SCALE & KIT
The Nakajima C6N Saiun (彩雲, “Iridescent Cloud”) was a carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. Advanced for its time, it was the fastest carrier-based aircraft put into service by Japan during the war. The Allied reporting name was Myrt.
Although designed for carrier use, by the time it entered service in September 1944 there were few carriers left for it to operate from, so most C6Ns were flown from land bases. Its speed was exemplified by a telegraph sent after a successful mission: “No Grummans can catch us.” (“我に追いつくグラマンなし”). The top speed of the Hellcat was indeed of the same level, so overtaking a Saiun was out of the question.
A total of 463 aircraft were produced. A single prototype of a turbocharged development mounting a 4-blade propeller was built; this was called the C6N2 Saiun-kai. Several examples of a night fighter version C6N1-S with oblique-firing (Schräge Musik configuration) single 30 mm (or dual 20 mm) cannon were converted from existing C6N1s. As Allied bombers came within reach of the Japanese home islands, a first class night fighter was required. This led Nakajima to develop the C6N1-S by removing the observer and replacing him with two 20 mm cannons. The C6N1-S’s effectiveness was hampered by the lack of air-to-air radar, although it was fast enough to enjoy almost complete immunity from interception by Allied fighters. A torpedo carrying C6N1-B was also proposed, but was not needed after most of Japan’s aircraft carriers were destroyed.
Despite its speed and performance, on 15 August 1945 a C6N1 happened to be the last aircraft to be shot down in World War II. Just five minutes later, the war was over and all Japanese aircraft were grounded.