The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu was a heavy fighter that was used by Japan during World War II. The first production model of the Ki-45 series was the Ki-45 KAIa. It had a crew of two and dual 975 hp Mitsubishi Ha-102 Engines that were capable of propelling the Toryu at speeds of up to 540 km/h. The armament of the KAIa was a single 20mm cannon, two 12.7mm, wing mounted MGs, and a 7.92mm MG mounted in the gunner position. The Ki-45 could also carry up to 249.9 kg of bombs. Furthermore, some variants eventually had a form of Schräge Musik developed where two 20mm autocannons would be placed in an upward firing position to shoot bombers from below.
The total weight of the KAIa was 5,276 kg fully loaded and the length was 10.6 meters. The KAIa also had a wingspan of 15 meters. The rate of climb of the KAIa was 701 meters per second and the service ceiling was approximately 10,000 meters. The Ki-45 was given the codename "Nick" by the Allies and Type 2 two seat fighter by the IJA.
The Kawasaki Ki-45 was a successful heavy fighter and thus had several variants produced throughout the Second World War. The first of these variants was the Ki-45 KAIb. The KAIb had a new 37mm main forward facing cannon added and lost the 12.7mm MGs, but the 20mm cannon remained. There were some KAIbs that experimented with 75mm cannons for anti-shipping duty, though these weren't developed upon in the series. The second variant was the Ki-45 KAIc which was a nightfighter. It kept the 37mm cannon and had two 20mm cannons along with the now standard 7.92mm MG in the back.
The final variant was the KAId which was used for ground attack purposes. It had a 37mm cannon and dual 20mm cannons. The Ki-45 KAId was also used in an anti-shipping duty. Note that because of Japanese classification, these letter designations could also be swapped out for the designations of Ki-45 KAI ko, KAI otsu, KAI tei, and KAI hei with the KAI ko being the first model in the series.
The Ki-45 series first began development in 1937 when the need for a long range fighter first arose. Kawasaki based their prototypes on European twin-engine fighters and finally came up with a prototype in 1939. The prototypes proved unsatisfactory and were deemed underpowered. There were also delays in production that held the release into service back until 1942. When the aircraft was released into service however, the Ki-45 had great success and became well liked by its crews.
The Kawasaki Ki-45 was used in various places throughout the Pacific such as off the coast of New Guinea and above mainland Japan defending against B-29 Superfortress raids, but it was hampered by the fact that it had extreme difficulty going up to 10,000 meters and shooting down the bombers as this was at the absolute peak of its service ceiling. Initially though, the Ki-45 was used as a long range escort plane, first seeing real combat in the role in 1942. However, by 1943, its potential as a serious anti-shipping aircraft was realized and it was used to this end in the New Guinea campaigns of the mid-Pacific war. However, remaining Ki-45 airframes that were not or could not be used in active service like most other Japanese aircraft were used in the Kamikaze role.
- Lüdeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II. Parragon Books Ltd. (2007), Page 219