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  Ki-61-Ia Tony Manufacture Number 263 Tail XJ002
JAAF
68th Sentai
2nd Chutai

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USMC Dec 30, 1943


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ATIU c1944

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USN July 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Kawasaki at Kagamigahara during April 1943. At the factory, this aircraft was delivered with a natural aluminum finish and a fuselage Hinomaru outlined with a white border.

Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Type 3 Fighter / Ki-61-Ia Tony manufacture number 263. Uncoded serial number 163. Armed with the "Kou" weapon configuration of two 12.7mm Ho-103 machine cannons in the fuselage forward decking and two 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns in the wings.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 68th Sentai, 2nd Chutai. This aircraft was assigned to Captain Shogo Takeuchi, commander of 2nd Chutai, 68th Sentai.

This Ki-61 was bare metal finish with dark green spray paint applied to the upper surfaces in a snake weave pattern. The left side of the cockpit had an eagle marking.  The leading edge of the wing had a yellow identification stripe with a red four-pointed star around each machine gun barrel. The fuselage Hinomaru was outlined in white, then the border was over painted with green spray paint. The rear fuselage had two vertical white bands around the Hinomaru. The forward stripe was wider and the rear band was smaller indicating assignment to the 2nd Chutai. The tail had the "V" motif of the 68th Sentai, 2nd Company.

During November 1943, this Ki-61 was abandoned at Cape Gloucester Airfield (Tuluvu) at Cape Gloucester No. 1 (Old Strip, West Airfield). Likely, the aircraft had mechanical problems and was carefully hidden with palm fronds as camouflage and was not damaged by Allied bombing raids.

On December 30, 1943 this aircraft was discovered by U. S. Marines when they captured the airfield area. The Ki-61 was intact but submerged up to the wings due to recent rains and flooding. After being reported to Allied intelligence, it became known as the "Cape Gloucester Ki-61" or "Cape Gloucester Tony". Disassembled and loaded aboard a U. S. Navy Landing Ship Tank (LST) and shipped to Brisbane.

Transported to Eagle Farm Airfield to Hanger 7 and assigned to Air Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) with tail code XJ003 painted in black on both sides of the tail. The Ki-61 was stripped to bare metal finish and U. S. stars and bars markings were applied to both sides of the fuselage and wings.

During early 1944, the Ki-61 was restored and flight tested at Eagle Farm Airfield. Further tests were cut short due to the presence of metal filings in the engine and was once again disassembled for shipment to the United States for further evaluation.

During June 1944, shipped from Brisbane to NAS Anacostia where it was reassembled and flight tested further. Test pilots concluded it was a pleasant aircraft to fly but "a great deal of maintenance was required during the trials it seems likely that the Japanese find it difficult to keep this Tony in commission." This Ki-61 was also flight tested at NAS Pax River Test Center.

The pilot's armor plating (10.3mm armor) was removed and tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground. During test using American .50 caliber and .30 caliber machine guns against the freestanding armor, it was proved that the armor could easily be defeated by a .50 caliber bullet at close range and also failed to stop a .30 caliber bullet.

The ultimate fate of this Ki-61 is unknown after testing. Likely, it was placed into storage and was scrapped at the end of the war.

References
Production figures of the Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony by Jim Long
Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien by Richard M. Bueschel has photos and history of this aircraft.
Tuluvu's Air War by Richard Dunn details the capture of this fighter.
Setting Suns page 99
Thanks to Jim Long and Richard Dunn for additional information

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Last Updated
January 16, 2019

 

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Ki-61

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