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GEORGE is the unlikely Allied nickname for the greatest Japanese naval fighter developed in quantity in the course of World War II. The official Japanese name and designation was Kawanishi N1K2 Shiden (Violet Lightning). This outstanding land-based fighter sprang straight from a floatplane fighter style, the N1K1 REX (see NASM collection).
A lot of countries utilized floatplanes for scouting and reconnaissance duties, and to hunt submarines and surface ships, but only Japan constructed and fielded fighters on floats. The Japanese Imperial Navy intended to use these specialized aircraft to obtain air superiority above a beachhead to help amphibious landing operations where carrier or land-based fighters were unavailable. The Kawanishi N1K1 (Allied codename REX) was the only airplane designed specifically for this objective to fly for the duration of Planet War II.
In September 1940, the Japanese Navy issued a specification for floatplane fighters capable of supporting offensive naval operations. A team of engineers like Toshihara Baba, Shizuo Kikuhara, Hiroyuki Inoue, and Elizaburo Adachi had readied the first prototype by May 1942, and it flew on Might six. Tests showed that the speed of new airplane was only slightly significantly less than the Mitsubishi A6M Zero (see NASM collection) and the amphibious fighter was practically as maneuverable as its land-based cousin. This was remarkable efficiency for an aircraft that could not retract or jettison its huge landing gear.
Extended just before the initial Kyofu flew, Kawanishi engineers believed that the fundamental style would also make an exceptional land-based fighter. The conversion appeared to entail just replacing the primary and wingtip floats with a traditional landing gear. The business decided to develop this variant as a private venture. As the project unfolded, the engineers decided to replace the 14-cylinder engine with a new 18-cylinder model anticipated to generate about two,000 horsepower. The new engine needed a bigger propeller and this element, in turn, needed abnormally extended landing gear struts to stop the blade tips from contacting the ground. Kawanishi flew the initial N1K1-J land-primarily based fighter on December 27, 1942. The new engine failed to provide the expected power and the landing gear functioned poorly. The airplane also fell short of projected speed (649 kph – 403 mph) by 74 kph (46 mph) and could manage only 575 kph (357 mph). This was faster than the Mitsubishi A6M Zero ZEKE, even so, and the Japanese Navy badly required an efficient counter to new American naval fighter aircraft such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair (see NASM collection). The Japanese Navy ordered Kawanishi to abandon two other fighter projects and start off creating Shidens.
By the finish of 1943, Kawanishi delivered about 70 of the new fighters and the Navy utilized these airplanes for pilot familiarization and education. Expecting Allied amphibious landings in the Philippines, the Navy sent the first Shiden unit to Cebu in time to challenge Allied air energy supporting the invasion of that island in October 1944. Engine, landing gear, logistics, and upkeep problems plagued the Shiden units but Allied pilots realized they faced a excellent new Japanese fighter.
With N1K1-J production underway and Shidens flying combat missions, Kawanishi set about refining the design and style. They lowered the wings from mid-fuselage and the additional ground clearance permitted the engineers to install a shorter, a lot more traditional and significantly less-troublesome landing gear, simplified the fuselage structure, and redesigned the empennage. Only the wings and armament remained from the initial design. The engine continued to give trouble, but the Navy was impressed with these improvements and ordered the new version into production as the N1K2-J Shiden Kai (modified). In air-to-air combat, experienced Japanese pilots flying Shiden Kais could more than hold their personal against most American pilots flying F6F Hellcats. In February 1945, a brave pilot, Warrant Officer Muto, single-handedly engaged 12 Hellcats and shot down four of them just before the remainder disengaged. Flying intercept missions against Boeing B-29 Superfortresses above the house islands, the Shiden Kai was significantly less successful because of inadequate climb speed and energy loss at higher altitudes.
Kawanishi created a number of other variants and planned much more when the war ended. About 1,500 of the various models have been developed. In battle over Formosa (Taiwan), the Philippines, Okinawa, and the home islands, Shiden pilots acquitted themselves nicely but this superb airplane was one more excellent design that appeared as well late and in also couple of numbers to reverse Japan’s fortunes in the air war.
NASM’s Shiden Kai is one of three remaining today. The other two are displayed at the U. S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. American intelligence units collected four GEORGE fighters from numerous Japanese airfields and delivered them to Yokosuka Naval Shipyard for shipment to the United States. The NASM GEORGE came from Omura or Oppama Naval Air Station, Japan, and the fighter arrived stateside aboard the escort carrier "USS Barnes." It was possibly evaluated at the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia, and then moved to Willow Grove Naval Air Station. The GEORGE remained outdoors on show and steadily deteriorated along with a group of German and Japanese airplanes till 1983 when the Smithsonian Institution acquired it. The airplane was stored at the Paul Garber Facility until NASM loaned it to the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona, for restoration in December 1991 and the project was completed in November 1994. The restored Shiden Kai wears the colors and markings of the 343rd Kokutai, a unit stationed at Omura Naval Air Station in 1945.
Transferred from the United States Navy.
Kawanishi Kokuki K. K.
Country of Origin:
Overall: 400 x 930cm, 2675kg, 1200cm (13ft 1 1/2in. x 30ft 6 1/8in., 5897.3lb., 39ft 4 7/16in.)
All-metal monocoque construction
Single-engine, low-wing monoplane, standard layout with tailwheel landing gear.
Image by 3DMONG
Panzer VI Model B – Sdkz 182
Image by Nigel_Brown
The Tiger II was the second German heavy tank to see production. Like the Tiger I, (See E1951.23 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Aus E), it had its’ roots in a improvement programme that began in 1937. It was clear by the middle of 1941 that an even far more effective tank gun would be necessary than the 56 calibre 8.8cm already selected for the eventually unsuccessful Porsche Tiger I, the VK45.01 (P).
Instructions had been issued to the Krupp firm to see if the Rheinmettall made Flak41 eight.8cm gun could be fitted in the turret that Krupp had designed for the Porsche Tiger I. This proved to be not possible since of the great length of the Flak41, (it was 74 calibres long). Soon after a excellent deal of political manoeuvring, Krupp was given a contract to create a new higher overall performance eight.8cm tank gun, the KwK43. They also developed a turret that would match the subsequent Porsche design and style for a heavy tank, the VK45.02 (P).
This second Porsche style also failed since its’ many revolutionary characteristics couldn’t be produced to function reliably. Meanwhile the Henschel business was provided a contract to design and style a heavy tank that became the Tiger I. It entered service in the late summer of 1942. The Porsche Tiger project was cancelled in November 1942 and Henschel was then instructed to design an upgraded tank that could carry the gun and turret developed for the VK45.02 (P). This tank was offered the improvement designation VK45.03 (H) and was to be made as quickly as possible.
The wish to make to create the new Henschel heavy tank swiftly was frustrated by frequent alterations in the technical needs. These incorporated an enhance in the armour thickness on the hull front and the sides and a need to obtain as much commonality as achievable with the design for the proposed Panther II. It was later estimated that these adjustments had delayed the project by at least 3 months. The new tank was officially named the Tiger II in March 1943. Later in the war it was unofficially named the Konigstiger (King Tiger) the British and Americans at times translated this as ‘Royal Tiger’.
The 1st prototype Tiger II was delivered for testing in November 1943. The first three production machines followed two a lot more prototypes in January 1944. The very first tanks to reach operational units were issued in June 1944. They were soon in action on each the Eastern Front and in France.
The shape of the hull of the Tiger II resembled that of the Panther. The armour was nicely sloped to resist shot and was welded. The hull front armour was 15cm thick and was impervious to all modern Allied tank and anti-tank guns. The front of the later version of the turret was 18cm thick. The hull side armour was 8cm thick. The hull was carried by 9 pairs of wheels on each side, joined by torsion bars. The wheels ran on wide tracks to spread the weight. These ‘combat tracks’ had to be changed for narrower transport tracks before the tank could be carried by rail, an arduous job.
The Tiger II used the exact same rear mounted Maybach petrol engine as the Tiger I. Each the engine and transmission, originally created to power a 40ton tank, had been more than-stretched by the 70ton weight of the Tiger II. They proved to be unreliable. With a power/weight ratio of about 11hp/ton the tank had relatively poor agility and mobility and a cross-country speed of no more than 20kph.
The Tiger II’s gun was formidable. The 8.8cm KwK43 was 71 calibres long and fired a projectile that weighed 10.2kgs at a muzzle velocity of 1,000 metres/second. The gun was extremely precise and could penetrate 16.5cm (six.five inches) of steel armour sloping at 30 degrees at 1,000 metres range. Every single Allied tank was vulnerable to this gun.
The 1st 50 Tiger II tanks were fitted with the Krupp turret developed for the Porsche VK45.02 (P). These are often (inaccurately) known as ‘Porsche’ turrets. The original style of turret had a rounded front and mantlet that proved to be a shot trap and was high-priced to generate. Accordingly a new design and style of turret, known as the ‘serienturm’, with a flat front plate was made and fitted to all subsequent production. In this turret the eight.8cm gun was carried in bell shaped mantlet. The primary gun was supplemented by a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and by a second machine gun mounted in the glacis. The commander had a third machine gun mounted on a ring about the cupola hatch.
A total of 1,500 Tiger II tanks have been ordered. Henschel only managed to generate 489 gun tanks amongst November 1943 and March 1945. It is mentioned that production of in between 600 and 700 tanks was lost simply because of the effects of heavy air raids on the Henschel plant in Kassel.
Two variants of the Tiger II saw production: a command tank and the Jagdtiger tank destroyer (see E1952.34 Jagdtiger).
The Tank Museum’s Tiger II is the second of the 3 trial autos that had been produced late in 1943. It is fitted with the original style of turret and was utilised only for tests at the Sennelager proving ground. It was captured by the British at the end of the War and extensively evaluated at the College of Tank Technologies.
The Tiger II was issued to the independent heavy tank battalions (schwerepanzerabteilung) of the Army and Waffen SS and in little numbers to the Panzer Lehr trials unit and the Feldherrnhalle division. The first unit to have the Tiger II on the Eastern Front was the Army’s 501st heavy tank battalion. The first heavy tank battalion outfitted in the west was the Army’s 503rd heavy tank battalion. The last tanks to be created were collected directly from the factory by the 510th and 511th heavy tank battalions in March 1945.
The Tiger II design and style emphasised firepower and protection at the expense of mobility. It was properly suited to the defensive fighting in which the German army was engaged in throughout the last months of Planet War II. In spite of its’ relatively poor reliability it was an successful weapon and was a lot feared by Allied tank crews.