Monday 28 November 2022

Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu in 1/72

Continuing a short season of Japanese Army fighters regular AoJ correspondent Alex has shared these images of his 2021 build of the 1/72 Sword Nakajima Ki-44-II 'Shoki' 'Tojo'  kit released in 2011 (and in-box reviewed here). 'Shoki' is always a favourite here but the Sword kit is not seen so often in built model form.  

Alex chose one of the kit's subjects, a 40mm armed Ki-44-II Otsu white '20' of Hiko Dai 47 Sentai at Narimasu in late 1944, differing from Sword's instructions by depicting the leading edge IFF strips in red rather than yellow. 

The 47th's confusing Chutai identity colour sequence has been discussed here before so we won't go there today. Suffice it to say that Sword identify this particular bird as being from the 1st Chutai. In December 1943 the 2nd Chutai had been detached to Tokorozawa airfield where it had the opportunity to fly and test the Army Flight Test Centre's Focke-Wulf Fw-190 A5 against its Shoki thanks to the auspices of former unit commander and then test pilot at the centre Maj Susumu Jimbo.  In October 1944 the 47th was rated by Army Air HQ as the best unit in the 10th Air Division with many skilled pilots.  During this period the 10th Air Division commander had instructed that each of the Sentai within his command would be required to form special air-to-air ramming units in flights of three or four aircraft. In the 10th Air Division, these small flights of stripped and unarmed fighters, often garishly painted, became known as Shinten Siekutai or ‘Heaven Shaking Air Superiority Units’. In early 1945 the unit was transferred under direct command of the 6th Air Army and began to re-equip with the Ki-84 Hayate to serve in the bomber escort role against expected enemy carrier attacks. On 19 March 1945 the unit was again transferred, this time to the newly re-formed 30th Fighter Group for the 'Sei-Go' operation as part of the 'Mobile Air Defence Forces' which would take over from 6th Air Army in defending the Kanto region against invasion, being based at Miyakonojo West airfield. The 47th ended the war at Ozuki after transfer to the 12th Air Division in July 1945. 

The interior of the Sword kit is significantly more detailed than the Hasegawa kit of 1972 but little can be seen in the finished model if the cockpit side doors are not displayed in their open condition. Alex also photographed the final result for comparison besides an old Hasegawa Ki-44.

With special thanks to Alex for sharing these images of his excellent model and for his kind patience in waiting for them to be shown here. More Shoki delight to come.

Image credit: All © 2022 Alex

Saturday 26 November 2022

Francesco Borraccino's 1/72 Hayate - Yes, That One!

Francesco Borraccino has very kindly shared these images and details of his splendid build of the Arma Hobby Ki-84 Hayate in 1/72 scale, representing an aircraft of Hiko Dai 73 Sentai. 

Francesco deems the new Arma Hobby kit as beautiful and a really enjoyable, carefree build, maybe not to a Tamiya standard but really amazing. A negative for him were the landing gear covers - too thick! He found the kit relatively easy to build except for a couple of passages, firstly in the placing of the photo-etch engine spark plugs (a problem was also that the instructions were a bit confusing) and secondly the rear portion of the canopy that require some filing to fit on the fuselage depression. I would add to that the rather disappointingly chunky pilot seat which lacks detail.

Francesco opted for a representative Depot finish of blue-green paint over natural metal. He tried the new # 27 by Mr Paint, but in his opinion it lacks the blueish hue and is too olive, so he chose to mix Gunze H-59 IJN Green with AK RC332 Blue Green.

Francesco interpreted the tail number as yellow on a yellow outlined red panel and hand painted it together with the sentai insignia, adding a red painted spinner and aerial mast. The hinomaru are the Techmod decals provided. The only detail he added to the model was the antenna wire which was tricky. 

The 73rd (No. 18431) was formed at Kita-Ise airfield, a branch of the Akeno Flying Division, at Kamayama in Mie Prefecture in May 1944 and together with Hiko Dai 71 Sentai made up the 21st Air Brigade. The simple three line sentai insignia was designed by painter and unit member Tsuruoka Yamamoto. From September 1944 the unit was deployed briefly on Homeland Defence operations at Tokorozawa before being designated (with the rest of the Brigade) as the third phase reinforcement for Sho operation No.1 in the Philippines. The unit deployed to Mabalacat East Airfield, Luzon in December and together with other Hayate units was placed under command of the 30th Fighter Group which as losses mounted became the de facto Hayate unit in operations. The 73rd engaged in airfield and shipping attack operations as well as special attack escorts. The sentai commander Maj Teruo Misumi and the Hikotai leader Capt Hiromitsu Kajiwara were both killed in action during January 1945. In the same month a special attack unit was formed within the 30th Fighter Group and three 73rd Sentai flyers including the former Olympics swimmer Kiichi Yoshida volunteered and were subsequently lost in action. The surviving personnel, eventually without aircraft, joined the Japanese ground forces although 70 ground crew members of the 30th Fighter Group, considered essential, were evacuated. The unit was formally disbanded in Japan in March 1945.

Some detail images of the build:-

With special thanks to Francesco for sharing these images and details.

Image credit: All photos © 2022 Francesco Borraccino.

Friday 25 November 2022

More Hayate - Dario Risso's 1/48 Ki-84

This 1/48 scale Ki-84 Hayate model was built by Dario Risso from the Arii (former Otaki) kit. The model was built mainly out of the box but Dario added cockpit, engine and other details using plastic card, stretched sprue and copper wire.  

Dario detailed the cockpit (shown below) by adding some wiring made out of copper wire and stretched sprue, added some control boxes, and a seat cushion made from styrene sheet. He made the seat belts using tin sheet with copper wire buckles. 

The engine was detailed by making .3 mm holes for the spark wires. Dario used copper wire again, this time heated to make them softer and dull looking. More styrene sheet and plastic wrapped wire was used to detail the engine. (shown below).

Dario added the fuel tanks caps and the warning buzzer with small styrene discs Some putty was applied in the small gaps between fuselage halves, then sanded. After cleaning the model with dish soap and rinsing well he applied a coat of primer and after it dried, a couple of coats of Gaia Duraluminum.

Dario masked off the model undersides with masking tape and applied a coat of  hairspray, direct from the can. Then a coat of Tamiya JA Green was applied and after 10-15 minutes he used a brush to wet the surface, applying water in zones and rubbing with a short bristle brush and a toothpick. Following that he masked off the wings and fuselage to paint the white Home Defence bands, followed by masking and painting the hinomaru. Then the orange-yellow markings, so more masking, hairspray, painting and paint chipping. 

The next step was to apply two coats of acrylic floor polish and the unit decals to represent an aircraft of the Hiko Dai 47 Sentai's 2nd Chutai, one of the subjects of the original kit. That was followed by painting the almost black antiglare zone. The final step was to apply oil washes, black on green painted surfaces, grey-brown on other surfaces.  The paints used were:-
  • Interior green: a Tamiya mix Dario already had in a jar - possibly XF-26 and XF-4 
  • Primer: Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer diluted with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner 
  • Aluminum base: Gaia 123 
  • Green camo: Tamiya XF-13 J.A. Green 
  • Underside: A Mix of Tamiya XF-14 J.A. Grey and X-2 White (4:1 ratio) 
  • Propeller: Tamiya Mix: XF-26 Deep Green, XF-62 Olive Dran and X-8 Lemon Yellow (10:3:3) 
  • Yellow markings: X-8 Lemmon Yellow and XF-7 Flat Red (20:1) 
  • Black antiglare surface: XF-1 Flat Black and XF-57 Buff (18:1) 

With special thanks to Dario for sharing these images and details of his excellent Hayate build. The representation of wear over panel lines is especially well done. The Arii ex-Otaki kit was first released in 1973 so is approaching its fiftieth year of long service and good conduct. It is still in stock at HLJ at a sale price of only £6.77 (usually £8.46), remarkably good value in this day and age. 

Image credits: All photos © 2022 Dario Risso