Although every country had aircraft wholly dedicated to photographic reconnaissance*, Japan was the only major combatant to have designs intended for that purpose from the very start.
This post we’ll take a brief look the “Dinah”.
In World War II, high quality cameras were still big and heavy contraptions. For an aircraft to reliably get over a target and shoot pictures usually meant flying very fast, very high, or both. And given how weight critical aircraft of the era were, that usually meant unarmed. Every other combatant started with an existing fighter or bomber, and modified it for the recon mission. But the Japanese produced several recon only designs. The Ki-46 was the most successful of these. So successful that although it was an Army design, several were borrowed by the Imperial Navy (this is even more remarkable for readers who know just how hostile those two services were! Far worse than in any other country). Even more impressive, an interceptor was developed from the photo plane. It is also the only Japanese type that the Germans considered building for themselves.
The “Dinah” stood out as a perfectly optimized design. It was fast and high flying. Because it was not over-built in any way, no need for bombs, weapons or armor, it was also small and light. But unlike many Japanese combat types that lightness didn’t become a burden to the mission, the whole idea is to get in and out without being noticed. Not surprisingly, when the type was adapted as an interceptor to go after high flying American B-29s, it didn’t fare as well. It couldn’t take the weight of armament and armor without its rate of climb and speed being severely compromised.
This is the last production variant of the aircraft. No surprise it was the fastest and highest flying “Dinah”. This particular aircraft was based in China in 1943. It is built from the Tamiya kit with Aeromaster decals.
* – by which I mean long range reconnaisance. Many countries built so called “army co-operation” types, which were essentially short range recon.
Leave it to the Japanese to create a niche when one did not exist before.
And they did it well!
Do you know where that last photo came from?
I found it at a forum called “Mission4today.com”
It was originally formed as a Sturmivik themed site, but its a pretty broad mix of WWII and aviation discussion, photos and gaming related stuff now. Its a fun site to poke around.
Unfortunately there was no caption there, so I couldn’t say for sure where the photo was from.