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.
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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
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
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Right side profile view of the Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc night-fighter; color
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