Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 隼 “Oscar” Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is a batch of 1/72 scale Ki-43 Hayabusa kits, Allied reporting name “Oscar”, I built these back in 2015. The Ki-43 was the mainstay of the Japanese Army Air Force during the Pacific War, and served throughout the conflict. 5,919 were produced. There is no shortage of kits, but a modern new-tool kit is needed and overdue. I built seven Oscars together in this batch. Fujimi introduced a very nice kit of the -I version in 1994. Hasegawa has a -II from 1982 with fine raised panel lines. Special Hobby’s kits came out in 2009 but are limited run efforts. The 2006 AML kit is also a limited run, unknown to me when I picked it up at a show for $5.
There are a number of Hayabusa references in English, and many more in Japanese. In my opinion the most useful single book for modelers is the Aero Detail volume. If you are planning to model several Japanese subjects Mikesh’s Japanese Aircraft Interiors is a must-have, but it is difficult to find at a reasonable price. Most of the others were valuable for their profiles and histories.
A comparison of the wing underside sections, Fujimi – Hasegawa – Special Hobby – AML from top to bottom. Wheelwells are simple on the Ki-43 and are easy to mold. Fujimi has the nicest surface detail of the four, very fine and crisp. The AML detail is rather clunky, and there is an unevenness to the surfaces, the texture is similar to a thick coat of paint which didn’t settle smoothly. The wheelwell on the AML kit is provided as a resin insert.
Fuselage sides, again F-H-SH-AML top to bottom. I saw no indications that any of the manufacturers were “inspired” by the others, all appear to be independently researched and molded. The major components matched well to the Kagero Top Drawings, with the exception of the AML fuselage which was about 1mm too thick right before the tail. The Special Hobby kits (third from top) lack the prominent cooling slot for the engine accessory section seen on all the other kits, a strange omission.
Engines are molded as basic flat disks except for AML (lower left), which provides both rows nicely detailed. The extra engine in the lower right is a spare from the undersized Italeri Ju 88. Many years ago I built five LS kits of the Ki-43 and used a spare Italeri engine as my first attempt at an open cowl with an “aftermarket” engine. Not going to open any cowls here, but the Italeri parts will give the engine faces some depth. A bit of nostalgia for me.
Cockpit details were added with Evergreen, here are modifications to the Fujimi kit on the left and Special Hobby on the right. The Fujimi engine looked good hidden behind its oil cooler, the others have the Italeri row sandwiched between the crankcase and the kit part.
The interiors were painted with Alclad Transparent Green over Aluminum, to match the picture in the Aero Detail book. Sorry but this does not photograph well at all. Belts are Eduard PE. Cockpit openings are small so all of this will be difficult to see on the finished models but it is visible if you make the effort to look.

Part II here:

LS Mitsubishi Ki-15-II “Babs” in 1/72 Scale

This is a build of the venerable LS Ki-15 “Babs” which was first released in 1976.  LS released several versions of this kit, including the Imperial Japanese Navy C5M version.  It has been re-boxed several times over the years, including under the Arii brand.  It is a great kit for its time, featuring very thin wing trailing edges and engraved panel lines.  The engine and cockpit detail are weak by today’s standards, but are relatively easy to fix.  Still a very buildable kit, and not hard to find at shows for a good price.

This example was photographed at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia after the war.  The camouflage was applied with a brush, and was very tedious but I like how it turned out.

Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” of the 58th Shimbu-tai in 1/72 Scale

This is a re-build of an old Hasegawa kit to represent an aircraft of the 58th Shinbu-tai.  The original model was finished several decades ago.  It was repainted and received several detail enhancements, and decals for the Arma Hayate kits.  Tail markings are from an old SuperScale decal sheet.  The fuel truck is the old Hasegawa release form the 1970s, coincidentally another re-built kit.

Construction post here:

RS Models Kawasaki Ki-100 of Major Yohei Hinoki in 1/72 Scale

Yohei Hinoki was originally posted to the 64th Sentai in Malaya, flying as the wingman the Sentai commander, Major Tateo Kato (18 victories).  Hinoki was credited with a shared victory over a Blenheim on 08DEC41, and two Hurricanes over Singapore on 31JAN42.  On 10APR42 Hinoki’s Ki-43 was shot up by an American Volunteer Group P-40 piloted by Robert Smith (8 victories).  Smith claimed the Oscar as a probable.  Hinoki was wounded, but managed to nurse his damaged aircraft back to his base in Thailand.

Hinoki recovered from his injuries and returned to flight status.  He claimed a Mustang on 25NOV43.  Two days later the 64th intercepted a large American strike against Insein.  Hinoki was credited with a P-51, P-38, and B-24 from this force, but his aircraft was shot up by a Mustang piloted by 2Lt Robert Mulhollem (5 victories).  Mulhollem claimed the Oscar as a probable, but again Hinoki was able to land his damaged aircraft.  This time a .50 caliber bullet had shattered Hinoki’s right leg which had to be amputated.

After convalescing in Japan Hinoki was fitted with a wooden leg and assigned as an instructor pilot at the Akeno Army Flying School.  As the war situation deteriorated, the IJAAF began forming interceptor flights from instructor cadre and Hinoki, now a Major, led the flight from Akeno.  On 16JUL45 he claimed a 457th Fighter Squadron Mustang piloted by CAPT John Binbow for his final victory.

Major Yohei Hinoki survived the war and was credited with 12 victories.  He passed away in 1991.

Construction posts here:

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” of the 57th Shimbu-tai in 1/72 Scale

This Ki-84 was assigned to a special attack unit, the 57th Shinbu-tai.  It was photographed at Shimodate on 17MAY45, with pilot 2Lt Tetsujiro Karasawa.  The 57th participated in the attack on the U.S. fleet off Okinawa on 25MAY45 which hit several USN ships.  The inscription on the sides can be translated as “must kill” or “sure to kill”.

Construction posts here:

Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” Rebuild

This is an older build of the Hasegawa Ki-84, which was first issued in 1987 according to ScaleMates. I recall building this one in 1985, so now I’m not sure when I originally completed it but it has been in the display case for years. It was painted to match a profile in Thorpe, but neither the model nor the research has aged well. Thorpe identified it as an aircraft from the 52nd Sentai, but current thinking is that the tail markings indicate it was actually from the 102nd Sentai and that the camouflage was a solid color, not mottled.
Somewhere along the line the tail wheel was lost, so that’s definitely something which needs repaired. Since I was building a batch of the new Arma Hayate I decided to dress this one up as I went along.
At the time the conventional wisdom was that everything inside a Japanese aircraft was supposed to be painted transparent blue, so that is what was done. I managed to pop off the canopy in one piece and repaint the interior green, adding masking tape seatbelts and an instrument panel while I was at it. I also added a landing light made from clear sprue to the leading edge of the wing. I blended this with superglue and filed it to shape before polishing it clear again.
I was also able to sand off the canopy framing and polish it clear. The canopy was then masked and put back into position, with any visible seams addressed with Perfect Plastic Putty.
I primed everything with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and this is where the Hasegawa kit shows its age. This must have been one of the last molds Hasegawa cut with raised panel lines before switching to recessed ones. The shape looks good, rescribing the panel lines would really make this kit pop.
I wanted to use the Brown over Gray Green scheme from the last months of the war. The browns were mixed with a few drops of Red and applied in thin layers with variations in the density to alter the tone.
I replaced the guns and pitot tube with Albion Alloys. The mask has been removed from the landing light on the wing. One thing I didn’t replace is the landing gear – the legs are much too thick.
I found a suitable replacement for the tail wheel in the spares box, the missing tail wheel was the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent which originally started the whole idea of a re-build. The bomb and drop tank are spares from the Arma Hayate, which was also the source for all the decals except for the tail markings, those are from a SuperScale sheet.
Here’s the old kit under a fresh coat of paint. While there’s no comparison to the new Arma kit, I couldn’t bear to throw this old bird away after all these years, and it will look just fine in the case with the others.

More photos here:

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” of the 47th Sentai in 1/72 Scale

This aircraft is from the 3rd Chutai, 47th Sentai at Narimasu, Japan, February 1945.  The white bands under the Hinomaru are Home Defense bands, applied to aircraft operating from the Home Islands during the last year of the war.  The drop tanks were also associated with units based in Japan, they were painted yellow to allow for easier location and potential re-use.

Construction posts here:

Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-1945 Book Review

Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-1945

Series:  Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 13

By Henry Sakaida, Illustrated by Grant Race

Softcover, 96 pages, appendices, 40 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing, April 1997

ISBN-10: ‎1855325292

ISBN-13: 978-1855325296

Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches

The Osprey Aircraft of the Aces currently numbers over 140 volumes and is still growing.  This volume on the JAAF is one of the early efforts in the series and was published twenty-five years ago.  It is noteworthy for two reasons; First, English language references on the Japanese military during World War Two are comparatively rare.  This is especially true of histories of individuals or even specific units.  Second, the format of this book deviates from most other books in the OAoA series.  The typical formula is a chronological narrative with anecdotes from pilots or official reports interspersed with a general history of the war.  In this book the text is comprised of individual biographies of the pilots, each approximately one page in length.  Photographs of the pilots and their aircraft accompany each subject.

In some ways author Henry Sakaida has provided us with a poor man’s version of Hata and Izawa’s Japanese Army Air Force Units and Their Aces, 1931–1945.  This is not entirely accurate, as Hata and Izawa offer a more comprehensive history, while Sakaida’s work is a more accessible introduction, and adds aircraft profiles which are of great interest to modelers.  Both works are valuable additions to a reference library and complement each other nicely.

Illustrator Grant Race has rendered forty excellent aircraft profiles, almost half of which depict the most common JAAF fighter type of the Pacific War, the Ki-43 Hayabusa “Oscar”.  These are particularly useful for modelers who are interested in building aircraft flown by ace pilots and are provided with captions with all the relevant details.  There are also six color renderings of JAAF pilots in a variety of uniforms and flight gear.

The book is still easy to find today, and often at very reasonable prices.  It represents an excellent value, especially considering the general lack of information on Japanese aircraft available to English readers.  Highly recommended for all JAAF enthusiasts.