Combat aircraft. Warrior of the Empire turned communist
This plane may well be called "an aircraft of a difficult fate." In general, various collisions and oddities went with him wing to wing from the very moment of the idea of this machine. And what an amazing fate befell the plane, and in general, there are no words.
The reason for the creation of the aircraft was the next Sino-Japanese war. Of course Chinese aviation did not interfere with the Imperial Air Force until the Soviet Union intervened. And then not only troubles began, but the most unpleasant discoveries.
It seems to be not the most technologically advanced country, the Soviet Union, provided China with its aviation equipment. And yesterday the Japanese pilots, who felt like the kings of the Chinese sky, today found themselves in the position of boys to fight.
How else, if the "newest" Ki-27 fighter could not catch up with the Soviet SB bomber, and the Japanese bombers could only properly burn under the bullets of the Soviet I-16 and even I-15.
Moreover, there was no particular hope that the new machines from Kawasaki and Mitsubishi, the Ki-30 and Ki-32, would improve the situation in any way. Already in 1937 it became clear that they had not yet reached the start of the military race and had lost the race.
The technical department of the Air Force headquarters formulated a task personally for Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, according to which they would have to create a machine that could solve the problem that appeared in the Chinese sky.
Mitsubishi soon dropped out of the competition as it was busy with work in the interests of fleet.
And Kawasaki did it simply. Engineer Takeo Doi took the current design of the Ki-45 heavy fighter as a sample (https://topwar.ru/174596-boevye-samolety-ne-messershmitt-no-pohozh.html Combat aircraft. Not Messerschmitt, but similar) and tried create a light bomber based on it.
It is clear that making a light bomber out of a heavy fighter is not so difficult. Reinforce the structure, add a bomb bay with a bomb bay, places for shooters and pick up engines. It took Doi a year and a half to do this, and in mid-1939 the first prototype was ready.
Work on two aircraft was carried out almost in parallel, and it turned out that the changes that were made to the design of the fighter were also made to the bomber and vice versa.
At the end of November 1939, the aircraft went into production as the "Ki-48 Type 99" Sokei "twin-engine light bomber, and was officially adopted on May 11, 1940.
And the service of this aircraft began, which, we note, continued outside the Second World War. The plane took part in battles on absolutely all fronts of the Second World War, where Japan took part. And the land of those places is generously strewn with parts of "Sokaev".
By the way, Ki-48, which is exhibited in Moscow on Poklonnaya Gora, was brought there from Shumshu Island, where it spent some time as an element of the landscape, and then was restored.
The aircraft proved to be very, very worthy in testing and operation. It turned out to be practical, easy to maintain, the pilots liked its handling and yes, compared to its predecessors, it was quite fast. The fighter base bore fruit and the Ki-47 could easily reach a speed of 500 km / h, which was, if not higher, then on a par with many fighters of that time.
So the plan "To catch up and overtake the SB" was 100% fulfilled.
Throughout its life, the Ki-48 has been the subject of various experiments. They constantly wanted to create something from him that would give an advantage to the Japanese aviation. This is completely normal if you take into account the good design.
The first development was an attempt to reverse the transformation of the Ki-48 into a heavy escort fighter for the Ki-48 themselves. This happened in 1942, when regular clashes began with European and American models of fighter technology. Which regularly wreaked havoc on Ki-48s.
This is how the Ki-81 project, an escort fighter, was born, which was to be armed with 4 7,7 mm machine guns (later 12,7 mm) and one 20 mm cannon in a circular turret. The tower failed, either electrically or hydraulically, and the project was shelved.
Naturally, the Ki-48 did not escape the fate of a kamikaze aircraft. The crew was reduced from 4 to 2 people, an 800-kg bomb was firmly installed in the bomb bay, and a fuse bar was inserted into the nose.
Ki-48 "Sokai" also took part in the jet program of Japan. The first Japanese jet engine Ne.00 was installed under the bomb bay.
True, no special results were recorded, the engine was frankly weak. But on the basis of the results obtained, already quite sane engines Ne.10 and Ne.12 were created in 1944.
Naturally, when the Kawasaki firm finished work on the Ki-148 or I-GO-1b anti-ship guided missile in July 1944, the Ki-48 was chosen to carry this missile.
In total, four standard Ki-48-IIb were modified as a carrier of a 750-kg rocket and sent for testing. Tests have shown that a 750-kg rocket with a 300 kg warhead, controlled by radio, can become very serious weapons... True, it was supposed to be used from the Ki-102 and Ki-67 special strike aircraft, and the Ki-48 was exclusively a test platform.
It did not come to the use of Ki-148 / I-GO-1b missiles. Mainly due to radio control problems. But about 150 missiles were made.
But these were separate aircraft that were being redesigned. And the bulk of them regularly served in the units of the Imperial Japanese Air Force and prepared for hostilities.
It is clear that Ki-48 did not have time for the war with China and the events on Khasan and Khalkhin Gol. But nothing, another Sino-Japanese war broke out, and there the bomber took part in full.
Ki-48 took part in battles in China in all directions. There, of course, a bomber that flew at a speed of 500 km / h and a range of 1 km was very useful. In addition to his usual work, "Sokai" was also engaged in counter-partisan warfare.
"Kawasaki" very closely followed the feedback about its vehicle and already according to information received from China, a modification of the Ki-48-Ib was created, in which the wishes of the crews following the results of the battles in China were taken into account.
Over time, the Ki-48 quite naturally began to supplant the Ki-30 and Ki-32 as part of the aviation regiments in China. Gradually, the bomber began to receive units fighting in French Indochina. Ki-48 took part in the Malay operation to capture the Philippines.
When the occupation of the Philippines began, Ki-48 was one of the first to land on the airfields captured by airfields in Vigan and Aparri. The rate of advance of the Japanese army depended very much on the actions of the bombers.
Less than a week later, the Japanese almost completely destroyed the American air force in the Philippines, and Ki-48 bombers operated without fear of opposition from enemy fighters, working on ground targets. The blitzkrieg formula worked in Japanese.
It turned out very effectively: light Ki-48s smashed roads and bridges in the path of the retreating allies, and heavy Ki-21s broke into defenses and fortifications.
This was the case in Luzon, Bataan, and elsewhere. Then, after the capture of the Philippines, it was Malaya's turn. Rangoon, New Guinea, the Eastern Islands of the Guinean Archipelago - Ki-48s were operating everywhere.
The Japanese still retained their advantage in the quality of training for pilots and ground crews. They were the cream of the army, veterans of the Asian campaign, and the effectiveness of their combat work was determined not only by the lack of opposition from the Allied aviation, but also by the great experience of the Japanese crews.
But New Guinea became what Midway and the Mariana Islands became to the Japanese navy. Japanese aviation suffered huge losses in New Guinea. The meat grinder, which turned out in New Guinea, cost the Japanese aviation almost 700 aircraft. Whole regiments were destroyed. Shelves were transferred from Burma, Thailand, China, Japan.
In the battles in New Guinea, the premiere of a new aircraft modification, the Ki-48-IIb, took place. The model was distinguished by a higher bomb load and the presence of air brakes for diving.
In addition, in the process of modernization, one rear 7,7 mm machine gun was replaced with a 12,7 mm machine gun, and 7,7 mm machine guns appeared in the windows on the sides. All this, in theory, was supposed to strengthen the defensive armament and reduce the losses of bomber aircraft, which, thanks to the efforts of the Americans, were steadily growing.
On one of the latest modifications, two more course 7,7-mm machine guns appeared on the sides of the navigator's cockpit in the bow. But the caliber of the machine guns made them completely irrelevant.
And the crews preferred to remove the air brakes, since the Ki-48 crews were somehow not trained to bomb from a dive. And even the Japanese pilots considered it overkill to start their studies in real conditions.
Yes, those who fought in New Guinea were not lucky. The color of the Japanese ground bomber aviation was stamped there.
The Ki-48 bombers in China and Burma were more fortunate, where they remained quite effective against the British, American and Chinese ground forces. The complexity of the relief and remoteness from the supply routes (ports) did not allow the Allies to create a more or less decent network of airfields, so that the Japanese crews were somewhat easier than in New Guinea.
In Burma, there were about 300 Ki-48s, which, to the best of their ability, attacked British troops.
In China, units flying the Ki-48 constantly bombed Chinese positions. But the Chinese Air Force by that time had become a pretty decent force.
For example, in 1943 raids on an airfield in the city of Kunming, 121 bombers and 165 fighters of the Japanese army were involved. The losses of the Chinese Air Force and Allied Forces were 30 destroyed and 27 damaged aircraft. The Japanese paid for this with 18 downed planes. And when, by the end of the war, the Allies increased their presence in China, the Japanese began to suffer more significant losses.
In Burma and parts of India, things happened even faster than in China. The British, having recovered from the initial losses, increased their air force to such an extent that flights of Ki-48 without fighter cover (and sometimes with it) ended with downed aircraft on the ground.
The Dingzhan Massacre is known, when a group of 48 Ki-48s were intercepted by 32 British P-40s. 28 Japanese aircraft were shot down.
By 1944, Ki-48s began to fly in small groups, and even at night. This slightly reduced the effectiveness of the Ki-48 strikes, but slightly reduced losses.
The system was rather peculiar: a flight from the airfields of Thailand to Rangoon for refueling, then a jump north to any of the dozens of auxiliary airfields in Burma, after which the formations of light bombers could strike on a wide front and return back to their bases.
In this way, raids were carried out on objects in India, Burma and southern China throughout 1944.
The groups were small, from 3 to 9 Ki-48s. Even the base of American "strategists" B-29 "Superfortress" in Kharagpur was raided on Christmas night 1944. Three Ki-48s brought a kind of "congratulations". True, all three desperate crews were shot down by British night Beaufighters patrolling the airfield area.
Overall, 1944 was the sunset year for the Ki-48. The last battle for the Sokaevs came in the defense of the Philippines.
In July 1944, it became clear at the Japanese General Staff that the question of the American invasion of the Philippines and even Japan was a matter of time. And they finally decided to defend the Philippines and Formosa with a united front, the army and the navy. Under the same command.
According to this plan, the 4th Air Army was formed, into which all the units using the Ki-48 were brought together. The Sokai were based at the Clark Field and Lipa airfields on the island of Luzon.
On October 24, 1944, the Air Force launched attacks against the Allied invasion forces in Leyte Gulf. The task is to destroy the American invasion fleet.
The task turned out to be impossible. The losses were enormous. By the end of the first week of the battle, there was nothing left of the three Ki-48 regiments. All planes were destroyed. Two Ki-48 regiments were deployed to the rescue from the Kuriles and Borneo. And both were burnt in the hell that the Americans arranged for the Japanese army and navy.
By January 1945, the Japanese Air Force units in the Philippines had been destroyed, and only kamikaze attacks posed some threat to US ships. Ki-48 has become a rarity in the skies over the Pacific Ocean.
The surviving aircraft began to be converted into aircraft for "special attacks" by installing an 800-kg bomb with a shock fuse. These aircraft were used in the defense of Okinawa in 1945. A number of Ki-48s were still used as night bombers, and some, already converted into kamikaze aircraft, stood in reserve on the island of Kyushu to be used against the transports of the invasion of the Japanese islands. These aircraft were discovered already during the occupation by American troops.
But the most interesting thing is the fate of the Ki-48 after the end of the war.
Usually, Japanese aircraft were scrapped as the Allies imposed restrictions on Japan. But Ki-48 began to serve in the foreign air force.
A huge number of aircraft were abandoned by the Japanese in the Philippines, specifically on the island of Java. Basically, through the efforts of American bombers, it was scrap metal. But when, immediately after the war, a war of independence began between the Indonesian rebels and the Dutch colonialists, the rebels were able to assemble one operational Ki-48 from this junk.
When the battle for the independence of Indonesia from Holland ended in victory for the Indonesians, this plane laid the foundation for the Indonesian bomber aviation.
In China, a large number of Ki.48 bombers generally fell into the hands of the Chinese. And they were received by the nationalists of the Kuomintang in Nanjing and Beijing, and the communists in Manchuria and North Korea.
There is no information about the use of Ki.48 by the Kuomintang forces, but the communists not only included Japanese aircraft in their composition, but also hired crew members of Japanese aircraft to use them, which were shot down in the skies of China!
Naturally, on the terms of complete amnesty and forgiveness of "services" to China.
The Japanese cooperated and easily began bombing the Kuomintang forces during the Chinese Civil War. Moreover, Japanese pilots became the first teachers of two Chinese flight schools in Harbin (1st PLA Air Force School) and Changchun (2nd PLA Air Force School).
And the technical personnel of the Japanese flying units at a shock communist pace restored and repaired the Ki.48, inherited by the PLA Air Force.
And by 1946, when, in fact, the People's Liberation Army of China was organized, its air force consisted of 46 Ki.48 bombers.
These aircraft served until the resource was fully depleted and were decommissioned in the second half of the 20th century.
This is how the imperial plane ended up under the flag of the builders of communism.
An interesting fate, uncharacteristic of Japanese aircraft. "South Wind" did not end his career under the tracks of bulldozers, but became the founder of the military aviation of the two countries.
In essence, it was an ordinary aircraft for Japanese aviation. Lightweight, fast, well-controlled, reliable and maintainable. Minuses are also standard: lack of any protection, weak defensive weapons.
A standard Japanese aircraft of that time, but this is how its further fate developed outside the box.
Wingspan, m: 17,45
Length, m: 12,75
Height, m: 3,80
Wing area, м2: 40,00
- empty aircraft: 4 550
- normal takeoff: 6 500
- maximum take-off: 6 750
Engine: 2 х "Hakajima" Hа-115 "Army type 1" х 1130 hp
Maximum speed km / h: 503
Cruising speed, km / h: 390
Practical range, km: 2 400
Maximum rate of climb, m / min: 590
Practical ceiling, m: 10 100
Crew, prs: 4
- three 7,7-mm type 89 machine guns in the upper, bow and lower mountings (on the Ki-48-IIs, a 12,7-mm type 1 machine gun in the upper mount);
- bomb load up to 800 kg.
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