Ki-84 “Frank”, Japanese Fighter

Photograph of Ki-84 fighter

Wikipedia Commons

Nakajima Ki-84-1a Hayate ("Gail") “Frank”


Dimensions 36’11” by 32’7” by 11’1”
11.25m by 9.93m by 3.38m
Weights 5864-8267 lbs
2660-3750 kg
Wing area 226 square feet
21.0 square meters
Maximum speed       392 mph at 20,800 feet
631 km/h at 6340 meters
Cruise speed 277 mph
446 km/h
Climb rate 46 feet per second
14.0 meters per second
Service ceiling 34,450 feet
10,500 meters
Power plant 1 1900 hp (1417 kW) Nakajima Homare HA45 Model 11 18-cylinder 2-row radial engine driving a constant speed four bladed metal propeller.
Armament 2 20mm Ho-5 cannon with 150 rounds each in wings
12.7mm Type 1 machine guns with 350 rounds each in top of fuselage
External stores
Two 250kg (550 lb) bombs or two 44 gallon (167 liter) drop tanks
157.1 gallons (595 liters) internal
Range 1053 miles (1690 km) normal
1815 miles (2920 km) with drop tanks
Production Total of 3514 Ki-84 as follows:
  Nakajima Hikoki K.K. at Ota and Utsonomiya:

  127 Ki-84 pre-production Ki-84 (1943-3 to 1944-6)

3288 Ki-84-I and -II (1944-4 to 1945-8)

Mansyu Hikoki Seizo K.K. at Harbin:

94 Ki-84-I (1945)

1 Ki-116 prototype (1945)

Tachikawa Hikoki K.K. at Tachikawa

3 Ki-106 prototypes (1945)

The 1b replaced the 12.7mm with 20mm cannon.

The 1c replaced the 20mm wing cannon with 30mm Ho-105 cannon.

The II was partially built of wood due to the shortage of metal alloys.

The Ki-84 Hayate (Gale), known to the Allies as "Frank", was probably the best Japanese fighter to enter production. However, by the time "Frank" went into production, quality control was so poor that the aircraft coming out of the factory were barely serviceable. In particular, there was a tendency for the landing gear, which were poorly heat-treated, to fold up. There were also persistent problems with the fuel injection system. But those that worked and were piloted well could sometimes outfly a Mustang.

The design dated to early 1942, when the Army called for a new fighter to replace the Ki-43 "Oscar". This was a matter of foresightedness rather than any disappointment with "Oscar". The new fighter was to have a long range, high speed, and improved armament and armor protection. The design team, led by Koyama T., completed a prototype by March 1943 and this proved to have unusually few bugs. Service trials production began in August 1943 and quantity production began in April 1944.

Unlike most Japanese fighters, "Frank" was properly armed and protected. The basic "Zero" pattern of cannon in the wings and machine guns in the nose cowling was retained in the Ia, but the cannon were higher velocity with a much larger ammunition loadout and the machine guns were heavy rather than rifle caliber. The Ib and Ic had powerful all-cannon armament.

The first operational use of "Frank" was with 22 Air Brigade in China in March 1944, where it operated against Chennault's 14 Air Force. The new fighter must have come as something of a rude shock to the American flyers, given the satisfaction with which the Japanese regarded the performance of the experimental unit. "Frank" subsequently flew in the Philippines, at Okinawa, and in the final defense of Japan. So great was the Japanese faith in the design that, at the time of the surrender, underground factories were being built to produce "Frank" at the rate of 200 per month.

The American command took the threat posed by "Frank" seriously enough to designate the Ota assembly plant as a priority target for strategic bombing on 11 November 1944.

Photo Gallery

Ki-84 Frank

Wikimedia Commons

Website with very complete photography of museum specimen


Craven and Cate (1952; accessed 2014-12-13)

Francillon (1979)

Gunston (1978)

Wilson (1998)

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