Hot on the heels of yesterday's review of Rising Decals Sally sheet, pertinent to its mention of the ICM Ki-21-I Otsu kit and quick off the mark is this superlative build of that kit by Nanond Nopparat.
'There are very few fit issues, most of which could come from my own doing. The panel lines on the top and bottom of the fuselage are rather soft but rescribing is not a big issue there.'
'The only thing I am quite sure ICM made a mistake with is the right undercarriage. The way it is designed, each landing gear leg has two protruding attachment points, one long and one short. This is perfectly fine for the left leg. However, the two legs are a complete copy of one another, while the attachment point on the right wing is a mirror of the left wing. It takes a small modification but since ICM plastic is rather soft and the landing gear leads are very delicate, this takes some planning and not something you would want to encounter when everything is about to be finished.
'The clear parts on the rear fuselage underside offered some challenges. The inclusion of a guide for cutting canopy masking tape is very welcome.
'I won’t complain about the lack of attractive paint scheme choices. Sally looks great in this monotone scheme. The color I used is Hairyokushoku from AK Interactive. Markings are masked and painted on, except for the stencils. And now I’m looking forward to building the RTAF Ki21-I Ko version coming from ICM.'
Nanond's model represents one of the markings options offered in the kit for an aircraft of Hiko Dai 58 Sentai at Harbin in December 1940. The 58th was formed from the 2nd daitai of the 12th Flying Rentai at Gongzhuling, Manchuria in July 1938 with three heavy bomber chutai and in June 1939 moved to Jiamusi, Manchuria. During August and September 1940 the unit staged to Canton to make attacks against Kweilin and other targets in south-west China, returning afterwards to Manchuria. During 1941 as part of the Soviet facing defence posture it was deployed in the 6th Air Brigade under 2nd Air Group in Manchuria together with Hiko Dai 66 and 78 Sentai, a light bomber and fighter unit respectively (the latter established a year earlier than most references suggest). With organisational and deployment changes resulting from the opening of the Pacific war it became part of the 8th Air Brigade under Col Kurabe at Suiha (north of Harbin), together with Hiko Dai 60 Sentai, another heavy bomber regiment. In January 1943 the Brigade was re-deployed to the 6th Air Division of the 3rd Air Army, at that time operating from Sumatra and engaged in ocean patrol and convoy escort work. In late July 1943 it staged via Saigon to Hankow, China, to engage in a series of attacks against Lingling, Chongqing and Hengyang, returning to Medang, Sumatra in October and resuming patrol duties, including detachments for patrols from Singapore. In June 1944 Hiko Dai 31 Dokuritsu Chutai (31st Independent Air Squadron) was formed from within the 58th and deployed to Kampong Chhnang* in Cambodia under the 20th Air Brigade for nocturnal attacks against Allied forces in Burma. These sorties were on a small scale of only three or four aircraft but coordinated with other units. Towards the end of the war the unit was consolidated in Taiwan under the 25th Independent Air Brigade as part of the 'Kaku' manoeuvre for the final defence of Japan.
With very special thanks to Nanond for sharing these superb images of an excellent model. ICM have already released a Ki-21-I Ko kit (shown below) with markings for four China-based Sentai and due out this month is another Ki-21-I Ko kit with options for four Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) schemes (also shown below). And it will cost about the same as a certain 1/72 P-39 with ball bearings so not bad!