The initial reason for the visit was to photograph the world's only surviving Kawasaki Ki-100-1b, serial number BAPC83/8476M/16336. Arguably the best late-war fighter produced by the Japanese.
There are, of course, many other fascinating and rare aviation exhibits at this musem. Click here.
(288Kb) (257 Kb) Close up of engine cowling
(292 Kb) Front view through the wings of a 1930s Hawker Hart trainer.
History of this aircraft
Initially conceived as a stop-gap design, the Kawasaki Ki-100-1b was one of the finest Japanese fighters of the Second World War although not introduced until 1945.
One consequence of the American 'island-hopping' campaign across the Pacific was to expose Japan to air attack by long-range bombers. In response, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force urgently sought fighters with improved high-altitude performance.
To meet this need in the short term, Kawasaki produced a high-altitude version of the Ki-61 Hien (Swallow) fighter. 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 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.
Fast, manoeuvrable, rugged and reliable, Allied pilots found the Ki-100 a formidable opponent.
This is the only one to survive.
Little is known of the early history of this aircraft, one author has suggested that it may have been seized in Japan by US forces following the Japanese surrender and subsequently transferred to the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit at Johore, Malaya, in late 1945, although this has not been confirmed.
Feb 47 Believed to be 'Oscar II' airframe held at No. 47 Maintenance Unit RAF Sealand, prepared for storage 15 April 1947.
Jan 48 Held at RAF Stanmore Park: subsequently stored at RAF Wroughton, RAF Fulbeck, RAF Biggin Hill and RAF Cosford.
Nov 85 Transferred to the RAF Museum reserve collection at RAF St. Athan.
Jun 89 Transferred to the Aerospace Museum