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Tachikawa Ki-77 Aircraft Information

Tachikawa Ki-77

Tachikawa Ki-77

Manufacturer: Tachikawa
First flight: 18 November 1942
Number built: 2

The Tachikawa Ki-77 was a Japanese long-range experimental aircraft of World War II.

It was a low-wing monoplane with twin piston engines and a tailwheel undercarriage.

Development

The Ki-77 was originally designated A-26. The first of two prototypes flew on 18 November 1942. This aircraft was used as a sort of answer to the previous flight, made by an italian Savoia S.M.75GA. This latter flew a long route to Japan in July 1942, with several steps in Russia and China. Japan considered as well to hold a constant link with Europe, but (differently than italians) avoiding soviet airspace at any price. Takigawa had the answer. This was the A-26, built for Asahi Shinbun already in 1940. A clean, slim design, with a great care to reduce drag and increase range, it was meant to link New York with Tokyo in a single flight, so it had a really long range.

After all, there was already an example, the Kamikaze (Ki-15), flown to UK in 1937. Bring an aircraft to Europe was not an easy task, and works lasted until july 1943. The easier trip was similar to that followed by Italians, but General Tojo fiercely opposed to this plan, because it implied the violation of soviet airspace. Italians were already at war against URSS, but Japan was not. The first A-26 had oil leaks, apparently difficult to repair and so Takigawa simply built a second aircraft. Colonel Saigo considered this mission absurd and suicidal. The crew was aware about the danger of such mission. They had even a personal poison dose to kill themselves, if they would be forced to land in URSS. They were Nagatomo and Kawasaki (pilots), Tsukakoshi, Nagata, Kawashima (R/T operator), and three Army officers. Tsukakoshi was already involved with Kamikaze mission (1937). Born in 1901, his mother was British. The eight crew, despite all the problems, leave Japan (30 June 1943) reaching Singapore, where the airstrip was increased of 1.000 meters, to assure a better take-off. Theoretically, with 8 tons of fuel, it would been enough to reach Europe. Finally, the A-26 took off at 7.10 of 7 july 1943.

It vanished since then. Nobody knows what happened: probably, since it was forced to fly at 4,000-6,000 meters, the A-26 was shoot down by Allied fighters. At the time, situation was heavily worsened for Axis, so this flights were perhaps too dangerous, especially with a fuel-loaded aircraft.

Japan tried another mission, this time only to gain a new flight record, but still considered important, also to verified if the Ki-77/A-26 really had the potential to reach Europe.

The endurance record was another one held by Italy in the pre-war period, and the aircraft that established it(1939) was exactly the S.75GA, the same used to reach Japan in 1942. Even if, in 1944, the interest for records was obscured by war necessities, Japan wanted to remember the lost A-26 one year later. The first A-26 was reasonably efficient at the time, so it was used to break the endurance record. On 2 July it took-off. It flew along Manchuria (in a triangular path) landing 57 hours 9 minutes later, thus achieving an outstanding performance: 16,435 km (288,2 km/h av. speed), that was 3,499 in excess of the S.75 record (12,936 km). Ki-77 could had done even more: with 800 liters (out of 12,200 l)still in the tanks, the maximum endurance was up to 18,000 km. This effort was fruitless, however, because FAI could not officialize it during the war. So the S.75 endurance record was officially outclassed only in 1947 by a B-29, that achieved 14,250 km, which is still far less than A-26 actually did.

Operators

Japan

Specifications (Tachikawa Ki-77)

Data from Virtual Aircraft Museum

General characteristics

Crew: 5
Length: 15.3m (50 ft 2 in)
Wingspan: m (96 ft 7 in)
Height: 3.85 m (12 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 79.56 m (856 ft)
Empty weight: 7,237 kg (15,950 lb)
Loaded weight: kg (lb)
Useful load: kg (kg)
Max takeoff weight: 16,725 kg (7,237 lb)
Powerplant: 2x Nakajima Ha-115 radial, 875 kW (1,174 hp) each

Performance

Never exceed speed: km/h (knots, mph)
Maximum speed: 440-465 km/h (knots, 273 mph)
Cruise speed: 300 km/h (knots, 186 mph)
Stall speed: km/h (knots, mph)
Range: 18,200 km (nm, 11,200 mi)
Service ceiling: 8,700-9,800 m (28,543 ft)
Rate of climb: m/s (ft/min)
Wing loading: kg/m (lb/ft)
Power/mass: W/kg (hp/lb)

Armament

none

Bibliography

Francillon, Ren J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam Aeronautical, 1979. ISBN 0-370-30251-6. (new edition 1987. ISBN 0-85177-801-1.)
Nakazawa, Akinori and Strippoli, Roberta, '1942-43: Italiani e Giapponesi in volo per rafforzare l'Asse Roma-Tokyo', Rivista Storica magazine Coop Giornalisti Storici, Rome, n.7/94, p.48-53

Tachikawa Ki-77 Pictures

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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