The Mansyu Ki-79 was an advanced trainer based on the Nakajima Ki-27 fighter. The Mansyu Hikoki Seizo K.K. was founded at Mukden in Manchuria in 1938 in an attempt to establish aircraft production in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, but its early designs had been uninspired and had not entered full production. The company may have produced the Nakajima Ki-27, but this is not entirely certain.
The Nakajima Ki-27 had been the first monoplane fighter to enter service with the JAAF, but by 1942 it was virtually obsolete, and a number had been converted to act as trainers. Mansyu went one step further, designing a dedicated training version of the aircraft, the Ki-79.
The Ki-79 entered production in two versions. The Ki-79a (Army Type 2 Advanced Trainer Model A) was a single-seat trainer, while the Ki-79b (Army Type 2 Advanced Trainer Model B) was a two-seat trainer with tandem cockpits. The two separate cockpits took up about the same amount of space as the long canopy over the original single cockpit, with the front windscreen in the same place as on the single-seater. Both models shared the same all-metal construction as the Ki-27, were powered by the 510hp Hitachi Ha-13a engine and were armed with one forward firing 7.7mm machine gun.
During 1943 the Ki-79 was used to equip the Sendai and Tachiarai Army Flying Schools and the Tokorozawa Army Aviation Maintenance School. The Ki-79b was also used by the Tokyo, Otsu and Oita Army Boys Flying Schools, where they were used to give high school students a taste of flying.
During 1944 the JAAF founded a number of Flight Training Companies, and although a total of 1,329 Ki-79s were built numbers began to run short. Mansyu responded by designing the Ki-79c and Ki-79d. Theses aircraft used a new airframe, with a steel framework covered by a plywood skin, designed to reduce the amount of duralumin needed in their construction. The Ki-79c matched the Ki-79a, while the Ki-79d matched the Ki-79b. Both types had only just entered production at Mukden when the war ended.
In the post-war period the Ki-79 was used as a trainer by the Chinese Communists. A large number of aircraft were captured intact in Manchuria after the Soviet invasion. The Communists hired Manchurian and Japanese pilots to get the training programme under way, and the Ki-79 became the first standard training aircraft for the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
The Ki-79 was also used by Indonesian forces fighting the Dutch on Java and Sumatra, where a number of aircraft were reconstructed after being found on Japanese scrap-heaps. A Ki-79b became the first aircraft to be flown by the Indonesians.