Kawasaki Ki 100-1b  [@ RAF Hendon]

The Kawasaki Ki.100 was the Imperial Japanese Army’s last fighter and its development came about more or less by accident. In November 1944, a considerable number of Ki.61 Hien [Swallow] airframes were in storage, awaiting delivery of licence-built DB601 engines. As these had proved to be unreliable in any case, it was decided to fit the airframes with the l500hp Mitsubishi Ha.112-II radial. The ‘new’ aircraft flew for the first time on 1 February 1945 and conversion of 275 Ki.61-II airframes began immediately. The Ki.100 was produced in two principal series, the Ia and Ib, the latter being new-build aircraft; 396 examples of both versions were completed before production was halted. The Ki.l00 showed itself to be a very effective high-altitude interceptor and saw a great deal of action against the American B-29 formations in the closing months of the Pacific war. Fast, manoeuvrable, rugged and reliable, Allied pilots found the Ki.100 a formidable opponent.

The featured aircraft is the only one to survive. An upgraded variant, the Ki.100-11, flew in March 1945 but was produced in prototype form only.