Despite serving in limited numbers, fielded with no search-finding radar and appearing as the only Imperial Japanese Army night-fighter of the Second World War, the Kawasaki-brand Ki-45 KAIc night-fighter platform proved a success in defense of the Japanese homeland, particularly against the new and high-level B-29 Superfortresses constantly bombarding the island. The aircraft itself was derived from IJA's own developmentally-plagued Ki-45 Toryu (translating to "Dragon Killer" and nicknamed "Nick" by the Allies) base platform that also appeared in Ki-45 KAIb heavy dayfighter form. Limitations aside, the aircraft provided some much needed defense for a nation now playing the war from a defensive standpoint.
The Ki-45 KAIc was a twin-engine two-crew aircraft built in much the same vein as the Messerschmitt BF110 and the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito. Both engines of Mitsubishi type straddled the fuselage on low-mounted monoplane wings. The crew sat in a split greenhouse-type cockpit area in the center of the design with a single rudder fin in the aft tail assembly. Armament consisted of a single 37mm cannon with semi-automatic action in the nose. Twin 20mm cannons were mounted in an oblique upward-facing position between pilot and rear gunner in the cockpit. A single 7.92mm machine gun was fitted as a hand-held defensive measure in the rear cockpit.
Though one might wonder why the aircraft was fitted with just a single 37mm cannon in the nose it is because the intent was there to fit an AI-type radar into the nose assembly in conjunction with the armament. This never materialized due to production difficulties but the systems were nevertheless fielded as nightfighters with competent and overall promising results.
1 x 37mm Type 98 cannon in forward-firing nose mount
2 x 20mm Ho-5 cannon in upward-firing fuselage position
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in hand-held dorsal gun position
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
Ki-45 - Prototype Model Designation
Ki-45 KAI - Prototype Model Designation and Pre-Production Model Designation.
Ki-45 KAIa - Initial Production Variant; fitted with 1 x 20mm cannon, 2 x 12.7mm machine guns and 1 x 7.92mm machine (rear cockpit).
Ki-45 KAIb - Fitted with Mitsubishi Ha-102 at 1,050 horsepower; armament consisted of 1 x 37mm forward-firing fuselage mounted cannon, 1 x 20mm cannon in nose and 1 x 7.92mm machine gun in rear cokcpit; trialled with 75mm cannon for anti-shipping duty.
Ka-45 KAIc - Dedicated Night-Fighter Variant; fitted with 1 x 37mm cannon, 2 x 20mm cannons and 1 x 7.92mm machine gun.
Ki-45 KAId - Maritime Patrol Fighter
Ki-45 II - Proposed Experimental Model
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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Right side profile view of the Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc night-fighter; color
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