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N1K "Shiden"

Kawanishi N1K2-J
  • Fighter
  • First flight: 1942
  • Kawanishi

The Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden (紫電 "Purple Lightning") fighter began to be developed by the Kawanishi design team in 1941 as a variant of the successful N1K1-J Kefu fighter. The first of five prototypes flew in December 1942, followed by a rather long period of test programs, after which a series of 998 N1K1-J aircraft was built in three versions, differing in different weapons.

The N1K1-J fighter was very unreliable in operation and difficult to maintain due to the complicated chassis and capricious engine, already in the middle of 1943 it was decided to develop its significantly improved version, designated N1 K2-J "Shiden-KAI" (KAI - modernized). The main purpose of the work was to simplify the design of the machine. In accordance with this, the number of wing parts was reduced, and panel skin elements were used in the fuselage design. The landing gear was shortened by using a low-wing scheme and the mechanism for their double cleaning was eliminated. The aerodynamics of the aircraft was somewhat improved by changing the shape of the hood and tail. The armament was made according to the model of N1 K1 -Jb. Unfortunately, the Homare 21 engine could not be replaced, and in the future it remained the main source of trouble for pilots and mechanics. As a result of the described modifications, the empty weight of the fighter was reduced by 240 kg, which had a positive effect on the aircraft's flight characteristics.

The first flight of the prototype N1K2-J, manufactured at the Naruo plant, took place on December 31, 1943, and in March of the following year it was decided to start mass production of the aircraft, without waiting for the completion of its state tests. By June 1944, the plant had built seven more prototypes, and then the serial Siden-KAI, which also bore the designation "sea fighter-interceptor model 21", began to leave the assembly line of the enterprise.

The N1K aircraft proved to be a fairly efficient fighter, although it was equipped with a not very reliable engine. In total, the factories in Naruyu and Himeya built about 1000 N1K1-J aircraft of various versions.

The Shiden Kai possessed heavy armament as well as surprisingly good maneuverability, due to a mercury switch that automatically extended the flaps during turns. These "combat" flaps created more lift, thereby allowing tighter turns.

N1K 'Shiden' Specification
N1K1-J N1K2-J
Crew 1
Wing span, m 12 11.99
Wing area, m² 23.5 23.48
Length, m 8.88 9.34
1 × PE NK9H Homare-21, Nakajima, hp 1,820
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 2,897 2,657
Maximum takeoff weight 3,900 4,000
Speed, km/h maximum 580 594
at altitude, m 5,900 5,600
Time to 6000m, min 7.8 7.35
Service ceiling, m 12,500 10,760
Service range, km 1,400 1,700
2 × 20-mm cannon, 2 × 7.92 -mm machine guns,
external bomb load, kg
500 500
Photo Description

Drawing N1k2-J

Kawanishi N1K1 in flight

Shiden N1K1-J, Kawanishi

Shiden N1K2-J, Kawanishi

Kawanishi N1K2-J

J6K1 (project)

Kawanishi J6K1
  • Fighter-interceptor
  • Kawanishi

At the beginning of 1942, the Kawanishi company, which until then had specialized mainly in the construction of float planes and large-displacement flying boats, took the initiative to develop a single-seat fighter-interceptor for the fleet, capable of withstanding the new American fighters of the Hellcat and Corsair types. .

The perspective project of the N1K1 "Kefu" ("Gust of Wind") float fighter was taken as a basis, which was later implemented by the designers, but did not become as famous as its younger relatives. Fighters N1K1-J "Siden" ("Purple Lightning") and N1K2-J "Siden-Kai" ("Purple Lightning Modified"), developed on the basis of this project, will become one of the best in the Japanese Imperial Navy.

Unlike the first, the second project was developed in accordance with the technical requirements of the fleet specifications of the 17-Shi Otsu (type B) and 18-Shi Otsu (type B), which later received the designation "experimental single-engine fighter-interceptor of the fleet" and the code the Allied designation J3K1 was halted early enough in the design process as unpromising. It is possible that in the original version, this aircraft was to be equipped with a Nakajima Ha 43 type 21 engine, which developed power up to 1700 hp, and then preference was given to the more powerful Mitsubishi MK9A with a power of up to 2200 hp, however, work on this project have been discontinued.

Almost a year of hard work was spent by Kawanishi specialists on the development of this fighter, which later received the designation J6K1 - "experimental single-engine fighter-interceptor of the fleet" and the rather popular name "Zinpu" ("Squall"). The aircraft was equipped with a new, radial air-cooled engine from Nakajima Homare 42, which developed power up to 2200 hp. With. Unfortunately, the almost finished prototype was never completed. Kawanishi, contrary to its obligations, completely stopped work on this project as well, due to the fact that all design and production capacities were devoted to the construction of the more promising N1K2-J Siden-Kai. Successful tests of this aircraft forced naval specialists to reconsider the requirements for a shore-based interceptor fighter and abandon the further development of naval specifications of the 17-Shi Otsu (type B) and 18-Shi Otsu (type B) types. N1K2-J fully satisfied the needs of the fleet in aircraft of this class.

Kawanishi J3K1
Crew 1
Wing span, m 12.50
Wing area, m² 26.00
Length, m 10.12
1 × PE Nakajima Homare 42, power hp 1 × 2,200
Weights, kg
Empty weight
Loaded weight 4,370
Maximum speed, km/h 685
Service ceiling, m 13,600
Service range, km
Two 30mm cannons and two 13mm Ho-204 machine guns, light bombs.
Photo Description

Drawing J6K1


  • Japanese aircraft of World War II /Doroshkevich O.V./
  • J3K(J6K) Junpu (St. Petersburg, 2003) /Andrey Suvorov/
  • Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War /Rene J Francillion./