KAWANISHI N1K1-J Shiden (Violet Lightning) 'George 11' Timeline
December 1941:The Kawanishi engineering team worked up a projection for a
land-based N1k1 and gave the proposal to their management. Kawanishi's
Technical Director for Aircraft, Vice Admiral Rikizo Tada found the proposed
performance sufficient enough that management decided to develop the land-
based fighter as a private venture. Shizuo Kikuhara was appointed to head the
31 December 1942: The 1st prototype designated Model X-1 Experimental Land-
based Fighter is completed. Modifications had been made to the combat flaps
making them automatic.
Engine: Nakajima Homare 11: 1,820 hp.
Armament: 2 x 7.7 mm. Type 97 machine guns in the upper cowl + 2 x 20 mm.
Type 99 Model 2 cannons in underwing gondolas.
31 December 1942: 1st test flight of the N1K1-J prototype from Itami airport with
Air Arsenal pilot Lt Takumi Hoashi at the controls. Test pilot notes noted the
Poor visibility during taxiing.
Excessive propeller torque during take-off.
Pleasant handling characteristics.
Almost as maneuverable as the Mitsubishi Reisen.
Note: The maximum speed of the Model X-1 prototype was a disappointing 310 kt.
(357 mph.). This was primarily because of the poor fuel quality and unreliable
carburetors. The Kawanishi was more maneuverable and had greater range than
the faster Mitsubishi J2M2. The IJNAF instructed Kawanishi to suspend development
on the Naval Experimental Fighters 17-Shi (J3K1) and 18-Shi (J6K1) and to concentrate
on improving the land based N1K1 with the help of IJNAF Engineering Commander
Junjiro Suzuki to offer guidance at the Naruo plant. The IJNAF assigned Engineering
Commander Junjiro Suzuki to offer guidance at the Naruo plant.
July 1943: Four prototypes had been completed and one was given to the IJNAF. The
aircraft were evaluated by pilots of the Koku Gijutsu Sho at Yokosuka. The Naval
personnel were prejudice toward the aircraft because it had been a private venture as
apposed to being from IJN specifications and service engineers were critical of the
design initially complaining about the overall poor workmanship.
15 November 1943: The 341st Kokutai (Naval Air Corps)was chosen to be the 1st unit
to receive the N1K1-J. They were formed at Matsuyama in the Ehime Prefecture on
the island of Shikoku.
December 1943: 70 N1K1-Js had been built at the Naruo Works and the first had rolled
off the Himeji Works line. The Engine unreliability and poor machine tooling along
with inferior quality materials caused undercarriage problems.
During 1943: At Kawanishi's Naruo Works the aircraft were fitted with the Nakajima
NK9H Homare 21 engine. The cowling was modified with a lower lip scoop, individual
exhaust stacks and an external oil cooler was mounted on the port side under the
cooling gills. These aircraft had an additional pair of 20 mm. Type 99 Model 2
cannon wing mounted guns just outside the wing gondolas.
Mid February 1944: The first Shidens are delivered to the 341st Hikotai while training
15 June 1944: The 341st Kokutai as part of the 62nd Koku Sentai conducted service
trials. They had constant problems with undercarriage failures and the unreliability of
the Homare 21 engine. There were engine oil leaks and buckling of the metal skin
during violent evasive maneuvers also.
12 October 1944: The Shiden's 1st 'kills' were when PO1c Takeo Yamada and PO1c
Hideo Hirakawa of the 401st Hiketai claimed 4 Hellcats each after diving from above
into a group of about 60 aircraft. The Hellcats were from Third Fleet's TF38.
23 December 1944: PO1c Hideo Hirakaw died when his Shiden collided with an USAAF
bomber over Luzon. He was the only Known N1K1-J ace. He had 5 kills in the Shiden.
16 April 1945: N1K1-J's final combat during the Okinawa campaign. Very few Shidens
remained in front line service after that, a handful being used as fast reconnaissance
by the 132nd Kokutai on Formosa and Teisato 11th Hikotai in southern Kyushu.
Note: Kawanishi's Norue Works plant produced 539 prototypes and production aircraft.
The Himeji plant produced 486 N1K1-Js. Four major versions were produced powered
by the Homare 21 engine.
1. N1K1-J Model 11: Armament: 2 x 7.7 mm. Type 97 cowl machine guns + 2 x 20 mm.
Type 99 Model 2 wing guns + 2 x 20 mm. Type 99 Model 2 cannon in underwing
2. N1K1-Ja Model 11a: 4 x 20 mm. wing cannon.
3. N1K1-Jb Model 11b: 4 x 20 mm. wing cannon + 2 underwing racks for 250 kg.
bombs. This version had square tipped horizontal tail surfaces.
4. N1K1-Jc Model 11c: Identical to the Model 11b except had 4 under wing racks.
Pilot Note: Aircraft of the Aces No.129 Page 59
The 343rd Kokutai was an elite unit formed by Capt Minoru Genda.
" He knew that the Shiden's inferior performance - slower rate of climb, top speed,
less armament and shorter range - when compared to the Shiden-Kai meant that the
two aircraft could not employ formation tactics together."
Edited by CORSNING, 05 February 2017 - 09:27 PM.