|This page is about the Japanese fighter Ki-61-I ko. For other versions, see Ki-61 (Family).|
The Ki-61-I ko Hien is a rank II Japanese fighter with a battle rating of 3.0 (AB/RB) and 2.7 (SB). It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27.
While Japan is famous for turn-fighters like the Zero, the Ki-61 Hien will make "boom and zoom" pilots feel at home. Possessing good high altitude performance, good climb rate and good diving capabilities, this "energy fighter" flies much like the Bf-109 which inspired its design... though the Japanese traded quite a bit of firepower in favour of manoeuvrability. This allows the Hien pilot to choose what role he or she wants to play in the battle. One could play the reserved, high flying energy fighter, or if the situation dictates, the aggressive low flying dogfighter (against certain opponents). Compared to the "Zero" it is faster, has a higher climb rate, and handles better at higher speeds... but is no match in overall manoeuvrability.
The Ki-61-I ko has a rather weak armament and lacks flexibility, as it is unable to equip bombs or ground targets belts. The Ki-61-I ko utilises two 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns and two 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns. Generally, both are unreliable and it often takes hundreds of rounds to destroy an enemy plane. This is due to the lack of primer in the rounds themselves. 12.7 mm rounds fired by the M2 Browning may seem to do more damage because they have more primer which dictates how fast the round will exit the barrel. Due to this, it is necessary to get up close to enemies. Aim for the engine, pilot, or fuel tanks if the location is known. Remember to lead with these machine guns, as the rounds are not high velocity. The 7.7 mm rounds will hardly damage any plane with armour, so the Hien relies on its 12.7 mm guns which are fairly lacklustre.
The low muzzle velocity of both weapons means that pilots may have to close to short range in order to hit and deal significant damage to targets. Even so, it will require some time to critically damage tougher aircraft such as bombers or attackers. However, with accuracy and shot placement, the large ammunition pool can work to your advantage.
The Hien also comes equipped with an armoured plate at the pilot seat as well as rudimentary self-sealing fuel tanks.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 5,000 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)|
|< 360||< 350||< 460||> 312|
Survivability and armour
- 13 mm Steel plate behind the pilot
Modifications and economy
Unlocking the performance modules should be a Hien pilot's first concern. The stock machine gun belts aren't very good in a general sense, but neither are the others. The "New 12.7 mm MGs" can be helpful as it allows for longer periods of firing. Unlocking the 7.7 mm belts can also be beneficial because you can equip belts with more armour piercing rounds.
The Ki-61-I ko is armed with:
- 2 x 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns, nose-mounted (400 rpg = 800 total)
- 2 x 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns, wing-mounted (400 rpg = 800 total)
Usage in battles
The Ki-61 Hien is best utilised as a multi-purpose fighter. Although proficient at energy fighting, the Ki-61 is also generally good at standard manoeuvres. It may lose turn fights with some enemy aircraft like the Spitfire Mk IIB, but nonetheless it can still be used in multiple roles. The Ki-61 is your standard "jack of all trades". It's not incredibly good at anything it does but it is even across the board. This allows the Hien pilot to choose what role they want to play in the battle. One could play the reserved, high flying energy fighter, or the aggressive low flying dog-fighter. The Ki-61 allows these choices.
One of the major advantages the Ki-61-I ko has is its climb rate. The stat card may be misleading, but this plane can reach altitudes beyond that of most of its opponents. This allows the Hien to choose when and where it wants to fight. Once at a high altitude, the Hien pilot may choose to dive lower to attack an enemy. If the enemy is not destroyed on the first pass, it is recommended to climb sharply and gain altitude. By doing this, the Hien sets itself up for another attack while not being in the range of the enemy's guns.
If caught in a sticky situation, the Hien pilot may choose to do several things. Depending on your altitude, executing rolling scissors or an overshoot may be a valid tactic. Try to make the enemy pilot feel pressured to disengage. Depending on the enemy's aircraft, use your speed to your advantage and try to get away. The surest tactic would be communicating with teammates to ensure your assailant's death. Once tailed, the Hien pilot can "set up" an enemy by nosing up about 70 degrees so the entirety of the enemy plane is shown. At this stage, ideally, your teammate is arriving to save the day.
In Sim, the Ki-61 can be used in BnZ fighting, turn fighting, intercepting (to some extent) and some ground pounding. The Ki-61 is overall a pretty friendly plane to fly. It is quite fast, handles nicely at all speeds, has decent visibility especially over the nose, climbs great and has lots of ammo. However its disadvantages are the weak protection and poor damage of the 4 machine guns.
Before taking off, bring at least 30 minutes of fuel for longer patrol time. Set the convergence to around 250 m since your MGs have low velocity, therefore dealing less damage at longer range.
If you are not using MEC, use around 95% throttle when cruising below 3,000 m since the engine will slowly heat up at full throttle. But full throttle is fine at higher altitudes.
Only elevator trim is available, so when the stick is at its deadzone, the Ki-61 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. Usually, a trim of around -7% is enough. But when carrying the 2x 250kg bombload, no negative trim is needed.
For dogfighting, it is always safer to enter with an altitude advantage. Most dogfights in sim happen below 3,000m so the Ki-61 can easily climb up to that altitude. As mentioned in the description, its climb rate is actually great, don't get misled by the stat card. Once at an advantageous height, boom & zoom the enemies. The Ki-61 can easily accelerate to more than 550 km/h in a dive which is decently fast but requires more precise manoeuvres to get the correct lead, since the faster you go the smaller the shooting window is. A successful pass will not usually cripple the enemy given you weak firepower, so multiple attacks are needed to destroy one plane. Aside from BnZ, the Ki-61 is also excellent at turn fighting - with the appropriate opponent, of course. Except a few dedicated turn fighters, the Ki-61 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. Note that the Ki-61's roll rate is very average so avoid manoeuvres like scissors.
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-61 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 it is better to aim for their wings and engines, as the fuselage usually soaks up quite some 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. DO NOT follow behind a bomber's 6 unless you are sure that its tail gunners are unconscious. Chasing behind a bomber makes yourself pretty much stationary for the tail gunners, and you will be showered with bullets.
Enemies worth noting:
- Me 264: This giant is one of the few bombers who get air spawns in Sim, so it usually flies higher than you think. On top of this, the Me 264 is armed with large calibre MG and cannons all over it, therefore tailing a 264 is basically suicide unless all of their gunners are knocked out. You can treat the 264 almost like a B-29 or B-17 as they are very similar in both design and defensive capabilities. It is best to head-on the 264 if you can as you can easily knock out the pilots due to its glazed nose while also taking minimal damage. However the bomber lacks a ventral turret on its belly, making it easy to deal damage from below, but be wary of the downwards facing rear 20 mm cannon near the tail. The safest way to attack is from a higher altitude, dive at an oblique angle and focus fire on the wings and nose. Never engage if you have no altitude advantage.
- 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-61 still remains responsive handling at 600 km/h, but its speed retention is not the best, 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.
Manual Engine Control
|Not controllable|| Controllable
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
|Separate|| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Generally performs well in the most common tactics, both BnZ and turn-fighting, allowing flexible gameplay depending on the situation
- Outstanding climb rate
- Has decent dive speed, can easily out-dive slower opponents
- Large amount of ammunition (400 rpg) is great for long battles or difficult targets
- Some armour protection for the pilot means that it will not easily get pilot-sniped by small-calibre/low-penetrating guns from the back
- Adequate over-the-nose visibility allows easier leading in Simulator
- Rather weak firepower due to the slow velocity and light bullet mass, cannot effectively damage well-protected targets like IL-2s
- Locks up at high speeds
- No frontal armour, can be fatal in a head-on
- Average roll rate which worsens as speed increases, can easily get out-rolled by Fw 190s and I-16s
- No bomb load limits its capacity in some situations
The Ki-61 was first put into service in with a special training unit, the 23rd Chutai, and entered combat for first time in early 1943, during the New Guinea campaign. The Hiens were sent into a difficult theatre where jungles and adverse weather conditions coupled with a lack of spare parts quickly made short work of the Japanese fighters. Nonetheless, the Hien proved to be a worthy adversary and it even outclassed the P-40. Towards the end of the war, Ki-61s were relied upon heavily to defend the Japanese mainland from B-29 attacks. Some pilots used ramming attacks to down the Superfortresses. Soon, entire "special attack squadrons" were formed for the sole purpose of downing B-29s via the ramming method.
A lightweight multipurpose fighter plane, the Ki-61 Hien ("Swallow") was well-armed and well-armoured.
From the very beginning, the makers of the Ki-61 concerned themselves with protecting the fuel tanks and the pilot. The light multipurpose fighter was an effective answer to "hit-and-run" fighters, thanks to its survivability and high diving speed.
The Ki-61 had a Kawasaki Ha-40 liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, a licensed copy of the DB 601A, capable of 1175 hp.
A prototype was ready in 1941, and by the next year the first production models were manufactured and the Ki-61 entered service.
To strengthen armament in the Ki-61-I, instead wing-mounted machine guns of the previous models Ki-61-1-Ko and -Otsu was established by German's 20-mm cannons MG 151/20, which in the amount of 800 units in August 1943 were taken to Japan by submarines.
All in all, 3,078 Ki-61 fighters (of various types) were produced.
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.
- Official data sheet - more details about the performance
- [Wings Palette] Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien camouflage
|Kawasaki Aircraft Industries ()|
|Biplane Fighters||Ki-10-I · Ki-10-I C · Ki-10-II · Ki-10-II C|
|Fighters||Ki-61-I ko · Ki-61-I otsu · Ki-61-I hei · Ki-61-I hei Tada's · Ki-61-I tei · Ki-61-II Kai|
|Ki-100 · Ki-100-II|
|Interceptors||Ki-45 ko · Ki-45 otsu · Ki-45 hei · Ki-45 tei|
|Captured||␗Ki-45 hei/tei · ␗Ki-61-I otsu · ▃Ki-61-Ib|
|See also||Kawasaki Shipyard Co.|
|A5M||A5M4 · Hagiri's A5M4|
|A6M||A6M2 mod. 11 · A6M2 · A6M3 · A6M3 mod. 22 · A6M3 mod. 22Ko · A6M5 · A6M5 Ko · A6M5 otsu · A6M5 Hei · A6M6c|
|A7M||A7M1 (NK9H) · A7M2|
|J2M||J2M2 · J2M3 · J2M4 Kai · J2M5 · J2M5 (30 mm)|
|N1K-J||N1K1-Ja · N1K2-J · N1K2-Ja|
|Ki-10||Ki-10-I · Ki-10-I C · Ki-10-II · Ki-10-II C|
|Ki-27||Ki-27 otsu · Ki-27 otsu Tachiarai|
|Ki-43||Ki-43-I · Ki-43-II · Ki-43-III otsu|
|Ki-44||Ki-44-I · Ki-44-I 34 · Ki-44-II otsu · Ki-44-II hei|
|Ki-61||Ki-61-I ko · Ki-61-I otsu · Ki-61-I hei · Ki-61-I hei Tada's · Ki-61-I tei · Ki-61-II Kai|
|Ki-84||Ki-84 ko · Ki-84 otsu · Ki-84 hei|
|Ki-100||Ki-100 · Ki-100-II|
|Other countries||▅F4U-1A · ▅P-51C-11-NT · ▅Bf 109 E-7 · ▅Fw 190 A-5|
|*Imported designation of the He 112 (A6M was in development - A7M would take A7 designation after the cancelation of the A7He)|