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H6K file photo [14094]


ManufacturerKawanishi Aircraft Company
Primary RoleSeaplane
Maiden Flight14 July 1936


ww2dbaseThe Kawanishi H6K maritime reconnaissance flying boat resulted from a 1933 Japanese Navy requirement for a high-performance flying-boat with a specified cruising speed of 137 miles-per-hour and a 4,000-kilometer range. Of parasol wing configuration with a slender two-step hull, the resultant aircraft proved to be one of the best warplanes available to the Imperial Japanese navy at the start of the World War II's Pacific campaign.

ww2dbaseThe first of four prototypes powered by four 1,000-horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radial engines mounted at the wings leading edge made its maiden flight on 14 July 1936, and following successful trials, in which the aircraft displayed satisfactory water and flight handling characteristics (although the engines proved somewhat underpowered), it was ordered, with only minor changes to the hull, into production as the Navy Type 97 Flying Boat Model 1.

ww2dbaseThe H6K2 production model, of which 10 were completed, entered service in January 1938. Further production comprised 127 H6K4s with increased fuel capacity, revised armament and, in some aircraft from August 1941, the uprated 1,070hp Kinsei 46 engines, sixteen H6K2-L unarmed transports, two H6K4-L completed as VIP transports, twenty H6K4-L unarmed transports with the Kinsei 46 engines and more cabin windows, and finally, thirty-six H6K5s with 1,300hp Kinsei 51/53 14-cylinder radial engines.

ww2dbaseThe H6K flying-boats were used extensively in the reconnaissance and bombing roles from the outbreak of the Pacific war, but by late 1942 (when it was allocated the Allied codename of "Mavis") it had become increasing vulnerable to the new generation of Allied fighters, where it suffered severe mauling, and was thereafter relegated to reconnaissance and transport duties in areas where little fighter opposition could be expected.

ww2dbaseSupplemented, although never really replaced, by the superb Kawanishi H8K "Emily", the H6K remained in service until the end of the war.

Chris Chant, Aircraft of World War II (Dempsey-Parr, 1999)
Francis Crosby, The World Encyclopedia of Bombers (Hermes House, 2004)
World Aircraft Information File 899/05

Last Major Revision: Dec 2011

H6K Timeline

14 Jul 1936 The H6K flying boat took its first flight.


MachineryFour Mitsubishi Kinsei 51 or 53 engines rated at 1,300hp each
Armament1x7.7mm nose turret Type 97 machine gun, 2x7.7mm beam turret Type 97 machine guns, 1x7.7mm open dorsal Type 97 machine gun, 1x20mm tail turret Type 99 cannon, 2x800kg torpedoes or up to 1,000kg of bombs
Span40.00 m
Length25.63 m
Height6.27 m
Wing Area170.00 m²
Weight, Empty12,380 kg
Weight, Loaded23,000 kg
Speed, Maximum385 km/h
Service Ceiling9,560 m
Range, Normal6,775 km

MachineryFour Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 or 46 14-cyl air-cooled radial engines rated at 1,000hp each
Armament1x7.7mm nose turret Type 97 machine gun, 2x7.7mm beam turret Type 97 machine guns, 1x7.7mm open dorsal Type 97 machine gun, 1x20mm tail turret Type 99 cannon, 2x800kg torpedoes or up to 1,000kg of bombs
Span40.00 m
Length25.63 m
Height6.27 m
Wing Area170.00 m²
Weight, Empty11,707 kg
Weight, Loaded17,000 kg
Weight, Maximum21,500 kg
Speed, Maximum331 km/h
Speed, Cruising222 km/h
Service Ceiling9,610 m
Range, Normal6,580 km


H6K flying boat in flight, date unknownH6K2-L flying boat, at rest, date unknown
See all 12 photographs of H6K Seaplane

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
28 Oct 2013 05:38:24 PM


Before the Pacific War both the Americans and the
Japanese operated commercial and military flying
boats. The Imperial Navy and the Japanese Civilian Airline operated both the 4-engine long
range flying boats the Kawanishi H6K(Mavis)along with the Navy's Kawanishi H8K(Emily)Dai Nippon KoKu K.K.(Greater Japan Airline)operated from
Yokohama, and other Japanese seaports with flights
to Japanese held islands.

Flights to Saigon, Bangkok, the Japanese Naval Base Truk island, and other Japanese Naval Bases, Netherlands East Indies and the Philippine Islands.


At the same time the Americans also had regular scheduled flights to the Orient, using Sikorsky, Martin and Boeing flying boats. The price for a one way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong
in 1937 was $950 dollars.


Pan American China Clippers operated near the
U.S. Navy Alameda Naval Air Station outside of
San Francisco, Calif. with flights to Honolulu
Hawaii, via Pearl Harbor, Midway Is., Wake Is.,
Philippine Is., Hong Kong, Shanghai China, Guam, New Zealand, Australia and the Fiji Is. The average trip took six days.
In 1942 the US Government took control of Pan Am for the war effort. By 1945 long range land based four engine transports replaced the 1930s era flying boats.

CHINA CLIPPER (1936) Available on DVD Starring Pat O'Brien and Tough Guy Humphrey Bogart.

Fictionalized version of Juan Trippe's founding of Pan American Airways great flying shots of the Martin M-130 Flying Boat.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Oct 2013 02:15:45 PM


Passengers embarking on a flight to Hawaii or other destinations across the Pacific traveled very different from today's winged buses.
Destinations like Hawaii, Fiji Islands, Guam or Hong Kong were looked upon as far away in the 30s


In a few years, millions of GIs would travel to far off lands, see things and remember those years for the rest of their lives, the were the GREATEST GENERATION...


Air travel was really an adventure, men dressed in suits and overcoats, women wore dresses, hats,
gloves and overcoats. The steward would show you your seat all luggage was loaded by ground crew.
Even local news reporters would report on a departing flight.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner was served with real china with real silverware, knives, forks and


Businessmen, Executives, Employee's of Overseas
Companies, Bankers, Government Representatives being transferred, People who could afford travel maybe a few Adventurer's and a Soldier of Fortune

3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
12 Nov 2013 10:33:21 AM

Pan American had refueling stops, maintenance facilities and even a small hotel for passengers
on Midway and Wake Islands, where the US Navy had its Pacific bases. From these small islands in the middle of the Pacific ocean, after refueling
the China Clippers would continue to Guam the Philippines and on to China.


Did you know from the late 1920s into the 1930s both Imperial Japan and the United States met for different discussions, signed treaties, trade agreements and recognized each other's spheres of influence.


All this was on top in relations with each other
underneath, both countries made plans for any future conflict. Its a little known fact that during the late 1930s both the Imperial Navy and US Navy would shadow each other from time-to-time

Both countries accused each other of spying many times, the Japanese would send diplomatic protests to Washington against what it called Pan American operations that were used as a cover to spy on Japanese military bases in the Marshall and Caroline Islands.
The Japanese on the other hand, would fly many reconnaissance flights over US bases, diplomatic notes, would fly in each direction. Behind the diplomatic side show were tensions both true and false and accusations until it reached a point in history Sunday, December 7, 1941 after that date, the world would never be the same again...


Flying on the China Clipper was 1930s & 1940s luxury, but it was also a long tiring trip leaving
San Francisco, California for the Philippines and China took about six days and eight hours, sixty
hours were spent in the air to cover over 8,000 miles.
Ready to board your China Clipper, one would hear the loudspeaker crack with: China Clipper now leaving for Hawaii via Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, Philippines, Hong Kong and Shanghai with connections via British Imperial Airways...those were exotic and distant locations, but Pan Am and other airlines paved the way for international air travel as we know it today.

I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to take you back in time.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
12 Nov 2013 04:52:49 PM


In the late 1950s through the 1960s Catalina Airlines operated seaplanes flying from Long Beach to Catalina Island off the California coast
They operated one of the last Sikorsky S-44 Flying Boats.
Dad surprised all of us with a weekend trip to Catalina Is. that Sikorsky S-44 was a big flying boat, it was a real adventure for my brother and myself. You could walk around, talk to the stewardess and even take a look at the pilots flying the seaplane that was a wonderful childhood


Catalina Airways operated the Sikorsky until 1967
when it was withdrawn from service and later sold the last Sikorsky S-44 was later grounded as too expensive to maintain, and is now on display at the Bradley Air Museum in Connecticut USA.
In their days those flying boats were magnificent
flying machines a real marvel of 1930s technology and engineering.

The United States and Japanese were not the only countries that built flying boats, and put them into service.
The Germans built the Dornier DO-X, 12-engine fling boat, it provided its passengers with grand luxury.
The French built the Latecoere 521 a huge 40-ton flying boat.
The British built the Short C Class Flying Boats
for Imperial Airways.
The Italians built flying boats that made several long-distance records during the 1920s and 30s

I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to post another childhood memory, the Sikorsky S-44 Flying Boat...

5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Oct 2015 07:48:32 PM


The four-engine Pan Am Boeing 314 Clipper passengers enjoyed one class, that was First Class. Flights were long with passengers and crew enduring hours flying over water across the vast Pacific Ocean.
From San Francisco to Honolulu was 19 hours in the air, passengers enjoyed fine dining with a chief on board to prepare the food, real silver ware and plates, with 5 and 6 course meals being served. The Clippers even had sleeping compartments and a lounge area.


From Honolulu via Pearl Harbor next stops were
Wake Island, Midway Island, Guam, Philippines
and on to Hong Kong, China.



Airline flew routs in China, using both seaplanes and land based aircraft. Flying Douglas DC-2 and
DC-3 along with Douglas Dolphin seaplanes.

British Imperial Airways operated from Hong Kong and Shanghai continuing on to Calcutta, Karachi and Durban with routes to Africa and the Mediterranean. India, Egypt, Sudan down to Cape Town, South Africa.
Imperial Airways also connected Australia and New Zealand. Pan AM also flew to New Zealand from San Francisco via Honolulu and American Samoa.


Travelers could get other connections via private operators using smaller aircraft. These operators provided a link to the outside would bringing in mail, cargo, medicine and other comforts to Africa where travel by road if they existed would take days, weeks or months.


Pan Am operated flights from Florida via Havana
Cuba with flights around the GULF of Mexico with stops in Panama as far as Buenos Aires and other South American cities...


New York City to Marseilles, France, on to South Hampton, England The Germans, French, Italians and Japanese also flew long distance routes bringing airline and cargo service to other parts of the world...

I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to leave this comment...

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H6K Seaplane Photo Gallery
H6K flying boat in flight, date unknownH6K2-L flying boat, at rest, date unknown
See all 12 photographs of H6K Seaplane

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