Aviation of World War II
In the early 1930s, Kaigun Koku Hombu developed a program for the development of naval aviation based on domestic aircraft models, which were supposed to have very high performance characteristics. As part of this program, 7-Ci requirements for a three-seat reconnaissance biplane seaplane were formulated. In March 1932, the specification was transferred to Aichi, Kawanishi and Nakajima.
The Kawanishi design team, led by Eiya Sekiguchi, developed a preliminary design of the seaplane, which received the brand designation Type J and was submitted to the customer for evaluation. Competitors also offered their projects: Aichi (AB-6) and Nakajima (E~N1). The project of the Nakajima company was rejected, and it was decided to put the two remaining ones into practice.
The first prototype of the Kawanishi seaplane. received the naval designation E7K1. took to the air on February 6, 1933. It was a two-float biplane seaplane powered by a Hiro Type 91 Model 1 W-shaped liquid-cooled engine (620 hp) with a wooden two-bladed propeller. Three crew members were located in tandem in separate open cockpits. After the completion of factory flight tests, the aircraft was armed with three 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns. One of them was fixedly mounted in the fuselage above the engine, and the other two (they were served by the gunner / radio operator) were on mobile installations under and above the fuselage. Four 30 kg bombs or two 60 kg bombs could be suspended under the center section.
In May 1933, the E7K1 prototype was transferred to Yokosuka Kokutai for comparative testing with the Aichi E7A1 (AB-6) machine. Testing revealed that the E7K1 seaplane outperforms the competitor in terms of both technical characteristics and sticks. and in terms of aerobatic qualities, but the final decision had to wait a few more months. Only in May 1934, after testing the second prototype, Kaigun Koku Hombu gave the order to launch the Kawanishi aircraft into a series. It received the official designation "Type 94 Model 1 Reconnaissance Seaplane" (E7K1 Model 1). The first batch of production aircraft was equipped with the same engines as the prototypes, but on later aircraft they were replaced by Hiro Type 91 Model 2 engines with an output of 750 hp. s, which rotated new wooden four-bladed constant pitch propellers.
In the linear parts, the E7K1 seaplanes quickly won the love of the crews. They owed this to ease of operation, as well as the strength and reliability of the design. E7K1 entered service with most large warships and seaplane floating bases. In addition, they equipped a large number of purely land-based units. They were used mainly for reconnaissance and patrolling coastal waters.
In the mid-1930s, a new Japanese seaplane attracted increased attention when Lieutenant Nikitta made a non-stop flight from Yoko-suki to Bangkok in one of the E7K1s. At the time, this was a great success, especially considering that it was achieved by Japanese aviation, which was widely considered hopelessly outdated.
In 1937, the Kawanishi company began producing aircraft of a modernized version, which were equipped with a Mitsubishi MK2A Zuisei 11 air-cooled radial engine (850 hp) with a two-bladed metal propeller. The first experimental aircraft of this modification was flown in August 1938, and three months later its mass production began. The new vehicle received the designation "Reconnaissance seaplane Type 94 Model 2" (E7K1 Model 2), which was later changed to E7K2 Model 12. Production of the new version continued until 1941. In total, 530 copies of the E7K were produced, of which 57 were produced at the Nippon Hikoki KK plant.
E7K1 seaplanes were first used in China during the undeclared Sino-Japanese War. They conducted reconnaissance and patrols, providing invaluable services in blockading the coast of China. At the initial stage of the conflict, they were even used as bombers and attack aircraft. By the time the war in the Pacific began, the E7K1 aircraft had already been decommissioned by the first line units. However, many of them served in patrol and support units. Aircraft of the E7K2 variant, despite their outdated design, were still in service with some warships and floating air bases.
At the initial stage of the war, they were used for reconnaissance, escorting sea convoys and detecting enemy submarines. They received the code designation "Elf" from the Allies. Later, the E7K2 was used as a patrol, communication and training vehicle. In the last months of the war, the surviving E7K1 and E7K2 seaplanes were used by kamikaze pilots.
Armament. One 7.7 mm Vickers E synchronous machine gun (usually not installed), one 7.7 mm Type 92 movable machine gun in the rear cockpit and one 7.7 mm Type 92 machine gun in the lower hatch mount.
The total ammunition load is 13 disk magazines with 69 rounds each, four 30-kg or two 60-kg bombs on external nodes. In the reloading version 1 × 250-kg bomb.
Construction. The design of the E7K wing was so successful that it was later used on the E10K and B4Y aircraft. The wings of the E7K, like the fuselage, had fabric covering. The fuselage of the aircraft had a metal structure with fabric covering.
Mitsubishi MK2A Zuisei 11 air-cooled 14-cylinder radial engine with 850 hp. replaced the liquid-cooled engine installed on the aircraft of the E7K1 variant.