Nakajima Aircraft Company

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Nakajima Aircraft Company
FounderChikuhei Nakajima
SuccessorFuji Heavy Industries (Subaru Corporation)

The Nakajima Aircraft Company (中島飛行機株式会社, Nakajima Hikōki Kabushiki Kaisha) was a prominent Japanese aircraft manufacturer and aviation engine manufacturer throughout World War II. It continues to the present day as the car and aircraft manufacturer Subaru.


Japan's first aircraft manufacturer, it was founded in 1918 by a naval engineer, Chikuhei Nakajima, and a textile manufacturer, Seibei Kawanishi as Nihon Hikoki (Nippon Aircraft). In 1919, the two founders split and Nakajima bought out Nihon Aircraft's factory with tacit help from the Imperial Japanese Army. The company was renamed Nakajima Aircraft Company in 1919.[1]

Assembly work at Nakajima-Handa

Nakajima Aircraft Company's manufacturing facilities consisted of the following:

After World War II[edit]

After Japan's defeat in World War II the company had to close down since production and research of aircraft was prohibited by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. This had a severe impact on Nakajima because it was one of the two largest aircraft manufacturers, together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Unlike MHI though, it was not diversified into shipbuilding and general machinery, and so had to dissolve into a number of spin-off companies set up by former managers, engineers, and workers. As a result, leading aeronautical engineers from NAC, such as Ryoichi Nakagawa, helped transform Japan's automobile industry.[1]

The company was reborn as Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of Fuji Rabbit scooters and Subaru automobiles, and as Fuji Precision Industries (later renamed Prince Motor Company which merged with Nissan in August 1966), manufacturer of Prince Skyline and Prince Gloria automobiles. Fuji began aircraft production in the mid-1950s and has been producing military training aircraft and helicopters for the Japan Self-Defense Forces. In 2017 it rebranded as Subaru Corporation.[2][3][4]


Company designations[edit]

Naval aircraft[edit]

Nakajima B5N Carrier attack bomber
  • A1N - 1927 carrier-borne fighter; licensed copy of the Gloster Gambet
  • A2N 九〇式艦上戦闘機 (Type 90 Carrier Fighter) - 1930 carrier biplane fighter
  • A4N 九五式艦上戦闘機 (Type 95 Carrier Fighter) - 1935 carrier-borne fighter
  • A6M2-N 二式水戦 (Ni-shiki suisen, Type 2 Float Fighter) - 'Rufe' 1941 floatplane version of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero
  • J1N 月光 (Gekkō, Moonlight) - 'Irving' 1941 Navy land-based night fighter
  • J5N 天雷 (Tenrai, Heavenly/Divine Thunder) - 1944 Navy land-based single-seat twin-engine interceptor
  • A3N 九〇式複座練習戦闘機 (Type 90 Two-seat Training Fighter) - 1936 two-seat trainer developed from the A2N
Torpedo bomber
  • B3N - 1933 Navy torpedo bomber prototype, lost to the Yokosuka B3Y
  • B4N - 1936 Navy torpedo bomber prototype, lost to the Yokosuka B4Y
  • B5N 九七式艦攻 (Kyuushichi-shiki Kanko, Type 97 Carrier Attacker) - 'Kate' 1937 Navy torpedo bomber
  • B6N 天山 (Tenzan, Heavenly Mountain) - 'Jill' 1941 Navy torpedo bomber
Scout and reconnaissance aircraft
  • C2N - land-based reconnaissance aircraft based on the Nakajima Ki-6
  • C3N - 1936 carrier-borne reconnaissance aircraft
  • C6N 彩雲 (Saiun, Rainbow Cloud) - 'Myrt' 1943 carrier-borne reconnaissance aircraft
  • E2N 一五式水上偵察機 (Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane)- 1927 reconnaissance aircraft
  • E4N - 1930 reconnaissance aircraft
  • E8N 九五式水上偵察機 (Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane) - 'Dave' 1935 reconnaissance seaplane
  • E12N - 1938 reconnaissance seaplane prototype, lost to the Kawanishi E12K
Heavy bomber
  • G5N 深山 (Shinzan, Mountain Recess) - 'Liz' 1941 heavy four-engine long-range heavy bomber
  • G8N 連山 (Renzan, Mountain Range) - 'Rita' 1945 heavy four-engine long-range heavy bomber
  • G10N 富嶽 (Fugaku, Mount Fuji) - 1945 projected six-engine long-range bomber

Army aircraft[edit]

Ki-43 Hayabusa and Ki-84 Hayate, Post-war
  • 甲3 (Ko 3) - fighter-trainer, license-built Nieuport 24
  • 甲4 (Ko 4) - biplane fighter, license-built Nieuport-Delage NiD 29
  • Type 91 九一式戦闘機 (Type 91 Fighter) - 1931 parasol monoplane fighter
  • Ki-8 - 1934 fighter prototype
  • Ki-11 - 1934 fighter prototype, lost to the Kawasaki Ki-10
  • Ki-12 - 1936 fighter prototype, lost to the Mitsubishi Ki-18
  • Ki-27 九七式戦闘機 (Type 97 Fighter) - late 1936 Army monoplane fighter
  • Ki-37 - 1937 fighter (project only)
  • Ki-43 一式単座戦闘機 (Type 1 Fighter)/ (Hayabusa, Peregrine Falcon) - 'Oscar' 1939 Army fighter
  • Ki-44 二式単座戦闘機 (Type 2 Single-seat fighter)/鍾馗 (Shōki, Devil-Queller) - 'Tojo' 1940 Army fighter
  • Ki-53 - multi-seat heavy fighter (project only)
  • Ki-58 - escort fighter prototype
  • Ki-62 - 1941 prototype fighter, competed with Kawasaki Ki-61 design
  • Ki-63 - version of Ki-62 powered by a radial engine
  • Ki-69 - escort fighter version of Mitsubishi Ki-67 (project only)
  • Ki-75 - heavy fighter (project only)
  • Ki-84 四式戦闘機 (yon-shiki Sentō-ki, Type 4 Fighter)/疾風 (Hayate, Gale) - 'Frank' 1943 Army fighter
  • Ki-87 - 1945 high-altitude fighter-interceptor prototype
  • Ki-101 - twin-engine night fighter (project only)
  • Ki-113 - Ki-84 with some steel parts (project only)
  • Ki-116 - 1945 single-seat fighter prototype
  • Ki-117 - production designation of the Ki-84N
  • Ki-118 - short-range fighter modified from the Mitsubishi A7M (project only)
  • Ki-337 - two-seat fighter (project only)
  • B-6 - license-built Bréguet 14B.2
  • Ki-13 - attack aircraft (project only)
  • Ki-19 - 1937 Army twin-engine heavy bomber (prototypes only), lost to the Mitsubishi Ki-21
  • Ki-31 - two-seat light bomber (project only)
  • Ki-49 呑龍 (Donryuu, Storm Dragon) - 'Helen' 1941 Army medium bomber
  • Ki-52 - dive bomber (project only)
  • Ki-68 - proposed bomber version of G5N
  • Ki-4 - 1933 reconnaissance biplane
  • Ki-6 - 1930 transport, training aircraft; licensed copy of the Fokker Super Universal
  • Ki-16 - cargo transport/ground refueling aircraft (project only)
  • Ki-34 九七式輸送機 (Type 97 Transport) - 'Thora' 1937 Army transport aircraft version of AT-2
  • Ki-41 - cargo transport (project only)
  • 甲2 (Ko 2) - trainer, license-built trainer version of Nieuport 83
Suicide aircraft
  • Ki-115 (Tsurugi, Sword) - 1945 kamikaze aircraft; in IJN service, it was called Tōka (藤花, Wisteria Blossom)
  • Ki-230 projected kamikaze aircraft

Civil aircraft[edit]

Jet prototypes[edit]

  • Kikka 橘花 (Orange Blossom) - 1945 Navy experimental land-based ground attack/ASW jet, two prototypes built; first Japanese jet aircraft
  • Ki-201 火龍 (Karyū, Fire Dragon) - 1945 Army jet fighter/attack aircraft with strong resemblance to the German Messerschmitt Me 262, project only
Nakajima Sakae on an A6M Zero

Aircraft engines[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Odagiri, Hiroyuki (1996). Technology and Industrial Development in Japan. Clarendon Press, Oxford. p. 216. ISBN 0-19-828802-6.
  2. ^ Walsworth, Jack (March 31, 2017). "Fuji Heavy officially changing name to Subaru Corp". Automotive News. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Changes Company Name to Subaru Corporation". March 31, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  4. ^ "Marking 100 years, Fuji Heavy changes name to Subaru". Japan Times. April 1, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2018.


  • Francillon, René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London, Putnam & Company, 1970,1979. ISBN 0-370-30251-6.

External links[edit]