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.


Michael Thurow said...

A beautiful aeroplane and a beautiful kit (I can vouch for that!) - most beautifully built. Thanks for the natural metal finish, Dan, which is not often seen on early Hayabusa models, and Nick for showing us.

WK said...

Amazingly done Dan. I'm working on the Hasegawa Ki-43 II and each time I look at its profile I cringe. It would be great if a model company (Tamiya, Hasegawa, Eduard) re-tooled a new kit (I , II, and III) of this elegant fighter. In the meantime, I will make do with the Hasegawa offerings, but perhaps I will search for some Fine Molds kits (they are pricey and somewhat rare up here in Canada).


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Alas Fine Molds do not offer the Ki-43-I in their 1/48 scale Oscar range and their offering in 1/72 is a non-historical magazine edition with a separate canopy framework of girder-like proportions best replaced with a Rob Taurus vacform. The short wing of the II kits precludes an easy conversion and I've not seen one released. The 1/72 Fujimi kit also has Matsuba Minoru's 'broken back' although not quite so obvious in that scale. With the Oscar's deployment over Malaya and in Burma it ought to be a contender for a new Airfix kit in either scale. What a pity Nichimo's Hayabusa has not been given a new lease of life.


MDriskill said...

Really wonderful build! I've never seen one done in NMF, which nicely complements that clean "sports car" of a fighter.

I've always thought that kit was quite amazing. It strikes me as a real individual labor of love on someone's part, and must have pushed the limit of what was possible with the molding technology of the day.

Anonymous said...


My compliments for your model ! That metal finish really brings out the
nice details .
Thanks for showing.

John Haas

Dave Mazierski said...

Beautiful job, Dan!

"...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."

Ouch!!! :-)


Jim Anderson said...

Thanks Dan for this one. Great job on the NMF and the overall appeal. It is very similar in finish to my ordinary 1/48 build of the Otaki Mk II from 1985. The look into the brown camouflage explanation was interesting.

WK said...

If anyone wants to see the browning of dark green, please view this NARA video of a F1M Pete at Truck (skip to 3:00). Despite the low quality of the scan, the brown colour is quite apparent.


Baronvonrob said...

Such a beautiful vintage gem Hayabusa, expertly crafted by Mr. Salamone, who made a fantastic choice, highlighting the graceful lines in a natural metal.

Extra thanks for the information about the particulars of crafting such a beautiful natural metal finish and of course to gratitude Nick as always.

Dan Salamone said...

Hi all, thanks so much for all the kind words, and to Nick for sharing it here. My apologies for being absent of late, been very busy with work. I truly appreciate the feedback and thoughts from all of you, it was a real pleasure to build this gem of a kit again after so many years. I would truly love to see Tamiya release any version of the Hayabusa in 1/48, I have a fair number of Hasegawa and Fine Molds kits unbuilt though.

Thanks again!


Dave Calhoun said...

Hi Dan,
Excellent job. What color did you use for the type I cockpit? I'm thinking that they could have been the dark blue gray or some shade of yellow green but the transparent blue green is not correct for this aircraft.
Dave Calhoun

Dan Salamone said...

Hi Dave, thanks for the kind words! I honestly don’t recall other than basing the interior colors off of what is in the Mikesh Japanese interior book, since I built the model 2 years ago. I think that some components were aotake, the seat pan itself was left in natural metal. I’m also away from home for a few days, so can’t poke my head into the display case and look. :)


blitzkrieg_bop said...

WOW , a very stunning finish, lovely Hayabusa.
I like the subtle weathering a lot.

Mark Smith said...

I"m late to the party due to medical issues, but Dan, this is especially good even by your standards. It made me smile. Thanks Dan and thanks Nick.

Dan Salamone said...

Thanks again for the kind words all, it's appreciated! Mark, I hope that your medical issues have passed and you are doing well!


Alex said...

Fantastic NMF Hayabusa! Especially fo so old kit.