The Kawanishi E7K seaplane was a three-seat single-engine reconnaissance seaplane which saw extensive service during World War 2. Codenamed "Alf" by the allies, the aircraft was also known in Japanese navy service as the Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane. The E7K first flew in 1935. An earlier variant, the E7K1 was retired from frontline service in 1939 but a second variant, with a more powerful engine, served until 1943. The E7K equipped the Japanese navy seaplane tenders and cruisers which used them for scouting and spotting.
In Biggles in Borneo, Biggles encountered a seaplane which he described as an "old Kawanishi". He said it had a crew of two, one of which served as a rear gunner. The only Kawanishi aircraft which fits this description is the E7K. The other Kawanishi marine aircraft which served during World War 2 were all flying boats and not seaplanes. Biggles did say the aircraft was a two-seater instead of being a three-seater, though.
The first time Biggles saw the Kawanishi, he was out in a Beaufighter searching for a small boat on a river which he had been told carried three allied personnel, probably escaped prisoners-of-war, and which was being pursued by the Japanese. He saw a Kawanishi seaplane whose rear gunner was shooting down at something on the river. Realising that the gunner must have been attacking the boat, Biggles promptly shot the seaplane down. Later in the book, Biggles met another Kawanishi seaplane on the Limpur river while he was in the Malayan Peninsula trying to sabotage a convoy of barges. This was a fortunate meeting for Biggles as he was able to hijack the seaplane and use its fuel to enable his own Cayman flying boat to return to the Lucky Strike base.
In Biggles Delivers the Goods, Ferocity Ferris shoots down a E7K which had attempted to reconnoitre Biggles' secret base on Elephant Island.
- Crew: 3
- Length: 34 ft 5½ in (10.50 m)
- Wingspan: 45 ft 11¼ in1 (14.00 m)
- Loaded weight: 7,275 lb (3300 kg)
- Engine: 1 × Mitsubishi Zuisei 11 14 cylinder radial engine, 649 kW (870 hp)
- Maximum speed: 171 mph (275 km/h)
- Service ceiling: 23,165 ft (7,060 m)
- Guns: 1× fixed Type 97 (Vickers) and 2× trainable 7.7mm (0.303in) Type 92 machine guns (Lewis guns), one dorsal, one ventral
- Bombs: 265 lb (120 kg) of bombs