First Flight of the Gasuden Koken – Airways | Airlines


DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the Gasuden Koken, aka the Kōken-ki, a 1930s Japanese long-range research aircraft, made its maiden flight in 1937.

The type was designed by the Tokyo Gas and Electric Industry (also known as Gasuden) to set a closed-circuit world record of 11,651 km (7,240 mi) in March 1938.

The Kōken-ki could carry a crew of three. It had a length of 15.06 m (49 ft 5 in), a height of 3.60 m (11 ft 10 in), and a wingspan of 27.93 m (91 ft 8 in) with a wing area of 87.3 m2 (940 sq ft).

The type’s maximum speed was 250 km/h (160 mph, 130 kn) and a cruise speed of 211 km/h (131 mph, 114 kn) with a range of 11,651.011 km (7,239.603 mi, 6,291.043 nmi) (record distance) and a service ceiling of 3,410 m (11,190 ft).

The Japanese research aircraft Gasuden Koken. Photo: 富塚 清「航研機―世界記録樹立への軌跡」三樹書房 2010年2月1日発売, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


In 1931, the Tokyo Imperial University’s Aeronautical Research Institute began research to develop an aircraft that would break the world closed-circuit distance record, with funding provided by the Japanese Diet or parliament.

The initial design was finished in August 1934, and despite having little funding and a history of only building small quantities of wooden light aircraft, Gasuden was chosen to develop the aircraft. A single-engined low-wing cantilever monoplane with retractable undercarriage was developed by the Aeronautical Research Institute and Gasuden.

The aircraft was made entirely of aluminum and had fabric-covered outer wings and control surfaces. Although a diesel engine was originally planned, it proved impractical, so a modified version of the German BMW VIII gasoline-fueled engine, license-built by Kawasaki, was selected in the end.

The Kōken-ki took a long time to build, and it wasn’t finished until March 1937. Major Yuzo Fujita of the Imperial Japanese… read more

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