Those AZ Models alternative Kikka boxings got me thinking about "What-if" Japanese aircraft modelling. I do get that, even indulge in it, but I think the most interesting explorations are those rooted in plausible but alternative developments. At the risk of sounding like the Bald Eagle from the Muppet Show I just don't get the fantastic 1946 creations that sport 1942 colours and markings - or the Navy jets that whizz around in Army markings applied to another aircraft type in another era. That seems illogical even for a Whif. The Army re-introduced factory painting in the second half of 1944 with a standard paint colour of drab olive brown - a historical fact that precedes any subsequent whiffery. Any projected development really ought to represent that. So I'm afraid AZ Models Kikka dressed up as one of Major Kobayashi's Hiens just looks silly to me, especially since the later Ki-100 were factory painted in the olive drab.
Ok, so the Kikka might have ended up in Army use, the Karyu not proceeded with, and it might have been delivered hastily in natural metal finish, perhaps with a few pre-painted panels like a late-war Focke-Wulf 190 Dora, and it might have then been painted in a mottle or blotch scheme - but might it really have ended up looking exactly like one of Kobayashi's Ki-61s? I suppose the answer, hypothetical as this is, must be yes. But does it really convince as a hypothetical possibility? - probably not. But for me, because of all this - and it is just a personal observation rather than a whine, Mr B - it just looks odd as a modelling subject. And for me it detracts both from the image of an original Kobayashi Hien in all its splendour and the image of a hypothetical IJAAF use of Kikka in 1946.
But further I think that if you are going to go full-tilt at such whiffery then displaying a hypothetical type in anachronistic colours and markings is just unimaginative. Why not, instead, envisage an entirely new makeshift scheme for that Army Kikka? And display it as if assigned to a newly formed unit with a wholly imagined emblem? If I were Mr AZ my What-if Kikka presentation might have encompassed the 620th Special Interception Unit, whose hastily painted nibi iro (鈍色) machines carry a striking unit emblem conveying the digits '6', '2' and '0' and whose fuselages show a variety of patriotic and inspiring personal markings. I have shown the spectacular Ronnie Olsthoorn Ki-98 cover art here before - it is a perfect example of combining whiffery in camouflage and markings with both logic and a plausible continuity. Meng Model (of China) have announced a new 1/72nd kit of the Mansyu Ki-98 to follow on from their diminutive Kayaba Type 4 "Katsuodori" ram-jet fighter, (reviewed nicely here and also strikingly imagined by Ronnie here). Comparing the box art to Ronnie's images I think they might just have missed a few tricks! There is a brief article on Japanese Flying Wings by E T Wooldridge here.
Pegasus, who made short run injection moulded kits with some cast pewter detail parts, had announced a kit of the Mansyu Ki-98 shortly before their demise. After the company's stock was bought by Freightdog Models the new owner could not confirm whether the Ki-98 project had progressed beyond research. Personally I'd rather see a mainstream injection molded kit of the Mansyu Ki-79 with options for single and two-seater versions and a multi-option decal sheet!
Image credits: Cover art © Ronnie Olsthoorn/skyraider3D; Box art © AZ Models & Meng Model; Karyu 3-view author collection