Nakajima Ki-84

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Nakajima Ki84 Hayate N3385G ONT 18.10.70 edited-3.jpg
Ki-84 Hayate (Frank) preserved in California in 1970. As of 2014, this aircraft is displayed at a war memorial in Japan.
Role Fighter
Manufacturer Nakajima Aircraft Company
First flight March 1943
Introduction November 1944
Retired August 1945 (Japan)
Primary user Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Number built 3,514 [1]
Variants Nakajima Ki-116
Ki-84s and Ki-43s photographed on a former JAAF base in Korea post-war. The Ki-84 in the foreground is from the 85th Hiko-Sentai, the next one in line belonged to the 22nd Hiko-Sentai HQ Chutai.
Captured Nakajima Ki-84 models fitted with engines exceeding 1,800 horsepower could surpass the top speeds of the P-47D Thunderbolt and the P-51D Mustang at 6,000 m (20,000 ft).

The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (キ84 疾風 Gale) is a single-seat fighter flown by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in the last two years of World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Frank"; the Japanese Army designation was Army Type 4 Fighter (四式戦闘機, yon-shiki-sentō-ki). The Ki-84 is generally considered the best Japanese fighter to operate in large numbers during the conflict. The aircraft boasted high speeds and excellent maneuverability with an armament (up to two 30 mm and two 20 mm cannon) that gave it formidable firepower.[2][3] The Ki-84's performance matched that of any single-engine Allied fighter it faced, and its operational ceiling enabled it to intercept high-flying B-29 Superfortress bombers.[4] Pilots and crews in the field learned to take care with the plane's high-maintenance Nakajima Homare engine and a landing gear prone to buckling.[4] The difficulties of Japan's situation late in the war took a toll on the aircraft's field performance as manufacturing defects multiplied, quality fuel proved difficult to procure and experienced pilots grew scarce. Nevertheless, a well-maintained Ki-84 was Japan's fastest fighter. A total of 3,514 aircraft were built.[2]

Design and development[edit]

A prototype of the Nakajima Ki-84 with a unique exhaust stack, similar to a Ki-43's

Design of the Ki-84 commenced in early 1942 to meet an Imperial Japanese Army Air Service requirement for a replacement to Nakajima's own, earlier Ki-43 fighter, then just entering service. The specification recognized the need to combine the maneuverability of the Ki-43 with performance to match the best western fighters, and heavy firepower.[5] The Ki-84 first flew in March 1943 [6] and deliveries from Nakajima's Ota factory commenced in April 1943.[7] Although the design was itself solid, growing difficulties in securing skilled pilots, proper fuel and construction materials, and adequate manufacture often prevented the aircraft from reaching its full potential in the field.

The design of the Ki-84 addressed the most common complaints about the popular and highly maneuverable Ki-43: insufficient firepower, poor defensive armor, and lack of climbing speed. The Ki-84 was a cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, except for the fabric-covered control surfaces. It had a retractable tailwheel landing gear.[8] Armament comprised two fuselage-mounted, synchronized 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns — these proved challenging to synchronize properly with the Hayate's four-blade propeller — and two wing-mounted 20 mm cannon, a considerable improvement over the two 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns used in the Ki-43 Hayabusa. Defensive armor offered Hayate pilots better protection than the unsealed wing tanks and light-alloy airframe of the Ki-43. In addition, the Ki-84 used a 65 mm (2.56 in) armor-glass canopy, 13 mm (.51 in) of head and back armor, and multiple bulkheads in the fuselage, which protected both the methanol-water tank (used to increase the effectiveness of the supercharger) and the centrally located fuel tank.

It was the Nakajima firm's own-designed 35.8 litre displacement, Ha-45 Homare ("Praise or Honor") air-cooled eighteen-cylinder radial engine, first accepted for military use in 1941, that gave the Hayate its high speed and prowess in combat. Derived from the Nakajima Homare engines common to many Japanese aircraft, the Hayate used the Homare 21 direct-injection version of the engine, using water injection to aid the supercharger in giving the Ki-84 a rated 1,491 kW (2,000 hp) at takeoff. This combination theoretically gave it a climb rate and top speed roughly competitive with the top Allied fighters. Initial Hayate testing at Tachikawa in early summer 1943 saw test pilot Lieutenant Funabashi reach a maximum level airspeed of 624 km/h (387 mph) in the second prototype. In 1946, US Technical Intelligence tested a Homare Model 21-engined Hayate and achieved a speed of 687 km/h (427 mph) at 20,000 feet using 92 octane AvGas, plus methanol injection.[9]

The complicated direct-injection engine was a compact design (only 3 cm/1¼ inches larger in diameter than the Ki-43's 27.9 L 14-cylinder Nakajima Sakae radial) that required a great deal of care in construction and maintenance and it became increasingly difficult to maintain the type's designed performance as the Allies advanced toward the Japanese homeland. To compound reliability problems, the Allied submarine blockade prevented delivery of crucial components, such as the landing gear. Many landing gear units were compromised by the poor-quality heat treatment of late-war Japanese steel. As a result, many Hayates suffered strut collapses on landing. Further damage was caused by inadequately trained late war pilots, who sometimes found it difficult to transition to the relatively "hot" Ki-84 from the comparatively docile Ki-43, which had a significantly lower landing speed.

Operational service[edit]

The first major operational involvement was during the battle of Leyte at the end of 1944, and from that moment until the end of the Pacific war the Ki-84 was deployed wherever the action was intense.[8] The 22nd Sentai re-equipped with production Hayates. Though it lacked sufficient high-altitude performance, it performed well at medium and low levels. Seeing action against the USAAF 14th Air Force, it quickly gained a reputation as a combat aircraft to be reckoned with. Fighter-bomber models also entered service. On April 15, 1945, 11 Hayates attacked US airfields on Okinawa, destroying many aircraft on the ground.

In the final year of the war the Ki-84, the Ki-100 (essentially a radial-engined version of the inline-powered Kawasaki Ki-61) and Kawanishi's N1K2-J were the three Japanese fighters best suited to combat the newer Allied fighters.

Camouflage and markings[edit]

The Ki-84 is known to have appeared in three Japanese Ministry of Munitions sanctioned camouflage schemes;

Type N: The entire airframe was left in its original natural metal. Because of the different grades of alloy used for various panels, the overall finish soon weathered or oxidized to a pale metallic grey, with variations in shade and texture, depending on the grade of duralumin used for each area of skin. A black "anti-glare" panel was painted on the top forward fuselage and engine cowling (see photo of 73 Hiko-Sentai aircraft).[10]

Type B: Irregular blotches or stripes of dark green on the basic natural metal scheme. This was applied once the aircraft reached its operational base. On occasion the edges of national (hinomaru) and Sentai markings were accidentally covered.[10]

Type S: Three variations were seen on Ki-84s; S1 – Dark green upper surfaces, with light gray/green lower surfaces. S2 – The light gray/green on the lower surfaces was replaced by a pale blue/gray. These colors were often applied on an unprimed airframe; because of this and the poor adhesion of Japanese paints in the later years of the war this scheme often weathered quickly, with large patches of natural metal being visible (see photo of 85 Hiko-Sentai Ki-84 on a Korean base). S10 – The upper surfaces were left in a red/brown primer with the under surfaces in natural metal. The black anti-glare panel was optional.[10]

Other schemes were applied, particularly by the Shinbu-Tai "Special Attack" units. For example, a Ki-84 of 57 Shinbu-Tai, flown by Corporal Takano, had very dark brown-green upper surfaces (some sources state black), with a large red "arrow" outlined in white painted along the entire length of the fuselage and engine cowling. White Kana characters "hitt-chin" (be sure to sink) were painted above the arrow on the rear fuselage. The under surfaces were light gray.[11]

Factory applied markings included six hinomaru (national insignia), outlined with a 75 mm (2.95 in) white border on camouflaged aircraft, on either side of the rear fuselage and on the upper and lower outer wings. Yellow/orange identification strips were applied to the leading edges of wings, extending from the roots to ⅓ of the wingspan.[10]


  • Ki-84-a: Prototype.
  • Ki-84-b: Evaluation model.
  • Ki-84-c: Pre-production model.
  • Ki-84-I Ko: Armed with 2 × 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns
    and 2 × 20mm Ho-5 cannons in wings (most widely produced version).
  • Ki-84-I Otsu: Armed with 4 × 20 mm Ho-5 cannons.
    (Limited production run, may not have equipped a full Sentai)
  • Ki-84-I Hei: Armed with 2 × 20 mm Ho-5 cannons and 2 × 30 mm Ho-155 cannons in wings.
  • Ki-84-I Tei: Night fighter variant of Ki-84 Otsu. Equipped with an additional Ho-5 20mm cannon (300 shells) placed at 45 degree angle behind the cockpit in Schräge Musik configuration. Rare variant, 2 built.
  • Ki-84-I Ko - Manshu Type: Manufactured in Manchukuo for Manshūkoku Hikōki Seizo KK by Nakajima License.
  • Ki-84-II: Sometimes known as the 'Hayate-Kai', the Ki-84-II had certain duralumin components replaced with ones made of wood and plywood, mainly concerning the rear fuselage, tail unit elements, wing tips, push-pull rods and other, minor components. This model was produced with the designations Ko, Otsu and Hei depending on the armament.
The Tachikawa Ki-106, a deriative of the Ki-84.
  • Ki-84-III: A planned conversion of the Ki-84 into a high-attitude interceptor after development of the Ki-87 prototype was delayed. Replaced the Homare engine with a 2450 hp Nakajima Ha-44 12 Ru air cooled radial engine with a turbo-supercharger mounted under the fuselage. The airframe remained unchanged, aside from the engine mountings to support the larger diameter engine. The airplane did not progress beyond the design stage.
  • Ki-84 Sa Go: Oxygen injection system replacing the traditional water-methanol injection system to improve high attitude performance. No prototypes were built.
  • Ki-84-N: 1st high-altitude interceptor variant of the Ki-84, with a 2500 hp Nakajima Ha-219 air cooled radial engine and with wing area increased to 249.19 square feet. The Ki-84-N production model was assigned to the Kitai 'Ki-117'. Neither aircraft left the design stage before the war's end.
  • Ki-84-P: 2nd high-altitude interceptor variant of the Ki-84, with a 2500 hp Nakajima Ha-219 air cooled radial engine and with wing area increased to 263.4 square feet. Cancelled in favor of further development of the Ki-84-R, which was proving to be a less ambitious project.
  • Ki-84-R: 3rd high-altitude interceptor variant of the Ki-84, with a 2000 hp Nakajima Ha-45-44 with a mechanically-driven two-stage three-speed supercharger. The prototype was 80% completed at war's end.
  • Ki-106: Prototype, constructed entirely out of wood. 3 Built.
  • Ki-113: Based on the Ki-84 Otsu, with certain steel components on different areas of the aircraft. The project was an attempt to sustain light alloys, which were becoming very scarce later in the war. It employed steel sheet skinning and the cockpit section, ribs, and bulkheads were made of carbon steel.
  • Ki-116: Evaluation model, equipped with a Mitsubishi Ha-112-II (Ha-33-62), 1,120 kW (1,500 hp). 1 Built.
  • Ki-117: Production designation of the Ki-84N.


Ki-84 Production: Ota and Utsunomiya, Nakajima Hikoki K.K. [12]
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Annual
1943 1 1 3 11 8 24
1944 9 25 25 97 86 138 145 121 261 301 323 373 1,904
1945 357 129 216 185 198 168 194 48 1,485
Total 3,413

Not included:

  • Pre-production started with two prototypes completed in March and April 1943.[1]
  • A further 94 Ki-84-I Ko's were assembled at Mansyu Hikoki Seizo K.K. aircraft plant in Harbin.[1]
Total Production:
According to USSBS Report: 3,413 [12] Figure includes: 3,413 Ki 84-I and Ki-84 II builds.
According to Francillon: 3,514 [1] Figure includes: 3,509 Ki 84-I and Ki-84 II builds, with 1 Ki-106, 1 Ki-113, 3 Ki-106 prototypes.





 People's Republic of China
  • Indonesian Air Force - In 1945, Indonesian People's Security Force (IPSF) (Indonesian pro-independence guerrillas) captured a small number of aircraft at numerous Japanese air bases, including Bugis Air Base in Malang (repatriated 18 September 1945). Most aircraft were destroyed in military conflicts between the Netherlands and the newly proclaimed Republic of Indonesia during the Indonesian National Revolution of 1945–1949.

Surviving aircraft[edit]

After the war a number of aircraft were tested by the allied forces, two at the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit - South-West Pacific Area (ATAIU-SWPA) as S10 and S17 and a further two in the United States as FE-301 and FE-302 (Later T2-301 and T2-302).[citation needed]

One example captured at Clark Field during 1945, serial number 1446, was transported aboard the USS Long Island aircraft carrier to the United States. In 1952 it was sold off as surplus to Edward Maloney, owner of the Ontario Air Museum (Planes of Fame Air Museum) and restored to flying condition before being returned to Japan for display at the Arashiyama Museum in Kyoto in 1973. With unsupervised access allowed to the aircraft, parts were stolen from the Ki-84, and coupled with the years of neglect it could no longer fly. Following the museum's closure in 1991, the aircraft was transferred to the Tokko Heiwa Kinen-kan Museum, Kagoshima Prefecture, where it still is displayed to this day. It is the only surviving Ki-84.[14][15]


Specifications (Ki-84-Ia)[edit]

Nakajima Ki-84.svg

Data from Report on Frank 1 [9]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 9.92 m (32 ft 7 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.238 m (36 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 3.385 m (11 ft 1 in)
  • Wing area: 21 m2 (230 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: root: NN-21(16.5%) ; tip: NN-21(8%)
  • Empty weight: 2,660 kg (5,864 lb)
  • Gross weight: 3,601.5 kg (7,940 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,170 kg (9,193 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Nakajima Ha-45-23 Homare Models 11,12,21 or 23 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 1,522 kW (2,041 hp)
  • Propellers: 4-bladed constant-speed metal propeller


  • Maximum speed: 682 km/h (424 mph, 368 kn) at 7,000 m
  • Range: 2,168 km (1,347 mi, 1,171 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,826 m (38,799 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 21.84 m/s (4,299 ft/min) at sea level
18.29 m/s (3,600 ft/min) at 3,050 m (10,007 ft)
  • Wing loading: 171.47 kg/m2 (35.12 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.41 kW/kg (0.25 hp/lb)


See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ a b c d Francillon, 1979, p. 238
  2. ^ a b Glancey 2006, p. 174.
  3. ^ Ethell 1995, p. 103.
  4. ^ a b Ethell 1995, p. 102.
  5. ^ Air International & Volume 10 No. 1, pp. 22–29, 43–46.
  6. ^ Green 1961, p. 79.
  7. ^ USSBS, 1947, p.78
  8. ^ a b Mondey 1996, p. 230.
  9. ^ a b Archives of M. Williams, TAIC 156A-1, Report on Frank 1
  10. ^ a b c d Fearis 1996, p. 44.
  11. ^ Caruana 2004, pp. 950–951.
  12. ^ a b USSBS, Appendix M., p. 40–42
  13. ^ Bueschel 1971, p. 52.
  14. ^ Chiran Peace Museum, Hayate Exhibition Room
  15. ^ Pacific Wrecks, JAAF Unknown Sentai, Ki-84-I Ko


  • Aeronautical Staff of Aero Publishers Inc. Nakajima KI-84 (Aero Series 2). Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1965. ISBN 0-8168-0504-0.
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  • Fearis, P. "The Emperor's Wings; The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate." Article and scale drawings. Scale Aviation Modeller. Volume 2 Issue 1 January 1996. Bedford, UK.
  • Glancey, Jonathan. Spitfire: The Biography. London: Atlantic Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84354-528-6.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (seventh impression 1973). ISBN 0-356-01447-9.
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  • Mondey, David. The Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II. New York: Bounty Books, 1996. ISBN 1-85152-966-7.
  • Sakaida, Henry. Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937–45. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-85532-529-2.
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  • Thorpe, Donald W. Japanese Army Air Force Camouflage and markings World War II. Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1968. ISBN 0-8168-6579-5.
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  • Unknown Author Review in "AIRVIEW".
  • Unknown Author "The High Wind From Ota". Air International. Volume 10 No. 1
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  • User: 'machta'. Ki 84 Hayate ‘Frank’ Redux, Weapons and Warfare, September 19, 2014.

External links[edit]