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Kawanishi H8K

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The Kawanishi H8K (二式大型飛行艇, Type 2 Large Flying Boat. 二式大艇, Nishiki Daitei, Nishiki Taitei) was an Imperial Japanese Navy flying boat used during World War II for maritime patrol duties. The Allied reporting name for the type was "Emily".

Design and development

At the same time as the type's predecessor, the Kawanishi H6K was going into service in 1938, the Navy ordered the development of a larger, longer-range patrol aircraft. The result was a large, shoulder-wing design that is widely regarded as the best flying boat of the war.[1][2][3] Despite this, development was troublesome, with the prototype displaying terrible handling on the water. Further prototypes considerably refined the hull design.

The improved H8K2 variant soon appeared, and its extremely heavy defensive armament earned it deep respect among Allied aircrews,[4] who allegedly nicknamed it the "flying porcupine".[citation needed] The H8K2 was an upgrade over the H8K1, having more powerful engines, slightly revised armament, and an increase in fuel capacity. This was to be the definitive variant, with 112 produced.

Nearly 40 examples of a dedicated transport version, the H8K2-L, were also built, capable of carrying 62 troops. This aircraft was also known as Seiku (晴空, "Clear Sky"). The side defensive blisters, ventral defensive hatch, and dorsal turret were discarded. To increase the available space within the aircraft, its hull tanks were removed, thus reducing its range.

Operational history

The H8K entered production in 1941 and first saw operational use on the night of March 4 1942 in a second raid on Pearl Harbor. Since the target lay out of range for the flying boats, this audacious plan involved a refuelling by submarine at French Frigate Shoals en route. Two planes attempted to bomb Pearl Harbor, but, due to poor visibility, did not accomplish any significant damage.[5]

H8K2s were used on a wide range of patrol, reconnaissance, bombing, and transport missions throughout the Pacific war. The H8K2 was given the Allied code name "Emily".


H8K1 Prototype
One experimental prototype and two evaluation aircraft.
H8K1 (Navy Flying Boat type 2, Model 11)
First operative model of series, 14 built.
Redesignation of the first prototype, after it was converted into a transport aircraft.
H8K2 (Model 12)
Version with more powerful engines and major armament, equipped with search radar, 120 built.
H8K2-L Seiku ("Clear Sky"),(Model 32)
Transport version of H8K1. Armed examples were equipped with two 20 mm Type 99 cannons and transport capacity of 29-64 passengers (36).
H8K3 (Model 22)
Experimental version, H8K2 modified. Equipped with retractable floats in wingtips, sliding hatch side gun locations in place of the blisters, and a retractable dorsal turret all in an effort to increase speed, 2 prototypes.
H8K4 (Model 23)
H8K3 with different engines, 2 converted.




Four aircraft survived until the end of the war. One of these, an H8K2, was captured by U.S. forces at the end of the war and was evaluated before being eventually returned to Japan in 1979. It was on display at Tokyo's Museum of Maritime Science until 2004, when it was moved to Kanoya Air Base in Kagoshima.

The submerged remains of an H8K can be found off the west coast of Saipan, where it is a popular scuba diving attraction known erroneously as the "B-29", or the "Emily". Another wrecked H8K lies in Chuuk Lagoon, Chuuk, in Micronesia. This aircraft is located off the south-western end of Dublon Island.

Specifications (Kawanishi H8K2)

File:Kawanishi H8K2 -tail gunner.jpg
The tail gunner position (without gun)

Template:Aircraft specification

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Comparable aircraft

Related lists



  1. Green 1972, p. 131.
  2. Van der Klaauw, p. 86.
  3. Francillon 1979, p. 312.
  4. Francillon 1979, p. 310.
  5. Raymer, E.C. Descent Into Darkness, pages 96-98. Presidio Press, 1996, ISBN:0-89141-580-0


  • Francillon, René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam & Company, 1970 (2nd edition 1979). ISBN 0-370-30251-6.
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Five: Flying Boats. London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers)Ltd., 1962. ISBN 0-356-01449-5.
  • Richards, M.C. "Kawanishi 4-Motor Flying-Boats (H6K 'Mavis' and H8K 'Emily')". Aircraft in Profile Volume 11. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1972.
  • Van der Klaauw, Bart. Water- en Transportviegtuigen Wereldoorlog II (in Dutch). Alkmaar, the Netherlands: Uitgeverij de Alk. ISBN 90-6013-6772.

Template:Japanese Navy Flying Boats

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