Kyushu J7W Shinden

A late war prototype, the J7W was an interesting project designed to combat American B-29 formations.


After the jump, a look at where the Japanese could have gone if the war lasted a little longer.

Several countries experimented with canard type designs in  the 1940s.  A big advantage of the type is that turbulent airflow off the propeller never interacts with any part of the air frame.  The biggest draw back is just that stability is harder to achieve than in more traditional types.  Modern computer aided designs like the LongEZ or Piaggio P.180 Avanti can realize the layout’s potential; but in the 1940s there was still a lot to learn.

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The J7W looks to have been a very promising design.  With over 2000 horse power from a Mitsubishi twin row radial it could exceed 450 mph at almost 40000 feet.  At least on paper.  The Curtiss XP-55 Ascender was a similar design that never came close to reaching its theoretical potential.  Whether Kyushu would have had better luck is impossible to say.  With only three test flights in August of 1945 the type’s true capabilities were never really tested.


The Curtiss XP-55 Ascender was an American canard design and a contemporary of the J7W.

Further plans called for fitting a jet engine to the type, but no engineering work was ever actually done for this.

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This is the Hasegawa kit.  It is a hypothetical only in the smallest of details; neither of the two prototypes was ever armed, but I’ve shown it here with the intended four 30 mm cannon in place.  Of the two aircraft built one was scrapped post-war, while the other remains in storage at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum awaiting a future restoration.  It is unknown if this surviving aircraft was the first or second prototype or if any test flights were accomplished with it.

Trying to decide what to make of this piece of captured hardware!

A late model Zero with the Shinden.   These two types could have served at the same time; but the J7W is more modern, more powerful and much bigger.

A late model Zero with the Shinden. These two types could have served at the same time; but the J7W is more modern, more powerful and much bigger.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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14 Responses to Kyushu J7W Shinden

  1. Theresa says:

    I think this design was a last ditched effort. I am sure it was supposed to have been fitted with a jet engine. I think the radical engine was used to prove the design but never to be pressed into production.

    • atcDave says:

      They definitely intended to fit a jet eventually, but the first production order (deliverys were to begin April of 1946) was to be the radial version shown here.

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    it is interesting that virtually every major power was on the brink of the next step of aviation evolution, but that only some could afford to give it the consideration it needed.

    • atcDave says:

      It is definitely a fascinating period. Japan had both jet and rocket aircraft in development too. No doubt Japan was a bit behind Germnay, Britain and the U.S.; but maybe not by a whole lot.

  3. Rich Steiner says:

    Cool site Dave, my brother told me about it. Rich

  4. richreynolds74 says:

    Certainly a fascinating aircraft. Many nations pushed the envelope of piston-engined technology towards the end of World War II. It is interesting that some nations took the ‘pusher propeller’ approach, (including Sweden with the J-21), perhaps with the intention of fitting an early jet-engine at a later stage (as was the case with the J-21), whereas most allied nations were able to reach a logical end to propeller driven technology and transition to the jet, a luxury the axis powers did not have. Great build Dave.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks Rich.
      I think a big thing was just that conventional designs were obviously reaching the limits of their potential and everyone was trying to figure out how to get that next jump. Especially during the war years, military spending was high and competition was literally life and death.

  5. Joe says:

    I’ve always thought the Shinden was a sharp looking craft, as is your fine model. Happily it wasn’t used against us in WW2! Today I’ve been looking for any full sized replicas, hoping someone wanted to enjoy trying on the 450+ top end and likely maneuverability. Or at least an RC version to test flying characteristics. Either way they woulda looked cool in the pylon racing classes. Imagine the Mustangs and Bearcats looking at this thing in the rear-view mirror! Let us know if you find any one trying to fly any size of Shinden.

    • atcDave says:

      I haven’t heard of anything flying! It’s possible with computer modeling it’s been discovered the type is highly unstable, like the XP-55.
      Of course the Smithsonian has one, in storage last I knew.

  6. Hi Dave,
    Considering its effective range of just 528 miles and reaching 39,000 ft within the altitude of our B-29s, it was more of a site defense interceptor a la the Me-163B Komet. Also, with an engine putting out 2,130 hp it was able to reach 466 mph is not too shabby. If further testing assured that it’s handling at that speed proved capable, this machine could have been a thorn in the B-29s side. Ken

    • atcDave says:

      The biggest assumption is if they ever would have seen the power they wanted from that engine! Add in the usual handling issues with a canard, and my bet is would have never been effective or reliable.

  7. I forgot to add it’s one of the few (only?) aircraft to use a six-blade prop.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah its the only one I can think of in WWII.
      Current day C-130J has six. The Airbus A400 has eight!

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