Violet Lightning – the Shiden Kai (“George”) Fighter

Courtesy of Wikipedia, and Wikipedia Commons.  Noted Wiki is “powered by YouTube”… and has a resource called Mashpedia, source of the video.  I make no claim to own these images, or other information. 

Photo from

Above video and below info from

Operational history

Kawanishi N1K2-J, probably N1K4-J Shiden Kai Model 32—only two prototypes were built.

The N1K1 entered service in early 1944 and proved highly effective against American fighters. The Kawanishi was among the few Japanese fighters that could stand up to the best enemy types, including Hellcats and Corsairs. In the hands of aces, the Shiden could even outfly its American opponents. In February 1945, Lieutenant Kaneyoshi Muto, flying a N1K2-J as part of a group of at least 10 expert Japanese pilots, faced seven U.S. Navy Hellcats of VF-82 in the sky over Japan. His group shot down four Hellcats with no loss to themselves. After the action, reporters fabricated a story in which Muto was the sole airman facing 12 enemy aircraft. However, a close friend of Lieutenant Kaneyoshi Muto, ace pilot Saburō Sakai, states in his autobiography that the one versus twelve combat did take place, but with Muto at the controls of a Zero fighter.

The N1K1-J aircraft were used very effectively over Formosa, the Philippines and later, Okinawa. Before production was switched to the improved N1K2-J, 1,007 aircraft were produced, including prototypes.

Problems resulted in very few N1K2-J aircraft being produced, but the Shiden-Kai proved to be one of the best “dogfighters” fielded by either side. Along with high speed, the fighters were very agile with a roll rate of 82°/sec at 386 km/h (240 mph). Their weaponry, comprising four 20 mm cannons in the wings, was highly effective. As a bomber interceptor, the N1K2-J was less successful, hampered by a poor rate of climb and reduced engine performance at high altitude.


2 thoughts on “Violet Lightning – the Shiden Kai (“George”) Fighter


      Not sure, but possible that Mustang Koji’s post on the B-29 raids jogged my memory of these fighters.
      Loss of most of their experienced pilots (no rotation of seasoned personnel to train new recruits, the cultural ideas of being captured, and infighting between the Army and Navy over logistics) loom large. Eliminate those factors; their disaster at Midway would have harmed them materially, but without the loss of “cream of the crop”pilots, the remainder of the Pacific campaign may well have been an uphill struggle for our forces.


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