Nakajima C6N Saiun (Painted Cloud) History

Requiring a carrier-capable, long-range over-water performer for the reconnaissance role, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) of World War 2 (1939-1945) invested in the development and subsequent procurement of a new type of combat aircraft - the C6N "Saiun" ("Painted/Iridescent Cloud") from the Nakajima Aircraft Company. The aircraft had origins in a 1942 requirement and flew for the first time, in prototype form, on May 15th, 1943. Series service began during August 1944 and this effort led to serial production run of 463 total units before the capitulation of the Empire of Japan (and the formal end of World War 2) during August of 1945.

The original requirement sought a performance-minded type capable of sustained 400 miles-per-hour that could range out to 2,875 miles. This resulted in the Nakajima "N-50" tandem-twin-engine proposal which eventually morphed into a more traditional design arrangement to benefit from the still-in-development Nakajima "Homare" radial of 2,000 horsepower. Despite its potential on paper, the engine was actually less than advertised, resulting in a key focus on airframe weight-savings elsewhere in the Nakajima design to compensate.

On the whole, the aircraft was given a highly conventional design form that included a nose-mounted engine placement, in line seating for the multi-person crew, and a single-finned tail unit. The mainplanes were low-mounted along the sides of the very slim fuselage and fitted slightly ahead of midships. The undercarriage was retractable and of the "tail dragger" arrangement for ground-running. One of the more distinguishing physical qualities of the aircraft was its long-running "greenhouse-style" canopy which covered all three crewmen - the cockpit section ran nearly half the full length of the entire aircraft.

The engine at the focus of the design was the in-house NK9B "Homare 11", an 18-cylinder air-cooled, radial piston powerplant driving a three- or four-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Outputting 1,991 horsepower, this powerplant attempted to provide the streamlined and lightweight frame with exceptional straightline speed - speed becoming the primary means of survival for the C6N as only a single 7. 92mm Type 1 machine gun would be carried on a flexible mounting at the rear cockpit for self-defense.

Because of the underperforming Homare, Nakajima worked in another twenty-three prototypes to follow the original in an attempt to iron out standing issues and to hasten overall development. Despite this, the engine never lived up to expectations and this additional work ultimately delayed the aircraft's arrival into wartime service by some margin.

Nakajima C6N Saiun (Painted Cloud) Specification

BASICS

Service Year

1944

Origin

Imperial Japan

Status

RETIRED

Not in Service.

Crew

3

Production

463

MANUFACTURER(S)

Nakajima Aircraft Company - Japanese Empire

OPERATORS

Imperial Japan

ROLES

Maritime / Navy

Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.

Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout

Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS

Length

36. 1 ft

(11. 00 m)

Width/Span

41. 0 ft

(12. 50 m)

Height

13. 0 ft

(3. 95 m)

Empty Wgt

6,614 lb

(3,000 kg)

MTOW

11,684 lb

(5,300 kg)

Wgt Diff

+5,071 lb

(+2,300 kg)

POWER & PERFORMANCE

Installed:

1 x Nakajima NK9B Homare 11 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,991 horsepower driving four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Max Speed

379 mph

(610 kph | 329 kts)

Ceiling

34,449 ft

(10,500 m | 7 mi)

Range

3,293 mi

(5,300 km | 9,816 nm)

MACH Regime (Sonic)

Sub

Trans

Super

Hyper

HiHyper

ReEntry

RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

ARMAMENT

1 x 7. 92mm Type 1 series machine gun atop a flexible mounting at rear cockpit.

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)

HARDPOINTS

Hardpoint Mountings: 0

VARIANTS

C6N ("Saiun" / "Myrt") - Base Series Designation. C6N1 Experimental Type 17 - Prototype and pre-series aircraft of 1943; four-bladed propellers. C6N1 Saiun Model 11 - Base production model; three-bladed propellers; NK9H 21 engine. C6N1 Saiun Model 21 - Proposed torpedo bomber. C6N1 Saiun Model 11NF - Night-fighter variant converted from C6N1 stock; limited availability and effectiveness; cannon armament. C6N2 Saiun Model 12 - Test aircraft of February 1945; with turbocharged NK9K-L 24 Ru engine of 1,980 horsepower; two prototypes from C6N1 stock. C6N3 Saiun Kai 1 - Test aircraft; proposed high-altitude night-fighter; based in C6N2; 2 x 20mm automatic cannon armament; not built. C6N4 Saiun Kai 2 - Test aircraft; turbocharged Ha 43-11 Ru engine of 2,200 horsepower; based in C6N1; partially completed before war's end. C6N5 Saiun Kai 3 - Test aircraft; proposed torpedo bomber variant; not built. C6N6 Saiun Kai 4 - Test aircraft; proposed economical wood-heavy variant; not built.

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