Initially conceived as a stop gap design, the Kawasaki Ki-100-1b was one of the finest Japanese fighters of World War Two although not introduced until 1945.
The Ki-61 Hien (Swallow) fighter was one of the main fighter aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army. However, problems with its liquid-cooled engine resulted in large numbers of airframes being placed in storage awaiting serviceable engines. In an attempt to overcome this bottleneck, three airframes were modified to accept a Mitsubishi radial engine.
Redesignated the Ki-100, the first prototype made its maiden flight on 1 February 1945. Following an accelerated and highly successful flight test programme, 272 of the stored airframes were rebuilt to Ki-100-1a standard between February and June 1945 and pressed into service as Army Type 5 fighters. An additional 118 new airframes with bubble canopies designated Ki-100-1b were manufactured before the Japanese surrender.
Manoeuvrable, rugged, well armed and reliable, Allied pilots found the Ki-100 a formidable opponent. This is the only one to survive.