Weapons that could have helped Japan win WWII but were brought in too late: Shimakaze, Kikka, Kyushu J7W, I401 submarine

Fareeha Arshad

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Photo by UX Gun on Unsplash

The Germans possessed some of the most sophisticated weapons during the world war. Regardless, they overestimated themselves and ended up losing against the Allies.

On the other hand, the Japanese also possessed some of the most technologically advanced weapons the world had ever seen. Unfortunately, however, they were deployed a bit late; or their weapons could have changed the game for them.

1. The Shimakaze-Class Destroyer

Japanese built some of the strongest world-class battleships, irrespective of their sizes. The Shimakaze was the first of its kind as a ‘super destroyer’, and its plan was laid out in 1941. With a top speed of forty knots, this battleship was equipped with five-inch guns and fifteen torpedo tubes. As a result, the Shimakaze became unparalleled and the world’s most heavily armed destroyer with these features.

However, because of the ship’s structure and components' complexity, the Japanese couldn’t build it within a short time frame and enter it into the war. So by the time one Shimakaze was wholly developed in 1943, the war was not in favour of the Japanese. Perhaps if a fleet of these ships had entered the war at the start, it could have proven more beneficial for the Japanese. However, not much later, the vessel sank during an air attack.

2. The Nakajima Kikka

Inspired by the German fighter aircraft Messerschmitt Me 262, the Japanese envisioned building their version of the jet fighter, the Nakajima Kikka. Accordingly, the Japanese government gave the project to develop these fighter planes to the Nakajima Aircraft Company. The prototype was soon developed by 1945 and resembled the Me 262 but was smaller and had straight wings. Also, the control flaps were covered with fabric and not metallic structures.

This prototype of Kikka underwent a couple of test flights, one of which was successful, but the next suffered a significant accident, causing the aircraft to crash into Tokyo Bay. With this catastrophe, the Japanese suffered a significant setback. Unfortunately, the war had already ended before they could do something about the jet and repair it.

3. The Kyushu J7W Shinden

Also known as the ‘magnificent lightning’, the Kyushu J7W was unique because it was the only propeller aircraft furnished with canard and was given the green signal for its mass production during the second world war.

Japan started producing these aircraft in 1944. However, because of the dire situation, they hastened the completion of the Kyushu J7W development even before the prototype was entirely tested. The Japanese were under attack and needed these to fight against the B-29 raids. But unfortunately, because of the multiple delays in the transport of the aircraft parts, the production of the J7W was delayed. So the war had almost ended when these aircraft started flying.

4. The I-401 Submarine

The I-401 was one of the world’s largest submarines ever built. Though its size was very formidable, that is, about sixty per cent bigger than most US submarines. It could also keep three aircraft simultaneously and possess double-pressure halls. These features made this jumbo Japanese submarine unique and gave them an upper hand on any other war machine present at the time.

This I-401 was built to be secretly placed near the American borders to launch the aircraft and wreak chaos in closeby areas like the Panama Canal and San Francisco. In 1942, the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was given the reins over the submarines. With the I-401, they could easily defeat the US. However, the Japanese were already losing the war by the time this jumbo submarine was wholly developed in 1945.

So, as soon as the I-401 was entirely developed, it was first intended to annihilate the Panama Canal so that the US could not move their vessels from the Pacific Ocean into the Atlantic. However, this strategy was not followed because the Americans were already a step ahead and were already very close to the Japanese borders.

Instead, the submarines were planned to be sent to bomb the US fleet at the Ulithi Atoll. However, the war had already ended before the submarines reached the American naval forces. So it was shifted to Hawaii to investigate further the sophisticated technology used for its development.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State
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