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Spiros Pendedekas
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Nichimo 1/48 B5N2 Kate

February 17, 2023 · in Aviation · · 51 · 0.9K

The "" was designed by a team led by Katsuji Nakamura in response to a 1935 specification by the Navy for a torpedo bomber to replace the Yokosuka B4Y. The first prototype flew in January 1937 and was ordered into production soon afterwards with the full designation “Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber”.

Carrying a crew of three (pilot, navigator/bombardier/observer, and radio-operator/gunner), it was primarily employed as a carrier-based aircraft and occasionally as a land-based bomber.Like with other IJN multi-seat aircraft, each individual bomber was commanded by the senior ranking crew member aboard, which could be the observer rather than the pilot.

The navigator/bombardier/observer position was equipped with a Type 90 bomb-sight and a Type 3 reflector compass for precise navigation. The radio-operator/gunner also operated one flexible 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 92 machine gun at the rear end of the cockpit.

One Type 91 torpedo could be mounted on the racks that were fixed eccentrically to the right at the bottom of the fuselage. Alternative racks could be used to carry either one 800 kg bomb or two 250 kg bombs or six 60 kg bombs. Replacing those racks and exchanging between the torpedo and bombs configuration was not a trivial process and could take more than two hours to complete.

The lack of adequate protection for both the crew and the fuel tanks soon became evident during the Second Sino-Japanese War, where the type was first put to combat.

The IJN opted not to provide any means of protection, but instead decided to make the plane faster by streamlining it and equipping it with a more powerful engine in the hopes of outrunning enemy fighters. The resulting B5N2, however, only offered marginally better performance, whilst, of course, retaining its weaknesses in full…

Nevertheless, in the early part of the Pacific War, the updated B5N2, flown by well-trained IJN aircrews and as part of well-coordinated attacks, achieved particular successes at the battles of , Coral Sea, Midway, and Santa Cruz Islands.

In the torpedo bomber role, the type normally performed coordinated attacks on enemy carriers with Aichi D3A dive bombers. Ideally, dive bombers would help to suppress the ship's anti-aircraft fire, which improved the chances of success for the slow-flying torpedo bombers.

During the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the IJN tried to minimize losses to torpedo bombers and initially sent only the dive bombers to attack and cripple US carriers for the subsequent torpedo strike, however this proved unsuccessful, as the torpedo bombers did not launch until the battle was over.

The B5N served as the basis for the B6N Tenzan follow-on design, which eventually replaced it in front-line service. The B5N continued to fly in secondary roles, such as training, target towing, and anti-submarine warfare.

Some of the aircraft used for this latter purpose were equipped with early radars and magnetic anomaly detectors. B5Ns were also used as bombers during the unsuccessful defense of the Philippines in October 1944, suffering severe losses. Later in the war, they were used for kamikaze attacks.

The second planned wave during the Pearl Harbor Attack consisted of 171 planes: 54 B5Ns, 81 D3As, and 36 A6Ms,. They were divided in three groups and commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. Four planes failed to launch because of technical difficulties.

All 54 B5Ns belonged the the 1st Group and were loaded with either two 250 kg or six 60 kg general-purpose bombs. Half of the planes were targeted to aircraft and hangars on Kaneohe, Ford Island and Barbers Point, with the other half targeted to Hickam field. EI-311 was one of these planes and, indeed, there is at least one good photo depicting it with the 6-bomb racks attached, flying in formation with other Kates.

A nevertheless capable aircraft compared to its Allied counterparts when introduced, this important plane was nearing obsolescence by 1941.

The fact that it became the standard carrier-based torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for much of World War II was mostly due to the delayed development of its B6N successor. A total of 1149 were built with no intact example known to having survived today.

This is the elderly but still very nice kit, that was built within our friend's @lis Pacific Theater GB. Should you wish to read the full build review, you might do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness:

Happy Modelling!
Reader reactions:
17  Awesome

51 responses

  1. You're an inspiration Spiros. Great job as ever.

  2. Nicely accomplished, Spiros.

  3. You guys all know your subject stuff. Excellent modelling and dialog Spiros. 😊

  4. Great job Spiros and explanation too !

  5. Great history, Spiros, a lot of information there, and your model looks great.

  6. Very nice work and great research - did you have to scratch any of the interior?

  7. Jasou Spiros @fiveten, a very beautiful build, i like the delicate green camo scheme a lot! Currently struggling with my Airfix Kate, so yours is definitely an inspiration!

  8. Great looking Kate - that is a scheme I may need to apply on one of the Kate's in my stash - pretty cool!

  9. @fiveten - Great write-up and really great build Spiros! Your airbrush camo pattern is very well done.

  10. Great upscale build on this old beast Spiros! The added details and fine paint finish paid off.

  11. Brilliant work on this Spiros, great airbrush work ,way better than I could manage

  12. Another nice one for the display case, Spiros @fiveten. Appreciate the history of the Kate. Just how old is this Nichimo kit?

  13. An amazing result on this Kate, Spiros @fiveten
    Especially the field applied camouflage looks wonderful.
    The supporting article is a pleasure to read.

  14. Nice build of an old kit. The Nichimo Kate was one of my first builds many moons ago.

  15. Well done, Spiros! I decided to keep the one in my stash based upon your build. It almost didn’t make the cut til I saw how good yours is.

  16. Nice work on this one Spiros. Nichimo still hold up.

  17. Neat subject & kit choice, Spiros!

  18. Great job on this old Nichimo kit. It looks great and excellent read!

  19. Really good work on this @fiveten.

  20. Great looking Kate, Spiros (@fiveten). The Nichimo kit still makes up into a good-looking model. Well done. I have a 1/48 Hasegawa B5N2 that I am thinking about doing after I am through being grounded.

  21. Looks good Spiros. I wouldn't have been brave enough to try to free hand that paint scheme! The Kate has such a broad wing, similar to the Devastator, presumably to handle the heavy load of the torpedo...

  22. That's a great finish Spiros!

    Well done mate!

  23. Another piece of the veil lifted with this model !

  24. Very nice paiting! I love it!

  25. Great job Spiros! What color did you use for the wheel well?

  26. Thank you for sharing @fiveten!

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