Mitsubishi Type 99 Assault/ Recon Ki-51
Single engine, fixed landing gear aircraft with a crew
of two and armed with
only three 7.7mm machine guns (two in wings, one flexible gun
for rear gunner). Despite its apparent obsolescence it was never
replaced. Pilots and ground crews liked the plane
because it was easy to fly, maintain, and operate from small
airfields at the front lines. Operated by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF).
Reconnaissance Version (Guntei, Ki-51A)
(Kyu Kyu Shiki Gun Teisatsu Ki) Reconnaissance version. Production ended during November 1941. The 83rd Independent Air Chutai operated the Ki-51A Sonia in China until April 1943 at Luisu Airfield then transfered to the South Seas Area, operating from Wewak Central Airfield using Madang Airfield as a forward operating base and operated from Lae Airfield during the middle of May 1943 until the the Allied liberation of Lae.
Assault Version (Ki-51B)
(Kyu Kyu Shiki Shuugeki Ki) Also known as Shugeki or Shuhgeki. The assault version had armor
plating protecting the pilot and oil tanks, and bomb racks to carry 441 pounds of bombs. This version could be modified in the field to carry an aerial camera. The 26th Flying Regiment operated the Ki-51B Sonia in New Guinea.
A total of 2,388 were built, by two factories: Mitsubishi and the 1st Army Air Arsenal
Mitsubishi produced a total of 1,472.
1st Army Air Arsenal produced a total of 913.
Production Record of the Type 99 Assault / Recon Plane by Jim Long
Advance Echekon FEAF Tokyo "Monthly Production Figures on aircraft, engines & propellers" October 26, 1945
軍偵部隊の足跡 / Guntei Butai No Ashiato: Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 83 Chutai Shi - "Footsteps of a Tac Reconn Unit: History of the 83rd Independent Flying Chutai 1988
Thanks to Nicholas Millman and Richard Dunn for additional information
Technical Details (Ki-51B)
Crew Two (pilot, observer)
Engine 14 cylinder air cooled
Maximum Speed 263 mph
Range 660 miles
Armament (wings) 2 x 12.7mm MG (rear) 1 x 7.7mm MG
Bomb Load 441 pounds