Monday 25 September 2023

Nichimo 1/48 Ki-43-I Hayabusa by Dan Salamone

The Nichimo kit of the Nakajima Ki-43-1 Hayabusa 'Oscar', Japanese Army Type 1 fighter, in 1/48 scale built by Dan Salamone and expertly finished in a simple but very attractive scheme which shows the fine lines of the aircraft to advantage.  Built stock except for the addition of seat belts.

In Dan's own words:-

"1/48 Nichimo Ki-43-I, an original molding from 1977 which I bought at a long ago closed hobby shop for $3 back in 1995. It fit like a glove, and was a lot of fun to build. I used all Vallejo colors, including the metal colors. They perform well, but need at least 24 hours to cure between the primer coat, paint, other colors, and the varnish coats. There are a few good videos on You Tube that explain the process well. Lightly weathered as I wanted to highlight the simple and elegant look of the Hayabusa airframe. Markings cobbled together from various aftermarket sheets, Akeno flight school circa 1942. Proof that some of these older kits are still gems."

A gem indeed and its absence lamented. The mould does not appear to have made it to another manufacturer for re-release - yet. A pity, and it is to be hoped that a criticism of its shape and dimensions by a well-known and feted plans and micrometer pedant has not contributed to discouraging its continued sales potential. The Hasegawa Ki-43-I is certainly flawed in appearance and Nichimo's gem is infinitely better looking. In the absence of the Nichimo kit this most iconic of Oscar variants is not well served in 1/48 scale, or for that matter in 1/72 and 1/32 scale either. Nichimo's box art 'brown' scheme was much debated in Japan and ultimately refuted by some 'who were there', although it was commented that the dark green paint sometimes became more 'reddish' with exposure, a characteristic of chrome green applied in lieu of chromium oxide green where the chrome yellow pigment gradually decomposes the Prussian blue pigment over time, a phenomenon seen even with the dark green of some RAF jets into the 1980s. With special thanks to Dan for sharing these images of his superb model and for his patience for them to appear here.

Image credits: All model photos © 2023 Dan Salamone; Box art © 1977 Nichimo Co., Ltd.