Tachikawa Ki-94-I: Flying Sumo Fighter



Defeat in the Battle of Midway essentially left Japan without means to project their aerial power over distant territories and started the three-year long retreat towards their home islands. Since 1942, US strategic bombers began regularly raiding imperial territories, and by the end of the War, those raids became a full-scale campaign of indiscriminate destruction of industrial and civilian targets. It culminated with the raid on Tokyo on the night of 9-10 March 1945 that included 334 B-29 heavy bombers and resulted in the almost total obliteration of mostly wooden civilian structures over 40 km2 of the Japanese capital, and the death of over 100,000 people.

The Japanese army command had considered such possibilities beforehand, and the means to deter long-range bombing raids were being developed from 1942. Koku Hombu, the aviation HQ of the Imperial Army, placed an order with the Tachikawa Hikoki HK company for a high altitude interceptor that would be able to destroy enemy bombers.

The initial requirements were quite strict, the fighter was supposed to have a range of 3,000 km, up to 800 km/h speed, and a pressurized cockpit. Tachikawa started the Ki-94 project that was later split into two completely different designs — the Ki-94-I and Ki-94-II. The latter is already present in our game in the Japanese Army fighters branch (you can read about it here. Like many other designs of the Japanese aviation school, the first project turned out to be exceptionally original. The Ki-94-I was a large twin-boom monoplane with two tandem 18-cylinder Mitsubishi Ha-211 Ru piston engines located in the front and rear sections of the fuselage. The rear-pushing propeller was located between the tail booms. The designers expected that this scheme would provide speeds of up to 780 km/h at a 10-kilometer altitude. Aside from the unusual layout, the Ki-94 was supposed to carry exceptionally heavy armament for an interceptor. Two 37-mm Ho-204 and two 30-mm Ho-155 cannons were to be located in the wings. Naturally, such an arsenal would be more than capable of dealing with the “flying fortresses”.

By the end of 1943, Tachikawa had a wooden model built. But the Koku Hombu technical department quite understandably considered it to be exceedingly difficult to produce, and the high expectations of the aircraft’s characteristics were deemed overly enthusiastic. As a result, the design was discarded and the role of the fighter-interceptor was handed over to Nakajima Ki-87, while Tachikawa focused on the sister Ki-94-II design.

Tachikawa’s Ki-94-I in World of Warplanes is a Tier VII heavy fighter. Its main and very prominent features are great dynamic parameters, a powerful boost, and astonishing firepower at medium range. Its large outline and susceptibility to fires (common for most Japanese aircraft) make this machine more suitable for hit-and-run tactics; dogfighting prowess and survivability are not among its strong suits. But when piloted carefully, picking vulnerable targets, it is a true nemesis for any enemy that finds itself in the Ki-94-I’s crosshairs.

This heavy fighter is great for picking on durable enemies like other heavies or attack aircraft — four high-caliber cannons can obliterate anything.