25th October – Lecture: Mitsubishi Ki-15 “Babs” – The World’s First High-Speed Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft by Joe Picarella

A recording of this lecture is available to watch on our website here: Recorded Lecture: Mitsubishi Ki-15 “Babs” – The World’s First High-Speed Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft by Joe Picarella – RAeS Boscombe Down Branch

The RAeS Boscombe Down Branch invites you to attend the following lecture: Mitsubishi Ki-15 “Babs” – The World’s First High-Speed Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft by Giuseppe “Joe” Picarella MRAeS.

Tuesday 25th October 2022 – 17:30 BST
LIVE from MOD Boscombe Down

Mitsubishi Ki-15 “Babs” – The World’s First High-Speed Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft

“The Mitsubishi Ki-15 (code-named “Babs” by the Allies) was developed during a brief golden aeronautical period (between the mid 1930s and early 1940s), when the Japanese aircraft industry flourished under constant military aircraft competitions and production orders. Free from prying eyes and shrouded within a self-imposed veil of secrecy, the Japanese developed numerous designs that were equal to and in some cases ahead of contemporary Western manufacturers.”

This description is taken from Joe Picarella’s book Mitsubishi Babs Vol. 1: The World’s First High-Speed Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft and in this lecture, Joe will discuss the story behind the development and operational deployment of the “Babs”. Joe will also be bringing some copies of the book to the lecture, which will be available for purchase.


Joe began his career working as part of the editorial team of Flight International magazine, where he worked for 20 years, which including running the cutaway department for 12 years. He would typically visit 3 or 4 aerospace manufactures each year and spend a week to 10 days at the factory, where he would be fully briefed on an aircraft, collect engineering material and take thousands of photos, before producing the cutaway drawings. Projects were as diverse as the F-22 Raptor or A380, through to the Global Hawk UAV and countless business jets. The job was unique in that it allowed Joe to immerse himself in a new airframe every few months, with cutaways taking between 400 and 1,250 hours to complete. It was a wonderful education for Joe and has kept him right at the cutting edge of the industry. In 2012, he left Flight International and started The Cutaway Company, where he continues to supply high quality cutaways to the aerospace industry.

In his spare time, Joe’s interests lie firmly in the past and from 1985 he began working on Japanese aircraft. By the mid 1990s he was assisting on other restorations and acting as a Japanese aviation consultant to several international aviation museums. Joe has worked with and surveyed around 25 Japanese aircraft during that period, for the RAFM, IWM and Wings Air Museum in the UK through to the NASM and Kagamigahara Aerospace Museum, plus private collections and airworthy restorations. A member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and pilot, he and his wife operate an original 1942 Piper L-4B Grasshopper liaison aircraft in the southwest of England, where they support WWII historic, educational and commemorative events.

Timings (Approximate):
17:15 – Event Opens
17:30 – Introduction & Branch Notices
17:40 – Lecture Presentation
18:30 – Q&A Session
18:45 – Event Closes

MOD Boscombe Down,


How to attend

If you would like to attend this lecture, please contact BoscombeDown@aerosociety.com and provide the following information:
– Your title/rank
– Your full name
– Your nationality

Visitors Welcome – you do not need to be a member of the Branch, nor a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, to attend.

Are you pursuing CEng, IEng or EngTech status? Attendance at our lectures will help you meet your CPD requirements! 

If you have any comments or questions, please contact BoscombeDown@aerosociety.com.

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