R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
Shirato Takeru-go Aeroplane (Also known as Tamura Tractor and Ichimori Tractor)
This was the first Shirato aeroplane that proved to have satisfactory performance from the beginning. It was built at the request of Toshikazu Tamura and completed in july 1918. Known as the Shimo Takeru-go, it was an improved landplane version of the earlier Iwao-go seaplane. It was a rather large aeroplane yet of sufficiently light weight for its 50hp Gnome rotary engine. Emphasis was on safety rather than performance. The pilot and passenger/student sat in tandem in a large single open cockpit. This was the first aeroplane to carry Shirato's target-like design on its wings and fuselage.
As with so many early japanese aircraft, having an engine around which to build it was the key element. Tamura obtained his engine for this aeroplane by having it rebuilt from spares formerly owned by the American aviator Frank Champion who died in a crash while performing aerobatics over the city of Kouchi in October 1917.
After gaining flying experience, Tamura demonstrated his skills by proudly flying over his home town of Sumoto on Awaji Island, an often used sign of achievement for early pilots.
After several modifications made in the autumn of 1918, the aeroplane became known as the Tamura Tractor to distinguish it from pusher types. Following exhibition tours with his aeroplane that took him to points in northern Honshu and most of Hokkaido, Tamura had to retire from aviation because of illness and died in February 1919. Yoshinori Ichimori then became the owner and he rebuilt the aeroplane under the guidance of his older and experienced friend, aviator Ginzo Nojima. It was renamed the Ichimori Tractor.
Arrangements were made whereby Noburu Fujiwara was to fly this aeroplane for a demonstration at Kobe in January 1920, but immediately after taking off from the Osaka joto Military Parade Grounds, the aeroplane failed to gain sufficient height because of loss of power, and the port wing struck a lightning rod at the Army Ordnance Arsenal, causing the aeroplane to crash and be destroyed. Fujiwara survived the crash but sustained injuries. (see other Fujiwara mishaps under Itoh Emi 6 Aeroplane).
Single-engine tractor biplane. AIl-wooden construction with fabric covering except for aft portion of the fuselage. Pilot in open cockpit.
50hp Gnome seven-cylinder aircooled rotary engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.
Span 8.90m (29ft 2 1/4in); length 7.10m (23ft 3 1/2in).
Empty weight 305kg (672lb).
One built in 1918.