It was no secret that Japanese airpower ruled the skies over the Pacific at the beginning of World War II. But even with this knowledge, the appearance of a new, faster and lighter airplane caught the Allies utterly by surprise.
The new airplane was the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa “Oscar”, a brand new single-engine tactical fighter that had been in development for the past 18 months.
The Oscar came about because Japanese generals wanted a more lightweight fighter to replace the obsolete Ki-27. They were basing their decision on their recent battles in China, wanting a lighter plane for land-based army support. The designer, Hideo Itokawa was ordered to design a plane that matched the Ki-27’s maneuverability and dogfighting qualities, but in a heavier 1,000 horsepower class fighter. READ MORE →