Danilo Renzulli has kindly shared these images of his Tachikawa Ki-54 'Hickory' model in 1.72 scale made from the Special Hobby kit and representing an aircraft of the 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu (Independent Air Brigade Headquarters) as used to convey the Japanese surrender delegation under Lt General Masao Baba to Labuan, Borneo in August 1945.
Danilo had long been waiting for a Ki-54 kit, wondering why the type had not received the attention of kit manufacturers and when the Special Hobby kit was released in 2021 expected a 'non plus ultra' production. He was disappointed to find a kit not in line with their most recent production but with an older production appearance. Danilo comments: 'I do not mean the kit has great faults but they were expected to offer a much finer product and much better details'. He thinks that once the model is finished it's not bad at all but he encountered some fit problems with the interiors which needed a lot of work before successfully squeezing them into the fuselage. The lack of photo-etch compelled him to rebuild at least part of the pilots' seats with aluminium sheet - remarkable work shown above. As can be seen below he also embellished the passengers compartment with a few details and added window curtains using small paper tissue pieces.
Danilo found the window. transparencies troubling to fit from inside the fuselage and in most cases he had to re-shape and adapt them, deciding to replace the smallest transparencies with Micro Kristal Klear at a later stage. He filed and sanded the kit windows flush to the fuselage then completed them with very fine sanding paper, toothpaste and polishing cream.
Danilo thinned the wing trailing edges to a knife sharpness and re-positioned the elevators. He also enhanced the undercarriage fashioning his own replacement components.
For painting he began with Tamiya spray as primer followed by Alclad black base and a top coat of White Aluminium. The camouflage mottle was prepared with a mix of Mr Color paints and applied with a Harder and Steenbeck Evolution double-action airbrush, a new acquisition which he says he needs a lot more practice with.
Danilo chose to depict the aircraft in pre-surrender markings using Maketar masks for the hinomaru and cutting his own for the tail marking. The pitot tube was made up by telescoping brass tube.
In conclusion Danilo thinks the result is not too bad at all but expected a higher level kit. There have been mixed reports about this kit with some recording serious fit problems and others little or none. With very special thanks to Danilo for sharing these images of a model which shows no signs of tribulation in the making or the painting, and for his patience in waiting for them to appear.
Image credit: All photos © 2023 Danilo Renzulli