The design of Ki-61 Hien was very different from the usual Japanese aircrafts made in the World War 2. Most of the other Japanese fighters were designed with air-cooled radials which were intended to provide ease of maneuverability. But the Ki-61 using a liquid-cooled engine was primarily designed for speed and power. In fact, the Ki-61 looked so different from other Japanese fighters that when it was first appeared in combat over New Guinea (June 1943), the Allies almost concluded that it couldn’t be a Japanese design at all. Initially it appeared as a copy of the German Messerschmitt Me-109. Later it was confused with Italian Macchi C.202 Foglore. Because of this it was code named “Tony” derived from Italian name “Antonio” while the Japanese word “Hien” means shallow.
By 1940, Shin Owada and Takeo Doi had designed Ki-61 under the recognizable Japanese label of the Kawasaki brand. The prototype was completed in 1941 while full production finally began 1943.
The Ki-61 had a pretty sleek and slender fuselage design. The engine was located in front of the cockpit. The wings were of a monoplane low-mounted type with rounded edges. The horizontal and vertical tail surfaces of the empennage were made in a similar way. A single Kawasaki V-12 piston engine offered impressive performance statistics including a 367 miles per hour top speed, a 16,404 foot ceiling limit and an equally impressive 1,118 mile operational range.
The Hien entered the WW2 scene in 1943 in the New Guinea war zone, covering New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, New Britain, and New Ireland. It seriously caused some pain and consternation among Allied pilots, particularly when they found out the hard way that they could no longer go into a dive and escape as they had from lighter Japanese fighters.
|Wingspan:||12.00 m (39 ft 4 in)|
|Wing area:||20.00 m² (215.28 ft²)|
|Max Speed:||367mph (590kmh; 319kts)|
|Empty weight:||2,630 kg (5,800 lb)|
|Loaded weight:||3,470 kg (7,650 lb)|
|Maximum speed:||580 km/h (360 mph) at 5,000 m (16,405 ft)|
|Max Range:||1,118miles (1,800km)|
|Power/mass:||0.25 kW/kg (0.15 hp/lb)|
|Ceiling:||32,808ft (10,000m; 6.2miles)|
|Empty Weight:||5,798lbs (2,630kg)|
|Engine(s):||1 x Kawasaki Ha-40 V-12 piston engine generation 1,180hp|
|Armament:||2x 20 mm Ho-5 cannon, 120 rounds/gun
2x 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Ho-103 machine guns, 200 rounds/gun
2x 250 kg (550 lb) bombs