The Kyushu J7W Shinden (Magnificent Lighting) was the only canard configuration aircraft (with the main wings at the rear) to be ordered into production by any nation during the Second World War, but the aircraft never proceeded beyond the prototype stage.
The idea for the J7W came from Captain Masaoki Tsurano, a member of the Technical Staff of the Japanese Navy. His aim was eventually to produce a jet-powered version of the aircraft, with the piston engine powered version acting as a development aircraft.
The aircraft was to have a streamlined fuselage, with the swept-back main wing mounted at the rear of the fuselage, and a much smaller wing near the nose carrying the elevators. The J7W1 was to be powered by a Mitsubishi engine mounted in a pusher configuration at the rear of the fuselage, freeing the nose for the guns. This canard configuration looks most peculiar when seen on a World War II era piston engined aircraft, but looks perfectly normal on a jet aircraft, and the J7W2 was to have been powered by a 1,984lb thrust Ne-130 turbo-jet engine.
The airworthiness of the new design was tested by produced three MXY6 gliders. Flight tests with the gliders began in the autumn of 1943, and was followed by tests with a powered version after a 22hp engine was installed on one glider. The project was then passed on to Kyushu, aided by a design team led by Captain Tsuruno. The new aircraft was to be an interceptor fighter.
Work on the J7W1 began in June 1944, and the first prototype was completed ten months later. It was ordered into production before its maiden flight, and an ambitious monthly production target of 150 aircraft was set. The prototype didn't make its maiden flight until 3 August 1945, with Captain Tsuruno at the wings of the aircraft he had inspired. Two further flights followed before the Japanese surrender brought an end to the entire project. A second prototype was completed but never flown. This aircraft was taken to the United States.
Engine: One Mitsubishi [Ha-43] 12 (MK9D) eighteen cylinder air-cooled radial
Power: 2,130hp at take off, 2,020hp at 3,870ft, 1,160hp at 28,545ft
Wing span: 36ft 5 9/16in
Length: 31ft 8 5/14in
Height: 12ft 10 11/32in
Empty Weight: 7,639lb
Loaded Weight: 10,854lb
Max Speed: 466mph at 28,545ft
Cruising Speed: 263mph at 13,125ft
Service Ceiling: 39,370ft
Range: 529 miles
Armament: Four 30mm Type 5 cannon
Bomb-load: Two 132lb or four 66lb bombs