Aviation of World War II

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G3M Rikko
Long-range Torpedo Bomber

G3M in action

In the early thirties of the last century, it became necessary, in addition to the carrier-based aviation of the Imperial Japanese Navy, to create long-range coastal aviation, which included long-range torpedo bombers * and designed to compensate for the British and American superiority at sea. The 9-C specification, which defines the tactical and technical data of the new torpedo bomber, was transferred to Mitsubishi. The built prototype, which received the corporate designation Ka-9 and the military G1M1, first took to the air in April 1934. The new torpedo bomber was an all-metal monoplane with two-fin tail and retractable landing gear. There was no bomb bay - the combat load was placed on an external sling. Defensive weapons were housed in retractable turrets and side blisters. The aircraft had clean aerodynamic forms, had good controllability and maneuverability, and had a high potential in terms of improving flight performance while increasing the power of the power plant. The next prototype Ka-15, created on the basis of the Ka-9, surpassed in its characteristics most of the aircraft of the same class existing in the world at that time.

G3M1 (96-1-1). The decision on the serial production of the new torpedo bomber under the combat code "96-1-1" (factory G3M1) was made in the summer of 1936. The first 34 aircraft were installed air-cooled Kinsei-3 engines. Part of the torpedo bombers "96" of the first series under the same code were converted into military and civilian transport aircraft. On the 96-2-1 modification, the tank capacity was increased, and the Kinsei-4-1 power plant of increased power was installed, on the 2-2 and 2-3 modifications, the onboard armament was reinforced. The speed at an altitude of 4200 m did not exceed 348 km / h.

G3M2-1 (96-2-1). The first truly mass modification, 343 copies were made in the period from 1937 to 1939. Cars of this version were equipped with Mitsubishi Kinsei-4-1 or 4-2 engines with a capacity of 1075 hp. with., thanks to which the maximum speed increased to 376 km / h. In addition, the aircraft differed from their predecessors in the increased fuel reserve from 3805 to 3874 liters and in the more streamlined shape of the dorsal shooting towers. After the withdrawal from the parts of the first line, a number of vehicles of this modification were converted into training and reconnaissance vehicles, they were assigned the designations G3M2-K and G3M2-KAI, respectively.

G3M2-2 (96-2-2) - a modification developed taking into account the experience of military operations in China. It was produced at the Mitsubishi plant (from 1939 to 1941 - 238 cars were produced), and then at the Nakajima plant (from 1941 to 1942). The aircraft of this modification were equipped with Kinsei-4-5 engines of the same power (1075 hp), which had the best altitude characteristics. The armament was reinforced and consisted of a 20 mm Type 99 Model 1 cannon, which was housed in a fixed, elongated dorsal turret, and three 7.7 mm Type 92 machine guns (one in the front upper retractable turret and two in the convex side blisters behind the trailing edge of the wing ). On aircraft of later releases, an additional fourth machine gun was installed, the fire from which could be fired from the side windows of the navigator's cockpit, which was located behind the pilots sitting next to them (see layout diagram). The rest of the changes concerned mainly auxiliary equipment and did not affect the characteristics of the machine.

A number of G3M2 bombers have been converted into a kind of "firing points" designed to accompany conventional G3Ms. They did not carry a bomb load, but they were reinforced by the installation of four additional 7.7 mm machine guns.

G3M3 (96-2-3) - the last serial modification produced at the Nakajima plant from June 1942 to February 1943. The aircraft of this variant had the highest maximum speed among the G3M series machines (416 km / h) and the longest flight range (4680 km, with additional tanks - 6230 km). These figures were achieved due to the installation of 1300-horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei-5-1 engines and an increase in the volume of fuel tanks (from 3874 to 5182 liters). Approximately twenty vehicles were converted into G3M3-Q patrol aircraft. They were equipped with a magnetic detector and achieved considerable success in the fight against enemy submarines, crediting 20 sunken submarines. On the basis of G3M bombers, specialists from the 1st Aviation Arsenal in Yokohama developed the L2Y transport version.

BTA aircraft. Taking into account good flight data and relatively high payload capacity, the G3M was redesigned into a transport aircraft. In 1939, the Navy, which lacked headquarters aircraft control, decided to re-equip some of the torpedo bombers into cargo-and-passenger vehicles. The armament was dismantled on the torpedo bombers transferred to the transport aviation, intra-fuselage fuel tanks and a passenger cabin for 10 seats were installed. The VTA version of the Navy received the combat code Transport aircraft "96". During the war, some of the "96" transport aircraft were used by the command of the Navy for the front-line drop of parachute assault forces.

A total of 1,048 aircraft of all modifications were built.

* - In the aviation of the Japanese Navy, torpedo bombers were designated by the term "strike aircraft" (in the aviation of the Ground Forces, it was used in the meaning of "attack aircraft"), while the term "bomber" in the aviation of the Navy was used to refer to dive-bombers ...

Mitsubishi G3M1
Crew 5 7
Wing span, m 25.00
Wing area, m² 75.10
Length, m 16.45
Height, m 3.685
Mitsubishi 2×PE Kinsei-3 Kinsei-4 Kinsei-5
Power, h.p. 2×910 2×1125 2×1300
Weight, kg
Empty 4,800 5,000 5,250
Loaded weight 7,000 7,800 8,000
Max. speed, km/h
at altitudeе, m
Service ceiling, m 7,500 9,000 10,300
Service range, km 2,800 4,400 6,200
small, mm 3×7.7 1×20, 4×7.7
suspended, kg - 12×60
torpedo, kg - 1×800

Combat use. G3M of the Imperial Japanese Navy has been massively used since the summer of 1937 in the skies of China, striking targets at a distance of 2 thousand km from the home airfield. The aircraft, created for strikes against enemy ships, quite unexpectedly turned out to be a good strategic bomber, striking initially at airfields, and later at practically defenseless Chinese cities.

The coastal torpedo bombers received the greatest fame after the sinking of the British battleship Prince of Wales on December 10, 1941 and the battle cruiser Repulse as part of the Z formation. In total, along with both ships, 870 people died that day.

However, with considerable success, the aircraft suffered heavy losses due to the weakness of defensive weapons and the installation of unprotected fuel tanks, a characteristic feature of all Japanese aircraft during the initial period of World War II.

Long-range torpedo bombers G3M were successfully used by Imperial Japan throughout the war in the Pacific, but since 1943, they were mainly transferred to parts of the second line. The last time the aircraft of the Japanese Navy widely used coastal torpedo bombers was at the beginning of 1944 during a strategic defensive operation off the Mariana Islands archipelago.

The plane has passed the test of time, having gone through many modifications and remained in service for almost the entire war, finding application in a variety of qualities. The Allied aircraft received the code designation "Nell", in the variant of the transport aircraft - "Tina".

Photo Description
Drawing of a long-range sea bomber G3M2

Drawing of a long-range sea bomber G3M2

Layout of a long-range naval bomber G3M

Layout of a long-range naval bomber G3M

G3M1 in flight

G3M1 in flight

L3Y - transport version of the Mitsubishi G3M bomber

L3Y - transport version of the Mitsubishi G3M bomber

L3Y (草津 Kusho) was a transport version of the Mitsubishi G3M Navy Type 96 bomber. The transport aircraft was produced in two versions, both of which appeared before Japan entered World War II.

The first version, the L3Y1 Type 96 Land Transport Model 11, was produced at Dai-Ichi Kaigun Kokusho (First Naval Arsenal) in Kasumigaura, better known as Kusho. The equipment of retractable shooting towers was dismantled from the narrow fuselage G3M1 and rows of seats were placed on the sides of the fuselage for five people from each side, which provided passenger capacity for 10 people. In appearance, the L3Y could be identified by the rows of narrow windows along the fuselage and a door on the port side.

In 1939, following the L3Y1, the L3Y2 was released, converted from the G3M2 and receiving more powerful Kinsei 45 engines. The aircraft was converted by analogy with the previous model, however, due to the more powerful power plant, the transport aircraft became faster.

L3Y has been used by the Imperial Navy Air Squadron, the Yokosuka Naval Test Center, the navy headquarters in Tokyo, and since 1942 by the 11th Transport Fleet. This latter unit was used to support Japan's new island conquests, and L3Ys were frequently seen flying to and from Rabaul. The end of this service in April 1944 marked the final isolation of the Japanese base.

The L3Y was not the first transport version of the G3M bomber. In the late 1930s, the G3M1 series was converted to a military transport aircraft with the G3M1-L modification, with the more powerful 1,075 hp Kinsei 45 engines installed. from. everyone. At the same time, a little over twenty G3M2s were converted to Mitsubishi Twin-Engined Transports and used by Nippon Air Lines (Nippon Koku K.K.) and its successor Greater Japan Air Lines (Dai Nippon Koku K.K.). In 1939, one of these civil aircraft made round the world (Nippon J-BACI) , covering 32,850 miles in 194 flight hours * ...

* - due to the outbreak of the war, the route through Europe had to be changed to South America and Africa, the length of the path covered was 52,860 km (the length of the Earth's equator is about 40,075 km).


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