Dario added some detail to the cockpit, cutting away part of the main instrument panel and adding a more accurate replacement made from styrene sheet. He also added instruments decals and photo-etch bezels. A new seat was made using styrene sheet with seat belts represented by masking tape.
The kit's gunsight was modified too, cutting some parts and adding a pair of clear acetate rectangles for the glass reflectors. Following observations on this blog and the box art, Dario removed the pilot's headrest and drilled some 0.3 mm holes to simulate its fastening points.
The engine was detailed by adding copper wires (heated with a lighter to make it softer and less duller) to simulate the ignition wires. Other details added were the pitot tube made from hypodermic needle, a landing light on the port wing, starter lug on the spinner, hydraulic lines on the landing gear from 0.3 mm soldering wire, a metal screen inside the oil filter, filler caps on the droptanks and a pair of styrene sheet discs to cover the wheel rims. Dario also inserted a tiny loop of copper wire on top of the fin and then added aerial rigging.
To complete the model Dario airbrushed on a black acrylic primer coat followed by a coat of Vallejo Model Air Aluminium. He decided to paint the aircraft as depicted on the Otaki box art by Rikyû Watanabe with a dense green mottle over natural metal and airbrushed Tamiya XF-13 J.A. Green diluted 50/50 with IPA, then applied the white bands on the rear fuselage and fin. After two coats of Blem floor polish (equivalent to Future/Pledge) he applied the kit decals with Gunze Mr Setter, avoiding using Mr Softener as the decals were so old. Some of the hinomaru wrinkled, so he added more setter and pressed down with a flat brush until to get an acceptable finish. After applying the decals he airbrushed two more coats of floor polish, allowed that to dry for a day and then applied Testors Satin coat overall. The paint chipping was represented with a silver Prismacolor pencil and some sponge-applied Vallejo Aluminium acrylic.
Maj Sakagawa was a 43rd intake graduate from the Army Air Academy in 1931 and after Chutai commands in the 11th Rentai and 24th Sentai, as well as a brief period serving as a flying instructor at Akeno, was promoted to Major in August 1941 at the age of 31. He was then given command of the 47th Independent Flying Squadron when it took the pre-production Ki-44 into combat at the beginning of the Pacific War. He was known in the 25th for personally leading missions, claiming the bombing leader of a B-24 formation over Hankow on 21 August 1943 and three P-51s on 6 May 1944. On 17 July 1944 he went to the Akeno Flying School to become the deputy commander of the 200th Sentai for service in the Philippines from October of that year and on 1 December he took command of the 22nd Sentai there, to inspire a unit which had suffered badly in casualties and morale. He was killed on 19 December 1944 during a night take-off when the transport plane he and other Sentai personnel were being evacuated back to Japan in crashed.
Toshio Sakegawa's Camouflage and Markings
Image credit: All model photos © 2021 Dario Risso; Otaki box art © 1973 & 1975 Otaki Model Toy Mfg Co.; Aireview profile © 1973 Rikyû Watanabe & Aireview magazine; Model Art profile and photo detail © 1992 Model Art Co., Ltd; Fuku profile © 2020 Fuku; LS box art © 1983 L&S Co.,Ltd.