Nakajima B5N - 'Kate'
B5N - Allied reporting-name 'Kate' - was the sole shipboard torpedo-bomber
of the Japanese Navy at the start of the Pacific War. It was by then quite
old, having been designed to meet a specification of 1935, and was already
judged to be obsolescent. However, when first put into production it had
been a very advanced aircraft, and in war it out-performed any Allied
shipborne torpedo-plane until the arrival of the Grumman Avenger in
mid-1942. In particular it was greatly superior to the Douglas TBD
Devastator - the carrier-borne torpedo-plane of the US Fleet at the Battle
of the Coral Sea and the decisive Battle of Midway.
B5Nsplayed the main role in sinking the carrier Lexington at Coral Sea, Yorktown at Midway, and Hornet at the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942. Along with the destruction of the carrier Wasp by a Japanese submarine during the Guadalcanal campaign these were the major blows to the American carrier forces in the early phase of the Pacific War. These exploits supplemented the Kate's success in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941, in which 40 B5N2s armed with torpedoes - and 103 B5N2s armed with bombs - inflicted enormous damage on the US Battle Fleet.
Total production of the B5N was 1,149 units. By the time of the Marianas campaign it had been largely replaced by its successor - the Nakajima B6N Tenzan - but at the huge air-sea Battle of the Philippine Sea there were 17 Kates in Admiral Ozawa's Mobile Fleet, aboard the ships of Carrier Division Three.
Origin: Nakajima-Nikoki KK
Type: (B5N1) Three-seat carrier-based bomber - (B5N2) Three-seat carrier-based torpedo-bomber
Dimensions: Span 50' 11" - Length 33' 10" - Height 12' 2"
(B5N1) 4,645 lb empty, 8,047 lb loaded
Nakajima B6N Tenzan
The B6N, although a conventional-looking aircraft, was in some respects superior to contemporary Allied torpedo planes. Known as the Tenzan ('Heavenly Mountain'), it was a slender and clean-lined machine with no internal weapons bay. The torpedo was carried offset to the right, with the large oil cooler offset to the other side. The big Mamori engine of the B6N1, driving a four-blade Hamilton-type propeller, underwent severe vibration and overheating. Although it was kept in service it was replaced in production by the the B6N2. The lower power of the older and well-tried Kasei engine was compensated for by improved streamlining, which produced less drag.
Tenzans went into action for the first time in late 1943, off Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. At the huge air-sea Battle of the Philippine Sea the air complement of the Mobile Fleet's carriers included some 80 B6Ns. Towards the end of the war some Tenzans were equipped with radar for night torpedo attacks on Allied shipping. Additionally, many Jills were employed in kamikaze attacks on the US fleet, especially during the Okinawa campaign in April and May of 1945.
Origin: Nakajima Hikoki KK
Type: Three-seat carrier-based and land-based torpedo-bomber
Dimensions: Span 48' 10" - Length 35' 8" - Height (B6N1) 12' 2" (B6N2) 12' 6"
Weight: 6,636 lb empty, 11,464 loaded (normal) 12,456 loaded (maximum)