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Ki-21 file photo [3996]


ManufacturerMitsubishi Heavy Industries
Primary RoleMedium Bomber
Maiden Flight1 December 1936


ww2dbaseThe Ki-21 medium bombers, designated Army Type 97 Heavy Bombers, were the standard and best bomber used by the Japanese Army during WW2. The design came out of the Feb 1936 requirement for a modern bomber for the Army, and the first prototype took flight in Dec that year. The design was ordered into production very quickly, and by 1937 they were being used in combat in China. After the Pacific War began, they were also seen over Malaya, Burma, and the Dutch East Indies. Although they were largely obsolete by 1943, they continued to serve in some combat and mostly non-combat roles until the end of the war. Nine aircraft of the Ki-21 I variant, nicknamed Nagoya, were given to Thailand for use against Vichy French forces in Indochina. At the end of the war, several Ki-21 bombers were employed by the Army as Giretsu special attack forces for suicide attacks.

ww2dbaseThe Allies originally gave the Ki-21 bombers the code name of "Jean", but Douglas MacArthur, whose wife's name was Jean, did not like the designation, and the code name was quickly changed to "Sally". After the introduction of variant IIb, because the dorsal greenhouse was removed, the Allies thought it was a new bomber design, therefore a new code name of "Gwen" was assigned. When it was realized that these new bombers were actually variants of Ki-21, "Gwen" bombers were code named "Sally 3".

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Aug 2007


MachineryTwo Nakajima Ha-5 KAI Army Type 97 radial engines rated at 1,080hp each
Armament2x7.7mm Type 89 machine guns, 1x7.7mm Type 1 machine gun, 1,000kg of bombs
Span22.50 m
Length16.00 m
Height4.35 m
Wing Area69.60 m²
Weight, Empty4,691 kg
Weight, Loaded7,492 kg
Weight, Maximum7,916 kg
Speed, Maximum431 km/h
Service Ceiling8,600 m
Range, Normal1,500 km
Range, Maximum2,704 km


Japanese Ki-21 bomber dropping bombs on Chongqing, China, China, 14 Sep 1940; note Yangtze RiverKi-21-II bombers in flight over a mountain range, circa 1940s
See all 12 photographs of Ki-21 Medium Bomber

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
6 Aug 2007 09:40:03 PM

You have this listed as a fighter, when in fact it is a bomber. FYI.
2. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
7 Aug 2007 06:42:45 AM

Error corrected. Thanks for pointing it out!
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
19 Feb 2009 04:09:43 PM

Info on "Sally" aircraft in formation: Mitsubishi Ki-21-11a from the Hamamatsu Army Bomber School.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
19 Feb 2009 04:21:09 PM

Photo of crashed "sally" I think this is one of the aircraft, that made a commando raid on Yontan Airfield, Okinawa. One out of nine aircraft despatched by the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai (Independent Wing) managed to crash-land near parked U.S. aircraft and supply dumps considerable damage was done by fanatical commandos. If I'm in error, I apologize. Sometimes, I work from memory, many of my files were destroyed years ago. bill......
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
19 Feb 2009 04:27:13 PM

A transport version of the "Sally" was also built. Mitsubishi MC-21 and operated by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. on cargo service between Japan, Manchuria and China.

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Ki-21 Medium Bomber Photo Gallery
Japanese Ki-21 bomber dropping bombs on Chongqing, China, China, 14 Sep 1940; note Yangtze RiverKi-21-II bombers in flight over a mountain range, circa 1940s
See all 12 photographs of Ki-21 Medium Bomber

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