Ki-61 and Ki-100 Aces

Published: October 13th, 2015     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Nicholas Millman
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1780962955
Other Publication Information: Soft Cover, 7.2” x 9.8”, 96 pages; Publish Date: November 17, 2015
Price:

This is at least Nicholas Millman's third title with Ronnie Olsthoorn illustrating for Osprey Publishing. Aircraft of the Aces 100 - Ki-44 'Tojo' Aces of World War 2 was published in 2011 and  Aircraft of the Aces 103 - Ki-27 'Nate Aces was published in 2013. Nicholas Millman is one of Britain's leading researchers of Japanese military aviation. In addition to publishing articles in specialist journals, his own range of reference materials and supporting the research of other authors, he runs a website (http://www.aviationofjapan.com/) dedicated to the subject which attracts visitors from 194 countries.

This 96 page book contains 36 color profiles illustrated by Ronnie Olsthoorn along with a paragraph description located in the Appendix. An additional six 1/72 scale drawings are included to highlight the development of the airframe from the Ki-61-I Ko through the Ki-100-I Otsu. I counted 81 black and white pictures, all with descriptions and sourcing. The Appendices also include an explanation of the various production types as well as a table of the leading aces.

After an introduction on the development of inline fighters in Japan, Nicholas Millman heads into Chapter One, A Difficult Birth. After discounting the belief that the Ki-61 was a copy of the Heinkel He 100, the Ki-61 sees its first action against the B-25s of Doolittle's Raiders. I was fascinated by the description of this encounter as Nicholas Millman provides several viewpoints on what probably occurred based on reports from both sides.

Chapter Two describes the rather forced introduction of the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Swallow) into combat in 1943 due to the deteriorating situation in New Guinea. Despite the Hien's mechanical issues, the Ki-61 was actually an excellent aircraft possessing attributes that were not matched by other IJN aircraft on strength. The Ki-61, codenamed 'Tony' by the allies, was a stable, powerful aircraft, as opposed to the IJAAF's focus on light, ultra-maneuverable fighters. Nicholas Millman provides a revealing account of the pilots and their missions as the Hien fought on for the remainder of the war.

The Ki-61 saw battle across the Pacific and even in China as Japan retreated towards its homeland. Desperate measures in the form of the special attack units are covered as the Hien was utilized in these suicide attacks against the Allied Navy. Chapter five, A Desperate Battle, covers the utilization of the Hien to combat the B-29 raids. Here the Ki-61 saw its true potential as it was considered to be the best high altitude fighter available. Once again, Nicholas Millman weaves mission reports into the story line to provide an exciting backdrop, focusing on the 18th, 55th, 56th, and 71st Sentai. A special section is also devoted to the Teruhiko Kobayashi and the 244th Sentai Aces as they defended Tokyo from the Boeing B-29s.

The Seven-Week Fighter, Chapter Six, is devoted to the development and utilization of the Ki-100 Goshikisen. Interestingly, the Ki-100 never received an allied codename. The Ki-100 development was forced, due to the inability of the inline engines to keep pace with the Ki-61 airframe's production. At the end of 1944, more than 200 airframes were piled up, all lacking engines. The IJAAF directed Kawasaki to begin converting these airframes to utilize the over abundant radial engines, Mitsubishi's 1,500 hp Ha-33-62 'Kinsei'. First flight with the new engine was in February 1945 with the first IJAAF units converting to the Ki-100 in March 1945. Pilots were immediately impressed with the Ki-100, especially with the improved reliability of the radial engine.

The book with its five Chapters include:

  • Introduction
  • A Difficult Birth
  • The Rush to Combat - New Guinea 1943-44
  • Attrition - The Philippines and South-East Asia
  • The Noose Tightens - The Island Campaigns
  • A Desperate Battle - The Air Defence of Japan
  • Seven Week Fighter - the Ki-100
  • Appendices

If you own one the previous releases in the Aircraft of the Aces series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front Cover
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  • Back Cover
    Back Cover
  • Sample Page
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