The Nakajima C3N was a design for a carrier based reconnaissance aircraft that reached the prototype stage but that was superseded by another Nakajima design, the B5N 'Kate'.
In 1935 the Japanese Navy held two 10-Shi design contests, one for a carrier bomber and one for a carrier based reconnaissance aircraft. Nakajima decided to enter both contests with modified versions of the same design. At the basis of both designs was a single-engine low-wing monoplane, powered by a radial engine and with the crew carried in a covered cockpit. The aircraft was of all-metal construction and had upward folding wings. It carried a crew of three in a long cockpit, with the observer in the centre and a rear gunner.
The observation aircraft had a faired fixed undercarriage. The bomber design had retractable undercarriage and a larger wing, but otherwise the two designs were very similar.
The first C3N prototype was completed in October 1936 and was quickly followed by the second. They both went to the navy for tests, and in September 1937 the type was accepted as the Type 97 Carrier Reconnaissance Aircraft. This would prove to be a short-lived success. When the prototype of the B5N1 attack bomber was complete both types of aircraft were sent to China for operational tests. It quickly became clear that the B5N1 could also perform the C3N's reconnaissance role, and so any production of the C3N was cancelled The B5N entered service as the Type 97 Carrier Attack Aircraft (Allied code-name 'Kate'), and saw combat during the Second World War. The two C3N prototypes were used as land-based reconnaissance aircraft in China.
Engine: Nakajima Hikari 2 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Crew: 3 (pilot, observer, gunner)
Span: 45ft 9in
Length: 32ft 9.5in
Empty weight: 3,979lb
Loaded weight: 6,613lb
Max speed: 240.5mph
Service ceiling: 21,885ft
Range: 1,415 miles
Armament: Two 7.7mm machine guns, one fixed forward firing and one flexibly mounted dorsal gun