Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” Build in 1/72 Scale, Mania and ICM Kits Part I

This is a short work in progress build of the Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate”.  I’ll be building two of the relatively new ICM kits alongside the venerable Mania Ki-27.  The Mania kit was advanced for its time, being released in 1970 (can you believe it?).  It is best known to modelers from a series of re-boxings under the Hasegawa label.  The ICM kit is a much more recent release, and benefits from the many mold-making advances of the intervening decades.  Interestingly, both companies chose the same aircraft for their box art, depicting the mount of Kenji Shimada, commander of the 1st Chutai of the 11th Sentai, from 1939.
First of the two ICM sprues.  There is ample detail in the cockpit and for the engine, although much of the engine detail will be hidden within the fuselage.
The second ICM sprue contains the wings, separate ailerons, and a choice of landing gear configurations.  Surface detail is recessed and quite petite.  Rivet lines are included but are so faint that they may disappear under paint.  Note the holes on the upper wing pieces, more on these later.
Parts for the Mania kit.  Parts breakdown is much more simplified compared to the ICM offering.  Surfaces feature both raised and recessed detail.  There is even the start of riveting on the underside of the wing, like the designers started the process but then reconsidered.  There is the option to represent the different styles of landing gear with this kit as well.
Here is a comparison shot of the fuselage halves, Mania on top, ICM on the bottom.  Overall length compares well, the biggest difference is the cockpit opening of the Mania kit is located further back.  The ICM fuselage matches the drawings in the Famous Aircraft of the World volume.  Comparing wingspan, I measured the Mania kit at 153 mm and the ICM at 156, compared to a specified span of 157 mm in scale.
The Mania cockpit is a bit Spartan so I fabricated a replacement from plastic stock.  I also removed the locating ridges from within the fuselage halves so the new cockpit could sit a little lower.
Here are the engines under a coat of Alclad Aluminum and a wash of acrylic black.  The oil coolers were picked out with brass.  I added push rods to the ICM engines but left off the exhaust manifolds.  ICM provides all the supporting and internal components all the way back to the firewall, but I left them all out of these builds because experience with their I-16 kits indicated that they would be hidden on the finished model and had a good chance of interfering with fit.
The ICM cockpit is built up on the center wing section and slides into the completed fuselage.  I useed Eduard PE belts which add a nice touch.  Interior color is a dark blue-gray, with the seat, stick, and rudder pedals picked out in aluminum.
The Mania kit assembles quickly with no surprises.  Fit is good, with some work being needed at the wing to fuselage joints on the underside.
The ICM kit also needed some fitting work on the underside wing boattail joints.  It is let down by a few overly-complex engineering decisions.  The horizontal tail is one piece which simplifies alignment, but it is designed to be covered by a tail piece which traps the tail skid in a slot.  This doesn’t fit well and leaves a seam, I ended up cutting off the tail skid to add at the end of the build.
The landing gear design is also unusual.  The bent shaft is molded onto the lower half of the leg structure, the shaft is meant to be inserted into the upper strut molded into the wing and emerge through the upper surface of the wing.  To the bottom of this piece the wheel and spats are attached.  None of this fits, and sink holes in the struts only add insult.  I prefer the Mania design which is molded as a single piece.  A little finesse is sacrificed but the gear is strong.

Part II here: