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Aichi E3A

The Aichi E3A was a reconnaissance seaplane originally developed by Heinkel in Germany as the HD 56, specifically for use on warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The IJN designated it as the Type 90-1 Reconnaissance Seaplane.

This biplane featured staggered wings with N-type interplane struts for support, along with tandem open cockpits for the pilot and gunner.

Aichi Tokei Denki commissioned Heinkel to design this seaplane for an IJN competition, resulting in the construction of a single HD 56 prototype that underwent evaluation alongside the Nakajima E4N and Kawanishi E5K.

In 1931, the Heinkel design emerged as the winner, but Aichi was required to address certain shortcomings, particularly the limited range.

Eventually, refined versions of the “losing” Nakajima and Kawanishi designs were also put into production, with the Nakajima design being produced in larger quantities.

Aichi made several modifications to the HD 56, including reducing its length and span, replacing the prototype’s Wright Whirlwind engine with a locally built Hitachi Tempu, and making various other detail changes.

Flight tests were conducted in Nagoya in August 1931, and the aircraft was officially accepted into service the following year.

Even at the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War, E3As were still being used on Sendai class cruisers.





8.45 m (27 ft 9 in)


11.1 m (36 ft 5 in)


3.67 m (12 ft 0 in)

Wing area

34.5 m2 (371 sq ft)

Empty weight

1,118 kg (2,465 lb)

Gross weight

1,600 kg (3,527 lb)


1 × Gasuden / Hitachi Type 90 Amakaze,

9-cylinder air cooled radial piston engine,

224 kW (300 hp)


2-bladed propeller


Maximum speed

197 km/h (122 mph, 106 kn)

Cruise speed

125 km/h (78 mph, 67 kn)


753 km (468 mi, 407 nmi)


6 hours

Service ceiling

4,710 m (15,450 ft)

Rate of climb

2.7 m/s (530 ft/min)



1 x fixed forward firing 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine gun in forward fuselage


2 x 1 × trainable rearward firing 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine gun for gunner


2 × 30 kg (66 lb) bombs. 

Japanese Aircraft 1910–1941-R C Mikesh & A Shorzoe.
The Xplanes of Imperial Japanese Army & Navy 1924-1945-Illustrated Warplane History.


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