Friday 11 December 2020

Rob Ronconi's Revell Mitsubishi Ki-21 'Sally'

Back in March 2012 the classic 1975 Revell 1/72 kit of the Mitsubishi Ki-21 'Sally' was featured in a brief kitography. Now a rare kit with a persistent question mark as to why a new mould kit of this important Japanese Army bomber has so far not been released by Hasegawa or some other manufacturer. MPM released a short run kit in 2001 with revised releases in 2002 and 2003, but those seem almost as rare as the Revell kit and they are not straightforward or particularly enjoyable builds. Following the Revell Donryu retrospective Rob Ronconi has kindly shared these images of his own superbly photographed Revell 'Sally' model, builds of which also seem surprisingly scarce. 

Rob exercised artistic licence with a colour scheme more typical for the dorsal turreted Ki-21-II and with tail insignia borrowed from another decal sheet. The kit went together well and the scheme, chosen to conceal any defects, is a splendid realisation. The tail insignia is that for Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 55 Chutai, an independent recce squadron recorded as operating Ki-15 and Ki-46 types which together with 50th and 51st independent squadrons formed the 15th Independent Air Unit (Hikotai), referenced as Hiko Dai 15 Sentai in some sources, which was transferred from the Southern Army to 2nd Air Army Headquarters in  Manchuria on 20 March 1942, less the 55th which remained at Bangkok. There is some doubt as to whether the 55th returned to Manchuria before being transferred into China towards the end of August 1942 where it was based at Kongmoon landing ground (Jiangmen) near Canton to undertake aerial photography of the Chinese interior. In early 1943 part of the unit moved from south China to the Wu-Han area and from April four Ki-46 aircraft provided a 350 km patrol line from Lishui to Putien along the coast of Fukien province to provide early warning of any attempts to bomb Japan from the Chinese interior. In China the main force of the 55th formed part of the 1st Air Brigade at Canton together with 85th Sentai (Ki-44) and 90th Sentai (Ki-48). From January 1944 the 55th came under direct command of the newly designated 5th Air Army HQ at Hankow. In May 1944 it had an authorised strength of four officer and six WO/NCO pilots but an actual strength of five officers and eight WO/NCOs with five serviceable Ki-46 aircraft.  Their main tasks became reconnaissance of enemy airfields in preparation for night attacks and the reconnaissance and photographing of roads in support of ground operations. At the end of October 1944 the 55th were incorporated into Hiko Dai 82 Sentai. Did they ever operate a 'Sally' in a hack or transport role - who knows? The absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence.       

With very special thanks to Rob for sharing these images of a great classic of Japanese aircraft modelling.

Image credit: All © 2020 Rob Ronconi


Kevin Bade said...

Really gorgeous Sally Rob. Rarely ever see the highly sought after Revell kit built. Seems most are loft insulation as the saying goes. A remarkable kit for its age. I think you did a great job. Love the dorsal greenhouse. Thanks for sharing more of your exceptional skills.

Michael Thurow said...

Wonderful work on this difficult kit Rob. I enjoy the rivets. They always add authenticity to bare metal models even if they are a bit too pronounced for this scale. Great job on the antenna wiring!

Jim Anderson said...

Wow, what a nice piece of eye candy. Masterful job on the camouflage pattern. Any details on what you did there would be appreciated. Thanks Nick for this one and Rob for a sharp looking build!

Baronvonrob said...

Gentlemen sincere thanks for all the kind words :)

In response to Mr.Anderson, I used the Iwata HP-C Plus dual-action gravity feed airbrush at low air pressure (10psi) I then remove the protective tip and get the needle about a quarter inch away from the model to do a couple of quick shots and make sure it does what I want..or hope for :))

Much gratitude to Nick and his font of historical information and amazing research skills the results of which make all of our postings much more interesting

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thank you Rob. It is very kind of you to mention that. The models are excellent vehicles for presenting a few details about the units depicted but I invariably stand on the shoulders of giants to do so.

Dan Salamone said...

Wonderful rendition of a beautiful aircraft. Love the camo! Thanks for sharing it here,


Ken Glass said...

Very nice build, Rob. Thanks for sharing, Rob & Nick.