In 1935 the Japanese Navy issued their 10-Shi requirements for two new carrier based aircraft, a torpedo bomber and a reconnaissance plane. The torpedo bomber design created by Nakajima became the famous B5N, but the reconnaissance aircraft, the Nakajima C3N, was much less successful and was destined not to enter front line service in significant numbers.
Unlike the B5N, the contemporaneous C3N had a fixed, faired landing gear arrangement and a smaller wing area. Both aircraft used the same engine, the Nakajima Hikari, which developed around 840 horsepower. They also had to meet the size requirements that would ensure the types could operate successfully aboard carrier decks, abiding by the limitations imposed by flight deck elevators. The C3N had a range of over 1,400 kilometres which would enable it to carry out reconnaissance missions far from its home carrier, although it was destined never to fly from one in combat.
The two prototype C3Ns were posted to Hankow in China, where they would participate in combat trials with another Nakajima product, the first of the B5N torpedo bombers. In fact, the two aircraft proved to be remarkably similar in terms of performance, to the point that it did not prove to be worthwhile in continuing to invest in the C3N when its sister aircraft could perform the same job just as well. Therefore, the C3N was not placed into production, with only the two prototypes ever being completed.
Both C3Ns remained in China for several months carrying out reconnaissance missions until the C5M arrived in sufficient quantities to take over these duties.
|Nakajima C3N1 Type 97 Reconnaissance|
|Crew||3: Pilot, observer, gunner|
|Powerplant||1x Nakajima Hikari 2, 840hp|
|Armament||1x 7.7mm machine gun|
|Dimensions||32ft 10in (length)|
45ft 9in (wingspan)
0ft 0in (height)
|Wing Area||323 sq.ft.|
|In service with||IJN|