The Empire of Japan had a domestic aviation industry supplying the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force up until the end of WW2.

The USSR and Western Europe, which saw large parts of their production capability destroyed or diminished and their top people killed, purged, or poached, were able to build their aviation industries after the war, but Japan did not.

Why did domestic aviation production in Japan die with the war? As far as I've read, there were no mass purges or defections, and there were no concerted Operation Paperclip-style attempts to poach top talent from Japan after the war, and Japan was able to build up world-class manufacturing in many other sectors very quickly.


2 Answers 2


Japan started (continued) building aircraft not long after the war.

Kawasaki Helicopters https://global.kawasaki.com/en/mobility/air/helicopters/index.html

Mitsubishi engines (these are in the Japanese model of the F-15) https://www.mhi.com/group/mhiael/products

Fuji (in 1955) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuji_LM-1_Nikko

Mitsubishi F-1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_F-1

  • $\begingroup$ So to some extent this is a visibility issue, but the scale of production is dwarfed by the West... I'm wondering if there were any post-War treaty prohibitions, like those placed on powered flight in Germany after WW1. $\endgroup$
    – Bort
    Mar 1 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ Hondajet (one of the most sold light businesses jet) is missing in your list $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Mar 1 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, that wasn't meant to be a comprehensive list. But good catch. $\endgroup$
    – WPNSGuy
    Mar 1 at 18:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @sophit, Yes, technically "after WWII", but the Hondajet is super recent compared to the theme of what happened to pre-war airplane companies during post-war rebuilding of a ravaged economy... $\endgroup$ Mar 1 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Mitsubishi Diamond, design purchased by Hawker. And in the wiki list of military aircraft of Japan, we can find quite a few from Fuji, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, and Shinmaywa. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Mar 2 at 7:27

Not a complete answer; this wikipedia page about flying boat Shin Meiwa US-1A gives a bit of context:

Following the end of the Second World War and the start of the Occupation of Japan, a ban on aircraft manufacturing imposed during December 1945 required Japan's aircraft industry to find other work.[2] During the late 1940s, Japanese aircraft manufacturer Kawanishi Aircraft Company reorganised itself, becoming ShinMeiwa Industries. During the 1950s, the emergence of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union led to the aircraft construction ban being rescinded; Shin Meiwa, which had turned to heavy machinery and engine manufacturing for the intervening years, decided to resurrect their old aircraft works.


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