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The ugly dackling: Yokosuka R2Y1 Keiun

Today I would like to share with you some facts about an ugly dacking.

The first (and only flying) prototype of the fast reconnaissance airplane Kugisho R2Y1 Keiun. It was designed under the supervision of Captain Shiro Otsuki by the engineering team of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal (the Kugisho KK works were supposed to be the only factory to start production) and it’s better known in Europe as Yokosuka R2Y1 Keiun.

This airplane was equipped with 2 engines connected inline with producing 3400 KM power output and a wide diameter 6 blade propeller which allowed the aircraft to reach a top speed of 760-780 km/h and outrun any Allied fighter. Unfortunately as in almost all attempts to build an airplane with an engine in the center part of the fuselage (P-39 Aircobra for example) the design team faces issues with power transfer to the propeller and engine cooling. The first issue was solved successfully, however, the second proved to be critical and hard to overcome. First ground tests were not too encouraging and the first flight (beginning of May 1945) was cut short due to rapid oil temperature growth and risk of engine fire. Only a few days later, during a stationary attempt to resolve the cooling issues, the engine did catch fire at the Yokosuka hangars.

The airplane was sent back for improvements to the Kugisho factory, from which it did not return, it was destroyed a week later during an air raid of B-29’s. The second prototype (on the photos in the hangar) was at a very early stage of development and was not completed by the end of WW II.

It’s worth mentioning, that R2Y1 from the beginning was (in the eyes of the Yokosuka testing institute) only an alfa test and demonstration of mid-engined airplane technology. The production version was supposed to be R2Y2 propelled by 2 jet engines.

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