Site hosted by Build your free website today!
 Combat Aircraft of the Pacific War

Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu - 'Helen'
Nakajima Ki-49-2 Donryu
The Ki-49 was designed to an Army specification of 1938 as a replacement for the Mitsubishi Ki-21 'Sally' twin-engined bomber - but it was initially only slightly faster than the Ki-21, had a poor ceiling and never achieved a significant advance in range or offensive weapons load, although it was the first Japanese bomber to carry a 20mm cannon as part of its standard defensive armament.  The 1,160 hp Ha-5B engines of the prototype were replaced by the Ha-21 to produce the Ki-49-I model.  129 were built at Ohta, after whose Donryu (dragon swallower) shrine the aircraft was named.  The production machine was designated by the Army the 'Type 100' heavy bomber, and given the reporting-name 'Helen' by the Allies.

The Donryu's first mission was a 19 February 1942 raid on Port Darwin in Australia, from a base in New Guinea. The main production model was the better-armed Ki-49-II , 649 of which were built by Nakajima, 50 by Tachikawa and a few by Mansyu in Harbin, Manchuria.

Although used in almost every combat area of the Pacific war, the Donryu was never very successful. Many were destroyed during the Leyte campaign, and by the end of 1944 almost all surviving Donryus were being used in non-combatant roles or as suicide machines, or else - equipped with ASV radar or magnetic-mine detectors - as ocean patrol aircraft.

Three were converted as Ki-58 fighters armed with five 20mm cannon and three 12.7 mm machine-guns. Two were rebuilt as Ki-80 'lead ships' for attacks with fighter-bomber or suicide aircraft.  The much more powerful Ki-49-III version never saw action, although six had been built by August 1945.


Origin Nakajima Hikoki KK

Type:  Twin-engined heavy bomber, also escort fighter and maritime patrol aircraft

(Ki-49-I) Two 1,250 hp Nakajima Ha-41 14-cylinder two-row radials
(Ki-49-II) Two 1,450 hp Nakajima Ha-109-II 14-cylinder two-row radials
(Ki-49-III) Two 2,500 hp Nakajima Ha-117 18-cylinder two-row radials

Pacific Aircraft - Index

Japanese Dive-bombersJapanese Torpedo-aircraft

The F4F / FM Wildcat - US shipborne fighter

 Grumman F6F Hellcat - US shipborne fighter

The Battle for Leyte Gulf,  23-26 October 1944

The Battle of the Philippine Sea,  19-20 June 1944

Task Force 58 - the Fast Carrier Task Force

E-Mail  -


Main source for the  above was Bill Gunston's
"Combat Aircraft of World War II" (Published by Spring/Salamander, London 1978)