Ki-44-II hei (China)
|This page is about the fighter Ki-44-II hei (China). For other versions, see Ki-44 (Family).|
The ␗Ki-44-II hei Shoki is a rank II Chinese fighter with a battle rating of 3.3 (AB/RB) and 3.0 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision". It has identical performance to the original Japanese Ki-44-II hei.
The "Shoki" was named after a powerful king of demons in Chinese mythology, Zhong Kui, said to have a grotesque appearance. The squat and stubby Ki-44 will not be winning any beauty contests, especially not with its degraded camouflage in Chinese service, but it has incredible flight performance for its rank and can be a dangerous opponent in the hands of a skilled pilot. Pilots familiar with the earlier CW-21 will find some similarities in its performance and tactics. This machine was built for speed and climb, but as can be expected for Japanese fighters, its agility is still good compared to planes from other nations.
A very good energy fighter that turns decently and has a very high top speed when fully upgraded of 606 km/h at 6,000 m, being able to reach that height in 5 minutes at a 21-degree angle at 98% throttle. The Ki-44 will maintain a >25 m/s climb rate with WEP below 4,000 m. However, the engine will overheat on WEP very quickly below 5,500 m if manual engine controls are not used.
It is a fast plane, being able to match the speed of almost anything it meets. This is coupled with excellent acceleration, energy retention, high rip speed and low control stiffening, allowing it to pursue after planes that other fighters cannot. The Ki-44 retains the iconic Japanese agility of its country, being able to turn-fight most fighters it encounters, with its high roll rate serving well to keep its targets in sight and to shake off enemies. It is also equal or superior in energy fights to anything it faces, flying loops and energy trapping its foes on a whim.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 5,200 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 400||< 400||< 450||> 335|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|1,386 m||1,420 hp||1,613 hp|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|4,443 m||1,300 hp||1,477 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 10.5 mm Steel plate behind the pilot
- 10.5 mm Steel plate - headrest
While it lacks bulletproof glass or self-sealing fuel tanks, the rear armour is helpful for preventing untimely pilot-snipes from low-calibre machine guns when being chased. Head-ons should be avoided and attacks on bombers should be made with caution.
Modifications and economy
The Ki-44-II hei (China) is armed with:
- 2 x 12.7 mm Ho-103 army machine guns, nose-mounted (250 rpg = 500 total)
- 2 x 12.7 mm Ho-103 army machine guns, wing-mounted (250 rpg = 500 total)
The Ki-44-II hei is armed with four Ho-103 heavy machine guns, with a total of 1,000 rounds of ammunition (250 rounds per gun). The Ho-103 machine gun has a low damage output outside of 300 m due to the low velocity, so the player should make sure to shoot within 300 m. However, inside of 300 m, the Ho-103 has a decent damage output easily cutting off wings and critically damaging control surfaces, but it is still weaker than the M2 Brownings or Berezin UB machine guns. The accuracy is very good overall as two of them are in the nose & the other two are in the wings. The best belts for the Ho-103 machine guns would be either Stealth or Air targets belts depending on playstyle.
The Ki-44-II hei (China) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 2 x 50 kg Army Type 94 GPHE bombs (100 kg total)
- 2 x 100 kg Army Type 94 GPHE bombs (200 kg total)
The Ki-44 is not suited for ground attack and bomb loadouts should generally be avoided. In Ground RB the 100 kg bombs may be helpful if no alternatives aircraft are available for CAS, but they are rather weak and need to land on or very close to their target to secure kills reliably.
Usage in battles
In-game, the Ki-44 is the pinnacle of point interceptors at its battle rating. At the beginning of any match, use your amazing climb rate to get as high as you can. If you climb at around a 22° angle, you should be able to find yourself far above enemy bombers by the time you encounter them. If there are bombers, those 4 x 12.7s machine guns can do a number on a bomber, but the bombers defences can also do a lot to you. When attacking a bomber, do it in high-speed passes, giving the gunners minimal time to lock on to you. Aim for the wings of the bomber as, while not exactly high velocity, your shells can do a lot of damage to a bomber's wing.
If there are no bombers your next job is fighter interception. Attack enemy fighters using Boom & Zoom tactics to destroy fighters. Use vertical manoeuvres to maximise your energy retention while booming and zooming. As long as you keep your speed up, you should be fine. Horizontal manoeuvres are not highly recommended as it performs worse than in the vertical but will turn with most other fighters if needed especially with flaps. Do not turn fight against more manoeuvrable aircraft like Zeros or Spitfires. Stall climbs can also be used to great effect against opposing planes due to the incredible energy retention and climb rate.
The Ho-103 machine guns are not the best of armaments. They use a shorter cartridge than the familiar M2 Browning used by US aircraft and have a significantly lower muzzle velocity. In addition, the rounds currently have extremely high drag and the HE rounds included in certain belts are not modeled as containing any explosive filler. It is a good idea to use them at close distances as mentioned earlier and to lead the target generously when performing deflection shots. The Ki-44's excellent flight characteristics will at least provide more opportunities to attack and wear down its enemies.
Note that some planes at or below the Chinese Ki-44's rank that it can face are capable of matching it in speed. The German He 100 D-1 is still ludicrously fast (higher top speed while stock than a spaded Ki-44) and the Italian C.202 is only slightly slower, so against these opponents it pays to be more cautious. On the bright side, neither of these aircraft are particularly agile or well armed.
- In simulator, the Ki-44 is a decent fighter that can do traditional dogfights, some bomber-hunting and some ground pounding. It has great all-round visibility, especially to the sides and the rear thanks to its clear teardrop canopy. However there are lots of thick frames at the front which can get very annoying and obstruct the target in a chase, delaying the pilot's reaction. The glass on the canopy's sides also tend to create dizzying reflections when the sun is near, reducing the visibility a lot. The over-the-nose visibility is average. The wing position (in front of the canopy) means that you cannot see anything at your low 11, 12, 1, 2 o'clock so you have to fly past the target area and look towards 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 o'clock where there is nothing to obstruct your view.
- The handling is good in general. During a take off the Ki-44 feels nose-heavy without any flaps deployed therefore after retracting the gears and flaps you need to pitch up a bit until the plane picks up some speed. Only elevator trim is available, so when the stick is at its deadzone, the Ki-44 will roll and yaw to the left side. Therefore you always need to pull the stick to the right which can get a bit annoying. It has excellent climb rate of around 14m/s at 400 km/h, with 100% throttle and no MEC. This means that it can get to an ideal altitude of around 3,000 m very quickly. In a dive it easily accelerates to around 550 km/h while still having responsive controls, however it does not retain the speed well after leveling out. Note that its engine will overheat unbelievably fast. With WEP it heats up to >243° within 15 seconds. Thus you must utilise the WEP only when you have to, for example in a zoom climb or a high yoyo. The good news is, the engine can cool down quick enough for another 15-second WEP.
- While being more of a BnZ fighter, the Ki-44 also performs excellent at turn fighting - with the appropriate opponent, of course. Except a few dedicated turn fighters, the Ki-44 can out-turn and get on most opponents' tail with combat flaps deployed. Note: do not turn with Spitfires or Zeros, you will never out-turn them. If you see a plane with a streamlined inline engine and large, elliptical wings (Spitfire) or something with rounded wingtips and stabiliser tips, a radial engine and a pointy tail (A6M), try some defensive manoeuvres like barrel rolls or disengage by diving towards a nearby friendly airfield.
- The Ki-44 has a lovely low stall-speed of around 160 km/h and is also very controllable when getting out of a stall, unlike the preceding I-16. However the handling gets very sluggish when slower than 200 km/h.
- When intercepting planes, it is crucial to know what the target is. If it is a bomber/attacker with decent defensive firepower, great turret coverage, or robust protection, then you might want to disengage after some attempts if you don't want to die. From the hard-hitting M2 Browning to the fast-firing MG 15, any gun can critically damage the Ki-44 especially on the engine, fuel tanks, and pilot which can always lead to a later crash. Before attacking try to get an altitude advantage and perform deflection shots. To maximise the damage aim for their wings and engines, as the fuselage usually soaks up lots of bullets. Only fire when the bomber passes in front of your guns. This short window might seem inadequate to do anything... and it usually is, unfortunately. The slow velocity, light projectiles and low one-second burst mass usually guarantee no critical damage. However sometimes it only takes one bullet to set the target aflame, if you are lucky.
- B-25, Ju 88, IL-2, etc: These aircraft have either powerful defensive guns, for example the B-25, or wide gun coverage such as the Ju 88. The most threatening one, the B-25, is fairly easy to distinguish. It has a short and wide fuselage, twin radial engine hanging under the wings and a H-tail. Focus your fire on the engines and constantly swing sideways to avoid getting hit. A few hits from the M2 Browning is a guaranteed death. The Ju 88, on the other hand, has great underside gun coverage so attacking from below isn't a very good option. Try engaging from the sides and concentrate the fire on the front half of it, as that is where all the vital components are located. Again, never engage any of these if you have no altitude advantage. Pin them on the map and leave them to teammates with more powerful firepower.
- A6M, Spitfire, etc: If you see them on your tail try outrunning them by diving at around -40 degrees. The Ki-44 still remains responsive handling at 600 km/h, but its speed retention is poor, meaning it will start to lose speed quickly and the enemy might catch up. If you are near a friendly airfield, great. If not, then hope for the best and run towards the friendly side. Don't forget to pitch up and down a little to mess up their aim, the early Spitfires and A6M only have a 60-round drum per cannon which will run out fairly fast. The leftover 7.7 mm machine guns will not be as destructive.
- F4U, F6F, P-47, etc: these planes are a huge threat to the Ki-44 as they have superior firepower, speed, dive acceleration and robust airframes. Their 12.7 mm MGs can easily tear you apart or simply pilot-snipe you even when they are far away, as the M2 Brownings have great velocity and trajectory. They can also set you aflame easily. The F4U has a long cylindrical nose and the iconic inverted gull wing. The P-47 has a huge, jug-like fuselage, bubble canopy and elliptical trailing edge that usually have invasion stripes painted on them. The F6F, on the other hand, might get confused with other planes as it looks rather average. Anyways, start a turnfight whenever you see these stubby planes.
Manual Engine Control
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Pros and cons
- Incredibly fast, leaves virtually any plane it faces in the dust at any altitude
- Climb rate is better than most equivalent aircraft, at more than 25 m/s spaded
- Excellent acceleration
- Has an excellent roll rate and decent turn time comparing to less agile planes like the Fw 190s (utilise combat flaps for tighter manoeuvring)
- Adequate armament for the rank
- Good cockpit visibility in Simulator
- Mostly faces Japan (facing equally/more manoeuvrable planes like A6M2)
- Engine feels like a plasma reactor, you will overheat within a minute and a half with WEP, using 100% doesn't cool it down quickly enough
- Has Instructor issues. Rudder and ailerons are very unstable if the plane is banked or at low speed
- Flaps cause the nose to pitch down hard if used below 150-200 km/h in a steep climb
- Armament is tricky to use
- Rather fragile, easily destroyed by Japanese F4U
The design of the Ki-44 Shoki (Allied Code Name: Tojo) traces back to Nakajima's other infamous IJAAF aircraft; The Ki-43 Hayabusa. Soon after the design of the Ki-43, Nakajima received orders from the Imperial Japanese Army for an interceptor aircraft with a precedence of speed and rate of climb over the traditional manoeuvrability-focused aircraft the Japanese were more known for. Nakajima set to work on the prototype immediately, choosing the company's own Ha-141 radial engine that provided 1,250 in optimal condition. It was similarly constructed to the Ki-43, retaining the excellent Butterfly Combat Flaps and basic design, and carried two 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns and two of the recently designed 12.7 mm Ho-103 HMGs that were based on the American Browning M1921. The aircraft's first flight occurred in 1940 and was involved in tests versus Kawasaki's Ki-60 prototype, which was powered by the German DB 601 engine used in the early Bf 109s, and an imported Bf 109 E. Through the many trials and evaluations, it was found to be superior to both designs and was ordered for production under the designation "Army Type 2 Single seat Fighter Model 1A Shoki" and company designation of Ki-44-Ia. The first production variants were fitted with the same armament layout as the prototypes but was found to be lacklustre, so was changed to four Ho-103 HMGs in a model dubbed Ki44-Ib. Only some 40 odd Ki-44-Ias were made including the improved Ib and Ic models.
The high landing speeds and comparatively limited manoeuvrability made it unpopular with pilots, who requested an upgraded Ki-43 instead due to the superior agility. Nakajima responded with the Ki-44-II, which sported the more powerful Ha-109 engine which powered the Ki-49 Donryu medium bomber. The variant also had other minor improvements such as a larger cockpit and a more efficient intercooler. Along side the Ki-44-IIa, the Ki-44-IIc was introduced providing a drastic improvement in firepower, comprising of either 4 x 20 mm Ho-5 cannons or 2 x 12.7 mm Ho-103 HMGs and 2 x 40 mm Ho-301 cannons, which proved to be effective when attacking heavy bombers. This improved firepower however, actually worsened the aircraft's reputation with pilots due to the heavier wing loading causing violent reactions to high speed manoeuvres. It gained more respect later on in its service life due to its extreme potency as an interceptor.
By the end of World War II, relatively few Ki-44s were still in service with the IJAAF. Some of the aircraft used by disbanded Japanese squadrons stationed in China were used by Kuomintang and Communist forces in the resumed Chinese Civil War. Some may have been flown by Japanese mercenaries. After the victory of the Communists and the Kuomintang's retreat to Taiwan, surviving aircraft were used by the newly established PLAAF for a number of years afterwards, though no complete examples exist today.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the aircraft;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Nakajima Aircraft Company ()|
|Fighters||Ki-27 otsu · Ki-27 otsu Tachiarai|
|Ki-43-I · Ki-43-II · Ki-43-III otsu|
|Ki-44-I · Ki-44-I 34 · Ki-44-II otsu · Ki-44-II hei|
|Ki-84 ko · Ki-84 otsu · Ki-84 hei|
|Interceptors||J1N1 · J5N1|
|B6N1 Model 11 · B6N2 Model 12 · B6N2a Model 12Ko|
|G5N1 · G8N1|
|Ki-49-I · Ki-49-IIa · Ki-49-IIb · Ki-49-IIb/L|
|Captured||␗Ki-27 otsu · ▃Ki-43-II · ␗Ki-43-III ko · ␗Ki-44-II hei · ␗Ki-84 ko|
|*Refit of the Mitsubishi A6M2 mod. 11|
|See also||Fuji Heavy Industries (1957-2017)|
|British||␗Gladiator Mk I|
|Japanese||␗A6M2 · ␗Ki-27 otsu · ␗Ki-43-III ko · ␗Ki-44-II hei · ␗Ki-61-I otsu · ␗Ki-84 ko|
|American||CW-21 · Hawk III · P-66 · ␗P-40E-1 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-43A-1 · ␗P-47D-23-RA · ␗P-47D-30 · ␗P-51D-20 · ␗P-51K|
|Soviet||␗I-15bis · ␗I-153 M-62 · ␗I-16 Chung 28 · ␗I-16 type 5 · ␗I-16 type 10 · ␗I-16 type 17 · ␗La-11 · ␗La-9|