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Yokosuka D4Y SuiSEI Dive Bomber

In 1942, The limitations of the fixed undercarriage dive bomber were evident. The Imperial Japanese Navy undertook the development of a very fast dive bomber with an enclosed bomb bay and retractable landing gear. The Yokosuka D4Y was implemented as a reconnaissance plane and dive bomber to fit that requirement. It was the fastest dive bomber of World War II, but still not as fast as the Allied fighters it opposed.


Specifications (D4Y2 Suisei)

D4Y Suisei Illustration

D4Y3 Suisei

General characteristics

* Crew: two, pilot, gunner/radio operator
* Length: 33 ft 6 in (10.22 meters)
* Wingspan: 37 ft 9 in (11.50 meters)
* Height: 12 ft 3 in (3.74 meters)
* Wing area: 254 ft² (23.6 square meters)
* Empty weight: 5,379 lb (2,440 kilograms)
* Loaded weight: 9,370 lb (4,250 kilograms)
* Powerplant: 1× Aichi Atsuta AEIA 32 piston engine, 1,400 hp (1,044 kW)


* Maximum speed: 342 miles per hour (550 km/h)
* Range: 910 miles (1,465 kilometers)
* Service ceiling: 35,105 feet (10,700 meters)
* Rate of climb: Climb to 9,845 feet in 5 minutes 14 seconds
* Wing loading: 37 lb/ft² (180 kg/m²)
* Power/mass: 0.15 hp/lb (0.25 kW/kg)


* 2x forward-firing 7.7 mm machine guns
* 1x rearward-firing 7.92 mm machine gun

* up to 800 kg (1,765 lb) of bombs



A Light, Fast Attack Bomber

One of the few warplanes fitted with both a round radial engine (shown) and a liquid-cooled engine that gave the nose a pointed, distinctly different shape, the D4Y was flown by pilots that had less and less training. By November 1944, the success of the kamikaze technique led to the development of kamikaze version in 1945. The D4Y4 was packed with explosives.

The lack of training, combined with the lack of pilot armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, made the D4Y easy to ignite with a few rounds of incendiary tracers. By the end of the war, thousands of young Japanese airmen had died in the D4Y either as a traditional dive bomber or as a kamikaze. When dive bomber units were designated as suicide units, the radioman/gunners would often beg to be taken along. Usually they were denied permission. Yamaguchi was alone piloting his D4Y3 on November 25, 1944.

Yoshinori Yamaguchi was flying a D4Y3 when he crashed into USS Essex (CV-9). Along with himself, he killed sixteen American sailors. The toll would have been much worse if the bomb his plane carried had detonated.


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