Friday, June 8, 2012

Kawasaki Gunner

Sometimes when I pick up one of these old photos that are devoid of any notations or discernible history, I have to wonder how in the world it got from where it was snapped to where I found it. Take this one: a portrait of a proud Imperial Japanese Army gunner, taken probably sometime in the 1930s, and found in a pile in a Palmdale, Calif. antique store some 80 years later. To make matters even more odd, it is printed on French photo postcard paper.

The plane that this anonymous gunner is standing in is a Kawasaki Ki-3, the last biplane light bomber built by Japan. The Ki-3, which first flew in March 1933, was designed by German engineer Richard Vogt (who went on to become chief engineer for Blohm und Voss) and was powered by a liquid-cooled BMW IX V-12 engine. Production ran from January 1934 through March 1935, and Ki-3s saw service in Korea and Manchuria.

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