Kawanishi H8K (Emily)

The Empire of Japan wanted a flying boat superior than the United Kingdom’s sterling Short Sunderland and the American PBY. Their own contributions resulted in the form of the Kawanishi “H6K Mavis” and “H8K Emily” flying boats. Therefore, in 1938, a four engine powered reconnaissance design came into picture in the form of Kawanishi-H8K. Allied forces had nicknamed it “Emily”. The H8K1 prototype was first flown in January 1941, but the initial design proved to possess very poor water handling qualities.

After making a number of amendments and several service trials, the aircraft finally entered into production. The H8K had a stout fuselage and single vertical tail fin. The cockpit was located just forward of the shoulder-mounted wing assembly which housed 4 x Mitsubishi brand engines of 1,850 horsepower (H8K2). The original design had retractable floats and a dorsal turret. It was made in such a way that a single mission could last up to 24 hours. Appropriate armor provided shelter to the crew. The wings had a metal frame covering. The design had a slight dihedral for better stability. The fuel tanks were located in the hull and were self sealing with carbon dioxide fire suppression, a feature which earlier Japanese designs lacked.

Initial armament included 4 x 7.7mm machine guns and 2 x 20mm cannons. Later, H8K got equipped with 4 x 7.7mm and 5 x 20mm cannons. Adding to this, the improved armor protection, impressive speed and range and the ability to deliver torpedoes or bombs made H8K arguably the best flying boat of the Second World War. Its effectiveness in the anti-submarine role, finding and sinking several American submarines proved its point.

The H8K entered service in early 1942. The very first mission the Kawanishi H8K was used on was a bombing mission that started at Wake Island and bombed Pearl Harbor in 1942 which changed the course of the World War 2.


Crew: 9 (10 in latter designs)
Engine: 4 X Mitsubishi Mk4q “Kasei-22”, 1380 kw
Take-Off Weight: 24500-32500 kg (54014 – 71651 lb)
Empty Weight: 18380 kg (40521 lb)
Wingspan: 38 m (124 ft 8 in)
Length: 28.13 m (92 ft 3 in)
Height: 9.15 m (30 ft 0 in)
Wing Area: 160 m2 (1722.22 sq ft)
Max. Speed: 460 km/h (286 mph)
Cruise Speed: 290 km/h (180 mph)
Ceiling: 8850 m (29050 ft)
Range (W/Max. Fuel) 7050 km (4381 miles)
Armament: 3 X 20 mm Cannons, 4 X 7.7mm Machine-Guns, 2 X 800-kg Torpedoes or 2000 kg of Bomb