The Mitsubishi Navy Type 10 Carrier Fighter (1MF1 to 1MF5) was the first purpose-built carrier fighter in the world and was designed for Mitsubishi by a British team led by Herbert Smith, previously a senior engineer at Sopwith.
In 1921 Mitsubishi had been awarded a contract to produce three types of aircraft for the Japanese Navy - a carrier fighter, a reconnaissance aircraft and a torpedo bomber. The company decided to hire Herbert Smith to lead the design team that would produce these aircraft. He was available because the Sopwith company had been forced into bankruptcy after the end of the First World War, and brought a team of seven engineers with him.
The new fighter was given the internal company designation 1MF1. It was a single bay biplane, of wooden construction with a fabric covering. The pilot sat in an open cockpit at the trailing edge of the upper wing. The first prototype was competed in October 1921 and after tests the aircraft was adopted as the Navy Type 10 Carrier Fighter. Early aircraft used a honeycomb radiator. This was then replaced by twin Lamblin radiators mounted between the undercarriage legs. Aircraft with the honeycomb radiator became the Type 10-1 while aircraft with the Lamblin radiators were the Type 10-2.
In December 1922 William Jordon carried out nine deck landings and take-offs from the Japanese Navy's first aircraft carrier, Hosho. The first operational flights were made in 1923, and the Type 10 then replaced the Sopwith Pub and Gloster Sparrowhawk as Japan's standard carrier fighter. It was the first purpose-build carrier fighter to enter service anywhere in the world.
The Type 10 serviced with operational units from 1923 until 1930. Either 128 or 138 were built between October 1921 and December 1928. After being replaced as a carrier fighter some Type 10s were used as advanced trainers.
1MF1/ Navy Type 10-1 Carrier Fighter
The Navy Type 10-1 (1MF1) was the designation given to aircraft that used a honeycomb radiator.
The 1MF2 had the honeycomb radiator and a modified wing (sources disagree on the exact changes with some says it had two bay wings and others that it had a modified upper wing aileron).
1MF3/ Navy Type 10-2 Carrier Fighter
The Type 10-2/ 1MF3 carried twin Lamblin radiators between the landing gear legs. This type of radiator was used on all later versions of the aircraft. The Type 10-2 was the main production version of the aircraft.
The 1MF4 had the pilot's cockpit moved further forward and a larger cut-out in the upper wing.
The 1MF5A was a carrier trainer, and had a larger wing, a jettisonable undercarriage and experimental torpedo-shaped floats below the lower wing, designed to allow the aircraft to be ditched more easily.
Experimental flotation gear
Engine: Mitsubishi Type Hi eight-cylinder vee water cooled engine, based on the Hispano-Suiza 8
Span: 27ft 10.5in
Length: 22ft 7.5in
Height: 10ft 2in
Empty weight: 2,073lb
Maximum take-off weight: 2,821lb
Max speed: 132mph
Climb Rate: 10 minutes to 9,843ft
Service ceiling: 22,965ft
Endurance: 2.5 hours
Armament: Two fixed forward firing 7.7mm machine guns