Т. К.19

It was difficult for the US and her Allies to acquire intelligence about the Japanese war industry as far as HUMINT (HUMan INTelli – gence) was concerned. This was due to the relative difficulty associated with either turn­ing a Japanese source or inserting a foreign spy into Japan who was capable of avoiding detection. Once it was broken, the PURPLE code (as used by Japanese foreign offices) and the later JN-25 code (as it was labelled by the US) used by the 1JN provided a wealth of information and intelligence, but human intelligence and cipher cracking were only a part of the overall processes. One avenue used prior to the war was the gathering of publications such as books and magazines. Besides being relatively innocuous to pur­chase in Japan, such sources could be obtained outside of Japan and were therefore easier to gather. It was one such publication issued just prior to the start of hostilities that revealed the T. K.19 to intelligence officers.

The illustration of the T. K.19 appeared in the April 1941 issue of the Japanese aviation magazine Sora in a section entitled ‘Dreams of Future Designers’. The T. K.19 showed a fuselage that was elongated and ovoid in shape. More interestingly, it showed a canopy that could be lowered to fit flush with the top of the fuselage thereby eliminating the drag of a standard canopy. This same concept was seen in the Russian Bisnovat SK and Bartini Stal’-6, both of which were high-speed air­craft whose designers were seeking military
applications for their charges. Each wing of the T. K. 19 showed what appeared to be three weapon ports, totalling six machine guns or cannons. There were also ducts in each of the wing roots, ostensibly to cool the engine. A radiator bath may have been located in the nose of the aircraft. Given the flush canopy, the T. K.19 may have used a system similar to the Stal’-6 in which for take-off and landing the canopy hood was hinged upwards and the pilot would raise his seat. Whether the T. K.19 used a periscope vision system for the pilot once in flight as was proposed in the Soviet Lavochkin LL fighter was not known.

Like many of the other aircraft in this sec­tion, the T. K.19 would later appear in the American magazine Flight in the 25 Decem­ber 1941 issue. The description made no mention of the more striking features of the plane as described and shown in the Japan­ese magazine. Instead, the article, which con­tained no illustration, reported the T. K.19 was of orthodox appearance save that the aircraft had a twin row radial engine in the rear of the fuselage and was cooled via ducts. From this, a drawing evolved that took the basic shape of the Japanese T. K. 19 and made it more con­ventional, to the point that it bore a slight resemblance to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, a plane that first flew in 1938 and one that Japanese pilots first encountered in combat in late 1941. The changes from the Japanese T. K.19 included doing away with the flush canopy (providing a more standard style seen

The T. K.19 depicted here is shown in the colours of the 77th Hiko Sentai during operations in Burma, 1941-1942.

in many aircraft), moving the wings higher up the fuselage, adding pronounced wing root fairings that extended from the nose of the aircraft to rear of the cockpit (the latter being set behind the wings) and having a main landing gear reminiscent of the Brewster F2A but with landing gear doors. No weapons were shown but air intakes were illustrated in the wing roots.

From reviewing the information, US intelli­gence made the assumption that the T. K.19 was a bona fide Japanese fighter that was in service or was soon to be in service. Thus, it was codenamed Joe after Corporal Joe Grat­tan, one of the team members responsible for assigning codenames to Japanese aircraft. The T. K.19 failed to appeare in Japanese sources despite remaining in US intelligence bulletins. It eventually became clear that the T. K.19 was nothing more than a fictional air­craft and Joe was removed from future intel­ligence publications.

T. K.19-data

No information, if any, on the specifications are aoailable for the T. K. 19. Deployment

None. The T. K.19 existed only as an illustration in a magazine.