Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range)

Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range)

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Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range)

The Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range) was a four engined long range bomber designed from 1943 and that only reached the prototype stage before the end of the Second World War. Many of the Japanese Navy's successes in 1941-42 had been won with the aid of very long range fighters and bombers that could appear where they weren’t expected, while the Army often operated over very long ranges in China. As a result both services had issued specifications for replacement aircraft, but neither the Mitsubishi G7M nor the Kawanishi Ki-100 really lived up to expectations.

The Navy's response was to issue an 18-Shi specification for a four-engined attack bomber, the G8N1 Renzan (Mountain Range). The new aircraft was to have a top speed of 368mph, a range of 2,300 miles with a full bomb load and 4,605 miles with a reduced load, a full bomb load of 8,816lb and good armour and defensive guns. The speed and range requirements were the same as those for the earlier G7M.

Nakajima responded with a mid-winged aircraft, with tricycle landing gear, and a single vertical tail. It was powered by four Nakajima NK9K-L Homare 24 engines, with Hitachi 92 turbo supercharges, providing 2,000hp each. The engines were given cooling fans. The armour requirements were met by building the aircraft from large thick metal plate, a technique that was hoped would speed production. The aircraft was to be armed with four powered gun turrets (nose, dorsal, ventral and tail) and with two manually operated side guns.

The first prototype made its maiden flight on 23 October 1944, and it was followed by the second, third and fourth aircraft in December 1944, March 1945 and June 1945. The new aircraft performed well, but by the summer of 1945 the war was coming ever closer to Japan, and long range bombers were no longer a high priority. The programme was also badly disrupted by American bombing, while the third prototype was destroyed by marauding naval aircraft. Planned production of the G8N1 was cancelled.

Two more versions of the aircraft were proposed. The G8N2 was to use 2,200hp Mitsubishi MK9A radials, but this was never built. The G8N3 Renzan-Kai Model 23 would have been built from steel instead of the rare light alloys used in the G8N1, but this too was never built.

Stats (G8N1)
Engine: Four Nakajima NK9K-L Homare 24 eighteen cylinder air-cooled radial engines
Power: 2,000hp at take off, 1,850hp at 26,245ft
Crew: 10
Wing span: 106ft 9in
Length: 75ft 10in
Height: 23ft 7.5in
Empty Weight: 38,360lb
Loaded Weight: 59,084lb
Maximum Weight: 70,879lb
Max Speed: 368mph at 26,245ft
Cruising Speed: 230mph at 13,125ft
Service Ceiling: 33,465ft
Range: 2,452 miles normal, 4,639 maximum
Armament: Four powered turrets - twin 20mm cannon in dorsal, ventral and tail turrets, twin 13mm machine guns in nose. One 13mm machine gun in each beam position
Bomb-load: 2,204lb normal, 8,818lb maximum


Development of the G8N began in 1943 due to a demand for a heavy long-range bomber to replace the Mitsubishi G4M . The pattern should have a range of at least 7,400 km and a top speed of 600 km / h. In addition, better armor and defensive armament as well as a higher bomb load were provided.

The G8N was an all-metal mid- decker with fabric-covered rudder surfaces. In order to enable rapid series production, the structure of the cell was kept quite simple. During the flight tests, problems arose with the turbochargers that could never be resolved satisfactorily. For this reason it was planned to equip the series machines with the 2,200 hp Mitsubishi MK9A.

In June 1945 the project was discontinued due to a lack of aluminum.

Nakajima G8N Renzan (Rita)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/01/2020 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Nakajima G8N Renzan (or "Mountain Range" - codenamed "Rita" by the Allies) was a heavy bomber design put forth by the Nakajima Aircraft Company in the latter stages of World War 2. The system saw a severely limited production run due to the shortage of available wartime materials, in particular aluminum, and the series as a whole lived on in just 7 total examples including prototypes. Heavily armed, the four engine bomber project was crippled from the outset thanks in part to advancing Allied forces, putting the Empire on the defensive.

With the prototype flying in 1944, production models of the Nakajima G8N were appearing in early 1945. The G8N was powered by Nakajima-brand NK9K-L 24 Homare 18-cylinder radial engines. Wings were of the low-monoplane type, mounted just under the fuselage near middle. The G8N sported a tricycle landing gear and features a single rudder fin in the tail assembly. Classified as a heavy bomber, the G8N could carry a maximum internal bombload of nearly 9,000 pounds. In addition to the internal offensive armament, the Nakajima G8N bristled with heavy defensive armaments throughout its design. Six 20mm Type 99 cannons were mounted in two-gun turret assemblies fore, aft and in a ventral turret position. Double Type 2 13mm machine guns were also fitted in the nose along with an additional machine gun in each waist gunner position.

Offering up a good defensive capability with offensive ability and powerful range, the Nakajima G8N might have made an impact if war events were in its favor. Never the less, the system would never reach its potential by any regard with the IJN. An existing prototype sample was confiscated by the United States and shipped back to the homeland for testing.


The Nakajima G5N Shinzan originated due to the Imperial Japanese Navy's interest in developing a long-range attack bomber capable of carrying heavy loads of bombs or torpedoes a minimum distance of 3,000 nmi (5,600 km 3,500 mi). To meet this requirement, it became apparent a four-engine lay-out would be necessary. As Japanese aircraft manufacturers lacked experience in building such large complex aircraft, the Navy was forced to search for a suitable existing foreign-made model upon which to base the new design. It settled on the American Douglas DC-4E airliner. In 1939 the sole prototype of this airliner (previously rejected by American airline companies) was purchased by Nippon Koku K.K. (Japan Airlines Co) and clandestinely handed over to the Nakajima Aircraft Company for dismantling and inspection. [2]

The design that emerged from this study was for an all-metal mid-wing monoplane with fabric-covered control surfaces and powered by four 1,870 hp Nakajima NK7A Mamori 11 air-cooled radial engines driving four-bladed propellers. A long ventral bomb-bay, glazed nose and twin tailfins replacing the DC-4E's distinctive triple rudder were included. The DC-4E's retractable tricycle undercarriage was retained, as well as the original wing form and powerplant arrangement. Defensive armament comprised two 20mm Type 99 Model 1 cannon (one in a power-operated dorsal and one in a tail turret), plus single-mount hand-operated 7.7mm Type 92 machine guns in the nose, ventral and waist positions. [3]

The first prototype G5N1 made its maiden flight on 14:35 8 April 1941. [1] Overall performance proved disappointingly poor however, due to a combination of excessive weight, the unreliability of the Mamori engines and the complexity of the design. Only three more prototypes were completed. In an attempt to salvage the project, two additional airframes were fitted with 1,530 hp Mitsubishi MK4B 12 "Kasei" engines and redesignated G5N2s. Although the Mitsubishi engines were more reliable than the original Mamori 11s, the aircraft was now even more hopelessly underpowered and further development of the type was halted. [3]

Of the six completed Shinzans, four were relegated for use as long-range Navy transports under the designation G5N2-L Shinzan-Kai Transport. The Allies allocated the code-name "Liz" to the aircraft, in the expectation it would be used as a bomber. [3]

Data from Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War [3] Famous airplanes of the world (1984) [4]

Nakajima G8N Renzan 連山 (Mountain Range) — WW II Japan’s heavy bomber

When thinking of heavy bombers of World War II one naturally thinks of Allied aircraft powered with four engines — especially Great Britain and the United States. The Imperial Japanese Navy attempted to get into this class of weaponry with the Nakajima design G8N Renzan (連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”). The Renzan was an impressive aircraft and entered service a short time after design-start. First flying in January 1945 it was too late in the war to provide a difference and produced in too few numbers with lass than a handful completed (four). Each of the four engines was a 1990 hp (1485kW) Nakajima NK9 Homare (誉, Honor) twin row 18-cylinder radial — which were unusually cooled by fans. The Renzan has tricycle landing gear and a high aspect ration mid-mounted wing. Defensive armament was impressive with powered turrets in the nose (2 x 13.2mm MG), tail (2 x 20mm), dorsal (2 x 20mm) and ventral (2 x 20mm) positions augmented by waist positions (2 x 13.2mm MG each). Maximum range was 4500 miles/7250km with a maximum speed of 358 mph/576km/h for the “Rita” which would carry a crew of ten with a maximum bomb load of 8818 pounds/4000kg. The additional reality was the engines would often produce much less power due to material shortages as well as field conditions and the aircraft used more strategic materials than Japan could afford in what would be the last desperate year for the Land of the Rising Sun. There is no mistaking, however, that the Renzan was an advanced heavy bomber by standards of the day and the cannon heavy defensive armament would give any intercepting fighter pause. One example was captured after the war, the others had been destroyed in bombing raids, but it was scrapped after testing, sadly.

Nakajima G8N Renzan ((連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”) — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo

Nakajima G8N Renzan ((連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”), note the ventral turret — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo

Cockpit of the Nakajima G8N Renzan ((連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”) which was modern for the day — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo

Nakajima G8N Renzan ((連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”) — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo

Nakajima G8N Renzan ((連山 Mountain Range / Allied reporting name “Rita”) — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo

The request was made at a meeting held inside the Navy in 1942, 1. Speed 360 knots (about 666 km / h) 2. Range 6000 nautical miles (11112 km) 3. Up to 4 ton bombs can be loaded and an order was placed on Nakajima Aircraft Company on September 14, 1943.

Nakajima Aircraft Company promoted design and development with Ken'ichi Matsumura as chief engineer. In October 1944, prototype No. 1 was completed and succeeded in flight for the first time on October 23, but No. 1 was unable to deliver planned performance due to the shortage of aluminum. In addition, collision accident occurred while moving to the hangar, damaged nose, exhaust turbine was also incomplete, delivery to the Navy came to January 1945.

No. 1 and 2 of Renzan are received by the Navy and started testing based on the Oppama airfield. No. 1 caused an accident that the rear torso broke when landing on the test flight, and a redesign was carried out along with the repair.

As the Oppama airfield was not suitable for flight with a narrow and heavy weight, and the air raid was intensifying, Renzan No. 1 and 2 were air-transported to the Misawa Navy airfield in March 1945 and flight experiments was done.

However, due to the worsening of the progress of the war, the plan of Renzan was stopped in June 1945, and those were destroyed by the air raid in August. At the Koizumi airfield adjacent to the Nakajima Aircraft Company there were two prototypes, Unprofiled No. 3 and 4, which were completed but remaining at the end of the war was only one machine damaged in part by the air raid .

This aircraft (which is said to be prototype No 4) was taken over by the US Army and transferred to the mainland USA after repairing. The transported aircraft was kept for display at the Air Force Museum, but it was abandoned during the Korean War and no existing aircraft existed.

Japan Had a Plan to Punish America with a Long-Range Bomber

Armchair historians, as well as studied academics, continue to debate why Nazi Germany failed to develop a long-range bomber before the outbreak of World War II. Afterward, Japan took up that task to some degree.

Here’s What You Need to Remember: The aircraft could have been a threat to the U.S. Navy's fleet earlier in the war, but in 1945 the bombers would have had a hard time getting past the vast air net that protected the American carriers and other warships. Without a forward base, any hopes of striking the United States were also a pipedream.

Armchair historians, as well as studied academics, continue to debate why Nazi Germany failed to develop a long-range bomber before the outbreak of the Second World War. The United States, Great Britain and even the Soviet Union all developed long-range heavy bombers, but the Axis powers failed to develop similar aircraft. The German efforts included the He-177, a twin-engine bomber that earned infamous nicknames such as the "Flaming Coffin" while the BF 110 medium bomber had the range but was unable to fend off enemy fighters.

Germany instead put much of its efforts into jet aircraft, while the efforts to develop a long-range bomber bordered on the fantastical. That included the Messerschmitt Me 265, which was part of the Amerikabomber program. The idea of the strategic bomber was one that could strike New York City from bases in France or the Azores. While three prototypes were built, production was abandoned in the fall of 1944.

The Imperial Japanese Navy also developed a four-engine long-range bomber – but as with many of the "miracle weapons" produced by the Axis powers, it proved to be too little, too late.

The Nakajima G8N Renzan – originally designated Type 18 experimental land-based attack aircraft – was developed by the Nakajima Aircraft Company, which had developed the KI-43 fighter plane as well as the Kokoku Heiki No. 2, or Kikka ("orange blossom"), a jet aircraft similar in design to the German Me-262.

The Renzan ("Deep Mountain") met the demands for a long-range bomber, and it had a maximum speed of 320 knots (370 mph) and was able to carry a bomb load of 8,800 pounds some 2,300 miles. In addition, it could carry a reduced bomb load up to 4,600 miles. Compared to other Japanese aircraft, which were largely antiquated by the latter stages of the Second World War, the Renzan was modern, with tricycle landing gear and a large single-fin rudder.

The bomber was powered by four 2,000 horsepower Nakajima NK9K-L "Homare" 24 radical engines with Hitachi 92 turbosuperchargers and four-bladed propellers. Its armament included twin 20mm Type 99 cannons in power-operated dorsal, ventral and tail turrets, two 13mm Type 2 machine guns in power-operated nose turret and one flexible 13mm Type 2 machine gun in each of the port and starboard beam positions. The aircraft was crewed by three but carry as many as 42 passengers. To man the machine guns the Renzan had a crew of 10.

As noted the Renzan simply arrived too late to make any contribution to the war effort. The aircraft made its first flight in late October 1944 and the Imperial Japanese Navy had planned to have 48 assembled by September 1945, but only a total of four were built by the time Japan surrendered in August 1945. Even if the Japanese military had built 48 or even 100 for that matter the aircraft likely could have done little to turn the tide.

The aircraft could have been a threat to the U.S. Navy's fleet earlier in the war, but in 1945 the bombers would have had a hard time getting past the vast air net that protected the American carriers and other warships. Without a forward base, any hopes of striking the United States were also a pipedream.

One of the four prototypes was taken to the United States for testing, but it was scrapped. For so many reasons the Nakajima G8N Renzan remains little more than a curiosity of the war.


The Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range) was a heavy bomber designed by the Nakajima Aircraft Company in the concluding stages of World War II. The G5N Shinzan had been termed a disastrous failure. So the Japanese navy decided to take a shot again to build a four-engine strategic bomber. Unfortunately, the prototype of the G8N1 could be completed and appeared seriously late in the year 1944. At that time, the Japanese armies were not having a very good time and their strength was decreasing continuously so the system could never be put in mass production. The production kept on suffering several times due to the shortage of available wartime materials, in particular aluminum. Only 7 in total examples could be manufactured that included prototypes. It was codenamed &quotRita&quot by the Allies.

The first prototype of Nakajima G8N Renzam or Rita appeared in 1944. First production models could appear only in early 1945. The G8N was derived its power from 4 Nakajima-brand NK9K-L 24 Homare 18-cylinder radial engines. Wings were of the low-monoplane type. The wings were mounted just vertically below the fuselage. Its landing gear featured a tricycle. The tail assembly possessed a single rudder fin. The G8N could carry a maximum internal bomb load of nearly 9,000 pounds so it was aptly termed as a heavy bomber. It was designed in such a way that it’s defense could not be hampered much. Six 20mm Type 99 cannons were mounted in two-gun turret assemblies fore, aft and in a ventral turret position. Double Type 2 13mm machine guns were also fitted in the nose along with an additional machine gun in each waist gunner position.

The G8N was an airplane with very good defensive capability with equally good offensive ability. Its range was quite powerful. Sadly for the Japanese armies, the Nakajima G8N would have been very important and could have caused substantial damage had it been developed earlier.

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Lost in Shangri-la — a deep jungle rescue mission

Lost in Shangri-la — a deep jungle rescue mission

Lost in Shangri-la: a true story of survival, adventure, and the most incredible rescue mission of World War II, Mitchell Zuckoff, 2011, ISBN 978-0-06-198835-6, 384 pp.

Lost in Shangri-la: a true story of survival, adventure, and the most incredible rescue mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff with cover design by Richard Ljoenes

Zuckhoff writes well of this nearly forgotten footnote of World War II’s history which took place in New Guinea. He tells the tale of three aircraft crash survivors and their fantastic rescue, as expected from the title, but weaves into the telling of the tale with the backstory as well as the lapsed understandings of the time. Zuckhoff gives a complete narrative, not a recitation of facts, giving his readers the sort of complete understanding like those who lived the time – not the immediate awareness like that of a temporary visitor.

Lost in Shangri-la is about the late World War II excursion flight of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain named “Gremlin Special” which crashed into a rising valley. Three of the twenty-one souls aboard survived to ultimately walk out into the unmapped valley known to local Allied service personnel as “Shangri-la” but not without heroic and inventive efforts by their rescuers.

Zuckhoff’s writing easily teaches much about this little known area of operations in World War II and surprises with earthshaking new understandings such as the United States lost over 600 aircraft in New Guinea during World War II with most being noncombat related — with hundreds more lost by allied as well as enemy forces. Paradoxically, though New Guinea was not as well known in the media as other operational areas it experienced more aircraft loses than any other country during the war.

The valley, largely unknown to the western world, was inhabited by tens of thousands of natives living in several alliances and hundreds of groups for untold thousands of years. Richard Archbold first mapped the valley several years prior to the crash but his knowledge was not on Allied maps which simply did not have the significantly vast valley charted. Zuckoff wonderfully illustrates the society of these natives which was both complex and simple in its ways – a window into how non primitive our primitive ancestors likely were.

After a brave and strenuous trek the three wounded survivors reached a clearing where they were spotted by search aircraft and move was salient to their survival. Volunteer members of a Filipino-American paratrooper unit then parachuted in with two medics landing near the survivors as the rest landing several miles away at a large clearing to set up a base camp where all would live until an extraction plan was devised (these brave men knew an extraction plan was yet to be found). These men of the 5217th Reconnaissance Battalion went into unknown territory, massively outnumbered and with no chance of reinforcement or extraction. They should have been treated as heroes back in the day but were not and Zuckoff details their story as well as the casual disregard of them by the day’s media. Incredibly, as well as shamefully (as well researched by Zuckhoff), they were not recognized properly though all other individuals (and non Filipino-American) were done so individually and repetitively through the course of the multi-week rescue.

Gliders played the ultimate role of rescue vehicle and Zuckhoff continues to shine writing about this phase. Though 500 gliders had been snatched from the ground by C-47 and C-46 aircraft during World War II these had all been empty and at a near sea level altitude (with its greater lift due to higher air density). The glider snatches, there would be three required, in Shangri-la would be at altitude (8000 feet/2400m) and weighted down with people. The development and use of the rescue technique is worth the cost of the book on its own.

Zuckhoff has given the world a book which tells the story of a fantastic rescue operation done by people who simply proceeding knowing the faith they had in each other would somehow see them through the trial. His research is so thorough and deep that we also know the people involved, not only the three survivors, as who they were or are – not statistics in a report. Zuckhoff also gives us insight – much of it through conversations with the native tribal people and their relatives — so that we can understand the way life was lived in more primitive times – ironical in that this event occurred when “civilized” people were killing on an industrial scale.

This book is also well indexed and footnoted with a full bibliography — which is most welcome but hardly surprising since the author was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in investigative reporting!

Watch the video: Nakajima G8N Rita CAS-AC-338


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