The Aichi B7A Ryusei or "Grace" as it was codenamed by the Allies was a torpedo bomber that was used by Japan during World War II.
The first and only production model of the B7A was the B7A2 model. It had a single Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 Engine which was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 566 kilometers per hour.
The B7A had a crew of two men with an armament that consisted of two Type 99 Autocannons in fixed wing positions, a single 13mm machine gun mounted in the gunner position, and a single 800 kilogram torpedo. One of the main attributes of the B7A was its inverted gull wing design similar to that of the F4U Corsair. The total empty weight of the B7A was around 7,969 lb (3,614 kg), rising to 12,568 lb (5,700 kg) when loaded. Total length was 37 ft 8.5 in (11.49 meters), with a wingspan of 47 ft 3 in (14.40 metres). The operational range of the aircraft was 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers), with a service ceiling of 29,365 ft (11,200 meters) and max speed of 352 mph (566 km/h).
The reliability of the B7A was excellent with its maneuverability and high speed exceeding that of many an Allied fighter. This increased the aircraft's survivability in combat. However, the B7A's combat load was not larger than its predecessor's, meaning that it could not make that much more of an impact on enemy ships.
The B7A was developed in 1941 following a request for a new torpedo bomber to replace earlier designs like the Nakajima B6N. Among the priorities for the new design were maneuverability, speed, and ruggedness. However, the B7A was oftentimes relegated to Army bases rather than the aircraft carriers it was intended to be operated from because of the fact that by the time enough models had entered service, all of Japan's carriers had been sunk. Nonetheless, the B7A did serve in combat fairly effectively, proving its worth. However, due to further production constraints, such as the destruction of the Aichi Funakata plant by an earthquake in May 1945, the B7A never saw its true widespread potential. In total, approximately 114 models had been produced during the war. [N 1]
- This included the nine B7A1 prototypes.
- Gunston, Bill. Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Salamander Books. 1988. ISBN 0-86101-390-5 Page 272
- Gunston, Bill. Page 273