One of the lesser known and shown models on the scale model tables is the Japanese Army Ki-21 'Sally' bomber. The reason for this obscurity is simply the lack of an available and reasonably priced kit as of 2021, with the first being released nearly 50 years ago! The only kits of the Ki-21 are the 1/48 vacuform kit from Sanger (you should become 'religious' to tackle that one) and the 1/72 kits from MPM and Revell-Takara Japan. All three are rare, difficult and costly to acquire. There are smaller offerings in 1/144 from Hasegawa (a reasonable kit), as well as more toy-like offerings from F-Toys and Cafereo. Finally Kora makes a conversion set to backdate the MPM and Revell kits from a late to early model (with noticeably smaller engine nacelles). However after attempting this conversion myself, I was highly disappointed as after installation the engine nacelle resin parts are at an odd angle that does not match any photos of how the real aircraft looked like (too high of an angle resulting in the propellers pointing upwards and very difficult to correct without significant wing modifications).
This model is the 1/72 MPM offering released in 2001. It appears to be a copy of the Revell-Japan kit that was released way back in 1975 and re-released in the 1980’s by Revell-Takara. That kit has not seen any release since, with a rumour that the original molds were lost or damaged. The Revell kit was and still is a jewel to build with fit like a modern Tamiya kit, and well ahead of its time when released with fine recessed rivets and beautiful surface detail. Just ditch the original kit decals. I have built three! Two versions can be built from both the Revell and MPM kits – dorsal turret vs dorsal greenhouse with a unique interchangeable dorsal spine part to allow choice between both options. However the MPM release is not a good kit and much less stellar than the Revell offering. It replicates the errors of the Revell kit but is more difficult to build as it is/was a limited-production regardless release 25 years after that kit. For example there are no locating pins or positioning spars to assist in parts alignment including the cockpit floor. Of note, MPM released two box-art versions showing clearly both early and late engine variants. However, both kits are of the late 'IIb' version! The only redeeming features of the MPM kit is the beautiful resin cockpit, decals by Propagteam, and some releases including an Eduard canopy mask. These features persuaded me to try the MPM kit for this model. Both the MPM and Revell-Japan kits however, suffer accuracy issues from a shallow canopy, to slight shape problems with the wings. Nonetheless, they are acceptable representations of the 'Sally' until we get a big manufacturer to produce an accurate kit to fill this last huge gap in important JAAF bombers!
- Re-building the engine rear firewall for proper alignment and positioning
- Adding further details to cockpit.
- Cutting out landing lights on both wings, and adding bulb detail and vacuformed clear lens covers.
- Scratch-building a new pitot tube and antennae.
- Painting all markings (including Hinomaru) using stencils with Signiagraph dry transfers, including the numerals on the tail.