Nakajima A1N Type 3

By 1926 the Japanese Navy’s Mitsubishi 1MF fighters were no longer considered adequate, and the search began for a replacement. Aichi, Mitsubishi and Nakajima were invited to put forward prototypes for evaluation. Nakajima obtained a licensed to produce versions of the British Gloster Gambet, which was itself a navalised version of the Gloster Gamecock. The Gambet was powered by a Bristol Jupiter VI engine, which was also licensed for production by Nakajima.

The Nakajima A1N was an all-wooden, single seat biplane fighter with a pair of 7.7mm machine guns which fired through the propeller arc. It was fitted with specialised naval equipment including a tailhook for carrier landings, and flotation devices to keep the aircraft from sinking in the event of a water landing.

The Nakajima prototype proved more manoeuvrable and a better gun platform than the Aichi and Mitsubishi efforts, and was thus declared the winner of the competition and was designated the Type 3 Carrier Fighter, or A1N – the ‘Type 3’ referring to the year 1929, which was the 3rd year of the Showa era under Emperor Hirohito.

The initial production run was for 50 A1N1s, which had the same powerplant as the prototype. The second production run of 100 A1N2s switched to a slightly more powerful 450hp Nakajima Kotobuku 2, which increased top speed slightly.

Production ended in 1932 as the Navy began to look for more advanced types with higher performance. The A1N had a brief career in combat, seeing action during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. A Type 3 flown by Lt. Ikuta Nogiji scored the first aerial victory in the history of Japan, when he shot down an American-made Boeing 218 fighter over the city.

The aircraft was entirely withdrawn from service by 1935, replaced by the A2N.

Specifications:

Nakajima A1N1 Type 3 Carrier Fighter
RoleCarrier Fighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Bristol Jupiter VI, 420hp
Speed92mph (cruise)
140mph (max)
Ceiling23,000ft
Range230 miles
Armament2x 7.7mm machine guns
Ordnance60kg bombs
Dimensions21ft 4in (length)
31ft 10in (wingspan)
10ft 10in (height)
Wing Area283 sq.ft.
Weight1,944lb (empty)
3,031lb (max)
Number produced50
In service withIJN
Nakajima A1N2 Type 3 Carrier Fighter
RoleCarrier Fighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Nakajima Kotobuki 2, 450hp
Speed92mph (cruise)
150mph (max)
Ceiling23,000ft
Range230 miles
Armament2x 7.7mm machine guns
Ordnance60kg bombs
Dimensions21ft 4in (length)
31ft 10in (wingspan)
10ft 10in (height)
Wing Area283 sq.ft.
Weight1,944lb (empty)
3,031lb (max)
Number produced100
In service withIJN

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