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B5N2 Type 97 Attack Bomber "Kate" Aircraft Carrier Zuiho, April 1943
General Background
When Japan entered WWII the B5N Kate was the standard torpedo bomber and sank more Allied ships than any other type of Japanese aircraft. B5N2's played the main role in sinking the carrier Lexington at Coral Sea,Yorktown at Midway and Hornet at the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942. There were 1,150 B5N1 and B5N2 Torpedo Bombers produced but by 1944 the Kate had been replaced by the B6N "Jill". The Kate ended its service being used for Kamikaze attacks leaving no surviving examples.
The Aircraft
Originally the name for the Zuihō was the Takasaki. The Takasaki was being built as a submarine tender but the IJN decided to complete the ship as an aircraft carrier. In December 1940 the Zuihō (Lucky Phoenix) was commissioned. The ship helped to cover the invasion of the East Indies, took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz, was at Guadalcanal ferrying aircraft to Truk in late 1942 and early 1943. It took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. During one of the four major encounters of the Battle of Leyte Gulf; the Battle of Cape Engano the Zuihō was one of the IJN ships acting as decoys. On October 25, 1944 the Zuihō and others were sunk.
Specifications :
Crew: 3 (pilot, observer, radio operator)
Length: 33ft 10in (10.30 m)
Wingspan: 50ft 11in (15.52m)
Height: 12ft 2in (3.70m)
Wing area: 406ft2 (37.7m2)
Empty weight: 5,024lb (2,279kg)
Loaded weight: 8,380lb (3,800kg)
Maximum take off weight: 9,040lb (4,100kg)
Power-plant: 1 X Nakajima Sakae 11 radial engine - 1,000hp (750kw)
Maximum speed: 229mph (367 km/h)
Range: 1,202mi (1,935km)
Service ceiling: 27,100ft (8,260m)
Rate of climb: 1,283ft/min (6.5m/s)
Wing loading: 21lb/ft2 (101kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.12hp/lb (0.20kw/kg)
Guns: 1 X dual flexible 7.7mm in the rear cockpit.
External stores: 1 X 1764 lb (800-kg) torpedo or 3 X 551-lb (250-kg) bombs