The Nakajima E2N was a sesquiplane reconnaissance aircraft that served as a catapult based short-range reconnaissance aircraft and as a training aircraft for several years after entering production in 1927.
In 1925 the Japanese Navy issued a specification for a new short-range reconnaissance aircraft to replace the Type Hansa Reconnaissance Seaplane. The new aircraft had to be suitable for catapult launching from battleships and cruisers. Aichi, Nakajima and Yokosho were all asked to produce designs.
Aichi and Yokosho both produced developments of the Type Hansa, a low-wing monoplane. Nakajima's chief designer, Takao Yoshida, decided to produce an entirely new design. He produced a sesquiplane, with a small lower wing that gave the observer a much better downwards view. The aircraft had a wooden structure with a fabric covering, rear folding wings and twin floats. It was powered by a Mitsubishi Type Hi water-cooled engine (as were the other two designs).
Prototypes of all three aircraft were ready by 1926 and underwent trials with the Japanese Navy. The Nakajima design won the contest, but the Navy wasn't entirely satisfied with it, and a series of modifications were made. The aircraft was finally accepted in 1927. Two versions were produced - the Type 15-1 Reconnaissance Seaplane (E2N1) and the Type 15-2 Reconnaissance Seaplane (E2N2) intermediate trainer. The E2N2 was given dual controls and could carry a hood to allow for instrument flying training.
The E2N1 was the first Japanese reconnaissance aircraft to be catapult launched - earlier models had taken off from short runways built on the top of gun turrets. It was also the last all-wooden front line aircraft to be used by the Japanese Navy. It was eventually replaced by the Nakajima Type 90 (E4N).
The E2N2 trainer remained in use until it was replaced by the Type 93 Intermediate Trainer, starting in 1933.
Production was split between Nakajima and Kawanishi. Nakajima produced the E2N1 in 1927-28 and the E2N2 in 1928-29. Forty-seven aircraft were produced during this period. Another two or three civil aircraft were built in 1930 (as fishery patrol aircraft). Kawanishi took over production of the military aircraft in 1929-30 and built another thirty, so a total of 77 military and 2 or 3 civil aircraft were built.
In the 1930s some of the aircraft were sold to civil users, where they were mainly used for air mail or for fish spotting, looking for shoals of fish.
Engine: Hispano-Suiza engine
Span: 44ft 4.25in
Length: 31ft 4.5in
Height: 12ft 1in
Empty weight: 3,106lb
Maximum take-off weight: 4,299lb
Max speed: 103mph
Climb Rate: 31 minutes 37 seconds to 9,843ft
Endurance: 5 hours
Armament: One flexibly mounted 7.7mm machine gun