Aviation of World War II

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Nakajima C3N1
  • Multipurpose reconnaissance aircraft
  • First flight: 1936
  • Nakajima

In accordance with the technical specification 10-Shi issued at the end of 1935 by the headquarters of the Imperial Navy, which required the creation of a carrier-based attack aircraft (torpedo bomber) and a long-range reconnaissance aircraft, Nakajima began to develop two carrier-based aircraft. The project, which had the internal designation "K" and later became B5N1, was developed by a group of designers led by Katsumi Nakamura. The second design team, headed by Yasuda Fukuda, worked on the reconnaissance aircraft project, which had the in-house designation "S".

The technical requirements of the 10-Shi specification for reconnaissance aircraft included a maximum wingspan of no more than 14 m, a length of no more than 10 m; the crew was to consist of three people, which was necessary for navigation over vast areas of the ocean. The maximum speed was to exceed 200 knots (370.4 km/h), the minimum speed was to be less than 60 knots (111.12 km/h) and the range was to be over 1200 nautical miles (2222.4 km). Also in the requirements were excellent visibility and the ability to perform night flights. The requirements of the 10-Shi technical specification allowed designers to choose one of two types of engines - Nakajima Hikari or Mitsubishi Kinsei.

Both design teams began work in early 1936, and the "S" project, which was a cantilever, all-metal low-wing aircraft, soon seized the initiative - Yasuda Fukuda took the Nakajima Ki-31 light bomber project that already existed, but was rejected by the Army, as a basis. To the credit of Nakajima, we can say that the groups of engineers worked closely with each other and regularly exchanged various design solutions and unified various components and parts, thereby simplifying the production processes and subsequent repairs in the field (in particular, the power plant on both aircraft was identical: in the "native" Hikari engine was chosen as the power plant).

In October 1936, the first prototype reconnaissance aircraft was completed. The second aircraft of this series was soon also ready, after which both aircraft were handed over to the fleet for testing. Tests with periodic changes lasted about a year, until in September 1937 the machine was put into service as a carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft type 97 (C3N1).

Shortly after the delivery of the carrier-based attack aircraft to the Navy and the completion of their deck tests, the aircraft were sent to central China for evaluation in terms of tactical use. After two months of work, the bomber was officially accepted into service and became the type 97 (B5N1) carrier-based strike aircraft. Its auxiliary purpose was to perform reconnaissance flights, so it could serve as a type 97 carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft, and as a result, the C3N1 was not put into serial production.

Two C3N1s from 1937 to 1940 were used as ground-based reconnaissance aircraft in the area of Shanghai and Hankou.

From 1937 to 1940, both C3N1s were used as ground-based reconnaissance aircraft in the area of Shanghai and Hankou.

Nakajima C3N1
Crew 2
Wing span, m 13.95
Wing area, m² 30.70
Length, m 10.30
1 × PE Nakajima Hikori, power hp 800
Weights, kg
Empty weight 1,805
Gross weight 3,000
Maximum speed, km/h 387
Service ceiling, m 6,670
Service range, km 2,278

Armament. One forward-firing Type 97 7.7 mm machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition and one backward-firing Type 92 7.7 mm machine gun with 485 rounds of ammunition.

Photo Description
Схема C3N1 Drawing Nakajima C3N1

C6N Saiun

C6N Saiun
  • Shipborne Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • First flight: 1943
  • Nakajima

C6N Saiun. 彩雲 Sayyun (Rainbow Cloud). In the course of the conduct of hostilities, when the American aviation significantly increased the effectiveness of its actions, there was an urgent need to adopt a specialized long-range high-speed reconnaissance aircraft. Improvised scouts from conventional carrier-based torpedo bombers have already ceased to satisfy the Japanese command.

In the spring of 1942, the design of the aircraft, which received the military designation C6N1, was headed by Yasuo Fukuda and Yoshizo Yamamoto. A new 18-cylinder Homare-21 small-diameter radial engine with a capacity of 1820 hp was chosen as the power plant. with., during the design, special attention was paid to the purity of aerodynamic forms. On May 15, 1943, the first C6N1 prototype took off. The aircraft showed good flight characteristics, but the engine turned out to be unreliable, moreover, it did not develop the required power at high altitudes.

A total of 19 aircraft were built from March 1943 to April 1944, some of them were equipped with a new, more powerful Homare-21 engine with a three-bladed propeller shaft instead of a four-bladed one. Finally, in the spring of 1944, the aircraft was sent to mass production with a new 1900 hp engine. from.

The C6N1 reconnaissance aircraft turned out to be one of the best aircraft in the world in its class. The Allied aircraft received the code designation Mirt.

C6N armament . One 7.7 mm machine gun on a turret at the end of the cockpit.

High speed and long flight range allowed the Sayuns to avoid encounters with most enemy fighters and conduct reconnaissance in remote areas where Japanese aircraft were not expected to appear.

Nakajima C6N1 C6N1-S
Crew 3 2
Wing span, m 12.50
Wing area, m² 22.50
Length, m 11.00
Height, m 3.96
1×PE Nakajima NK9H Homare-21
Power, h.p. 1×1900
Weight, kg
Empty 2,968 3,000
Gross weight 5,260 5,262
Maximum speed, km/h 606 610
Cruising speed, km/h 387 389
Max. rate of climb, m/min 736 846
Service ceiling, m 10,740
Service range, km 5,300 3,080
Photo Description
Drawing C6N1 Saiun

Drawing C6N1 Saiun

C6N1-S Saiun, 3D-295

C6N1-S Saiun, 3D-295, night fighter armed with a 30 mm type 5 cannon

C6N-1S Saiun
Night Fighter

C6N Saiun

C6N-1S Saiun. The high characteristics of the new aircraft made it possible to adapt the high-speed reconnaissance aircraft for solving other tasks. This is how the modifications of the C6N1-B Model 21 bomber appeared - a torpedo bomber capable of carrying a torpedo or 800 kg of bombs instead of an external fuel tank, and the C6N1-S Model 21 - a night fighter for the defense of the Japanese Islands from American B-29 bombers, armed with a angle of 30 degrees with one 30mm or two 20mm cannons, similar to the German "Schräge music" ...

C6N-1S armament Two 20-mm Type 99-II cannons or one 30-mm Type 5. In the summer of 1945, another reconnaissance aircraft entered service with the 302th Ku., instead of a pair of 20 -mm guns received one 30-mm Type 5. The designation of the modification has been preserved.

Drawing C6N Saiun

Combat use. While the C6N1-B carrier-based torpedo bombers were unclaimed, since by the time of their creation almost all Japanese aircraft carriers had already been lost, the C6N1-S night fighters managed to receive participation in hostilities. The aircraft of this variant, built in small numbers, became the fastest Japanese night fighters, however, the effectiveness of their use was significantly limited by the lack of a search radar.

A total of 463 aircraft of various modifications were built.


  • "Japan Aviation." /A. Firsov /
  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering " /Aerospace Publising/
  • "Japan Warplanes of World War II" /Oleg Doroshkevich/