R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
Narahara No.4 Ohtori-go Aeroplane
In the autumn of 1911, Narahara's group was joined by Shuhei Iwamoto, later a professor of Tokyo University, and Kiyoshi Shiga, BSc. By March 1912 they had created the Narahara No.4 Aeroplane with the help of Saken Kawabe, Otojiro Itoh and Ginjiro Goto, themselves to become notable in aviation. The aeroplane was built at the Orient Aeroplane Company (Toyo Hikoki Shokai), having its office in Kyobashi, Tokyo. The factory was then located at Fukagawa (near or at Susaki Airfield) and final assembly was made at Tokorozawa where it was to be flown. It received the name of Ohtori-go, after a champion sumo-wrestler, Ohtori, at the request of the sponsor who supported the project.
The aeroplane performed well and was taken on exhibition tours, with flights at major cities throughout Japan to demonstrate what was referred to as their 'japanese-made civil aeroplane'. Since there were no airfields in Japan at this time, flights were made from race tracks or military parade grounds of such relatively small size that landings and take offs were very near the spectators. During the first of these exhibition flights on 13 April, 1912, at Kawasaki Race Track, Kanagawa Prefecture, a failing engine caused the aeroplane to land short, allowing a wingtip to strike a school boy, breaking his arm.
The aeroplane was again demonstrated on 11 and 12 May for His Highness the Crown Prince (later Emperor Taisho) and his three sons (one to later become Emperor Showa [Hirohito]) along with Field Marshal Aritomo Yamagata and many other high-ranking officers at the Aoyama Military Parade Grounds. These demonstrations brought Narahara an award by the Imperial House, the first distinction given to someone involved in japanese civil aviation.
The last exhibition flight by the Ohtori No.4 was in Seoul, Korea, on 3 and 4 April, 1913.
Single-engine tractor training biplane. Wooden structure with fabric covering. Pupil and instructor in open cockpit.
50hp Gnome seven-cylinder aircooled rotary engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.
Span, upper 11.40m (37ft 5in), lower 9.30m (30ft 6in); length 7m (22ft 11 1/2in); height 2.80m (9ft 2 1/4in); wing area 39sq m (419.8sq ft).
Empty weight 470kg (1,036Ib).
Maximum speed 38kt (44mph).
One built in 1912.
In May 1912, Narahara established japan's first civil aerodrome, on the sandy beach at low tide by Inage in Chiba Prefecture, because the airfield at Tokorozara had been declared to be used only by the Provisional Military Balloon Research Association.
While the Narahara No.4 Ohtori-go was touring Japan with demonstration flights by Shimo, the 'Narahara No.5 Ohtori Nisei-go (meaning Ohtori the 2nd) was built. It was almost identical to the No.4 but was powered by a 70hp Gnome rotary engine and had a strengthened undercarriage. This aeroplane was completed in june 1913 and made exhibition flights at Ibaragi, Toyama, Ishikawa and Niigata from june to September that year.
Sanji Narahara eventually retired completely from aviation at his family's insistence. His aviation activities were first taken over by Einosuke Shirato who then began manufacturing aeroplanes under his own name and provided flying training at Inage beach. In addition to Shirato's activities, Otojiro Itoh also became known for his aviation endeavours, and between the two, a new era of civil aviation began in 1913 stemming from Narahara's works and now centred at the Shirato/ltoh Airfields.