Thursday, August 05, 2021
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Nakajima Ki-43 fighter


Known by the Allies as ‘Oscar’ and by the Japanese as Hayabusa (which translates to Peregrine Falcon) the Ki-43 had highly sensitive controls and possessed no vicious characteristics.  It’s best combat element was close in high ‘g’ manoeuvring.  It lacked firepower, having only two 12.7mm machine guns (250 rounds per gun) mounted in the upper portion of the forward fuselage and had little fuel tank or pilot protection.  It’s structure, whilst not unduly fragile, was incapable of absorbing continuous punishment. 

Could be out-dived and out-zoomed by most Allied fighters.  The Ki-43 was the most important Army fighter of the entire conflict and like its naval counterpart, the Zero-Sen, was initially something of a myth.  The ‘Oscar’ was powered by a Nakajima Ha-115 fourteen cylinder radial engine which had two speed supercharging.  The engine rotated a three bladed constant speed metal propeller and was enclosed by a large diameter cowling with the supercharger air intact being located in the upper ‘lip’.  Starting the engine was through what was termed a Huck’s starter (a rotating shaft driven by a ground vehicle engaged a ‘dog’ mechanism fitted to the centre of the propeller).  The fitting of Fowler type flaps increased the lift and gave the Ki-43 a substantial rate of turn.  From late 1943 ejector type exhaust stubs replaced the original exhaust collector ring.


(Data from Hendon archive)