Tuesday 1 November 2022

Rob's 1/72 scale Franks - No, Not That One!

A delight to share this collection of excellently realised and photographed 1/72 Hayate models by Rob Ronconi. All made from the 1982 vintage Hasegawa kit. This long serving kit was first announced as 'N1' in Hasegawa's 1978 kit catalogue with a photograph of the surviving Hayate in flight, but like its companion Ki-43-II in the same scale was not released until 1982 (and not 1987 as suggested by Scalemates) as kit # B18 in the 'blue flash' type box. The original box art by Shigeo Koike depicted a 29th Hiko Sentai example but alternative decals were included for '327' of the 73rd Hiko Sentai in 1944 in the factory-applied olive drab scheme with a colour profile of that aircraft on the side of the box. Since then it has been re-released many times in both standard and special editions and is still available from HLJ in the standard, now 'orange flash', edition box with the original art for the princely sum of £4.47.

Rob comments that the Hasegawa kit can still produce a decent effort, as his photographs more than show, if enhanced with pencils and shading to off-set the raised detail and lack of other features. Above images are the 'blue bird' of Hiko Dai 102 Sentai. Relatively short-lived as a fully operational unit it was established in July at Kita-ise as part of the 100th Air Brigade and after working up with many problems moved to Miyakonojo West airfield in March 1945. On 6 April 1945 the 102nd contributed 20 aircraft to the 40 aircraft despatched by the Brigade for special attack escort but many aircraft made forced or emergency landings on return after becoming lost. After participation and heavy losses in the Okinawa campaign during which a cadre of pilots volunteered for special attack sorties, its surviving aircraft and personnel were re-assigned to the two other 100th Air Brigade units Hiko Dai 101 and 103 Sentai from June 1945. The commander of Hiko Dai 103 Sentai Maj Michiaki Tojo has commented in interview that his unit had only two or three veteran pilots out of about 50 and the rest were inexperienced and straight from training.

Next, (above,) a Brigade-mate of the 102nd bird, a Hayate from Hiko Dai 101 Sentai. The unit also participated in the Okinawa campaign, notably conducting a low-level strafing attack against enemy ground forces on 15 April 1945. One of the participants in this attack, Lieutenant Masami Kodama made an emergency landing and fought on with Japanese ground forces. Between April and June the unit lost 21 pilots including the Sentai commander and Hikotai leader. This particular Hayate was flown by Sgt Noburo Saito as part of the 1st Special Shimbu-tai, one of 10 special attack volunteers drawn from the 101st and 102nd. Sgt Saito was lost with 2nd Lt Jiro Ito during attacks against US vessels on 12 April 1945.

This Hayate (above) is believed to be the aircraft of the leader of the 184th Shimbu-tai although the tail marking is also said to represent '182'. It was one of 50-60 Hayate concentrated in 19 Shimbu-tai at Tatebayashi airfield for special attack sorties and photographed there in August 1945 minus its propeller. 

Above is a Hayate from the 57th Shimbu-tai flown by Staff Sgt Takayuki Yamashita. The eagle and bomb was a personal marking. 


The 57th Shimbu-tai was one of four special attack units formed at Akeno on 29 March 1945 and equipped with Hayate, the others being 7th, 58th, 59th and 60th. The majority of pilots for the 57th were drawn from the 14th and 15th intakes of boy airmen who were under instruction with the 1st Training Squadron at Sagami. On 30 March the unit moved to Shimodate Airfield in Ibaraki Prefecture, and on 10 April received Type 4 fighters (Hayate) and began flight training, including taxi, takeoff and landing, familiarisation flights, and taking off and landing on short fields. After this basic training, navigation practice, formation flying, taking off and landing with heavy loads, and dive to low attack training were conducted, followed by special attack training against single ships. This strikingly marked Hayate (above) was flown by Cpl Tokuo Takano and was one of 11 aircraft led by Ensign Kitoku Ito which sortied from Miyakonojo East airfield on the early morning of 25 May 1945 to attack US vessels off Okinawa. 

With special thanks to Rob for sharing these images of his excellent Hayate models.

Image credit: All © 2022 Rob Ronconi


Ken Glass said...

Great work, Rob. I really like the spalled paint effect on the 101st Sentai example. Thanks to you & Nick for sharing your collection with us.

Jim Anderson said...

Very nice mix of finishes and markings. Which makes me curious as to the diversity of the overall greens used by the JAAF. I'm used to the relative uniformity of navy aircraft and to me anyway, the army planes look to be in several shades ranging from bright medium green to olive and dark olive on the same types as your builds show. Was this a factory policy or at the army's request or something else? Thanks Rob for some great builds and Nick for putting it together for us to look at!

Kevin Bade said...

Four really excellent builds of the venerable Hasegawa kit. Love the variations in colors/finishes. Done to the usual high Ronconi standard on a kit that has held its age well. Having built the Tamiya, Revell and Hasegawas kits they all look good built but the Hasegawa one holds its stance the best. I'm sure the Arma kit ups the ante but I havent gotten it to the bench yet. Nice work Rob its always good to see more of your talent. And thanks Nick for the historical perspective.

WilliamR said...

Top notch modeling. It's a fun build as are all of those old Hasegawa kits. You've taken this kit about as far as it's likely to reach. Beautiful work.

Michae Thurow said...

It's a pleasure to look at these fine models and the great collection that you have assembled. The flamboyant schemes are very well chosen. I like the 101 Sentai in particular. I noted that in the last desperate months of the war Hayate units gave up uniformity and many individual embellishments emerged as your collection shows us. Thank's Rob!

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

PS If that doesn't work you can also drop me a line via the private messaging at Britmodeller.


Boris Ilchenko said...

Another great post with one of the all-time favorite Japanese subject!
Thank you very much Nick, your comments are priceless for all Japanese aviation aficionados!