Naturally, an all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear and a long flight range was considered as such an aircraft.
In 1932, the Japanese fleet received such an aircraft. It was the Hirosho G2H1 or the Type 95 "Daiko" bomber.
This is not to say that the plane was successful, rather the opposite. The chassis was not retracted, which affected handling and aerodynamics. The bomber turned out to be very slow and clumsy, so the series was small, and the Daikos mostly spent their lives as transport aircraft.
And the Mitsubishi company appeared on the scene, effectively dancing the waltz with Junkers and the United Engine Company in 1928. The dance was so effective that the Junkers envoys Eugen Schade and Willie Keil ended up in Japan as instructors to train Japanese engineers, bringing with them a suitcase of documents. The suitcase turned out to be very useful for the Japanese exclusive rights to a number of original Junkers patents, and licenses for the production of the K-47 twin-engine light bomber and the K-51 four-engine heavy bomber.
The Germans very soon raised a whole brood of engineers like Takahashi, Ozawa, Honjo, whose names were hiccuped by the allies throughout World War II.
Encouraged by the results, Yamamoto sat down the Navy aircraft designers (sounds like, huh?) To design new aircraft for the Navy. It was time to show these land upstarts that the navy also knows how to build airplanes.
Honjo, Kubo and Kusabaki were to be shown. Yamamoto did not particularly twist their arms, because he himself apparently could not really imagine what he needed. But they needed a plane better than that of the land flyers.
In general, "Mitsubishi" received an order to develop a seemingly two-engine long-range ground-based reconnaissance aircraft, but with the prospect of being converted into a bomber.
The trio of young specialists did not lose face and rolled the plane out on time.
It's good, isn't it? The clean silhouette promised good aerodynamics, two 91 hp Hiro Type 650 engines. accelerated the plane to 350 km / h. And the range was generally exceptional, with a fuel supply of 4200 liters, the plane could fly 4400 km in normal, and at a maximum of 6500 km.
Yamamoto was more than pleased and immediately issued a task for a long-range ground-based bomber, capable of carrying a bomb load of 800 kg and having defensive armament of three 7,7-mm machine guns. The assignment was given even without a competition, which speaks of complete trust in Mitsubishi.
Naturally, the basis for development was to be the Ka.9, a successful prototype of the reconnaissance aircraft, which remained in a single copy.
They called it all "Project 79" and began to develop a bomber. It is clear that now the free-thinking games are over and the harsh imperial everyday life has begun. Everything related to the future bomber, from size to weapons, was agreed.
Compared to its predecessor, the Ka.15 has grown considerably fatter in the fuselage. It was planned to install three shooting towers, and the crew was to consist of five people. Another innovation was the torpedo suspension assemblies, which required a separate reinforcement of the structure.
As the load increased, the chassis had to be reinforced. But in fact, all this work did not take much time and in July 1935 the plane already made its first flight.
Immediately, Japanese engineers began to select engines that would provide the aircraft with maximum efficiency. A total of 21 prototypes were built with different power plants. The best result was shown by sample No. 4, with engines "Kinsei-3", 910 hp. It was this prototype that became the model for mass production.
In June 1936, the project was approved for serial production. The aircraft was named the G3M1 or Type 96-I Model 1 Marine Basic Medium Attack Aircraft, to become known as the Rikko 96-1.
Throughout the summer of 1936, there were tests, including military ones.
Tests have shown that the aircraft has significant potential for further upgrades. Therefore, simultaneously with the use of the G3M as a naval reconnaissance agent capable of striking ships, work began on transforming the Ka.15 into a long-range bomber.
These aircraft had a glazed nose, which housed the bombardier's cockpit and the astronavigation dome for the navigator. Instead of a torpedo suspension, two universal bomb racks were installed under the fuselage, designed to carry up to 800 kg of bombs.
The glazed nose did not take root; the command considered that the standard model could serve as a bomber. But the cockpit was significantly increased, which immediately caused a lot of favorable responses from the flight crew.
The first G3M1s entered service in early 1937, and by the end the bomber became standard in several units.
Meanwhile, a new version of the "Kinsei" model 41, with a capacity of 1175 hp, came up. This engine began to be installed on the G3M2 "Type 96-2" modification.
The version has undergone significant changes. They decided to abandon the retractable machine-gun turrets for the sake of aerodynamics. Too much they reduced the speed in the combat position, to 60 km / h. The lower turret was removed, replacing it with a pair of onboard turrets with machine guns, and instead of the upper turret, a turret with a 20-mm cannon appeared, which was covered with a transparent cowl-fairing. Well, at the same time, they added 600 liters of fuel tanks.
Baptism of fire "Rikko" received in July 1937 in China, where the Sino-Japanese war began. The fleet command decided to inflict maximum damage on the Chinese with the help of long-range bombers. The Japanese admirals considered that the destruction of the Chinese air force, the neutralization of the fleet and the capture of Shanghai would be enough for the Chinese to surrender.
In general, in 1932, the Japanese almost succeeded. But then the campaign lasted just over a month, and in 1937 the Japanese believed that with the help of new aircraft they would be able to resolve issues much faster.
However, the Chinese were not at all going to wait five years for them to arrive, and Chiang Kai Shi did a lot to meet the Japanese in the air. To begin with, he hired an American specialist, Clare Shannolt, who did significant work for the benefit of the Chinese Air Force and ensured the purchase of modern aircraft from different countries. And then he created the Flying Tigers unit, which covered itself with glory during the war in the skies of China.
And when the G3M1 and G3M2 flew out to bomb Shanghai and Hangzhou, they were met by the well-organized Chinese Air Force.
When 18 G3M1 bombers appeared over Hangzhou on August 14, Chinese fighters shot down 6 without casualties. In addition, on the same day, the Chinese Air Force sent about a hundred bombers to bomb Japanese ships. And over Nanjing, Chinese fighters shot down 10 bombers (out of 20 that had taken off) from the aircraft carrier Kaga.
The first shock passed quickly, and the Japanese aviation continued the raids. On August 15, Japanese pilots flew 1150 miles round trip over the waters of the East China Sea and successfully bombed Shanghai. No loss.
It turned out the first in stories transoceanic bombardment.
In general, the demonstration of the capabilities of the Japanese went anywhere. Observers from many countries arrived in China, since at that time it was believed that the most that the Japanese could do was simply copy German planes.
Of course, there was an outward resemblance between the Mitsubishi G3M and the Junkers Ju-86.
This is what gave rise to speculation that the Japanese plane is a copy. In fact, the G3M appeared in blueprints in 1933, two years earlier than the Ju-86.
The Japanese were able to surprise the whole world, but in fact, G3M's victories did not become so unambiguous. Chinese pilots and anti-aircraft gunners were not whipping boys. Only the naval aviation lost 54 bombers in the skies over Nanjing. The night bombing was not as effective as we would like. The Chinese capital was covered by numerous searchlights, in the light of which the fighters could act differently than during the day, but nevertheless, effectively.
The combat use of the G3M showed that the aircraft does not have sufficient protection, both in terms of armor and in terms of defensive weapons.
As a result, the Japanese offensive on Shanghai was stopped, and the Japanese aviation practically ceased operations. The bombers needed fighters capable of covering them along the entire route.
The situation somewhat improved with the advent of Mitsubishi A5M1 and A5M2a fighters, which were able to cover the actions of the bombers.
But the Japanese had a new headache: Soviet I-15 and I-16 fighters with Soviet volunteer pilots. In one of the raids on the provisional capital of Hankow in the summer of 1938, Soviet volunteers in I-16s shot down 23 G3M bombers out of 36 participating in the raid. Escort fighters, weighed down by large additional fuel tanks, could not offer decent resistance to Polikarpov's nimble fighters.
Out of desperation, the Japanese even turned to the idea of an escort fighter based on the G3M, without bomb load, with a crew increased to 10 people and reinforced armament with an additional four 7,7 mm machine guns. The fighters were never able to learn to fly in such a way as to accompany the bombers.
By 1940, Mitsubishi had a new aircraft ready, the G4M1 bomber. However, the command of the naval aviation was in no hurry to give the go-ahead for the launch of a new aircraft in series, since this would definitely lead to a decrease in the rate of release of the bombers that were so necessary in the war with China.
And it was decided to upgrade the G3M as much as possible, without slowing down the rate of release, because in the sky of China G3M fell with enviable regularity.
In fact, there were not many significant innovations. A 7,7-mm machine gun appeared in the nose to protect against frontal attacks (thanks to the Soviet volunteers, they showed how it is), and in 1942 the engines were once again changed to more powerful "Kinsei 57". This variant went into production as the G3M3 Model 23, but was produced at the production facilities of the Nakajima firm until the very end of production in 1943.
When the whole world flared up, no one in the world was interested in the fact that G3M and G4M were already flying to Chinese cities, accompanied by the latest Mitsubishi A6M2 fighters, which would soon become very known as Zero.
But they started talking about them only at the end of 1941, just after Pearl Harbor. When everything flared up in the Pacific region. By then, more than 200 G3M bombers were concentrated in positions outside Japan, closer to the British and Dutch colonies.
In addition, on the eve of the war, the Japanese were very actively preparing for large-scale actions in the oceanic zone, which resulted in the creation of a long-range high-altitude reconnaissance G3M3-Kai based on the G2M.
It turned out to be a very interesting car with good characteristics.
The bombardier was removed, and an automatic camera with a wide-angle lens was installed in the nose compartment instead. The working altitude of the G3M2-Kai was 9 meters. The height from which to knock this scout was very difficult. In 000, there were very few fighters that could catch up and shoot down this plane at such an altitude.
These scouts were filming throughout 1941. Philippines, Guam, New Britain, French Indochina, Luzon - everywhere G3M2-Kai conducted reconnaissance, but were never intercepted. Although on radar screens they hit systematically and regularly.
And on December 8, 1941 Japan time or December 7, the rest of the G3M began its journey into serious history. 54 (actually 53, one plane crashed on takeoff) G3M flew from airfields in Formosa (Taiwan) flew to the Philippines, where they struck American targets such as the main base at Clark Field and auxiliary airfields.
36 aircraft struck Wake Island, destroying virtually all of the Marine Corps aircraft there. 24 G3M bombed the British in Singapore, and a whole kokutai (air regiment) of torpedo bombers searched for British ships in the waters of the Strait of Malay.
By the way, they found it. And so the G3M went down in history, because what followed the departure of the aircraft from the 22nd Koku Sentai is not just a historical fact, but somewhat more.
On December 10, 1941, bombers and torpedo bombers from the Mihoro and Genzan Kokutai of the 22nd Air Flotilla (Koku Sentai), under the command of Captain Second Rank Kameo Sonokawa, found the so-called Formation Z at sea.
The battleship Prince of Wales, the battle cruiser Repulse and four destroyers (Electra, Express, Tenedos and Vampire) sailed across the Strait of Malay from Singapore to support the British forces.
At 11 o'clock in the morning, having been in the air for about 4 o'clock, Sonokawa saw the English ships below and gave the order by radio to attack.
The bombers were the first to attack, dropping bombs on the battleship and battle cruiser. Then torpedo bombers from the Genzan kokutai went on the attack. Nine G3Ms of the XNUMXst Squadron broke through the wall of anti-aircraft fire, and dropped torpedoes at the Prince of Wales. The second nine torpedo bombers attacked the cruiser Ripals.
The British opened fire on the aircraft, but the G3Ms broke through the anti-aircraft fire and dropped their cargo. By noon, the Prince of Wales was at low speed with a jammed steering wheel. The Ripals, shrouded in smoke, could still maneuver with intense anti-aircraft fire.
Then torpedo bombers from the Mihoro kokutai approached. Likewise, the first squadron of 9 G3Ms attacked the battleship, while the second attacked the battle cruiser.
The British anti-aircraft fire was surprising. He was, of course. But the commander of one of Takahashi's squadrons launched his G3M into the attack THREE TIMES, because his torpedo suspension locks were jammed. And in the end he dropped a torpedo at the Ripals. What the anti-aircraft gunners were doing is a separate question. Considering that in fact the G3M did not have any armor at all, these aircraft did not need much to fail.
Nevertheless, the Japanese lost only 3 G4M1 torpedo bombers and one (!!!) G3M3.
Well, everyone knows how this terrible day for the British ended. The third wave of bombers and torpedo bombers finally sent the Prince of Wales and Repulse to the bottom. The first received six torpedoes and one 250 kg bomb, the second five torpedoes.
The victory over "Compound Z" was the high point in G3M's career. Yes, the plane fought the entire war, but it was the sinking of the British battleship and battle cruiser that became the peak of his military career. After all, Britain not only lost its most significant connection in the region, it missed a strategic initiative and eventually lost its colonies.
NewsThe fact that on December 10 the Prince of Wales and the Ripals were sunk almost without loss by Japanese pilots, were stunned not only by the British, but also by the Japanese themselves. Nobody expected such a result, but in principle, everything was quite logical. During the first two days of hostilities, Japanese bombers made as many sorties as all European bombers did in 5 years of the First World War.
G3M soon became widely known throughout the Pacific theater of operations. In the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies - bombs carried by the G3M were falling everywhere.
But as time went on, it became clearer that the G3M was becoming obsolete. Alas, it was a fact. In August 1942, G3M took the most direct part in the Japanese attempts to recapture Guadalcanal from the Americans. In Rabaul, 5 corps of long-range bombers were concentrated, which worked on Guadalcanal.
But units armed with G3Ms were formed until 1944, while the aircraft were being produced. The last regiment was formed in November 1944, it was the 762th Night Torpedo Regiment in the Philippines.
But already starting in the second half of 1943, the G3Ms began to gradually withdraw from combat units and redevelop into transport, liaison and patrol units. A number of G3Ms have been converted to glider towing vehicles.
But the G3Ms proved to be very effective as patrol aircraft. The first patrol G3M3s were essentially no different from standard bombers, they just began to perform different functions.
The G3M bombers were among the first aircraft to escort convoys and combat Allied submarines. Naval patrol aircraft were based in Saigon, Singapore, Manila, Takao, Okinawa and Tateyama, as well as in Sumatra and from bases along the Chinese coast. The G3M were the first search aircraft to be equipped with radars.
It was the G3M search engines that spotted the American invasion fleet ahead of the battle in the Philippine Sea on October 24, 1944.
The anti-submarine model G3M, which was designated as the G3M3-Q, appeared in 1944 and was distinguished by the presence of a magnetic anomaly detector. In total, about 40 former bombers were modernized in this way. On some aircraft, a 20 mm cannon was installed at a slight angle, firing at an angle downward.
The Japanese believed that the G3M3-Qs were quite successful against the Allied submarines. For example, the 901st anti-submarine kokutai reported 20 victories over American submarines in a year. But how much the Japanese pilots were able to draw up reports, we know.
There were alterations to a transport plane.
In principle, it was a very advanced aircraft for the mid-30s. The only question is that the G3M simply did not keep up with the development of technology and by the middle of the war became simply an outdated aircraft, simply not capable of normal combat operations in the face of opposition from allied fighters.
But in the history of G3M will remain precisely as the winner of the "Prince of Wales" and "Repulse". Deservedly, by the way.
Wingspan, m: 25,00
Length, m: 16,50
Height, m: 3,70
Wing area, м2: 75,10
- empty aircraft: 5 250
- normal takeoff: 8 000
Engine: 2 x Mitsubishi MK.8 Kinsei-51 x 1300
Maximum speed km / h: 415
Cruising speed, km / h: 295
Practical range, km: 6 200
Maximum rate of climb, m / min: 545
Practical ceiling, m: 10 300
Crew, prs: 5
- one 20-mm cannon type 99 model 1 in a blister on the fuselage;
- four machine guns 7,7 mm type 92: in two side blisters, in the upper retractable turret and in the cockpit of the navigator;
- up to 800 kg bombs or 800 kg torpedo on external sling.
* The title uses an excerpt from the text of the song "Forward and Upward" by Sergey Kalugin and the group "Orgy of the Righteous"