Last week while working at the CAF Dixie Wing we took a few shots of the Nakajima B-5N “Kate” which is owned by Alan Armstrong. When he is not out flying his Torpedo Bomber, Alan owns an aviation law practice in Atlanta. His “Kate” is a movie star but what many don’t know is that the aircraft is actually a 1943 SNJ-4 aircraft that has been modified to resemble the Nakajima “Kate” bomber.
The replica Kate bomber was built for and flown in the 20th Century Fox film, “Tora! Tora! Tora!”. For the filming of the movie, they needed Japanese torpedo bombers but none existed as the Japanese were forced to destroy all of them after the war. The movie producers decided they would make some by combining the airframe of a North American SNJ-4 with the tail section of a Vultee BT-13. With it’s 600 hp Pratt and Whitney R1340-AN engine, it’s performance is actually equivalent to that of an original Kate. In addition to it’s role in “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, this plane has appeared in such Hollywood productions as “The Battle of Midway,” “The Flying Misfits,” “War and Remembrance” and the TV series “Black Sheep Squadron” (see more aerial shots, photo 1, and photo2). You can find out more at japanesebomber.com
The aircraft is available for operations and displays at air shows and continues to be available to the motion picture industry for film production work.