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Ki-61 file photo [119]

Ki-61 Hien

ManufacturerKawasaki Heavy Industries
Primary RoleFighter
Maiden Flight1 December 1941


ww2dbaseThe Ki-61 Hien ("flying swallow") Army Type 3 Fighters were designed around a Kawasaki Ha-40 V12 engine which was actually a license-built version of the German Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine. The first prototype flew in Dec 1941 and saw the first combat mission in spring of 1943 in New Guinea. The aircraft was used extensively by the Army during the Pacific War and the Second Sino-Japanese War up until the last days of WW2 when they flew above Japan to counter the American bombings. Some were also used as kamikaze planes.

ww2dbaseKi-61 fighters were codenamed Tony by the Allies.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Aug 2006


MachineryOne Kawasaki Ha-40 liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine rated at 1,175hp
Armament2x20mm Ho-5 cannon, 2x12.7mm Ho-103 machine guns, 2x250kg bombs
Span12.00 m
Length8.94 m
Height3.70 m
Wing Area20.00 m²
Weight, Empty2,630 kg
Weight, Loaded3,470 kg
Speed, Maximum580 km/h
Rate of Climb15.20 m/s
Service Ceiling11,600 m
Range, Normal580 km


Ki-61 aircraft in flight, date unknown

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
10 Jun 2011 08:39:08 PM


Photo shows a factory fresh Ki-61 "Tony" fighter on a ferry flight to either the
66th or 78th Sentai, that operated in the
New Guinea area.
The Tony is in metal finish and doesn't have the the palm leaf pattern camouflage or the black anti-glare panel forward of the cockpit.

Another source lists the Tony, as captured and tested by TAIU, Anacostia NAS, Wash. DC
during WWII. A number of Japanese aircraft were tested among them, was a Ki-61 Tony.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
10 Jun 2011 09:16:31 PM


Another photograph of the Tony, shows it in
US markings w/ tail number XJ003 being test flown and evaluated over Brisbane, Australia on July 4, 1944.
Eagle Farm did have a Ki-61 Tony the position of the pilot looking at the camera ship, the exhaust pattern are the same, as in the file photo.
Looks like the Hinomaru (Disk of the Red Sun)has been super-imposed and in fact, its a bogas Japanese fighter in US hands.
Anyone having more info post it here at ww2db
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
14 Jun 2011 07:32:24 PM


The Ki-61 Tony was assigned to the 2nd Chutai
68th Sentai, built by Kawasaki in April 1943 abandoned by the Japanese at Cape Gloucester airfield, New Britain in November 1943.

Found by US Marines in December 1943 this was
the first Ki-61 to be captured intact turned over to TAIU, shipped to Eagle Farm where it was tested and evaluated.
The Tony was later shipped to Anacostia NAS
near Washington, DC in December 1944 aircraft
flew in natural metal finish and later painted green overall, with Red Hinomaru markings in six positions, believed scrapped at the end of WWII, or in the late 1940s.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Jan 2012 06:04:11 PM

The Kawasaki Ki-61 "Tony" was built in April 1943, and was flown by Captain Shogo Takeuchi
Commander od the 68th Sentai, he was later a
KIA flying another Ki-61 "Tony".
Shipped back to the United States for testing
and evaluation, that reviled the Tony needed a great deal of maintenance to keep operational. Aircraft was believed to have been scrapped at wars end, or in the late 1940s
5. ron says:
29 Mar 2017 11:44:49 PM

The Ki 61 was a promising fighter.
It came when Allied fighters switched to diving tactics which played right into the strengths of the Tony!

It was armored from the start and could sustain damage more than other Japanese fighters. By the end it had thicker armor than US fighters too. It could dish it out too. The Ki 61-Ic even had imported 20mm Mausers! Later the Ki 61-IIb Kai had 4x20mm Ho-5 cannons. When well tuned, it did well at high altitude and had an impact on the B-29 raids more than other interceptors.

On the minus side, it had a tempermental engine.

The Ki 100 solved this with a reliable Ha-112-II radial engine.
This version of the Tony proved to be more popular. In mock dogfights it could beat the stellar but unreliable Ki 84 Frank easily with it's turning and climbing advantage. The Frank faded faster at high altitude. The Tony had a higher terminal dive speed in the 528 mph range unsurpassed by any other Japanese and most Allied fighter types.

Kawasaki would have been well served had they switched to the Ki 100 much earlier. Even as soon as 1943 when it's modest 367 mph level speed was not so out of place as it was in 1945.
On the other hand, after pulling out of a dive it had great speed and good high speed handling.

If the 3,000+ Ki 61s and 400
Ki 100s had been reversed, the IJAAF would have faired much better.
6. Anonymous says:
10 Apr 2017 09:44:23 PM

Since the Ki 61 was the only Japanese single-seat fighter that could mount a hub mounted motor-cannon, and the Ho-204 was maybe the best 37mm cannon, it's a wonder they weren't teamed up together when B-29s roamed freely over Japan!

This cannon had much better reach than the earlier 37mm Ho-203. In fact it could stand-off outside the B-29 defensive fire to knock them off with little risk and also tangle with the escort fighters toe to toe. 2x20mm Ho-5 cannons were great for that. The Ki 61 was not perfect, it would need to be more reliable.
This could have been improved. Instead of cutting the weight of the German engine, Kawasaki should've beefed it up like the Germans did to make it more reliable. If ball bearings were a problem in Japan, try slider bearings like the Italians did in their version of the same engines. No Ki 46 or Ki 102 could do as well as the Tony against the B-29 escort fighters. These twin engined interceptors did have the Ho-204 cannon to stop B-29s. A 37mm cannon armed Ki 61 could deal with both US fighters and bombers if it was more reliable.

Even the old 37mm Ho-203 had virtually the same firing range as the B-29 defenses of 900m or so.
The Tony with a Hub cannon would have been a deadlier interceptor than it was already. The German, Italian, and Russian inline fighters had hub cannons, why not the Tony? Even the USA had the 37mm cannon armed
P-39! A 37mm Ho-204 armed Tony would be unmatched:

P-39 M4 460m range; 140 r/m
Yak-9T NS-37 1200m; 250 r/m
Ki 61-I Ho-203 900m; 120 r/m
Ki 61-II Ho-204 1100m; 400 r/m

The Tony was much better than the Yak-9T or the P-39 at high altitude as well. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Tony would've benefited by adding a hub-cannon against
B-29s. In fact, it was potentially a world-beater in 1944.
Another missed opportunity.
The USA dodged a bullet.
7. Anonymous says:
16 Jun 2017 10:20:08 PM

A properly working Ki 61-Ib had a top speed of 368 mph at 5km altitude which it could reach in 5 min 31 sec. Few US fighters could climb better in 1943. Normal loaded weight was 6900 lbs. 4x12.7mm Ho-103 HMGs.

Then in August came the Mauser armed Ki 61-IbKai. It was slowed to 360 mph. But those cannons were good.

Hydraulics were one of the biggest problems for the Ki 61-I.
The prop, guns, flaps, undercarriage, all involved.

Then in January 1944 the Ki 61-Ic weighs in, at 7650 lbs normal load. Climb to 5Km/7 min! But it had the cowl mounted 20mm Ho-5s.

Probably heavy enough to dive with a P-40.

Don't forget, the early Ki 61-Ia at 6504 lbs could out-dive a P-39 and turn almost very well but not quite like an Oscar, from 8/1942. Of course it only had double the guns (2x7.7mm & 2x12.7mm) of the typical Ki 43.

It could've benefitted greatly from a 20mm motor-cannon. But like it's Macchi C.202/205 namesake, the Tony wasn't known to have one.
8. ron says:
16 Aug 2017 07:00:23 PM

The Ki 61 and Ki 100 needed more speed and more wing area.
The larger new wing was rejected.

Take a look at what the radial version D4Y4 Judy did to boost speed and climb rate.
3 ventral rocket boosters!
Imagine the Tony with rocket speed on tap when needed.

To restore agility to offset that added weight, what fighter had the best combat flaps to add wing area, in effect?
The Kawanishi George. These tightened turn radius by 35%!

These would improve on the split flaps of both Tonys for dogfighting P-51s and F6Fs.

Granted, this would be a reach for Kawasaki but feasable.

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Ki-61 aircraft in flight, date unknown

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