Michael Thurow kindly contributed these images and article summarising the build of his splendidly smart looking Hien model from the Hasegawa 1/48 scale kit quite some time ago and he has been patient for its appearance, the delay being entirely my responsibility. In my opinion it is a very good thing which has been worth waiting for and as they say 'better late than never' which must, I'm afraid, pertain to some other kind contributions sent in during the Covid. Over to Michael then:-
Michael Thurow's Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei of the 56th Sentai
Long projected, 2021 is finally going to be my 'Kawasaki' year, and the Ki-61-I Tei is the frontrunner and the first one I have completed. This pleasant Hasegawa kit has idled in my stash for a deplorably drawn-out period of 25 years.
I was looking for an alternative to Kobayashi's popular 4424 but found it difficult to locate a nice example in pure natural metal, the simplicity of which befits the Hien's shape perfectly. Eventually I detected a 56th Hiko Sentai machine in the background on this photo which, as a far as I'm aware, has not been presented in profile yet.
All relevant markings appear to be distinguishable - a red command stripe (compare with the hinomaru), a coloured spinner tip that I took for yellow (white and silver seemed less likely to me), and the number 693 (red in my opinion). Adorned like this it might have been the mount of the 3rd Chutai-cho, whose name I couldn't establish.
Over time I had acquired a considerable stack of after-market items to enhance this model (and the other Ki-61 & Ki-100 that I work on in parallel). Most parts, though intended for the later Tamiya product, go surprisingly well with the Hasegawa kit, which speaks for its accuracy.
- – Aires 4017 resin cockpit and machine gun deck (for Hasegawa)
- – Aires 4714 resin engine set (for Tamiya)
- – Brengun 48083 PE model accessories (for Tamiya)
- – Eduard 49822 PE upgrade set (for Tamiya)
- – Eduard Brassin 648433 resin fuel tanks and shackles (for Tamiya)
- – Eduard Brassin 648317 wheels (for T amiya)
- – Eduard Brassin 648321 resin gun barrels (for Tamiya)
- – FineMolds AC48 metal pitot tube
- – Quickboost 48311 undercarriage covers (for Hasegawa)
- – Squadron 9561 vacform canopy (for Hasegawa - only sliding portion)
After clearing the kit's side walls the Aires cockpit and front deck fitted with no problem. Some Eduard PE parts and scratch-building enhance the detail. I followed Nick's suggestion of grey-green (as opposed to olive-brown) for the interior of silver-coloured models. Photos in 'Pacific War Eagles in Original Color' as well as many monochrome prints confirm this choice.
The engine top cover is conveniently molded as a separate part on the Hasegawa kit, but I was a bit frightened of cutting the lower panel to expose the bottom section of the fine Aires engine, particularly as I wanted the model to be presentable with open and with closed engine compartment. In the end, not only did the motor with bearers slide into the assembled fuselage after only slight adjustment, I also found a workable solution for the covers by combining and adapting pieces from three different sets.
I used supplementary 20 mm Ho-5 cannon barrels from Brassin because I affixed the Aires ones to the hood. The trick was necessary as the internal barrels wouldn't reach through the gun ports. Finally I added a clutter of pipes and wires to make the open area look busy.
Another modification concerned the external tanks. While the Brassin parts are excellent - especially the superbly detailed pylons (though appr. 1 mm too long) - I had to treat the smooth tanks with streaks of surfacer. Drop tanks of the late-war period were made of bamboo and paper creating a somewhat uneven skin. The tanks are detachable in preparation for different diorama postures.
The aluminium finish didn't cause any particular complication, nor did the markings. I made use of the DDM (Dead Design Models) inspection cover masks that I had purchased to test this product. I won't use any in future because the forms can also be cut from standard masking tape, and the DDM adhesive is too strong so that the layered silver tends to get pulled off. Mr Color # 8 Silver from the rattle can made up the first coat and Tamiya TS17 Gloss Aluminium the second one which was wet-sanded with micro- finishing cloth 2400, then polished and sealed with semi-gloss acrylic.
There are many suitable after-market decals for the Hien. I favour the Techmod series from which I took all stencils. The hinomaru are Hasegawa originals while the 56th Sentai symbols were printed on clear decal sheet and applied in two layers (front) and one layer (rear).
The many special features made this a time-consuming project although it was fairly straight-forward, and I had a lot of fun with it. I hope this is visible in my model.
Thank you for your interest, Michael
JAPANESE COCKPIT INTERIORS PART 1, MONOGRAM CLOSE-UP 14, ROBERT C. MIKESH, BOYLSTON, 1976
ARMY TYPE 3 FIGHTER “HIEN“, FAMOUS AIRPLANES OF THE WORLD NO.17, TOKYO, 1989
KAWASAKI KI-61 / KI-100, MODELPRES 4, MIROSLAV BILY, PRAHA, 1992
KAWASAKI ARMY TYPE 3 "HIEN" & TYPE 5 FIGHTER, MECHANIC OF WORLD AIRCRAFT 2, JAPAN, 1994
I.J. ARMY KAWASAKI TYPE 3 & 5 FIGHTER, MODEL ART NO.428, TOKYO, 1994
PACIFIC WAR EAGLES IN ORIGINAL COLOR, JEFFREY L. ETHELL / WARREN M. BODIE, AFTON, 1997
HIEN FIGHTER GROUP - A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE 244TH SENTAI, TAKASHI SAHURAI, TOKYO, 2004
JAPANESE ARMY FIGHTERS, DESIGN WITH PRECISION 10, MATSUBA MINORU, TOKYO, 2006
KAWASAKI KI-61 HIEN / KI-100, KAGERO MONOGRAPH 18, LESZEK A. WIELICZKO, LUBLIN, 2014
IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY AIR SERVICE ILLUSTRATED - FIGHTERS EDITION, YUKINOBU NISHIKAWA, TOKYO, 2015
KI-61 AND KI-100 ACES, NICHOLAS MILLMAN, OXFORD, 2015
With very special thanks to Michael for sharing the images and details of his superbly realised Hien model in an excellently presented article, and not least for his patience in waiting for it to appear here.
Image credit:- All © 2022 Michael Thurow