Aviation of World War II

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Ki-57 Topsy

Ki-57 Topsy
  • Medium Transport Aircraft
  • Mitsubishi

Ki-57 Topsy began its flight life as an airliner in the Japanese airline Nippon Koku with a simple rearrangement of the fuselage space of twelve Ki-21 bombers undergoing repair for passenger seats. However, the appearance of a dozen civilian vehicles, created on the basis of a bomber, was only the beginning of the history of perhaps the most successful Japanese transport aircraft of the Second World War.

The aircraft was developed on the basis of the outstanding Ki-21 bomber, which interested the airline with its ability to carry a significant combat load over long distances. The new passenger airliner, civilly designated MC-20, impressed the Japanese army in turn, and it placed orders for a military version called the Ki-57 or the Type 100 transport aircraft.

Most of the Ki-57's design was taken directly from the Ki-21 - the wing, tail, cockpit, landing gear and powerplant were identical to the Ki-21. To optimize the fuselage space for accommodating passengers, the aircraft has changed from a mid-wing to a low-wing aircraft.

The first flight of the prototype took place in August 1939. Flight tests, even despite the crash of the fourth prototype, were recognized as successful, and before the end of the year, both versions were launched into series.


• Ki-57-I - in total, from 1940 to 1942, Mitsubishi produced 101 production vehicles for the army. They were officially designated Type 100 Model 1 Army Transport Aircraft (Ki-57-I). A small number of transport workers were transferred to the fleet, where they were assigned the L4M1 index.

• Ki-57-II - in May 1942, an improved modification of the Ki-57-II (MC-20-II) aircraft was created. The cars of this version, built before January 1945 in the amount of 406 units, differed from their predecessors by the more powerful Mitsubishi Ha-102 engines (1080 hp) and the composition of the onboard equipment.

Combat use. Ki-57s served in all sectors of the Pacific theater of operations from the first to the last day of the war. The aircraft were used as transport and communication vehicles, in addition, civilian MS-20 airliners were often used to provide transportation.

As the war progressed and Allied air superiority grew, Ki-57s increasingly fell victim to Allied fighters. Dozens were lost, including from a collision with heavily armed American patrol bombers, who did not hesitate to engage in defenseless transport workers.

When the war ended, many Ki-57 survivors were used to transport delegates in the Japanese surrender. The fact that after the war captured aircraft were actively operated in China and the Soviet Union indirectly speaks of the high qualities of the Japanese aircraft. Moreover, the famous Soviet pilot V. Vinitsky once flew on the MS-20 with Mao Zedong himself on board. According to the pilot, the MS-20 was an excellent aircraft - one of the best in its class.

The allies have given the plane a codename - "Topsy". A total of 507 aircraft were produced.

Mitsubishi Ki-57-I Ki-57-II
Crew 4
Wing span, m 22.60
Wing area, m² 70.08
Length, m 16.10
Height, m 4.90
2×PE Nakajima
Ha-5 KAI
Power, h.p. 2×1000 2×1080
Weight, kg
Empty 5,522 5,585
Loaded weight 8,173
Gross weight 8,437 9,120
Max. speed, km/h 430 470
Cruise speed, km/h 320 360
Max. rate of climb, m/min 317
Service ceiling, m 7,000 8,000
Service range, km 1,500 1,500
Payload 15 pass. ore
1500 kg cargo
17-19 pass. ore
2000 kg cargo
Photo Description
Drawing Ki-57

Drawing Ki-57

MC-20-II, board number J-BAAP

MC-20-II, board number J-BAAP


  • "Transport Aviation of Japan" / Evgeny Aranov. /
  • "Japan Aviation." /A. Firsov /
  • "World War II Japan Aircraft." /Oleg. Doroshkevich /
  • "Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War" /Francillon, Rene J./
  • "Warplanes of the Second World War" /Green, William/