The Kawasaki Ki-61-Ib Hien (code name «Tony»), is a single-seat monoplane fighter. It currently sits at Tier 6 in the Japanese line. The upfront cost of a Ki-61-Ib is 100,000 . A converted version is also available in the American line as a Tier 4 Premium Aircraft for 700.
Design, Development & Operational HistoryEdit
The Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Swallow) was quite a departure from the other Japanese fighters of its day. Most notably it was designed around a license built DB601 liquid cooled inverted V12 making it the only non-radial powered mass produced fighter in the Emperor's inventory. The Ki-61's designers, Takeo Doi and Shin Owada, had moreover worked under the German Richard Vogt, In December 1940 they were instructed to go ahead with the Ki-61, and one year later the prototype was flown. The Ki-61 went into production in August 1942 as the Army Type 3 Fighter Model 1 Hien but did not see action until June 1943. Initial tests showed it to be faster and more maneuverable than all other Japanese fighter aircraft except the KI-43 (Oscar). As is generally known, the Allies code named it the Tony under the false impression that it was not of Japanese design due to its resemblance to Italian fighters. The first Ki-61 seen by Allied aircrew had been misidentified as a Bf 109 by USAAF Capt. C. Ross Greening during the Doolittle Raid.A number of reasons resulted in the development of the radical different fighter in the Japanese arsenal. Kawasaki failed to receive contracts for their models with other types of liquid cooled engines, so work started on a license built version of a proven type. Also German engineers worked with the Kawasaki company to design and build fighters that would win a production contract. Furthermore Kawasaki learned some facts of the aerial warfare in the North European Theatre during 1939 - 1940. This resulted in self sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the pilot. Work on the Ki-61 Hien was designed in parallel with the Ki-60, a cannon-armed interceptor whose emphasis was more on speed and climb-rate than on agility and range. The Ki-61 was to be the multi-role stable-mate of the Ki-60, with an emphasis on agility and long range. Entering service in 1943, performance was considered quite good although reliability was not impressive. It served to the last days of the war; ~2500 were produced.