E7K “Alf”, Japanese Reconnaissance Floatplane

Photograph of E7K "Alf"

U.S. Navy. Via Francillon (1979)

Kawanishi E7K2 "Alf"


2 or 3 in tandem cockpits
Dimensions 45'11" by 34'5" by 15'11"
14m by 10.5m by 4.85m
Weight 4600-7300 lbs
2100-3300 kg
Speed 170 mph at 6600 feet
274 km/h at 2000 m
Cruising speed      115 mph at 3300 feet
185 km/h at 1000 m
Climb rate 18 feet per second
5.5 meters per second
Ceiling 23,165 feet
7060 meters
Power plant One 870 hp (649 kW) Mitsubishi Zuisei 11 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine driving a two-blade metal propeller
Armament One forward-firing 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun
One flexible rear-firing 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun
One flexible downward-firing 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun.
External stores four 30kg (66 lb) or two 60kg (132 lb) bombs
Endurance 11.32 hours
Production A total of 530 E7Ks were built.

Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo:
  183 E7K1 (1934-38)
  287 E7K2 (1938-41)

Nippon Hikoki K.K. at Tomioka:
  57 E7K1 and E7K2 (1937-39)
Variants The E7K1 used a 600hp Hiro Type 91 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine.

"Alf" was Kawanishi's response to a 1932 Navy call for a three-seat long-range reconnaissance seaplane to replace the E5K1. The design team, led by Sekiguchi Eiji, produced a prototype in less than a year, which was delivered to the Navy in May 1933. Its performance and handling were found much superior to the competing Aichi AB-6 and production was begun late that year.

The original aircraft (E7K1) used a liquid-cooled engine and wooden propellers. However, in 1936 the Navy became interested in an updated version using a much more powerful radial engine driving a metal propeller. This went into production in November 1938 as the E7K2.

"Alf" was well-liked by its crews for its reliability and ease of handling. The E7K1 was relegated to training by 1941, but the E7K2 was still in first-line service in spite of its obsolescence. It was not fully replaced by the E13A "Jake" until early 1943.


Francillon (1979)
Williams and Gustin (2003)

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