Aviation of World War II

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J8M Shusui

  • Fighter-Interceptor
  • First flight: 1945
  • Mitsubishi

With the start of attacks on Japan by American B-29 Superfortress bombers, the imperial army felt the need for a high-speed interceptor capable of quickly gaining altitude - a type of aircraft that was completely absent in the army. Fortunately for the Japanese aviation, their attache in Germany received information about the development of the Me-163B missile interceptor at Messerschmitt, and at the end of 1943 a license was acquired for its Walter HWK 109-509 rocket engine. But one of the two submarines heading to Japan with the drawings of the Me-163B and samples of the Walter engine was sunk. Despite this, the Navy issued specifications for the 19-Ci in July 1944, providing for the creation of such a missile interceptor. The task was assigned to Mitsubishi. From the very beginning, the project was a joint development of the army and navy, and the Japanese modification of the Walther engine HWK 109-509 was a joint development of the army, navy and Mitsubishi.

The design of the aircraft, which received the designation J8M1 in the Navy and the Ki-200 in the army, was carried out under the direction of Mijiro Takahashi on Mitsubishi and quite quickly. Already in September 1944, the layout was ready. It was approved by the army and navy, and work began on prototype aircraft.

Shortly after work began on Mitsubishi on the design of the J8M1, the Navy ordered the 1st Naval Aviation Technical Arsenal in Yokosuka to develop an airframe of a similar design to evaluate the controllability of a future missile interceptor, as well as to use it for pilot training. The first experimental tailless glider MXY8 "Akigusa" (Autumn Grass) was ready in December 1944. It was transferred to the Hyakurigahara airfield in Ibaragi prefecture, where it first took off on December 8th.

On its maiden flight, the Akigusa was towed off Kyushu by a K10W1 of the 312th Kokutai piloted by Toyohiko Inuzuka, the future test pilot of the J8M1. Despite the unusual layout, the handling of the MXY8 proved to be normal, and two more of these airframes were delivered from Yokosuka to the Army Aviation Institute in Tachikawa, where they were tested by army pilots. At the Naval Aviation Institute in Maeda and at Yoko Koku K.K. production of the MXY8 variant soon began, with ballast water tanks simulating a full refueling of the interceptor. This glider received the designation Ki-13 "training glider" and was already intended for the training of combatant pilots. Managed to release 50-60 of these gliders. The Navy also planned to produce a motor version of the MXY9 "Shuka" (Autumn Fire) airframe with a power plant from a 200 kg thrust compression engine. But this option by the time of the defeat of Japan was not ready.

J8M1 Specification
Crew 1
Wing span, m 9.50
Wing area, m² 17.73
Length, m 6.05
Height, m 2.70
Rocket engine "Токо" Ro.2 (KRIO), thrust, kgf 950
Weights, kg
Empty weight 1,505
Loaded weight 3,885
Maximum speed, km/h 900
Maximum rate of climb, m/min 2,860
Flight duration, min 5.5
Service ceiling, m 12,000
Two wing-mounted 30 mm "type 5" cannons,
(one 30 mm "type 5" cannon on J8M2)

On July 7, 1945, the J8M1 took to the air for the first time, but almost immediately after takeoff, the engine failed on a steep climb, the aircraft was wrecked, and its pilot, Toyohiko Inuzuka, died. To solve the problems that arose on the sixth and seventh experimental aircraft, the fuel system was urgently redone, but not a single J8M1 or Ki-200 had yet been flown by the end of hostilities. By the end of the war, mass production of "Shusui" was already being prepared. At Mitsubishi, Nissan and Fuji, assembly lines were being prepared for two variants of the fighter: the J8M1 was armed with two 30-mm "type 5" cannons, and the J8M1 KAI instead of one of the cannons was supposed to receive an additional fuel tank. In Rikugun, army specialists developed an enlarged version of the Ki-200 - Ki-202, which had a larger supply of fuel, which was supposed to become the main version of the army interceptor.

Photo Description
Drawing J8M

Drawing J8M1


  • "Japan Aviation" /Andrey Firsov/
  • "Encyclopedia of military equipment" /Aerospace Publishing/
  • CD encyclopedia. "Military Aviation" /Media 2000/