History of "Monozukuri" (Manufacturing)

Amphibian Aircraft

1936

Kawanishi Aircraft Company Limited, the predecessor of our company became the designated plant of the Navy in 1928, due to their achievements in the manufacturing and development of aircraft, and our company designed and manufactured nearly 3,000 seaplanes and amphibian aircraft until the end of the war.

  • 1936 First flight of Kawanishi H6K

    First flight of Kawanishi H6K
  • 1940 First flight of Kawanishi H8K

    This aircraft was capable of a long cruising range, and played an active role as a patrol aircraft and transport aircraft.

    First flight of Kawanishi H8K
  • 1945/1952 Aircraft manufacturing ban/Lifting of ban

    At the same time the war ended, the manufacturing of aircraft was totally banned. In 1949, our company was restarted under the new name "Shin Meiwa Industry Company Limited" (changed to the current name in 1992). When the manufacturing ban was lifted in 1952, the aircraft business restarted from the overhauling of bodies and engines.

    Aircraft being overhauled
    Aircraft being overhauled
  • 1953 Started development of a new amphibian aircraft

    An aviation committee was established as a special mission of the President during this period. A disadvantage of the existing amphibian aircraft, including the Kawanishi period was that it was "vulnerable to ocean waves," so we thought "if an amphibian aircraft capable of take-off and landing on rough seas with sufficient seaworthiness could be developed, new opportunities may be found." Therefore, development was started targeting an amphibian aircraft capable of take-off and landing even on rough seas with waves as high as 3 meters.

  • 1959 Completed basic design of new amphibian aircraft

    It took 4 years to develop a "groove type spray suppressor" to overcome the biggest issue of "suppressing splashing while gliding across water for take-off" to enable landing on rough seas with waves as high as 3 meters. In order to overcome the second issue of "safe take-offs and landing on rough seas," we developed a "high-lift device" that realizes very low-speed flight, which established the short take-off and landing (STOL), and the basic design was completed.

    Wooden model of an amphibian aircraft during wind tunnel tests
    Wooden model of an amphibian aircraft during wind tunnel tests
    Groove type spray suppressor
    Groove type spray suppressor
  • 1962 Demonstration test using "UF-XS"

    In order to acquire orders from the government, when we conducted PR activities to emphasize that the new amphibian aircraft was the most effective as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy paid attention to the technology. In 1960, the policy for development of a new anti-submarine patrol aircraft was determined as the policy of the Defense Agency (former name). In 1962, an Albatross made by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation which was provided via the U.S. Navy was modified into the "UF-XS," and demonstration of new technology was conducted by an experimental amphibian aircraft. The JMSDF continued experimentation with the UF-XS until 1964 to confirm its outstanding seaworthiness.

    Modified Albatross of Grumman the 'UF-XS'
    Modified Albatross of Grumman the "UF-XS"
  • 1966 Concluded contract for new amphibian aircraft "PX-S"

    Our company concluded a contract for development of the first model of the new amphibian aircraft "PX-S" with the Defense Agency, due to their recognition of the successful test flights of the "UF-XS." The first successful flight was in 1967.

    'PX-S' taking-off from the sea on its first flight
    "PX-S" taking-off from the sea on its first flight
  • 1970 "PX-S (PS-1 Aircraft)"
    Adopted as a military plane of the JMSDF

    After a series of test flights, the "PX-S" was approved as a military plane of the JMSDF, and was officially named the "PS-1 Aircraft." Twenty-three PS-1 aircraft played active roles as anti-submarine patrol aircraft until 1979.

    'PS-1' gliding across water for take-off
    "PS-1" gliding across water for take-off
  • 1973 Received order for amphibian aircraft "PS-1 Kai (US-1)"

    In 1973 at the stage where we were able to see the accomplishments of the "PX-S," when we started development of the search and rescue amphibian as one of the multiple applications making full use of its performance, we received the first order from the Defense Agency for the new model "PS-1 Kai," which was developed into an amphibian aircraft by modifying the mother aircraft the PS-1.
    The most important part of this development project was to attach "legs" to the aircraft, since it would have to be able to land on land for ambulance transportation. The maiden flight was successfully accomplished in October 1974 through repeated demonstration tests. An amphibian aircraft capable of taking off and landing both at sea and on land was completed, and in March of the following year, the first model of the "US-1 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian" was delivered to the Defense Agency.

    'US-1' first flight
    "US-1" first flight
    Interior of 'PS-1 Kai (US-1)'
    Interior of "PS-1 Kai (US-1)"
  • 1981 Manufactured "US-1A STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian"

    The output of the engine was enhanced from the 7th "US-1," and the name of the aircraft was also changed to "US-1A STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian." Subsequently, we delivered 20 aircraft to the Defense Agency by 2005.

    Last 'US-1A' taking off
    Last "US-1A" taking off
  • 1996 Determined development of "US-1A Kai," and our company was designated as the main contractor

    In October 1996, after about 20 years passed since the development of the "US-1" started, we received a notification mentioning that our company was designated as the main contractor. The project "US-1A Modification Engineering Team (USMET)" was organized with the participation of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., NIPPI Corporation and other companies, and the basic design and development were started. Although the purpose of the project was "modification engineering and development," we had to clear three major issues: improved flight control during takeoff and landing on water; improved environment for patients during transport; and enhanced open sea search and rescue capabilities. There were development processes that had to be taken equal to new development, and the basic design was finally completed as a result of the difficult struggles and efforts of the related personnel.

    Meeting of USMET members
    Meeting of USMET members
  • 2003 Conducted the first test flight of "US-1A Kai"

    After the basic design was completed, the USMET members returned to their companies, and they carried out the detailed designs and manufacturing of the parts they were in charge of. The parts that were manufactured by each company were assembled at the Konan Plant to complete the first aircraft. In April 2003, the "US-1A Kai rollout ceremony" was conducted, and after the first test flight was conducted in December of the same year, the first aircraft was successfully completed.

    First prototype of 'US-1A Kai'
    First prototype of "US-1A Kai”
  • 2007 Delivered "US-1A Kai (US-2 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian)" to the Defense Agency

    The first prototype of the "US-1A Kai" was delivered to the Defense Agency in March 2004, and the second aircraft was successively delivered in December. Subsequently, after the technological and practical tests were conducted by the Defense Agency, the name was changed from the "US-1A Kai" to the "US-2 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian." In March 2007, the US-2 was officially deployed to a squadron upon approval from the Minister of Defense.

    First mass-produced 'US-2' taking off from the sea
    First mass-produced "US-2" taking off from the sea

In the future

The "US-2" is the only aircraft in the world equipped with the capability to take-off and land on the open seas with wave heights of 3 meters, and is attracting attention from various foreign countries . In addition, as a new application, research on "firefighting amphibian aircraft" for the purpose of extinguishing fires and preventing fires from spreading is also being promoted, and is expected to play an even greater role.

Firefighting amphibian aircraft (Image)
Firefighting amphibian aircraft (Image)

In the future

The "US-2" is the only aircraft in the world equipped with the capability to take-off and land on the open seas with wave heights of 3 meters, and is attracting attention from various foreign countries . In addition, as a new application, research on "firefighting amphibian aircraft" for the purpose of extinguishing fires and preventing fires from spreading is also being promoted, and is expected to play an even greater role.

Firefighting amphibian aircraft (Image)
Firefighting amphibian aircraft (Image)
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