Question: When is an Arii (ex-Otaki) Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa not an Arii (ex-Otaki) Ki-43-II Hayabusa? Answer: When Chad Akins got a hold of it and transformed it into a masterpiece. If I didn't know the origin of this model I should never have guessed it. Chad has very kindly shared photos of his inspiring build and model, describing the project in his own words:-
"For this build I used the Otaki 1/48 Ki-43-II as reboxed by Arii. The kit interior is completely fictitious and a lot of the other detail is simplified or non existent. The overall shape is not too bad and I actually prefer it to the Hasegawa kit which due to its shape issues I have yet to bring myself to be able to build. The model represents a Ki-43-II Otsu* (see note below. Ed) from the 2nd Chutai, 63rd Sentai in Papua New Guinea 1944. The airfield this aircraft operated from is unknown but I personally suspect Wewak aerodrome.
"I scratch built the new interior of the model using various plastic card and strip, copper and lead wire and soda can aluminum. Some detail parts such as the rudder pedals, control stick, seat back and mount and hydraulic pumps on the floor were salvaged from a junked Nichimo Ki-43-I someone had given me years ago. I painted it with a custom mix to represent the IJAAF colour # 29 Ki Midori Iro. To represent it I used approximately 1:1 Model Master FS 34151 US Interior Green and Polly Scale US Interior Yellow. I also added a single drop of Polly Scale Italian Camo Brown to achieve a slight olive under tone. The landing gear wells were deepened and detailed with sheet styrene and faired in with Milliput.
"The landing gear legs were also borrowed from the Nichimo kit as they were more detailed than the Arii ones. I shortened them by about 1mm. This achieved a more realistic stance for the model to my eye. They were further detailed using bits of styrene, with lightening holes drilled in the oleo scissors to match references. Brake lines were added using lead and aluminum wire, line couplings made from tiny cylinders fabricated from stretched cotton swab tubing. The wheels were modified by chucking them in a rotary tool and carving radial tread with an X-acto blade. The hub covers were made from circles cut from styrene sheet with details scribed onto them. The leg covers were built from styrene sheet and strips using the Nichimo parts as a guide. Rivets were then added using a thumb tack.
"The kit supplied engine was detailed by adding a wiring harness from lead wire, push rods from aluminum wire and exhaust pipes made from styrene rod feeding into an exhaust collector ring sculpted from Milliput. The kit exhaust stubs were drilled out and glued to the new collector ring. The kit cowl flaps were removed and replacement ones made from soda can aluminum and detailed with styrene sheet. Actuator rods were made from aluminum wire.
"The Type 100 reflector sight was scratch built using bits of styrene, clear acetate, aluminum sheet and copper wire. If I counted correctly it is made from 23 separate pieces. The aerial wire was made from smoke colored invisible mending thread. The attachment point on the front post was made from aluminum sheet with a hole drilled through it. The attachment point on the tail is a tiny loop of aluminum wire.
"The overall finish is Alclad II Airframe Aluminum over a base of Model Master enamel gloss black. All markings were made using hand cut masks and sprayed. The red is Model Master Acryl FS 31136. The propeller and hub were painted Model Master Acryl Panzer Schokoladen Braun. This was the closest color I had to hand to represent the brown color. I was specifically trying to avoid the rust/brick red color that just doesn't look quite right to me but I see it all too often on many Japanese aircraft models. The anti glare paint on the nose was mixed from Model Master enamel Gunmetal (a very deep blue-black) and Testors enamel Gloss Dark Red 1104. It is difficult to discern but I was trying to achieve the eggplant color of the anti glare paint found on many IJA aircraft which has a subtle purple hue. The yellow on the propeller and IFF strips is Colourcoats ACJ19 ID Yellow.
"The camouflage mottles were airbrushed free hand using Colourcoats ACJ05 # 21 Midori Iro. The "crazy paving" pattern was painted over this with a fine brush using a custom mix of Colourcoats ACJ03 Nakajima Navy Green with Testors enamel Flat Sea Blue 1172 to represent # 27 Ao Midori Iro. I used a photograph found on the Aviation of Japan blog as well as the profile of this aircraft from Rising Decals as a reference. Rising shows the secondary color as a brown but also suggest it could have been dark green. It could even have been black or IJN dark green from left over stocks at the airfield when the Army took over air operations from the Navy in 1943. I only painted the fuselage with the secondary color as I had no view of the upper surfaces of this airframe to determine if the wings were treated in the same manner. This was very much a puzzle that may never be solved but I gave it my best shot!
"I tried to keep the weathering subtle. I wanted the aircraft to look like it was used in a harsh jungle climate but wanted to avoid the post war junk heap look. The whole model received washes of a mix of black/burnt umber oil paints. Paint chipping is a combination of the hair spray chipping technique and a fine sponge with Model Master enamel Chrome Silver. Exhaust stains were made with tan and grey oil paints with just a hint of black pastel chalk at the top of the stains to match reference pictures. The canopy is a replacement vacform from Rob Taurus.
"I made a simple base from a cheap $1 picture frame. The ground cover was made from Celluclay, Woodland Scenics static grass and plants from my yard preserved in a water/glycerin mixture."
The entire build process can be found here:-
And is well worth following to appeciate all the work involved in creating this superb replica. With special thanks to Chad for sharing these images and details with Aviation of Japan.
* (Although the Ko, Otsu, etc., suffix designations, sometimes rendered as a, b, c, etc., in English sources, are in popular use for the Ki-43-II series they are more a retrospective convenience. These suffix were usually used by the IJAAF to denote armament variations which do not apply to the Ki-43-II as it carried an identical armament of 2 x Ho-103 12.7mm machine-cannon throughout its service. The detail differences in the II series were production changes to the airframe and engine and in Japanese references these sub-types are often divided by features into early, mid and late production types with the II Kai as a final type, all using the word ki (期) which means period but is sometimes given as 'production' in English. Thus:-
初期 - (hatsu ki) = first period (Ki-43-II with annular oil cooler and long Ki-43-I wingspan)
中期 - (naka ki) = middle period (Ki-43-II with enlarged under cowling cooler and shortened wingspan)
後期 - (nachi ki) = later period (Ki-43-II with rearwards thrust exhaust stacks and landing light in port wing leading edge)
末期 - (matsu ki) = end or final period (this is the Nakajima-built Ki-43-II Kai with individual exhaust stacks)
Only the main features of each sub-type are remarked on above but not all the additional detail changes. There are four distinctively identifiable versions of Ki-43-II prior to II Kai with one researcher recording designations of Ki-43-IIa early and late, Ki-43-IIb early and late. This divides the mid-production type into IIa late and IIb early. The official Koku Hombu table of aircraft designations and armament makes no such distinctions, just referring to Type I Fighter Model II and listing differences simply as production changes, but unfortunately does not date them all precisely or provide the serial numbers for first change. Ed).
Image credit: All photographs © 2019 Chad Akins