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Ki-34 Thora
Transport Aircraft

Ki-34 Thora

Ki-34 Thora. Influenced by the success of the DC-2, the Ki-34 was a twin-engined, all-metal monoplane, with the project's chief engineer Akegawa. The prototype first flew on September 12, 1936.

Adopted by the army in 1937 under the name of a transport aircraft, army type 97. It entered service with the fleet under the name - marine transport aircraft, type AT-2, or L1N1.

AT-2, equipped with a pair of 9-cylinder Nakajima "Kotobuki" 2-Kai-1 engines with a power of 585 hp. with wooden two-bladed fixed pitch propellers. A characteristic feature of the AT-2 project was the reverse inclination of the frontal panels of the pilot's cockpit canopy. The spacious cabin accommodated 8-10 passengers and 200 kg of cargo.

The aircraft went into production with more powerful 3-Kai Kotobuki engines with a takeoff power of 620 hp. with metal double-bladed variable pitch propellers.

Production of Ki-34 aircraft at Nakajima did not last long and was phased out in 1939 after the release of 23 aircraft, including four prototypes. After that, Nakajima switched to the production of combat aircraft, and the rights to produce the Ki-34 transport aircraft were transferred to the Tachikawa company, which by the end of 1940 produced another 295 (according to other sources 288) copies, after which a similar capacity, but significantly more modern and universal short-haul Ki-54 .

Nakajima Ki-34
Crew 3
Wing span, m 19.92
Wing area, m² 49.2
Length, m 15.3
Height, m 4.15
2×PE radial Nakajima Kotobuki 41, h.p. 2×710
Power, h.p. 1×1150
Weight, kg
Empty 35,000
Loaded weight 5,250
Maximum speed, km/h 360
Cruising speed, km/h 310
Service range, km 1,200
Service ceiling, m 7,000
Payload, soldier 8

Ki-34. Combat Use

The unit's first combat operation was the deployment of three sabotage squads to the rear of Chinese troops in Changsha in October 1941. And on February 14, 1942, the 1st Teishin Sentai, which was based on Ki-34s, which were equipped with 3 of the five squadrons, were involved in the largest landing operation of the Japanese army - the capture of the city of Palembang in Sumatra. Thanks to the brilliant preparation of the operation, the Sentai materiel suffered practically no losses. Later, this operation formed the basis of propaganda films, after which the characteristic profile of the Ki-34 became well recognizable, despite the fact that by that time the aircraft was already considered obsolete and was discontinued. It was after the landing on Palembang that Ki-34 received the codename "Thora" from the allies.

Later, Ki-34 aircraft as part of the 1st Teishin Sentai took part in the drop of assault forces during the capture of the Philippines, in Burma. But the rapidly aging machine was less and less satisfied with the Japanese military, gradually giving way to more advanced, roomy and high-speed aircraft Mitsubishi Ki-57, Kawasaki Ki-56 and Tachikawa Ki-54.

Ki-34s were gradually withdrawn from the first line by the end of 1942. Some of them entered service with individual liaison squadrons of Yusô Hikô-Chûtaï, some were enrolled in flight schools, in particular in Ushonomiya, Gifu and Hamamatsu. Some of the machines were transferred to civil aviation, where they were operated even after the war. At least 12 Ki-34s were delivered to the Manchzhou Guo aviation, where they were used for their intended purpose precisely as transport aircraft until September 1945, when the surviving old men, along with earlier civilian AT-2s, were captured by Soviet troops in Harbin.

A number of Ki-34 aircraft were in service with Wang Zi Wei's allied Chinese collaborationist government. After the war, the surviving Ki-34s were also operated in China.

The fate of one of the L1N1 naval aircraft is curious. When, in May 1941, Japanese naval pilots mistakenly shot down a French transport aircraft Dewoitine 338 over the Gulf of Tonkin, as compensation, the fleet handed over to the French one of its aircraft, which turned out to be L1N1. The vehicle survived the war and was used by the French in Saigon back in 1947.

Photo Description
Drawing Nakajima Ki-34

Drawing Nakajima Ki-34

Nakajima Ki-34, loading of troops

Nakajima Ki-34, loading of troops.


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