Japanese Fighters in World War II: The Hayate (Storm)

(To Francesco Sisto)

The Nakajima Ki-84, nicknamed Hayat (storm) from the Japanese and Frank by the Americans, it can be considered the fastest fighter of the Japanese Empire that took part in the Second World War.

THEHayat it constituted the maximum evolution of a specific constructive formula of the Nakajima, which began around the mid-thirties with the creation of the Ki-27 fighter, the nightmare of the Polikarpov I-16 during the Sino-Japanese war.

Conceived and designed in 1942 under the supervision of engineer Koyama, the first model of the Nakajima Ki-84 was available in a short time; at the end of March 1943. The vehicle was tested by Lieutenant Funabashi. Initially it revealed some piloting problems, but overall the qualities were more than satisfactory. In fact, the aircraft could reach approximately 634 km/h in level flight and 798 km/h in a dive.

Serial production began in August of the same year, later the "tempesta" were made in 5 basic series, not counting all the sub-series. A total of 3.577 came out of the Japanese industrial establishments Hayat.

It should be noted that the Nakajima Ki-84 was an important protagonist only in the last year of the conflict. In this regard Giorgio Bonacina writes: Initially, in August 1944, he equipped the 22nd squadron of the Army stationed in Hankow, China, and immediately proved to be very fierce. It should be emphasized that not all US fighters were able to hinder it.

THEHayat, due to its fire capacity and the important climbing speed, it was also greatly feared by the Lockheed P-38 lightning and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, especially since the pilot's seat and tanks were equipped with armor plating.

Thanks to these qualities, the "storms" managed to obtain important successes in the skies of China, both as interceptors and as bomber escorts; they also inflicted considerable damage as dive bombers and fighter-bombers.

Later, they were assigned to eight squadrons in the Philippines. They took part in the Battle of Leyte (October-December 1944); in that clash the United States and its allies scored a major success against the Japanese Empire!

Nakajima Ki-84s also fought in the Battle of Okinawa (April-June 1945). To remember a surprise attack carried out by 11 "storms" of the 100th squadron against two US airports on April 15, 1945; 8 of them were shot down, but the disaster was so great that many more aircraft were thought to be attacked.

It should be noted that the most significant activities of the Nakajima Ki-84s were in the defense of the motherland. In the months of June to August 1945 they kept the Boeing B-29s busy Superfortress who were razing the cities of the Japanese Empire, managing to bring down several.

It should be emphasized that the "storm", being considered too precious, were never used by suicide bombers in suicide missions ...

THEHayat it had a wingspan of 11,23 m and a length of 9,92 m. The engine was a 1700-1900hp Nakajima. The empty weight was 2660 kg, the weight with normal load was 3600 kg, while with maximum load 4200 kg.

Armament consisted of 2 x 20mm cannons and 2 x 12,7mm machine guns. The offensive load could reach up to 500 kg of wing bombs. The normal range was 1650 km; the range with the supplementary tanks was 2900 km.

The maximum speed was about 625 km/h at 6000 m. The ceiling height was about 10500 m.

Photo: web