bomber anywhere in the world."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/12/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Nakajima B5N series of torpedo bombers originating from Japan were considered the best of their type anywhere in the world by the time of the American entry into the conflict during late-1941. The aircraft saw development against an Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) requirement in 1935 and a first-flight followed in January of 1937. It was in operational service at the outbreak of World War 2 (1939-1945) and was one of the more crucial and effective aircraft deployed by the Japanese Navy in its various attacks - including the assault on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December of 1941. The B5N was produced across 1,149 examples and saw service through most of the global conflict.

The aircraft's general arrangement was conventional for the period and fitted the single air-cooled radial engine in the nose. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides and fitted slight ahead of midships. The tail used a single vertical plane with two low-mounted horizontal planes. The crew of three - pilot, bombardier-navigator, and rear machine gunner - were seated in line under a long-running "greenhouse-style" canopy. The main legs of the undercarriage were retractable and the tail wheel stayed exposed during flight.

The B5N was powered by a single in-house Nakajima radial piston engine - B5N1 models were given "Hikari" radials while B5N2s carried "Sakae 11" radials of 1,000. The B5N2 managed a maximum speed of 235 miles-per-hour, ranged out to 1,240 miles, and could reach a service ceiling of 27,100 feet.

Armament consisted of a single 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun set on a trainable mounting at the rear gunner's position. Some B5N1 models were equipped with 2 x 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns in the wings for a broader frontal "punch". For offensive work, the aircraft was cleared to carry a single Type 91 torpedo of 1,760lb or, in its place, 2 x 550lb bombs along with 6 x 295lb bombs for conventional bombing sorties.

The initial B5N form became the "Type K" prototype of 1937 and this was followed in 1938 by combat-quality B5N1 production models. The B5N1-K designation was used to signify B5N1s converted for the training role. The improved B5N2 - with more powerful Sakae engines and smaller cowlings - appeared in 1939 and marked the final production form.

Initial combat actions placed the B5N over China and these were used both as carrier-based attackers and land-based warplanes. The aircraft was quick to earn the respect of the world with its striking ability and accuracy and made up a portion of the Japanese attack force used at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. At least 144 B5N2 aircraft took part in the assault. The aircraft would find future successes at Coral Sea, Midway, and over the Santa Cruz Islands in the campaigns that followed - destroying many Allied vessels across the Pacific Theater and credited with the sinking of the important American aircraft carriers USS Hornet, USS Lexington, and the USS Yorktown.

Once Allied pilots became combat-tested and handed much improved fighters, the B5N's inherent deficiencies shown through - they were weakly-armed defensively, poorly protected overall, and suffered from weight issues when carrying their potent war loads. This meant that those unlocky enough to find themselves in the crosshairs of Allied gunners could very easily fall prey. As such, losses began to mount and the last major engagements involving B5N aircraft were recorded over the Philippine Islands during 1944. The series was being phased out towards the end of the war but active aircraft - due to their still-excellent operational ranges - were used in non-direct-combat roles such as anti-ship, reconnaissance, and maritime patrol sorties. Some were featured as Kamikaze attackers leading up to the war's final months.

The Nakajma B6N "Jill" (detailed elsewhere on this site) became the B5N's direct successor and appeared in August of 1943. It was produced to the tune of 1,268 examples and managed its own wartime combat record.

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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 Nakajima B5N2 (Kate) Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.
1 x Nakajima NK1B Sakae 11 air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,000 horsepower driving three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Propulsion
236 mph
380 kph | 205 kts
Max Speed
162 mph
260 kph | 140 kts
Cruise Speed
27,100 ft
8,260 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
1,237 miles
1,990 km | 1,075 nm
Operational Range
1,230 ft/min
375 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Nakajima B5N2 (Kate) Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.
3
(MANNED)
Crew
33.8 ft
10.30 m
O/A Length
50.9 ft
(15.52 m)
O/A Width
12.1 ft
(3.70 m)
O/A Height
5,024 lb
(2,279 kg)
Empty Weight
9,039 lb
(4,100 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Nakajima B5N (Kate) Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber Aircraft .
STANDARD:
2 x 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns in wings (some B5N1 models).
1 x 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun in trainable position at rear cockpit.

OPTIONAL:
1 x 1,760 lb torpedo OR 2 x 550lb OR 6 x 295lb conventional drop bombs.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Nakajima B5N (Kate) family line.
B5N ("Kate") - Base Model Series Designation.
Type K - Prototype Designation.
B5N1 - Initial Production Model.
B5N1-K - B5N1 aircraft converted for the training role.
B5N2 - Improved B5N1 with Sakae 11 radial engine and revised engine cowling.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Nakajima B5N (Kate). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,149 Units

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

[ Imperial Japan ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (236mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1149
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Nakajima B5N (Kate)
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.
GROUND ATTACK
MARITIME / NAVY
TRAINING
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Nakajima B5N (Kate) Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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