Aviation of World War II

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J7W "Shinden"

  • Fighter-interceptor
  • First flight: 1945
  • Kyushu

At the final stage of the war, the Japanese fleet did not have an interceptor fighter capable of replacing the J2M "Raiden" and N1K2-J "Siden-Kai" in this post, on equal terms to withstand modern models of American aviation and released in any significant quantities! "Raiden" and "Siden-Kai", despite all their advantages, began to become obsolete by the time mass air raids on the Japanese islands began.

The history of the Shinden, the most unusual aircraft built in Japan during the Second World War, is closely connected with the activities of the technical department of the Kaigun Koku Hombu, whose specialists, as a rule, were engaged in analyzing the latest trends in the world aircraft industry, generalizing the experience of the combat use of aviation and developing on the basis of of this tactical and technical requirements for new Japanese aircraft. The direct participation of the department in the design was not envisaged, but the difficult situation on the fronts and the failure of the program to create an urgently needed fighter-interceptor according to the requirements of the 17-Ci "B" forced unconventional decisions to be made. Therefore, after compiling a new specification at the end of 1943 - 18-Ci "B" - it was decided to involve the engineers of the technical department of Kaigun Koku Hombu, namely, a group of three people led by pilot-engineer Captain Masaoki Tsuruno. They developed a preliminary design of the X-18 fighter-interceptor, built according to the "duck" aerodynamic configuration. Such an unusual solution became possible due to the fact; that the 18-C "B" specification was generic and gave developers free rein. It was only required to ensure at high altitudes a speed of at least 665 km / h and an ascent to a height of 8000 m no more than 9 minutes. Another interesting feature of the X-18 project was that it was already initially possible to install two types of engines on a new aircraft: piston or jet. Actually, this circumstance determined the choice of the aerodynamic scheme. To test the viability of the canard scheme, the 1st Fleet Aviation Arsenal in Yokosuka was tasked with designing an experimental glider of the same scheme. He received the designation MXY6. The flight tests of the three built gliders, which began in January 1944, confirmed the validity of the adopted concept, and Kaigun Koku Hombu issued an order for the development and manufacture of two prototypes of a new fighter-interceptor to Kyushu.

Since the company had no experience in designing high-speed aircraft, but had a relatively unloaded staff of designers and free capacities, some of the employees of the 1st arsenal were sent to Kyushu. The combined team was led by Captain Tsuruno.

Work on the aircraft project, which received the military designation J7W1 "Shinden" (Bright Lightning), began in March 1944. In April 1945, the first prototype was ready. It was an all-metal low-wing aircraft built according to the "duck" scheme, that is, the stabilizers of the horizontal tail were in front, and the wings were in the back. An unusually powerful armament of four 30 mm Type 5 cannons was placed in the forward fuselage. The aircraft also featured a three-post landing gear with a nose wheel. In addition, on the vertical planes placed on the wing there were additional supports with retractable wheels. The Mitsubishi MK9D KAI 18-cylinder air-cooled engine with a capacity of 2130 hp was chosen as the power plant. s, which was located behind the cockpit and rotated through an elongated shaft pushing a six-bladed propeller. Air for cooling the engine came through two narrow air intakes located on the sides of the fuselage.

The new aircraft seemed promising, and in May 1944, even before the first prototype of the J7W1 took off, Kaigun Koku Hombu placed an order for the construction of aircraft of the information series. In September, preparations began for the serial production phase at two factories: Kyushu and Nakajima. It was assumed that the production rate would be 150 aircraft per month, and in the period from April 1946 to March 1947, 1086 Shindens would enter the troops. However, these plans were not implemented due to the surrender of Japan.

Meanwhile, already during ground tests, problems with the engine cooling system were revealed. For this reason, the first flight had to be postponed. It took place only on July 3, 1945 - three months after the construction of the first prototype. Then two more flights were performed with a total duration of 30-45 minutes, during which there was a strong vibration and a tendency to stall to the right side.

The rest of the aircraft behaved well in the air. After the installation of shields that balance the reactive moment of the propeller, as well as modifications to the engine cooling systems and deflection of the flaps. J7W1 could well become a full-fledged fighter. But there was not enough time to finalize the machine.

Just before the end of the war, the second prototype of the J7W1 aircraft was made, but it did not have time to take off. The next option - J7W2 "Shinden" KAI - as a power plant, which was supposed to use a Ne-130 turbojet engine with a thrust of 900 kg, also remained unrealized.

Design. The horizontal tail stabilizers were moved forward. The wing of the J7W, like the fuselage, had an all-metal construction (with the exception of the fabric covering of the control surfaces). It was shifted back, and about the middle of the span, two vertical tail stabilizers were installed on it.

The use of a three-wheeled chassis with a front pillar is another distinguishing feature of the J7W.

Mitsubishi MK9D KAI 18-cylinder air-cooled engine with a capacity of 2,130 hp. With. was behind the cockpit. Air for its cooling came through narrow air intakes located on the sides of the fuselage.

The 3.4m six-blade pusher variable pitch propeller was designed to make the most of the high torque. It was equipped with an emergency release system, which was activated by the pilots, if necessary, to leave the aircraft with a parachute.

J7W1 Specification
Crew 1
Length, m 9.76
Height, m 3.92
Wing span, m 11.11
Wing area, m² 20.50
1 × PE Mitsubishi MK9D (Ha-43 Type 42), hp/at altitude 2130/2020
Weights, kg
Empty weight 3,525
Loaded weight 4,950
Gross weight 5,272
Maximum speed, km/h 750
Cruise speed, km/h 444
Maximum rate of climb, m/min 748
Service ceiling, m 12,000
Service range, km 1,820

Armament. The nose of the fuselage contained all the extremely powerful weapons of the fighter - 4 × 30-mm experimental automatic aircraft guns "type 5" with an ammunition load of 60 rounds per barrel, on training aircraft 4 × 7.92 machine guns and a photo-cinema gun. 2 × 60 kg or 4 × 30 kg bombs on underwing pylons.

Photo Description
Drawingа J7W1

Drawing J7W1 "Shinden"

In September 1945, the Musiroda Fleet Air Base in Hukuoka was occupied by the Americans. Among the 145 aircraft they seized was one of two Shinden prototypes. The aircraft was badly damaged and the engine was missing. The copy was dismantled and transported to the United States at the Wright Field test site (the current Wright-Patterson airbase). With the help of Japanese specialists, the aircraft was restored and tested under the designation FE-362 (then T.2-326). The results impressed American engineers who were interested in the behavior of an aircraft created according to the original aerodynamic scheme. Most of all, they were surprised by the maneuverability characteristics. After passing the test cycle, the aircraft was sent to the Willow Grove Doylestown Aviation Museum, and from there in 1960 to the Smithsonian Aviation Museum. The Shinden is now in the Paul E. Garber Aircraft Museum in Maryland, part of the National Aerospace Museum in Washington DC.


  • Japanese Aviation /Evgeny Aranov/
  • Japanese aircraft of World War II. /O.V. Doroshkekvich/
  • Encyclopedia of military equipment /Aerospace Publishing/