Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden (George)

“Shiden” in Japanese means “Violet Lightning” and the Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden was in fact a bright prospect for Japanese air force in World War 2. Codenamed George, the Kawanishi N1K-J was a single-seater interceptor and fighter-bomber aircraft. It was used from 1943 till the end of the war. It was made in such a way that it could sustain even heavy damages which was unique for Japanese aircraft. Both the pilots who flew it and those who confronted it consider it one of the best and the most successful Japanese aircraft of that period. About 428 aircraft of Shiden type which was a wheel-landing gear version of the N1K series were manufactured and about 1400+ aircraft of the general N1K model were produced.

Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden (George)

Its design was pretty slender and dull and the only intention was to make the airframe streamlined. Its low-monoplane wings were just under and forward of the cockpit which was mounted high to provide good visibility. The forward position of the engine allowed a large propeller hub and cowling. There was a lot of effort put in to make each surface curved and straight edged that proved beneficial to its stability. A single Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 radial piston engine produced quite brilliant 1,990 horsepower.

It could reach a top speed of 361 mph and was capable of a range of 1435 km. Its armament consisted of two 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forward-firing cannons, two 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 fixed forward-firing cannons, two 7.7 mm type 97 fixed forward-firing machine-guns, and 120 kg of ordnance (generally two 60 kg bombs). The N1K-J was able to evenly match the F6F Hellcat which itself was a successful aircraft.


Crew: 1
Length: 30 ft 7 in (9.3 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 4 in (12.0 m)
Height: 13 ft 0 in (3.9 m)
Wing area: 253 ft² (23.5 m²)
Empty weight: 5,855 lb (2,656 kg)
Loaded weight: 8,820 lb (4,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 10,710 lb (4,860 kg)
Engine: 1x Nakajima Homare NK9H radial engine, 1,990 hp (1,480 kW)
Maximum speed: 369 mph (594 km/h)
Range: 1,066 mi; 1,488 mi (2,395 km) ferry (1,716 km / 2,395 km)
Service ceiling: 35,500 ft (10,800 m)
Rate of climb: 4,000 ft/min (high octane fuel) (20.3 m/s)
Wing loading: 34 lb/ft² (166 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.226 hp/lb (0.305 kW/kg)
Armament: 4 x 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 Mk 4 cannon in wings. 200 rounds per gun (up from 100 rounds per gun internally and 70 rounds per gun in underwing boots for the early N1K1-J). The 20×101 mm round had an effective range of 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and a muzzle velocity of 700 m/s (2,297 ft/s). The 128 g shell had 6-8% HE. Rate of fire was about 500 rounds/min per gun. The guns were synchronized to converge at 200 m (656 ft).
2 x 250 kg (551 lbs) bombs
2 x 400 L (105 gal) drop tanks
Share the KnowledgeShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on Pinterest

2 thoughts on “Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden (George)

  1. RB

    A good mid-level fighter with close to the agility of the Zero A6M7, and superior in every other way.
    It had unique automatic combat flaps that imparted better turns than it’s wingloading would indicate (under 19 seconds).
    Still, a highly skilled pilot was required since it could auto rotate if handled too roughly in a turn. Stall was dicey at 100 mph clean.
    It was faster than the Zero and could dive 493 mph.
    It could climb well too, except at high altitude.
    It had not only better armor protection but much better firepower than the A6M7 Zero.
    The N1K2 packed 900 rounds of high velocity 20mm ammo total! This compensates for their slow RoF somewhat. These 4 cannons were lethal as a battery.
    It was good in the vertical as well as horizontal combat tactics.
    It did however, suffer reliability problems like the similarly engined Army Ki 84 Hayate. They both lacked adequate power at higher altitudes.

    On rare occasions, when both sides were of similar numbers, the Shiden outscored the Allied fighters.
    Effectively, the Shiden took the torch from the early Navy Zero and carried it to the end.

  2. ron

    The N1K2 Shiden Kai could turn a 360 in 18 seconds, clean. But with it’s famous automatic flaps, it can tighten that turn at least 30%! That is 12.6 or less seconds, ballpark! That is Zero-32 territory.

    Stall dirty was 85 mph, clean was 100 mph, so with the combat flaps it was in-between.
    Deleting the cannon boots from the initial N1K1 Shiden, doubtless helped the Shiden’s aerobatics.
    Trouble was, stall recovery. Accelerated stall was dicey. It could auto-rotate and spin out of control.
    Thus, the nick name: Japanese Fw 190.

    Of course it’s 82 d/s roll-rate may also have something to do with that. It’s ailerons were good up to 360 mph. Not bad for a Japanese fighter.

    The Shiden began with the high velocity Model II Type 99 cannons from start to finish.
    N1K2 WoF: 4.276kg/s, Ammo: 900 rounds. 24 secounds of fire from all 4 cannons, then 6 more seconds from 2 cannons. More total firepower than other Japanese single-engine fighters.
    GP: 467 per sec. by my estimate.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *