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Hi, Today was a sunny spring day in Krakow - good to make some removing of dust and do photos of archive models from shelvs. Especially because the "current production" slowed down a bit... This is Nakajima Ki 44 II Shoki (Tojo) - kit from Hasegawa, almost OOB except painting scheme which presents machine from 85 Sentai JAAF, China 1944 - with rare blue patches. I made it in 1993 Comments welcome Regards Jerzy-Wojtek
Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki, (Tojo) 70th Flight Regiment Hasegawa 1:48 The Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) was an unusual fighter by Japanese standards, with high speed and a good rate of climb emphasised at the expense of manoeuvrability. Work on the Ki-44 began in 1938, at almost the same time as the Ki-43. The Japanese Army Air Force decided that it needed two types of fighters - the manoeuvrable dog-fighter for normal use and a defensive interceptor for use against high flying enemy bombers. As a result Nakajima were asked to design a fighter that could reach 13,120ft in 5 minutes, with a top speed of 373mph at that altitude, and armed with two 12.7mm and two 7.7mm machine guns. The Ki-44 was a low-wing monoplane, with short stubby wings. The wings had a straight leading edge but a tapering trailing edge. The fuselage was circular near the engine but narrow and flat-sided near the tail, a design that helped to improve its stability in the air. The aircraft carried two guns in the wings and two in the upper fuselage. The first prototype Ki-44 (serial number 4401) was completed in the summer of 1940, and was rather heavier than expected. The new aircraft handled well, but its performance was not quite good enough. A series of modifications were tried out on the three prototypes, and eventually a top speed of 389mph at 13,120ft was achieved (although with all guns removed). With the guns installed the aircraft was expected to reach 360mph, and the new design was accepted by the Japanese army. Compared to the Ki-43 the new aircraft was heavier, slightly shorter and had a 4ft narrower wingspan. As a result the Ki-44 had a higher wing loading than the Ki-43, and was thus less manoeuvrable, but its top speed and rate of climb were both better. The Ki-44 entered production as the Army Type 2 Single-Seat Fighter Model 1, and a total of 1,225 were built by the time production ended late in 1944. The Model Another kit that Hasegawa have released before with different marking this doesn't alter the fact that its a nice kti of a sharp looking aircraft. Arriving in the standard Hasegawa style of top opening box with stylish representation of the aircraft on the front, the five full sprues and two sub-sprues of grey styrene are well protected in poly bags, as is the clear sprue, although thankfully separately. The slightly glossy styrene is up to the usual standard with the slightest amount of flash and a few moulding pips. The clear parts arent as clear as some Ive seen recently and there appears to be a fair amount of distortion on the main canopy and side screens on the alternate front canopies. Whether this will be sorted after a dip in aqua gloss or Future, Im not sure, but it certainly wouldnt do any harm in trying. The cockpit is quite well detailed, and whilst there is some detail within the main undercarriage bays they could do further enhancement with some lead/copper wire for pipework. Its not a complicated kit by any standards and even just looking through the box it should be quite a fun build. Construction starts with the pilot office, as is normal. The front bulkhead has a main and a sub instrument panel attached either side of which the breeches of the upper cowling machine guns are glued into place. The panels have moulded detail which will need to be removed if the supplied decals are to be used instead of careful painting. The completed bulkhead assembly is then fitted to the cockpit floor along with the rudder pedals, joystick, rear frame, seat support and seat. The completed bulkhead can now be fitted into one fuselage half with the nose wheel bay attached to the rear. With the addition of a control box to the starboard side and the throttle quadrant to the port, the fuselage can now be closed up. At this point the engine, consisting of front and rear cylinder banks, prop shaft ferrule and crank case and the propeller, with separate blades, backplate and spinner can be assembled. The engine may have extra detail added, but there is not a lot visible once the cowling has been fitted. The wings, one piece lower and two uppers are glued together and fitted to the fuselage assembly along with the single piece horizontal tailplanes and forward upper fuselage panel. The previously completed engine is then attached to the fuselage once the collector ring and exhausts have been fitted. The single piece cowling is then fitted, followed by the prop assembly. The main undercarriage, consisting of single piece un-weighted wheels are fitted to the axles of the oleos, onto which the scissor links are also added, as are the undercarriage doors, these can then be glued into place with their associated inner doors, actuators, tail wheel and its bay doors. The optional auxiliary tanks can also be built. These are made of two front halves and a single piece rear section to which the front and rear struts are fitted along with the re-fuelling cap. Once complete these too can be fitted to the main aircraft assembly. There are several unidentifiable parts fitted just aft of the undercarriage bays which look like auxiliary doors of some kind. The two part oil cooler is attached to the join between the cowling and fuselage. The final parts to be added are the wing machine gun barrels, pitot probe, aerial mast and landing lamp glass. The sliding canopy is the same for both options out of the box, with the option of having either a windscreen and telescope sight through it or solid windscreen and gyro gunsight. Decals The decals provided give options of two aircraft from the same regiment, the 70th Flight Regiment, one flown by Major Atsuyuki Sakado, June 1945, the other flown by Sgt Sadao Miyazawa, February 1945. As mentioned above there are decals provided for the instrument panels. There are also decals given for the anti-glare panels around the cockpit and the yellow identification markings on the fronts of each wing, but these may be painted if desired. There does appear to be some sort of glossy residue on most of the decals which may cause problems when soaking, otherwise they are clearly printed, with good opacity and density. Conclusion This is a rather nice kit of a good looking aircraft. As stated earlier, not complex or difficult kit, but it looks like it will build into a lovely looking model. Although both options are painted in overall aluminium, there is enough colours in the markings to lift them out of the ordinary. Recommended Amerang Hasegawa Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for