The Aichi E13A 'Jake' Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane was the most important Japanese floatplane of the Second World War. It entered service just before the attack on Pearl Harbor and remained in use to the end of the war, operating from the cruisers and battleships of the Japanese fleet and from shore bases, normally in its intended role as a reconnaissance aircraft, but also on occasion as a staff transport or bomber.
The E13A began life as the E12A, a two seat twin-float reconnaissance seaplane designed in response to a Japanese Navy 12-Shi (1937) specification for an aircraft to replace the Kawanishi E7K2 three-seat seaplane. Aichi, Kawanishi and Nakajima were all asked to submit designs to satisfy this specification. The Kawanishi E12K never progressed beyond the design stage, but two prototypes each were constructed of the Aichi E12A and the Nakajima E12N.
Late in 1937 the Navy issued a second 12-Shi specification, this time for a three seat twin-float seaplane. Kawanishi decided to concentrate on this project, producing two prototypes of the E13K, while Aichi decided to produce a larger version of the E12A.
The prototypes E12A and E13A both made their maiden flights late in 1938. Aichi’s own tests revealed that the E13A was the better aircraft, with its more powerful 1,060hp Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 engine more than making up for its extra weight. The Japanese Navy had also decided that it preferred the three engine designs, and so work on the two-seat E12A and E12N was suspended. During 1940 the Aichi E13A was tested against the Kawanishi E13K by Naval pilots, and in December 1940 the Aichi E13A was declared the winner of the contest and ordered into production as the Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1 (soon changed to Model 11).
Aichi would produce a total of 133 E13A1s between 1940 and 1942. Another 48 were produced by the 11th Naval Air Arsenal at Hiro (Dai-Juichi Kaigun Kokusho), but the biggest producer of the E13A1 would be the Kyushu Hikoki K.K. (Watanabe Tekkosho (Ironworks) until 1943). Between 1942 and the end of the Second World War they produced 1,237 E13A1s, bringing total production to 1,418.
The first E13A1s were used to equip Japanese cruisers and seaplane tenders operating off the coast of China in 1941, and their combat debut was a series of bombing raids on the Canton-Hankow railway. The E13A joined the 8th Cruiser Division in time to take part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. As production stepped up in 1942 the E13A spread throughout the Japanese Navy, and could soon be found wherever the Navy was operating.
At Midway the E13A1 was carried on the Haruna, Chikuma and Tone in Vice Admiral Nagumo’s Carrier Striking Force. The Tone’s No.4 search plane, piloted by Petty Officer First Class Yoji Amari, actually discovered the American fleet on the morning of 4 June, but for some reason failed to report the presence of the aircraft carriers. This lack of clarity helped to produce the confusion on the Japanese carriers that ended a few hours later with three of the four Japanese fleet carriers burning.
By the middle of 1943 there may have been as many at 250 E13As at sea on Japanese warships, while more were operating from shore bases. The E13A’s lack of self sealing fuel tanks and crew armour made it very vulnerable when American fighter aircraft were encountered, but despite this it remained in use until the end of the war. Where enemy fighters were not expected the E13A was sometimes used as a bomber and to attack shipping. Towards the end of the war many of the remaining aircraft were used in kamikaze attacks.
Aichi E13A1 Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1 then 11
The E13A1 was the main production version from 1940 until 1944, and was essentially identical to the prototype. The E13A1 retained the Kinsei 43 radial engine for its entire production run. This version was armed with a single .303in machine gun in rear cockpit
Aichi E13A1a Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 11A
During 1944 two new versions of the E13A1 appeared. The only external differences with the E13A1 was the addition of two more pairs of inward sloping float bracing struts, and the use of a propeller spinner. Both new versions could use exhaust flame dampers for night operations, and could carry a flexible 20mm cannon firing down through the fuselage for use against American PT boats. The E13A1a also carried improved radio equipment.
Aichi E13A1b Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 11B
The E13A1b Model 11B was given air-to-surface radar, carrying the antennae on the wing leading edge and the sides of the rear fuselage.
Engine: Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 14 cylinder radial engine
Power: 1,080hp at 6,560ft, 1,060hp at take-off
Wing span: 47ft 7in
Length: 37ft 1in
Height: 24ft 3.3in
Weights: 8,818lb loaded, 12,192lb maximum
Max Speed: 234mph at 9,845ft
Cruising Speed: 138mph at 6,560ft
Service Ceiling: 28,640ft
Range: 1,298 miles
Endurance: Up to 15 hours
Armament: One 20mm downward firing cannon in ventral position, one .303in machine gun in rear cockpit
Bomb-load: One 551lb or four 132lb bombs or depth charges carried externally