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20 July 2017

J7W1 Shinden - The magnificent lightning



RANK IV: J7W1 Shinden

Engine Power:   ~ 1.900 HP
Top Speed:   ~ 630 kph at 8.500 m
Weight:   ~ 4.400 kg
Max altitude:   ~ 12.500 m
Armament:   4x 30mm Type-5
  2x 60 kg Type 97 mod.6
  4x 60 kg Type 97 mod.6

When Japanese intelligence learned of the B-29 bomber in 1943, the military realised plans for new types of aircraft would be required to defend the home islands. The priority for early fighters had been manoeuvrability and range, typified by the outstanding A6M Zero. However intercepting B-29s would require performance at extremely high altitude and the heaviest possible weaponry. Captain Masaoki Tsuruno produced an innovative canard design with a rear-mounted engine and three MXY6 gliders were built to test the configuration. Performance of the gliders was sufficiently impressive for the Imperial Japanese Navy to order the J7W1 from the drawing board, powered by a supercharged Mitsubishi piston engine. It was given the name Shinden meaning "Magnificent Lightning".

The J7W1, found at the end of Rank IV of the Japanese naval fighter tree is an excellent aircraft, especially at a higher altitude. Try to climb as high as circumstances allow you. Its rate of climb is good but not spectacular, so have that in mind. Try to keep a speed of around 290km/h when climbing and be sure to remain diligent, looking for your enemy whilst gaining altitude.

You want an altitude advantage over your opponents - the Shinden is exactly the type of aircraft that rewards “boom and zoom” gameplay. It has a good roll rate at high speed and if an opponent attempts to evade by pulling a snap manoeuvre you may be able to make a quick adjustment to keep your guns on them. Do not get into a sustained turning fight though, disengage promptly if your first pass fails, extend away and line up another attack. The main strength of the J7W1 is its exceptional dive speed. In Realistic and Simulator modes it can reach almost 900km/h before breaking up, faster than the most of the propeller-driven aircraft and early jets it may face. If an opponent attempts to escape by diving away you should be able to catch them, unless they overstress their airframe first. Conversely if you are at an altitude disadvantage and an opponent swoops down to attack, you may be able to dive to safety, but only if you have sufficient time and altitude to pick up speed and maintain a safe distance from your attacker.



The four Type 5 30mm cannons give the J7W1 a formidable punch. Ammunition is in short supply however, with only 60 rounds per gun. In Arcade battles this is not such an issue, though the large calibre of the guns means you still face a lengthy wait for them to reload, so if you find a quiet moment without nearby enemies it is well worth manually reloading. In other modes you will need to exercise keen trigger discipline; only fire when you have a good chance of a hit and stick to short bursts. As the guns are nose-mounted you do not need to worry about convergence (targeting distance) and in the event of a head-on attack you can open fire at long range, but head-on engagements are always something of a lottery. The “Tracers” belt is a good option once the ammunition upgrade is unlocked, its shells have the highest velocity of the available ammunition types.


PROS AND CONS OF THE VEHICLE:

 PROS:

  • Good weapon placement
  • Can reach very high speed in dive
  • Excellent high altitude performance

 CONS:

  • Limited defensive possibilities
  • Slow at lower altitudes (compared to others)
  • Engine on the back (easily damaged from behind)

The Shinden's armament make it ideal for engaging heavy bombers, as befits an aircraft designed to intercept B-29s; always keep your speed up and do not approach from directly behind to avoid giving enemy gunners an easy shot. It should go without saying that attacking ground targets is not the best use of a fighter optimised for high altitude performance. The cannons are not effective against armour and the 60kg bombs it can carry are of limited use, especially as they must be placed very accurately due to their small blast radius.



Only two prototypes of the J7W1 had been completed by the end of war, managing just a few test flights before the surrender of Japan. The ultimate aim was for the J7W to mount a jet engine, which would have been a relatively straightforward modification thanks to the rear-engine configuration. The US Navy took one of the prototypes back to the United States (currently in storage awaiting restoration), however it was never flown or developed further ,leaving it a tantalising "what if" of the early jet age.

Author: John “Zoso” Moore


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