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Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis'  

Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis'

The only long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in Japanese naval service when the war began, the H6K Type 97 - given the Allied code name 'Mavis' - served early in the war in bombing strikes against targets in the Dutch East Indies and at Rabaul. However, it was employed primarily as a reconnaissance aircraft and transport. As a bomber, the 'Mavis' was vulnerable to Allied fighters because of its lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. In 1943, as the H8K 'Emily' flying boat entered service, the surviving aircraft were fitted with benches and used as troop transports. (These transports were given the Allied code name 'Tillie'.) The four-engine 'Mavis' was developed in response to a 1934 specification for a flying boat with exceptional range capabilites. Five prototypes were ordered from Kawanishi, with the first aircraft flying in July 1936. The H6K2-L variant could carry eighteen passengers ( or ten in seats four in sleeping berths), and eighteen aircraft were flown by Japan Air Lines on Western Pacific routes. The first series production military aircraft was the H6K4, an armed aircraft that could carry bombs or aerial torpedoes. There were sixty-six of these flying boats serving with the Japanese Navy on Dec. 7, 1941 (the day the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred). Production continued until 1943 with 215 of all variants being produced. The 'Mavis' had a superficial resemblance to the U.S. Navy's PBY Catalina flying boat, having a parasol wing raised above the long, narrow fuselage on inverted V-struts and braced by parallel struts attached to the hull; four radial engines were mounted in the leading edge of the wing. There were fixed stabilizing floats under the wings. The aircraft had a twin-tail arrangement.


Full Name

Kawanishi H6K5 'Mavis'


Flying Boat






40 m


25.63 m


6.27 m


Empty: 12380 kg

Maximum Speed

385 km


6772 km


4 x 1300 hp Mitsubishi Kinsei 51/53


1 x 20mm cannon, 4 x 7.7 machine gun, a bomb load of 1600 kg



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