Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ki-201 ‘Karyū’: The Me 262 Domestic Production Plan

Me 262 A-1a

  At the dawn of 1944, the German jet fighter Messerschmitt 'Me 262' was nearing the beginning of its service life. Due to issues with its power-plant and interference from the high command, the aircraft had been in the testing stage since 1941. In the coming months it would finally enter mass production. This aircraft achieved revolutionary performance; exhibiting a top speed of 870km/h, a cruising distance of 1,050km, and a climb rate of 1,200m/min. The bomber-devastating armament consisted of a quartet of 30 mm machine cannons and 24 rockets. On paper, it was the world’s best interceptor at the time.

Ne-0 ramjet on a Type99 Light Bomber - IJA's first jet engine.
It is comparatively little known that Japan had indigenous jet engine programs prior to being influenced by German technology. The development of original Japanese jet engines began in 1941-1942, but they wouldn’t materialize as prototypes until 1943. In the typical fashion of the Japanese military, the Navy and Army did not collaborate on this ordeal. As such, duplicate research efforts were conducted simultaneously.

The testing of indigenous jet engines were plagued with troubles ー to be brief; major issues such as total failure of the engine itself during operation, to performance problems like low thrust output and high fuel consumption rate, were unavoidable. By 1944, the most advanced Japanese turbojet developments from both sides only provided about 300kg of thrust. At this point the Japanese were several years behind their German counterparts. However, with limited assistance, an impressive technological leap was soon to be achieved.