Kagero's Japanese Heavy Fighters 1937-1945


Dariusz Paduch




$46.00 at www.casematepublishers.com


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 240 Pages. Softcover.
ISBN 978-83-66673-89-2

The concept of the heavy fighter was one that was frequently visited by many nations. The concept was that it would be able to perform any number of missions, from escorting bombers to performing reconnaissance to operating as a ground attack aircraft and even a light bomber. Some of the key requirements is that it have decent range and be fast enough to deal with enemy fighters. This generally meant a twin engine aircraft. Prior to the start of WWII, the only nation that actually put one into operational use was Germany with its Bf-110. However, the Japanese were not far behind.

For the Japanese, the idea was similar to the 110, in that it would be able to escort bombers to the target. Their experience in China with unescorted bombers showed that an escort fighter was a priority. This began the development of the Ki-45 an aircraft that from the start, was shown to be fairly incapable of holding its own against single engine fighter opposition. However, like the 110, it was developed into other aircraft that were more capable and were able to function in a different role from what was initially envisioned. This role being a bomber destroyer.

Both the Japanese army and the Japanese navy were able to produce a series of twins that proved to be capable reconnaissance platforms and to some extent night fighters, even though designed as a heavy air to air fighter. The main navy type was the J1N1. Others that operated as heavy fighters were variants of the Ki-46, the Ki-67 and the P1Y2. Not all types converted were twin engine, though all were relatively large planes.

The book is divided into three main categories. One is IJAAF planes, the second is IJNAF planes and the third is Japanese aircraft weapons. The planes involved are not only production types, but also experimental aircraft that for what ever reason (usually the end of the war) did not make it out of the prototype stage. There are also aircraft within that didn't make it past mock-ups and those that were simply envisioned and rejected either because of a lack of technical capabilities or a lack of feasibility.

To be sure, there are a number of entries that I don't really consider a heavy fighter like the J8M or the J7W, but their full development and history are included. I was also pleased to see that there were quite a few photos that I'd not seen before, a real nice surprise. The author has done a very good job of telling the stories of thes aircraft and as such, has produced a superb reference on the subject and on late war prototypes. It is a book that I enjoyed reading and one that I can quite easily recommend to you.

June 2022

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