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In a desperate response to the ever increasing presence of US strike forces over Japan the Rikugun Sanbo Honbu (Japanese Army HQ) in July 1945 ordered several Air Training Divisions to augment air defence. The dual role was not successful, however, and dedicated fighter groups were eventually established around a cadre of experienced instructors. The Akeno Kyodo Hikoshidan formed the 111th Sentai fitted with Type 5 Fighters (Goshikisen). Ki-100-I Otsu 16280 flown by Lt Mamoru Tatsuda of the 2nd Daitai, 111th Sentai My occasional visitors will remember that I love exploiting vintage kits. Otaki are among my favourites, motivated by the considerable number of Japanese models which I bought in the seventies and eighties when only a few brands were available. Another, more heroic reason is my penchant for challenging projects. Otaki kit OT2-15 from 1974 As it happened I acquired this kit twice, the second one being an Arii relaunch. I misbelieved that the one in my possession was a Ki-100-I Ko with the high-back fuselage. Now I had a couple of outdated kits (I wished one at least were from Hasegawa), so latterly I decided to take them on. It proved to be a lucky providence that I owned two! Like all kits, Otaki products have good and bad features, and this is exactly the case with this one. Overall dimensions are accurate, and their classic rendition of engraved panel lines and rivets appears to be more or less in the right place. Some proportions of the fuselage are miscarried, however, as are the nose profile and the wheel wells. This is where my duplicate kit comes in. The following pictures describe some modifications - for those with an asterisk* I cannibalised secondary parts. Other areas were improved with aftermarket help (engine, cockpit, wing racks, landing flaps, gear doors, canopy) - Not only were the various modifications quite demanding but also the complex tail markings which were masked and brush-painted. I struggled with the Sora iro blue #34. Finally I resorted to Tamiya X-14 Sky Blue which I toned down with a thin medium grey overspray. For the olive-brown #7 camouflage, Colourcoats ACJ22 Ohryoku nana go shoku is an excellent choice. It has a rich volume and covers and dilutes very well. I hope my efforts make this classic kit look 40 years younger (I wish it were true for me, too...). Other attractive Kawasaki fighters are featured here. Michael REFERENCES KAWASAKI ARMY TYPE 5 FIGHTER, FAMOUS AIRPLANES OF THE WORLD NO.23, TOKYO, 1990 KAWASAKI ARMY TYPE 3 "HIEN" & TYPE 5 FIGHTER, MECHANIC OF WORLD AIRCRAFT 2, JAPAN, 1994 I.J. ARMY KAWASAKI TYPE 3 & 5 FIGHTER, MODEL ART NO.428, TOKYO, 1994 JAPANESE AIRCRAFT INTERIORS 1940-1945, ROBERT C. MIKESH, MONOGRAM AVIATION PUBLICATIONS, STURBRIDGE 2000 KAWASAKI KI-100 GOSHIKI-SEN, AERO DETAIL 32, GIUSEPPE PICARELLA, TOKYO, 2009 KAWASAKI KI-61 HIEN / KI-100, KAGERO MONOGRAPH 18, LESZEK A. WIELICZKO, LUBLIN, 2014 KI-61 AND KI-100 ACES, NICHOLAS MILLMAN, OXFORD, 2015
Nakajima Ki-44-II Ko Shoki 47th Sentai Narimasu February 1944 The 47th Hiko Sentai was established at Narimasu in October 1943 by expanding the 47th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (Independent Flying Squadron) which had been the first unit of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force to be equipped with the Nakajima Ki-44 or Army Type 2 Fighter (Allied reporting name 'Tojo'). As one of the earliest Home Defence units in the Tokyo area the 47th played a major role in opposing B-29 attacks for which, like many other sentai, it was ordered to form a Shinten Seikutai air ramming section in November 1944. After a long tenure with the Shoki they re-equipped with Ki-84 ('Frank') in the following year The model represents a Ki-44-IIa (Ko) from the 3rd Chutai with the narrow fuselage band indicative of a shotai (flight) leader. The Ko was armed with two 7.7 mm machine guns in the front deck to supplement the wing-mounted 12.7 mm Ho-103. Later versions had heavier armament. The Shoki was the first operational 'heavy' fighter of the IJAAF which offered speed, armament and protection versus manoeuvrability. Of 1974 vintage - long before the Hasegawa kit appeared - Otaki's design is nevertheless a fair representation of this chubby little fighter. My build goes back to 1982. I updated it some years ago with aftermarket items that had become available in the meantime (engine, cockpit, exhausts, control surfaces). Other parts were improved through scratch-building, e.g. the air inlet, oil cooler and outlet flaps, the tail wheel and doors, the open cockpit hatch and more. Decals are home-made. A couple of notes on colours - Sentai emblems in white, red and yellow colour for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Chutai with blue for the HQ flight were typical for the IJAAF. This convention has been questioned for the 47th Sentai by several authors/ illustrators who opined that an unusual order of blue-red-yellow or red-blue-yellow with white for HQ was employed by the 47th, and that the line-up in this photograph shows the 1st (or 2nd) Chutai sporting cobalt blue insignia. No evidence other than tonal interpretation of a series of monochrome pictures was provided. Taking all circumstances into account it would be safer (and more likely) to assume a conventional colour sequence*. In this case the photo, like my model, would show 3rd Chutai aircraft with yellow markings. For the cockpit interior I chose aotake, the well-known blue-green translucent varnish used by Japanese aircraft manufacturers, although a yellowish olive green would have been more appropriate for a Shoki of this period with aotake being a remote possibility. Interior areas other than the cockpit were finished in aotake, however. The two theories about the markings of aircraft #19 - The Shoki is the first of a series of Japanese army fighters that I plan to present in the course of 2021. Maybe you like my Kawasaki family album posted here ハッピーモデル構築 - Michael REFERENCES NAKAJIMA KI-44 SHOKI I/II, AIRCAM AVIATION SERIES NO.25, RICHARD M. BUESCHEL, CANTERBURY, 1971 ARMY TYPE 2 FIGHTER “SHOKI“, FAMOUS AIRPLANES OF THE WORLD NO.16, TOKYO, 1989 JAPANESE ARMY AIR FORCE FIGHTER UNITS AND THEIR ACES 1931-1945, IKUHIKO HATA ET AL., LONDON, 2002 NAKAJIMA KI-44 SHOKI, MODEL ART PROFILE 5, TOKYO, 2009 NAKAJIMA KI-44 SHOKI, REVI CAT NO.II-4005, MARTIN FERKL, OSTRAVA, 2009 KI-44 'TOJO' ACES OF WORLD WAR 2, AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES 100, NICHOLAS MILLMAN, BOTLEY, 2011 JAPANESE FIGHTERS IN DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND 1941-1944 - VOL.1, LESZEK A. WIELICZKO, LUBLIN, 2014 IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY AIR SERVICE ILLUSTRATED (FIGHTERS EDITION), YUKINOBU NISHIKAWA, TOKYO, 2015 IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY & NAVY AIRPLANES ILLUSTRATED - BOOK 2, TOKYO, 2015 PICTORIAL HISTORY OF JAPANESE ARMY 47th SENTAI, FAOW SPECIAL EDITION VOL.8, TOKYO, 2020 * E-MAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH NICK MILLMAN, AVIATION OF JAPAN, 1 MARCH 2021
and waits... Perhaps we should do some maintenance in the meantime... Everybody gone for lunch... While we wait we'll have a look at the original '3' - On the left is Ensign Frederik James Streig at Ondoga, New Georgia in November 1943 during his first tour with Fighting 17. His F4U shows four victory flags and no tank sealing yet. In the right picture, taken on Bougainville in February 1944, 'Big Jim' Streig, now a beardless Lieutenant (jg), poses for the camera at the end of his second tour. The Corsair is adorned with six kill marks (5.5 confirmed claims) and shows traces of a stripped-off tape. Afternoon on Bougainville, hot and humid, and still no action... My model was built in early 1977 from the latest Otaki kit just released a year before. I was delighted about this novelty in times of limited 1/48 model choices - a perfect consort for my Monogram Hellcat (here). Many Otaki products of the period surprise with accurate shape and dimensions and a nice surface representation with excellent recessed panel lines. Interior detail, however, is superficial and clumsy. Ten years ago I got it out of storage and surveyed it for improvement. What followed was an upgrading orgy with a dozen new (aftermarket) parts - from nose ring to tailwheel and from canopy to tyres - plus some scratch work (air intakes, position lights, etc). A fresh finish and new decals rounded off the veteran's resurrection. And in the Pacific? No booty today - let's go to the bar! I hope you enjoyed this classic model and the 'Tale of the South Sea'. An overall view of the scenery appears in the diorama RFI section here. Cheers, Michael REFERENCES CORSAIR ACES – THE BENT-WING BIRD OVER THE PACIFIC, WALTER A. MUSCIANO, NEW YORK, 1979 CORSAIR ACES OF WORLD WAR 2, AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES 8, MARK STYLING, LONDON, 1995 THE JOLLY ROGERS, TOM BLACKBURN / ERIC HAMMEL, PACIFICA, 1997 * THE VOUGHT F4U CORSAIR – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE, RAFE MORRISSEY / JOE HEGEDUS, KINGSWAY, 2010 VF-17 'JOLLY ROGERS', FIGHTING UNITS IN COLOR 3 & 4, ADAM JARSKI / ZBIGNIEW KOLACHA, DANSK, 2012 * * Highly recommended - 'Fighting Units in Color' are out of print unfortunately ATMOSPHERIC READING SOUTH SEA TALES, JACK LONDON, NEW YORK, 1911 TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, JAMES A. MITCHENER, NEW YORK, 1946 *