R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
Narahara, also Tokyo Aeroplane Manufacturing Works (Tokyo Hikoki Seisakusho)
Sanji Narahara was born on 29 December, 1876, the second son of Baron Shigeru Narahara, the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and retainer of the Satsuma clan. Around the time that he graduated from the Faculty of Ordnance of Tokyo Imperial University, he had already published his own design for an aeroplane. In April 1908 he joined the Navy and was assigned to the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal as a Naval Assistant Engineer. Because of his recognized talent for aviation he became a member of the Provisional Military Balloon Research Association organized in 1909.
Separate from his official work with the PMBRA, Narahara started building his aeroplane in his father's garden, then at Shio-cho, Yotsuya, Tokyo. After his first aeroplane, and unable to continue building aircraft there, Narahara established the Tokyo Hikoki Seisakusho (Tokyo Aeroplane Manufacturing Works) in Tsunohazu, Shinjuku, Tokyo. An early project at this factory was the manufacture of 3m diameter airship propellers for the PMBRA. This established Narahara and his company as a factory for the Association.
Narahara No.1 Aeroplane
Consulting foreign aeronautical publications and using his own inventive qualities, Narahara designed an aeroplane, beginning in May 1910, seven months before Captains Tokugawa and Hino made the first aeroplane flights in Japan.
The aeroplane was of unusual configuration, being a highly-staggered tractor biplane with very shallow gap. The double-surfaced wings were so arranged that the trailing edge of the upper wings was only slightly aft of the leading edge of the lower wing. The bamboo open structure of the fuselage was wire-braced and supported a forward-facing 25hp Anzani engine at the nose. In addition to horizontal and vertical tail surfaces there was an outrigged forward horizontal surface believed to have acted as the elevator. This was of wide-span and carried widely separated vertical triangular surfaces near its tips said to prevent sideslipping. There were two main wheels of Bleriot type and a large-diameter tailwheel. Originally the undercarriage comprised twin mainwheels each side of a skid. The fabric surfaces were coated with a paint made from grass paste as a primer, and shibu (an astringent juice) as a finish. Construction took approximately six months to complete.
On 24, 30 and 31 October, 1910, Narahara attempted to fly the aeroplane at Toyamagahara Military Parade Grounds in Tokyo, but the best it could achieve was a height of about 30cm (1 ft). Narahara concluded that the aeroplane was underpowered because although he had placed an order for a 50hp Gnome engine through a trading company, a 25hp Anzani had been delivered. In despair, Narahara sold the aeroplane to the PMBRA for ground operational study.
Single-engine tractor biplane. Bamboo and wood construction with fabric covering. Pilot in open structure.
25hp Anzani three-cylinder aircooled fan-type radial engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.
Span, upper 11.30m (37ft 1in), lower 9.30m (30ft 6in); chord 1.50m (4ft 11in); length 7.20m (23ft 7 1/2in).
Empty weight 310kg (683Ib).
One built in 1910.