Stratus' Mitsubishi Babs Vol 2


Giuseppe Picarella




$62.00 from


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 244 pages, Hardback
ISBN: 978-83-67227-15-2

Subtitled 'the world's first high speed strategic reconnaissance aircraft', the Mitsubishi Karigane was started as a venture to get the Army interested in a long range reconnaissance aircraft that was fast enough to outrun enemy fighters. 

Strategic reconnaissance was something that was foreign to the Japanese military. Both the Army and Navy were not blind to the usefulness of reconnaissance, they generally saw it as either tactical recon or, in the case of the Navy, as more of a patrol function, though the Navy was more attuned to the need for long range recon than the Army.

To the Navy, Mitsubishi was a great source for carrier based aircraft, and while they had a fairly good land based bomber force, they felt that their bombers had the range for strategic recon. This is what they used them for in the war in China. However, these bombers proved to be susceptible to China's defensive fighter force and often times these bombers would fall prey to the defenders. What was needed was a fast recon plane that was able to evade enemy fighters and return with the information and photos. There wasn't time to develop one so they bit the bullet and contacted Mitsubishi to provide the Navy with the Ki-15-II. Of course, it had to have Navy-specific equipment and this was designated C5MI. Later a variant with the same engine as the new A6M was developed and became the C5M2. This aircraft was a much better and faster version.

One interesting thing that the Navy did was to use the C5M as a command and control aircraft. It would fly ahead of the bombers to check on what was on Chinese air fields near the strike area to let them know what was there. When the A6M started appearing with the range to escort the bombers all the way there and back, the C5M would direct these fighters towards the enemy air fields in order to destroy as many on the ground as possible. Then the Zeros would head back and when the Chinese thought that they had gone and start to take off to intercept the bombers, the C5M would contact the A6Ms which had simply flown out of sight to return where they created havoc among the defenders. This drastically reduced bomber casualties.

This book is the most comprehensive history of the type ever done. This volume concentrates on the Navy's C5M, including the development of the type to their specs and its operations in both China and the south Pacific. There are lots of drawings, unit markings, and detail period images. This includes the aircraft's various systems and one is also provided a full production history. These last items cover both the Ki-15 and C5M aircraft as much was similar between the two.

This volume completes what is an excellent history of this interesting aircraft and a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I know you will like it as well. Most highly recommended. 

May 2024

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