Faced with raids by U.S.-built B-29 high altitude bombers over its cities, the Japanese military attaches in Germany arranged to purchase manufacturing licenses for both the Me 163 Komet and its Walter HWK 109-509 rocket engine for the sum of 20 million Reichsmarks.
The task of designing and producing the J8M1 Shusui, based on the Me 163 Komet, was entrusted to the Mitsubishi company who also produced the well-known Zero fighter and Betty bomber. Both Army (designated Ki-200) and Navy J8M1 Shusui (Sword Stroke) versions were envisioned, but the popularity of the Shusui name eventually caused the Army to adopt the name for its model as well.
The Japanese version of the rocket motor was designated Toko Ro.2 and produced over 3,300 Ibs of thrust. As with most Japanese adaptations of foreign technologies, the engine was modified for their unique needs.
Although it was well-known that the Me 163 had severe operational problems and limited combat success, work on the Shusui continued to the end of the war. Fortunately for B-29 crews, the J8M1 did not become operational before cessation of hostilities.
Manufactured in Nagoya, Japan and delivered in March 1945, the Museum’s J8M1 Shusui is one of only two aircraft that survive from the original seven that were built. In late 1945, two captured J8M1 aircraft were sent from Japan to the United States for evaluation; this 1945 photo shows the Museum's J8M1 after arrival in the USA. One went to the US Navy’s Glenview NAS in Illinois, the other to the US Army Air Force at Wright Field, Ohio. When their studies were complete, both aircraft went on public display. The Navy’s aircraft was eventually scrapped, but the Museum was able to procure the Army’s aircraft in 1948. This is the first aircraft acquired by the Planes of Fame Air Museum.
Status: Static Display
Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Model: J8M1 Shusui (Prototype #3)
Serial Number: 403 (U.S. FE-300/T2-300)
Max T/O Weight: 8,547 lb.
Span: 31 ft. 2 in.
Length: 19 ft. 10 in.
Height: 8 ft. 10 in.
Maximum Speed: 559 mph
Cruise Speed: 216 mph
Rate of Climb: 5.5 minutes endurance
Power Plant: 1 x Yokosuka KR10 (Toko Ro.2) rocket motor, 3,300 lbs. thrust