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Juliet_Six

[wiki:contest] Ki-61-I ko

This is work in progress right now, just saving this here in case w/e happens
 
Overview
The Ki-61-I ko is an outstanding Imperial Japanese Army fighter aircraft. Unlike the earlier Ki-27 or Ki-43, the Ki-61 shared comparable degrees of protection with modern western fighters, featuring both pilot-armor and self-sealing fuel-tanks. Furthermore the Ki-61, while still being very nimble, was not designed to achieve ultimate maneuverability in angle-fights, but rather tried to balance performance and controllability at all speeds. The Ki-61 was the first Japanese fighter that allied pilots could not disengage from by doing their usual diving rolls with pull-out that worked so well versus Zeroes. Another obscurity for a Japanese fighter is the Ki-61s inline engine, the Kawasaki Ha-40 liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, a licensed copy of the German DB 601A.
 
While these features ironed out the draw-backs of earlier Japanese fighters, they had to be bought with a sacrifice. The Ki-61 could not turn nearly as well as a Zero or Ki-43, could not hope to compete in terms of range and had rather poor rearward visibility.
 
Alltogether the Ki-61 didn't look very Japanese at all, which is the reason it got its allied reporting name 'Tony', US pilots thought they were fighting Italian planes when they first encountered this new fighter.
 
The main purpose, usage and tactics recommendations
The Ki-61-I ko is a fast interceptor-type fighter, very comparable to a 109F or M.C.202. Since the DB 601A has a hydraulic supercharger drive it has (nearly) constant power output all the way from sealevel to around 5km, the critical altitude. This means that it does not suffer from wasted engine power caused by supercharger gearing like most allied planes it fights at certain altitude bands, thus you need not worry about this.
As already mentioned the Ki-61 is a poor turner for Japanese standards. However most allied aircraft are even worse turners from Japan's point of view. Luckily you can still outturn many of your opponents.
The Ki-61-I ko is both a potent energy-fighter and angle-fighter. While it performs well in a dive, its armament is too weak to reliably kill a target with Boom-and-zoom tactics though. Therefor you should always try to get as much altitude as you can in the Ki-61. This should not be difficult since the Ki-61 is a good climber. 
Also work together with the Zeroes on your team. The Ki-61 and the A6M have a symbiotic relationship. The weaknesses of one can be more than matched by the strenghts of the other. A pair of a Ki-61 and an A6M is a terrifying sight for most allied pilots. For example if a Spitfire tries turnfighting the Ki-61, which is what he should to, he becomes an easy prey for the Zero. On the other hand he cannot simply run from the Zero either, as the Ki-61 can easily chase him down forcing him to maneuver, which allows the Zero to catch up.
Leave bombers, especially american ones, to fighters armed with cannons. It is not worth it going after a Mitchell when you only have two heavy machine-guns.
 
Tactics vs individual targets
Generally the planes that you can easily outturn in the Ki-61 are: Airacobras, Corsairs, Kittyhawks, Lavotchkins, Lightnings, MiG-3s,Thunderbolts, Typhoons, and Yakovlevs.
Regarding other aircraft that you may run into, here is a list of tips on how to beat them:
 
  • P-36 Hawk: This flight-model needs a bit of work. Right now it has very good energy-retention and very bad rate of roll. If you are caught on the defense either try doing a vertical scissor to force an overshoot, or perform a roll at high-speed in a dive.
  • F2A Buffalo: The Buffalo is an excellent fighter, that by far surpasses the Wildcat in this game. Do no try to turn or fight near stall speed. It is best to use your superior speed and then bring it down by using team-work. Work together with your Zeroes.
  • Wildcat: Although people are generally under the impression that the Wildcat is not maneuverable, since it performed so horribly against Zeroes when employing the wrong tactics, this plane is actually a really decent turn-fighter. On the other hand it is slow and climb-rate is poor. On the offense cut his turns with YoYos, on the defense you can just run and proceed to shallow-climb above him.
  • Hellcat: The 1944 Hellcat is not to be underestimated. It is very comparable to the Ki-61 in most regards, however it performs better than you in low-speed dogfights. It is a difficult opponent, and probably its your best bet to lead it into a zero and not try to fight it yourself. Unless you have the initial energy advantage of course.
  • Hurricane: Do not try to turn, roll or dive. Simply run away from him. His guns are doing little damage, you should be fine.
  • I-153/I-16: Do not try to turnfight or scissor. When being chased just outrun it. If one is directly on your tail dive at high speed.
  • Spitfire I/II: These Spitfires turn very well and have good energy-retention. They may prove to be quite difficult to beat in an energy-fight. Your advantages are speed, rate of roll and diving.
  • Spitfire V: The Mk.V is worse than the Mk.I and Mk.II in terms of energy-retention, you should be able to easily beat it using YoYos. Otherwise you can still dive away and run.
Special notes should be taken on high-altitude combat. The Ki-61 is generally a good fighter at low and medium altitude, with a critical altitude as good or better than most of your opponents. However specialized high-altitude fighters, primarily the P-47 Thunderbolt and Spitfire F.Mk.IX, have an outstandlingly better critical altitude, meaning you should - whenever possible - try to drag these planes below 5 km if your dogfight started above this altitude, as they will get more out of their engines than you will.
 
Pros and Cons:
Pros:
  • Decent turn-rate
  • Decent roll-rate at all speeds
  • Decent terminal dive-speed
  • Decent top speed
  • Decent high-altitude performance
  • Good climbing ability
  • Well balanced controls and wide sturdy gear makes it very beginner-friendly in SB
Cons:
  • Weak armament
  • Lack of trimming controls
History of creation and combat usage
In 1939 the Japanese government had issued a request to build two fighters around the German DB 601 engine after it had thoroughly tested a He-100, He-112 and later a Bf-109E shipped to Japan. These 2 fighters were going to be the Ki-60 and Ki-61. The Ki-60 was meant to be a heavy interceptor and took off for its first test-flight in April 1941. However results were disappointing and it became obvious that the Ki-60 would prove inferior to the Ki-44, which was also in development. Therefor work on the Ki-60 was dropped, but the hours spent were not wasted, as a lot of experience was gained that was used to refine its smaller brother, the Ki-61. This design commenced testing in December 1941 and was already performing up to the expectations. Since Japanese authorities were sceptical about the low maneuverability of this new fighter, a fly-off with a Ki-43, Ki-44, 109-E, P-40 and LaGG-3 was performed by Kawasaki. The Ki-61 was the fastest of these types, only being outmaneuvered by the Ki-43. It should of course be noted that by 1942 a 109-E, P-40 or LaGG-3 were by no means the pinnacles of foreign aircraft design. Nontheless the Ki-61 entered production.
The first time a Ki-61 was spotted by an allied aircraft was allegedly during the Doolittle Raid, where a Mitchell crew-member claimed to have seen a Bf-109-like fighter, which was given the name 'Mike'. When this new fighter was encountered more often the reporting name was changed to 'Tony' as it seemed to ressemble an Italian design. It was the Ki-61 all along.
It still took the Ki-61 another year to enter combat though and the first battles were fought over New-Guinea in 1943, where the aircraft excelled against the obsolete P-40s in use by the US. Due to mechanical issues and tactical difficiencies - the Japanese were still inexperienced in radar reconnaiscance and vectoring - many Ki-61s were destroyed on the ground instead of air-to-air combat.
In August 1943 a shipment of 800 MG 151/20 cannons arrived in Japan by submarine. These cannons were used to replace the wing-mounted machine-guns in an effort to drastically increase the fire-power. Ironically this is the exact same armament layout that should have been used on the 'heavy interceptor' Ki-60.
Ki-61s were extensively used for the defense of the Japanese homeland, were they suffered high losses as the IJA had run out of experienced and well-trained pilots by this point, with ever increasing pilot-skill on the american side. According to USN-documents 364 Ki-61s were destroyed during the final year of the war for only 16 own losses. However such one-sided depictions are always likely to be highly overclaimed, the actual number of destroyed Ki-61s was probably much lower. Additionally Ki-61s were used for aerial ramming against B-29 Superfortresses, the units being known as "Shinten Seiku Tai", loosing many planes (and pilots) in the process.
By the end of the war Japan had run out of strategic ressources required to build the long crankshaft of the Ha-40 engine. An emergency meassure was taken and the engine of the Ki-61 was replaced by a radial one, the new design being known as Ki-100.
 
Armament
All Ki-61-Is are equipped with 2 cowling-mounted Ho-103 heavy machine-guns with 400 rounds per gun.
The wing-mounted weaponry depends on the sub model. The 'ko' uses 2 type 89 machine-guns with also 400 rounds per gun.
Edited by Juliet_Six
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