Aviation of World War II
P1Y1 Ginga (Milky Way). Medium dive bomber and torpedo bomber, twin-engined all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear. The first flight of the prototype took place in August 1943, entered service in October 1944, the codename of the Allies - Frances. Developed under the leadership of Mitsuzi (Mika) Tadanao * and Masao Yamana, the aircraft had an aerodynamically clean design with a small fuselage midsection, technological innovation, riveting in a blind and high power plant - all this allowed to achieve high flight speeds.
Despite the small size of the aircraft in the wing and fuselage, it was possible to accommodate 8 protected and six unprotected tanks with a total capacity of 5535 liters, which could be supplemented by two 220 liter outboard tanks. The armor protection of the three crew members consisted of armored headrests and armored backs with a thickness of 20 mm.
The defensive armament was very weak, especially when compared with American aircraft of this class.
Armament. One 20 mm Type 99 cannon or one 13 mm Type 2 machine gun in the bow and upper defensive mountings; up to 1000 kg of bombs (up to 1500 kg in overload). The armament of the various models was somewhat different. When the aircraft was used as a torpedo bomber, the bomb bay doors were dismantled, while the torpedo was partially recessed into the fuselage.
Many Gings were equipped with Type 3 Ku Mark.6 (H6) marine search radar. The radar antennas were located under the nose of the fuselage and along the sides in the tail. The bombers equipped with radar did not carry a special designation.
The unreliable Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 engine caused a lot of criticism, which led to its abandonment in favor of a more reliable one in the next modification.
P1Y2S. The high speed achieved during the tests of the P1Y1 attracted the attention of night fighter designers. Kawanishi was tasked with developing the P1Y fighter variant at its Konan plant. Aware of the unreliability of the Homare 12 engines, Kawanishi installed the MK4T 14-cylinder air-cooled Mitsubishi Kasei-25 engines on it. The aircraft developed by Kawanishi received the designation P1Y2-S. At the same time, the night fighter retained the bomb bay, as it was planned to use it as a night bomber. The armament consisted of one movable 20 mm cannon at the rear of the cockpit and two fixed ones mounted at an angle.
P1Y2. Since the characteristics of the fighters at high altitudes turned out to be unsatisfactory, they were again converted into conventional bombers, while the guns installed in the fuselage were not removed.
P1Y3. Designed at the end of the war, the carrier of the kamikaze aircraft with an enlarged fuselage and a wingspan of up to 22 m and engines with increased power. The project was not implemented.
Since February 1944, they have been serially produced at the Nakajima factories in Koizumi and Kawanishi in Konan. Including the P1Y1-S and P1Y2-S fighters, a total of 1,098 aircraft were built.
Combat use. The P1Y1 performed well in the air, but very difficult to maintain. The hydraulics were constantly malfunctioning, debugging the engines took most of the time.
During the bloody battles for the Philippines and Formosa, more and more P1Y1 bombers used the tactics of "toccotai" - "special attacks" of kamikaze. However, classical attacks in conditions of the numerical and qualitative superiority of the allied aviation were no longer different from the actions of kamikaze. "Gingi" - kamikaze were reduced to small groups with their own names and quickly perished. The results of their actions were insignificant.
The last battle where the "Gingas" were actively used was the Okinawa battle. Then, in March - May 1945, the Gings were used as conventional bombers, and they were supposed to be used for the new version of the MXY7 model 22 projectile, however two prototype bomber were destroyed during the Allied bombing. Due to the lack of calculation of losses in Japanese aviation, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of a particular type of aircraft.
In August 1945, the career of the Ginga P1Y bomber ended.
* - It is curious that after the war, Miki Tadanao created the famous Japanese "bullet trains" that run in Japan at speeds over 400 km / h.
The appearance in the Japanese naval aviation of the newest and very promising dive bomber P1Y Ginga, which had good speed, did not go unnoticed by the ubiquitous daisho (captain 1st rank) Yasuna Kozono, commander of 302 kokutai night fighters. This unit was formed in March 1944 at the Kisaratsu air base and was designed to strengthen the defense of the central sector in the Tokyo-Nagoya region.
A year and a half ago, it was on the initiative of Kozono that the basic twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft of the J1N1 "Gekko" fleet began to install inclined cannons for firing forward and upward, thus turning the reconnaissance aircraft into a night interceptor. It was this machine that, in the opinion of the command, should have become the basis of the materiel of the new 302nd kokutai. However, the reality turned out to be such that the limited production of "Gekko" interceptors did not allow them to be fully equipped with a new unit. By the beginning of the American air offensive on the Japanese Islands, the regiment's materiel consisted of a combined hodgepodge of a variety of aircraft, adapted to carry out night interceptions through the efforts and initiative of Kozono. In addition to the already mentioned Gekkos, the 302 Kokutai received conventional A6M Reisen fighters of the latest modifications Model 52 and the latest J2M Raiden interceptors.
Kozono was a staunch supporter of the use of slanted cannon armament and the tactics of using it with an attack from the rear lower hemisphere of the attacked bomber. In 1942-43. this tactic had some success, since in the lower hemisphere of the bombers of the old designs of the B-17 and B-24 types, they had the worst visibility and the weakest defensive armament. But in the case of the new B-29s, such tactics were already losing their meaning. The new American planes were just as well protected from below as they were from any other side. But conservatism is a national Japanese trait, and it was simply not realistic to quickly rebuild consciousness, quickly change the practiced tactics. Therefore, at the initiative of Kozono, inclined guns were installed on almost all aircraft that entered service with the 302nd Ku entrusted to him. The Type 99 Model 2 20mm cannon was mounted behind the pilot's seat in the Zero, right in the cockpit. Two of the same guns were placed "on the back" of the Raiden behind the cockpit, complementing the already powerful 4-gun armament of this interceptor.
The lack of aircraft forced the commander of the unit to use everything that was available as replacements. The new Ginga P1Y bomber was no exception.
It should be noted that the development of a heavy interceptor based on the Ginga dive bomber proceeded in parallel in two directions. Almost simultaneously, a fighter version appeared in the field, developed by the aircraft mechanics of the 302nd Ku. and a factory modification developed by Kavanishi.
The first field version was designated - "Ginga 11-gata Kaizō yasen" (sometimes the name "Byakkō" - "Moonlight" appears to refer to this version of the fighter, however, it was never officially used) - the night fighter "Ginga" model 11, armed with a pair of inclined 20 mm Type 99 model 2 cannons. There were two options for their location. In the first, one gun was located in front of the cockpit, the second behind, in the second, both guns were located behind the cockpit. All defensive weapons were removed. As part of the 302nd Kokutai, no more than a dozen P1Y1 "Ginga" bombers, models 11 and 11a, were modernized in this way.
Another field variant, the P1Y1-S model 21 (Kashō Ginga 21-gata), was a bomber conversion with four 20mm cannons, two in front of the cockpit and two behind. At the same time, the 13-mm machine gun of the rear defensive point was preserved. This version of the interceptor in the 302nd Kokutai existed, apparently, in a single copy.
A variant of the fighter developed by Kavanishi, conceptually repeated the Byakko project, although work on it had begun even earlier and completely independently.
Back in January 1943, the technical department of the Kaigun Koku Hombu fleet aviation headquarters, attracted by the potential of a new bomber that had not yet entered service, ordered the Kawanishi company, which was less loaded with military orders, to develop a fighter version of the P1Y at its plant in Konan. Knowing the unreliability of the Homare engines that originally powered the Ginga, Kawanishi decided to use Mitsubishi Kasei-25 14-cylinder air-cooled MK4T engines with an output of 1850 hp. The aircraft developed by Kavanishi received the designation P1Y2-S. At the same time, the night fighter retained the bomb bay, as it was planned to be used as a night bomber. It was tested in October 1943 and was originally given its own name "Hakkō" - "Crown". In March 1944, when the fighter was officially adopted by the Navy, the name was changed to P1Y2-S "Kyokkō" - "Morning Dawn", or the long designation "Ginga Fleet Bomber Modified into a Kyokko Model 26 Fighter" - "Kashō Ginga 26-gata /Shisei Kyokkō".
The armament was originally a pair of inclined 20 mm Type 99 model 2 cannons behind the cockpit. Late production aircraft were fitted with a single Type 5 30mm cannon. Some aircraft even received a combination of a pair of side-by-side 20mm Type 99-2 cannons behind the cockpit and a single 30mm Type 5 cannon further aft. Defensive armament, as a rule, was removed, but often some crews left the rear gun mount. At the very end of the war, a search radar Ta-Ki 1 Type 3 Kai 6 model 4 (Type H6) with a wavelength of 2 m was installed on the part of the Kyokko fighters. Although the H6 radar was intended mainly for detecting naval targets such as a ship, theoretically it still allowed the detection of air targets - single at a distance of up to 70 km, group - up to 100 km.
Kavanishi's factory in Konan assembled P1Y2-S fighters from ready-made components until February 1945. The total number of cars of this type produced was 96 or 97 copies.
However, the fighting qualities of the new fighter turned out to be disappointing. As a result, the inclined guns were removed from most of the P1Y2-S produced, and the aircraft were already used as bombers under the designation P1Y2 model 16 (Ginga 16-gata), although the machine lost its ability to dive.
The few P1Y1-S and P1Y2-S night fighters operated, as already noted, only as part of the 302nd Kokutai from the Atsugi airbase near the city of Hamamatsu. There, in 1945, a combined hodgepodge of naval ersatz interceptors J1N3, D4Y2-S, C6N1-S and even experimental J5N "Tenray" was assembled. The basis of the materiel of the 302nd Ku. were J2M Raiden interceptors.
The results of the few P1Y-S interceptors were, to put it mildly, modest.
Thus, the B-29 air raid on March 9-10, 1945, which brought great damage to the streets of Tokyo, did not find the group of Ginga fighters in combat readiness, but on April 2, before dawn, two P1Y-S night fighters were alerted. Both aircraft were equipped with the H6 search radar, therefore, despite the remoteness from the sentinel point, there were no difficulties in finding the target. Departing to the East, on the way from Choshi to Tateyama, the aircraft numbered "Yod-161", whose crew consisted of Aikawa Masao, Shimazu Taka, Matsui Sadaki, found a B-29 illuminated by a spotlight from the coastline behind Tokyo and went to approach. It was probably a single F-13 reconnaissance aircraft. The enemy occupied a height of about two kilometers and seemed to be slowing down, so it was not difficult to detect him and get into position for an attack. Taking up a position behind from below, they fired a volley of 20-mm guns at the huge hull of an American aircraft, which blocked the entire view of the sky. Starting with shelling the base of the left wing, they passed obliquely from the cannons all over the hull. Upon returning to base, the crew reported a "probably downed" B-29. Radio operator Matsui Sadaki, who observed the attack from the rear cockpit, claimed that the attacked American bomber was on fire in three places.
Comparison of B-29 losses data with the Yod-161 crew's request dated April 2, 1945 shows that there were no B-29 losses on that day, just as there were no raids on Japan.
On April 12, 1945, the Ginga fighter Itto Hiko Heiso (Chief Petty Officer) Kunihara Konno tried to intercept the B-29 weather reconnaissance aircraft during the day, but was attacked by the accompanying Mustangs and shot down.
Three days later, on April 15, joto hiko heiso (chief ship's foreman) Shimazu, flying out on combat patrol at about ten o'clock in the evening, died with the entire crew under unclear circumstances, falling in the vicinity of the base.
Another "Kyokko" piloted by shoi (junior late) Uchiyama was mistakenly fired upon by his own anti-aircraft battery that night, and was hit in the right engine. Skillfully flying the plane, whose only surviving engine was also malfunctioning, Uchiyama managed to land it in a potato field. As a result of an emergency landing, a radio operator died, and the navigator-operator of the Chui radar station (lieutenant) Saburi Takeshi dislocated his leg.
According to Japanese data, on May 24, 1945, at half past one in the night, two sentinel P1Y-S took the fight in the south of the Izu Peninsula. Details remain unclear, but shosa (captain lieutenant) Yamamoto Toshimaru reported one destroyed and one damaged enemy aircraft upon his return. Comparison with American data, again, does not confirm the loss of the B-29 on this day.
On the night of May 25-26, after receiving information about a large group of Mustangs heading for the Atsugi airbase, the remnants of 302 kokutai consisting of 20 aircraft, among which only one serviceable P1Y-S remained, retreated to the army airfield in Maebashi Gunma Prefecture. Among the aircraft remaining at the Atsugi base, there were three Ginga fighters with various malfunctions, which were successfully finished off by the Mustangs that stormed the airfield.
In general, the effectiveness of P1Y-S night interceptors was extremely low, although photographs of P1Y2-S "Kyokkō" with the tail code "Yod-176" have survived to this day, on the fuselage of which four victories are visible. The crew commander of this Chui fighter (lieutenant) Kusaku Hamano allegedly used phosphorus bombs in addition to cannons to intercept. But, as a rule, the victorious reports of Japanese pilots at the end of the war were very cheap, and most likely these victories were another move of Japanese propaganda to raise their spirits.
© Evgeny Aranov
Armament. 2 × 20 mm Type 99 model 2 inclined guns, either 1 × 30 mm Type 5 inclined guns or 2 × 20 + 1 × 30 mm inclined guns, sometimes 1 × 13 mm Type 2 machine gun in the rear cockpit.