The Nakajima Hikoki Gekko series were the first Japanese aircraft specifically designed as night and poor weather fighters. The design arose from a 1938 requirement for a long range fighter able to escort bombers. It was intended that the aircraft should be able to counter single-seat fighters. However the design incorporated twin remotely controlled turrets which were troublesome and made the aircraft too heavy and difficult to handle to be successful in its intended role. The appearance of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter meant that the Nakajima design was no longer required as a bomber escort. With the turrets removed and fuel capacity reduced the lightened aircraft was pressed into service in the long range reconnaissance role as the J1N1-R. The aircraft housed three crew members. The pilot and radio operator/rear gunner were accommodated in the front cockpit while the navigator was provided with a separate cockpit behind the trailing edge of the wing.