It really is quite sobering to think that the Hasegawa 1/72nd scale Hayabusa is 27 years old and yet still the best Oscar II available in the scale. The overall shape is superior to the much more recent Hasegawa 1/48th versions and to the Fujimi Ki-43-I. AML have produced III Ko and II Kai versions but they are injection/resin hybrids with vacform canopies - not the easiest of builds.
I do hope that if Hasegawa should ever decide to issue a new 1/72nd Hayabusa it will not be based on their 1/48th kit! I think the most likely contender now is probably Fine Molds but let's hope the "ultimate" Hayabusa is not issued with a magazine! In 1/48th scale there is already the excellent Fine Molds kit to fall back on, available in several versions and much more easily obtainable these days. It has a good overall shape but is tricky to assemble. In the same scale the venerable Nichimo Ki-43-I is still the best early Oscar so far.
Several years ago Eduard announced a 1/72nd Ki-43-II kit but at some point abandoned the idea. It should be possible for a Hayabusa II kit to incorporate optional parts for all versions and those needed for the III Ko. The type served the Japanese Army on all fronts from the beginning to the end of the war, a veritable war horse and work horse, so it deserves to be represented by a mainstream, state of the art kit in the divine scale!
The first special edition of the 1/72nd Hayabusa kit was the Ki-43-II 'Otu' (sic) 'Flight Training Regiment' issued as kit # AP123/51383 in 1995 with new box art (top picture). It was molded in light grey plastic and included decals for two instructor's aircraft used in Homeland Defence duties from the Hokota and Kumagaya Army Flying Schools. These aircraft featured overall natural metal finish and white Homeland Defence bandages on wings and fuselage.
The second option, from Kumagaya, was for a well known aircraft I had previously depicted in a profile painting. That profile has been the subject of some criticism for my choice of yellow fuselage bands! It is shown here again with no particular claim for its accuracy. I used to have an Otaki model in this scheme (with white bandages and a plain rudder) built in the late 1970's but it has not survived the various moves. If I was going to build another model in this scheme it would be exactly like the profile painting!
The next installment will set out improvements to the Hasegawa kit and explore some of the aftermarket sets available for it.
Image credit: Box Art © Hasegawa Seisakusho Co. Ltd., 1995; Profile © Straggler, 2009