The most recent Japanese subject sheet from Rising Decals focusses on Army fighters engaged in Homeland Defence. Emperor's Eagles Pt.IV contains markings for 11 aircraft, five Ki-61 Hien (Tony), 4 Ki-84 Hayate (Frank), a single Ki-46 and a single Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo). First on the sheet is a Ki-61-I Tei of the 55th Sentai filmed in colour at Yomitan airfield on Okinawa. The aircraft's tail emblem is applied over that of the former operators - the 56th Sentai. Again, as a purely personal observation, I think that the blue of the command chevron is printed a little too dark but the blue paint is called out as Mr Color 65 Bright Blue. Next a Ki-61-I Tei of the 56th Sentai with white Home Defence "bandages" on the fuselage but not the wings, an interesting combination with the olive green camouflage on the Ki-61 that is not often modelled. The third camouflaged Hien is another 55th Sentai bird, this time with the tail emblem applied over the diagonal stripe of the 59th Sentai. It is good to see the 59th's unique stabiliser stripes also included and with the yellow spinner and fuselage numbers this one would make a very colourful model. Two natural metal Ki-61 continue the theme of overpainted tail markings, both with the 55th Sentai emblem applied over a former emblem. Aircraft 03 also has a partially camouflaged tail and rudder.
Whereas painting suggestions for the camouflaged Ki-61 provide the modeller with the choice of olive drab or dark green, the first three Ki-84 are all given as olive drab. A single 101st Sentai example with badly worn paintwork and two 47th Sentai aircraft, both said to be the mounts of Capt Tei-ichi Hatano. On the subject of the 47th Sentai a brief digression. Ki-44 Aces was criticised in Japan for describing Heikichi Yoshizawa's B-29 ramming attack as being made in a Ki-44 rather than in a Ki-84 as more generally attributed. Although Lt Yoshizawa was photographed standing in front of a Ki-84 and many accounts describe his ramming attack on 10 February 1945 as being made in a Ki-84 this type of aircraft was not used for Shinten Seikutai attacks by the 47th Sentai. The attack was made in a Ki-44. At this time the 47th were re-equipping with the Ki-84 in preparation for a completely new role as direct escort to Special Attack Units (特別攻撃隊 tokubetsu kōgeki tai or 特攻隊 tokkōtai) within the newly formed 30th Fighter Group. The Ki-84 was not intended for anti-B-29 air defence operations and after working-up preparations on the new type the unit were to be detached from the 10th Air Division in March 1945. From January to March 1945 the unit conducted operations with both types of aircraft.
The Special Attack Units within 30th Fighter Group were the 18th, 19th, 25th, 45th and 47th Shimbu Tai. The other direct escort unit was to be the famous 244th Sentai. Reconnaisance was to be provided by the Shimoshizu Air Unit and the 17th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai. Navigation guidance was to be provided by three bombers from the Utsonomiya Air Instruction Division and two special navigation air squads. As part of this preparation (to repel an invasion fleet off the shores of Japan) fighter units in the Homeland were re-classified into two categories as either permanently stationed air defence forces or mobile air defence forces. There were no Ki-84 units in the permanently stationed air defence forces. This type of aircraft was allocated to mobile air defence forces only with a specific role to escort special attack units in strikes against invasion shipping and to provide counter-air to enemy fighter attacks.
Back to the Rising Decals and the final Hayate is an interesting 22nd Sentai example from the second additional batch of prototypes. This aircraft is in natural metal with a dark green mottle and the distinctive 'kikusui' emblem on the tail. Although this is invariably shown as white based on a well-known post-war colour photograph I continue to believe it to have originally been applied in yellow and red with a pale blue 'river'.
The penultimate subject on this sheet is a Ki-46-III Kai interceptor version of the Ki-46 'Dinah' (百式 三型司令部偵察機改造防空戦闘機 - Hyaku shiki san gata shireibu teisatsu-ki kaizô bôkû sentô-ki or Type 100 Model 3 Headquarters Reconnaissance Aircraft remodelled Air Defence Fighter) in markings attributed to the 38th Sentai. A most unusual and interesting choice this and a little different from the usual markings chosen for this type.
Finally a Ki-44 Shoki from the 70th Sentai, said to be the aircraft of the Sentai Commander Maj Atsuyuki Sakato in plain natural metal finish with full complement of white Home Defence 'bandages' and red and white fuselage command sash. It is possible that the sash was outlined in yellow and that this Shoki is the aircraft flown by the unit adjutant or executive officer. A small errata sheet is also included for a Shoki subject on a previously released sheet RD 72030.
This is another excellent JAAF sheet from Rising Decals with well chosen, interesting subjects, and high quality colour printing with well saturated colours, especially the Hinomaru. Thanks to Mirek for the review copy.
Image credits: © 2012 Rising Decals