by: Allen Berry [ ]
HistoryIn response to the rapid emergence in Europe of twin-engine heavy fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110, the Japanese Army ordered the development of a twin-engine, two-seat fighter in 1937, and assigned the proposal by Kawasaki Shipbuilding the designation of Ki-38. This only went as far as a mock up, but by December of that year, the army ordered a working prototype as the Ki-45 Toryu ("Dragon Slayer"), which first flew in January 1939. Results from the test flights, however, did not meet the army's expectations. The Ha-20 Otsu engine was underpowered and failure-prone, while the airframe suffered from nacelle stall.
The Ki-45 did not enter use, but the army, insistent on having a working twin-engine fighter, ordered Kawasaki to continue development. Kawasaki responded by replacing the engines with the proven Nakajima Ha-25 and the flight tests were promising.
In October 1940, the army ordered continued improvements such as switching to 805 kW (1,080 hp) Mitsubishi Ha-102 engines. This craft, designated Ki-45 Kai (Allied Name Nick), was complete in September 1941 and was officially adopted for use by the army in February 1942 as the "Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter".
The first production type (Koh) was armed with two 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine gun in the nose, a single 20 mm cannon in the belly, and a trainable 7.92 mm (.312 in) machine gun in the rear cabin, and this was followed with the Otsu with the lower 20 mm cannon replaced by a 37 mm (1.46 in) tank gun, to counter B-17 bombers. While the firepower was devastating, manual reloading meant that only two rounds could be fired per minute. The next type (Hei) restored the 20 mm cannon, and this time placed an automatic 37 mm (1.46 in) gun in the nose.
The KitThis latest offering is a tweak of Hasegawa’s earlier issued Ki-45 with Isuzu fuel truck, but instead they have left out the fuel truck and instead included the nose mounted 37mm gun in the nose. The kit comes in the typical Hasegawa fashion. Upon opening the tray type box you are greeted by two cellophane bags, one containing the majority of the sprues and the other containing the clear sprues and poly caps, a decal sheet and the usual fold out instructions. The majority of the parts (139) come on nine sprues moulded in light grey and eighteen parts on two clear sprues. As Hasegawa have re-utilised the earlier moulding thirteen of these parts are not used for this version.
A close inspection of the parts shows no signs of moulding flash, sink marks or major seem lines. There are very fine recessed panel lines and rivet with raised details for the fabric covered ‘stringers’ for the elevators and ailerons. The cockpit parts are well done with raised details which make it suitable to dry brush the dials and switches or use the included decals. The rest of the cockpit is well detailed with the only additional needed being some etch seatbelts. The engines and nacelles are also well represented and a careful dry brush will make these details ‘pop’. The clear parts are crystal clear but as always will benefit from a dip in some Klear (Future). My only concern is if you choose to model the canopies open the pilot canopy is split in two halves (parts T10 & T11) which will need some careful gluing.
The Instructions, Colour Scheme and DecalsThe instructions come in the format of a fold out sheet. They start with the front cover having a picture of the box art with a brief history of the aircraft, followed by a layout of the sprues and the colour chart (in Gunze Hobby Colour and Mr Colour). Twenty ones steps then follow starting with the usual format of cockpit, fuselage, wings & nacelles, engines, undercarriage and cockpit canopy. The instructions are very informative in both Japanese and English complete with the colour call outs throughout.
Three marking options are provided. They are all a ‘squiggly’ Kawasaki Dark Green over a Grey Green base coat. Two of the markings are for aircraft of the 4th Regiment, 2nd Company, Ozuki A.F, Yamaguchi, 1944 and the other is for an aircraft of the 21st Flight Regiment, 1st Company, Burma, 1944. The decals are in good register but I have my doubts about the shade of red that Hasegawa have used as I feel it’s a bit on the dark side. The majority of the decals are for the yellow leading edge stripes, the white bands and the Hinomaru’s. Once they are out of the way all that left is the squadron tail markings and a few stencils. Personally I would paint the White and Yellow and use some Miracle Masks for the Hinomaru’s
ConclusionThis is another fine aircraft kit from Hasegawa. As already stated this is essentially the same kit as the earlier release of the KI-45 but without the fuel truck and the projection nose cannon instead. I quite like the alternate scheme provided compared to the earlier issue and can’t wait to clear my bench of current projects and get started on this kit.
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