Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko (Moonlight) IRVING

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    Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko (Moonlight) IRVING

    Twin-engine, conventional layout with tailwheel-type landing gear. Armament: (2) 20 mm fixed upward firing cannon Engines: (2) Nakajima Sakae 21 (NK1F, Ha35- 21) 14- cylinder air-cooled radial 1,130 horsepower (metric)

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This object is on display in the World War II Aviation (UHC) at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

World War II Aviation (UHC)

Originally designed as a three-seat, daylight escort fighter plane by the Nakajima Aeroplane Company, Ltd., and flown in 1941, the IRVING was modified as a night fighter in May of 1943 and shot down two American B-17 bombers to prove its capability. The Gekko (meaning moonlight) was redesigned to hold only two crewmen so that an upward firing gun could be mounted where the observer once sat. Nearly five hundred J1N1 aircraft, including prototypes, escort, reconnaissance, and night fighters were built during World War II. A sizeable number were also used as Kamikaze aircraft in the Pacific. The few that survived the war were scrapped by the Allies.

This J1N1 is the last remaining in the world. It was transported from Japan to the U.S. where it was flight tested by the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1946. The Gekko then flew to storage at Park Ridge, IL, and was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. The restoration of this aircraft, completed in 1983, took more than four years and 17,000 man-hours to accomplish.