The Aichi AB-2 Experimental Catapult-Launched Reconnaissance Seaplane was the first aircraft of its type to have been designed in Japan without any foreign assistance, but the aircraft wasn't a success and only two prototypes were built.
The Japanese aircraft industry had been founded with help from a variety of European companies - many early Aichi designs were produced by Heinkel, or based on Heinkel designs and other Japanese companies also established overseas links. This had been the case for the Aichi Type 90-1 Reconnaissance Seaplane (E3A1), which had been designed by Heinkel as the HD 56. Work on that design began in 1928, and the aircraft was accepted for production in 1931.
In 1929 Aichi began work on their own design for a reconnaissance seaplane, working without any assistance from Heinkel. The design team, led by Tetsuo Miki, produced a twin-float biplane, with a welded steel tube fuselage and wooden wings, both of which were fabric covered. The wings folded backwards.
The AB-2 was powered by a new Aichi AC-1 nine cylinder air-cooled radial engine. As was so often the case the choice of an experimental engine turned out to be a mistake. The AC-1 failed to produce as much power as expected, reducing the performance of the AB-2. The basic design also needed modifying, hardy surprising in such an ambitious project. The project came to an end soon after a fire destroyed one of the two prototypes. However the effort wasn't wasted, and many features from the AB-2 were used in the AB-3 experimental single-seat reconnaissance seaplane, which was designed for China.
Engine: Aichi AC-1 nine cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Span: 36ft 1in
Length: 27ft 0.5in
Height: 11ft 3.5in
Empty weight: 2,458lb
Loaded weight: 3,648lb
Max speed: 112mph at sea level
Cruising speed: 81mph
Climb Rate: 20min to 9,843ft
Endurance: 5.9 hours
Armament: One fixed forward firing 7.7mm machine gun, one 7.7mm flexibly mounted dorsal machine gun
Bomb load: Two 66lb bombs