Saturday 18 February 2017

Stefan Sjöberg's 1/48 Otaki Ki-43-II

Stefan Sjöberg of Sweden had kindly shared these images of his Otaki Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa in 1/48 scale. The model was built straight from the box with just the addition of new markings from  Rising Decals RD48018 Emperor's Eagles Pt.1 to complete it as an aircraft from the 2nd Chutai 13th Hiko Sentai at Kamari airfield, Noemfoor Island, in early 1944.

The 13th Sentai had been formed at Tachiarai as the 13th Hiko Rentai (聯隊 - regiment) in 1937, becoming a Sentai* the following year. It went through a number of organisational changes throughout its service, absorbing and detaching Chutai from and to other units. From August 1942 it operated both Ki-43 and Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu aircraft as a specialised air defence interception unit based at Kashiwa in Japan with detachments in Korea and at Sapporo. It was sent to Rabaul in April 1943 and later absorbed the 5th Sentai's detached 'tokushou kougekitai' (特称攻撃隊 - specially designated attack unit) which had been operating Ki-45 and armed Ki-46 aircraft in the air defence role there since February. After suffering heavy losses in New Guinea during August 1943 the unit began operating increasing supplementary numbers of Ki-43 aircraft until formally re-designated as a Hayabusa unit on 17 January 1944. Withdrawing from the New Guinea theatre in April 1944 it consolidated in the Halmaheras.

This venerable but straightforward and enjoyable kit is still available under the Microace/Arii logo for less than £7 direct from HLJ Japan.   It was first issued in Otaki's popular 1960s series of Japanese fighter types and a brief kitography illustrating the box art is here

*Common western usage of the organisational term Sentai (戰隊) for the IJAAF often drops the qualifying Hiko (飛行) - for aviation, air or flying - and there is disagreement about the most appropriate English translation with Regiment or Group both being used and Corps often appearing in Japanese English translations. Kenkyusha's 1942 dictionary gives "battle corps" for Sentai whilst Sqn Ldr A  R Boyce's Japanese Air Terms (Far Eastern Bureau, Ministry of Information, Calcutta, 1944)  gives Air Regiment for both Hiko Rentai and Hiko Sentai.  One modern Japanese source gives Squadron which seems inappropriate in view of the size of the unit and the constituent Chutai (中隊) which corresponds historically to the cavalry squadron but is also translated as company, battery or troop. 

Image credits: All © 2017  Stefan Sjöberg


David S. said...

What a beautiful build! Nicely executed and definitely depicting an interesting Sentai.

Haven't touched my Hasegawa Ki-43-I since I, fortunately, learned about it's flaws from you, Nick. Still want to build her someday - maybe using this old kit :)

Nessus said...

I guess I'm "old school", I still enjoy the old Otaki and Monogram kits, scratch building a little extra detail where needed. Just finishing up the Otaki Ki-84 right now.

I must have missed the news flash, what's wrong with the (usually spot on) Hasegawa Oscar?

Richard Tool said...

Stefan - Very nice job - thank you for sharing this -

Unknown said...

Otaki/Arii kits are simply great! Perfect model, thanks for sharing.

Stefan, please paint wingtip lights :)

Dan Salamone said...

The 1/48 Hasegawa Ki-43 family suffers from a "hunchbacked" fuselage. If you look at it in profile, the canopy rides way too high because of the way they molded the fuselage.

Another silly issue is how they molded the wingtip parts to allow the -I and -II differences. The parts run right through the ailerons, making it difficult to get a clean seam line.

Nice job on the Otaki kiit!


Stefan Sjöberg said...

Thanks for all the kind comments! The Otaki kits are really fun to build - and they do look good as well.
Karel - you are right, I need to do that. Thanks.


Nessus said...

Thanks Dan!


Dan Salamone said...

I have toyed with the idea of taking the Fine Molds fuselage and wings, then mating the Hasegawa cowl, engine, and detail parts to it. I've built a few of the Fine Molds kits, and the cowl shape has always looked off to me.

Then again, Tamiya could simply make us all happy and release a new line of Hayabusa variants to the same quality as their new Hien! ;-)


Mark Smith said...

Excellent work, Stefan. I had thought of the Oscar as one of Otaki's weaker efforts, but no more!

Nick, you wrote, "It was sent to Rabaul in April 1943 and later absorbed the 5th Sentai's detached 'tokushou kougekitai' (特称攻撃隊 - specially designated attack unit) which had been operating Ki-45 and armed Ki-46 aircraft in the air defence role there since February." I was wondering if you've ever seen photos of this unit's Dinah aircraft. Martin Ferkl's wonderful Revi book on the Ki-46 has the only accounts I've read of Dinah special attack operations. I don't have the book handy right now but I don't believe they were from this unit. Thanks for showing us this beautiful model.

Stefan Sjöberg said...

Thanks Mark. The Otaki "Oscar" is a nice kit which, in my mind, captures the look of this aircraft very well.Of course, given the age of the kit it does not have the refinement & detail level of new kits - but it´s well worth the money.

Ken Glass said...

Very nice work, Stefan. Thanks for sharing.

Ken Glass