Aichi B7A1 Ryusei (Shooting Star) "Grace" - (scan - 1984)

One of Japan's largest and most powerful carrier-based aircraft, B-7A designed to replace Nakajima B6N torpedo bomber and the Yokosuka D4Y dive bomber. Prototype A1's performance greatly superior with speed and maneuverability at least as good as A6M "Zero"; weapons load same as predecessors'. Troublesome engine delayed development; Japan had lost control of the air, carriers had been sunk, and home industry had been bombed to standstill. Few that were delivered used for land-based operations. Aircraft had inverted gull wing to help provide ground clearance for 11' 5" prop. During early action against US fleet, inverted wing led some USN gunners to mistake it for F4U--with disastrous results. Afterwards, F4Us were suspect and dared not get within gun range for fear that they would be mistaken for Grace.

The museum's example (the last in existence) is in rough shape, unfortunately. Most of the cockpit is missing, as is the undercarriage.


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