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Mike

Mansyū KI-98

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Mansyū KI-98



1:72 Meng Models

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The Ki-98 was a project started in 1942 to produce a fighter capable of doubling up as ground attack, and was of an unusual design, although similar to the more well known Kyushu J7W Shinden. It had a central fuselage nacelle with a rear mounted radial engine and pusher prop configuration. The tail was mounted on two booms either side of the fuselage, with a central elevator running between the two booms. So typical of the Axis forces toward the end of WWII though, its design had to be changed when a requirement for a high altitiude interceptor was added, which involved installation of a larger engine and prop, which in turn required substantial modification to the fuselage, with the booms having to be moved further outboard to cater for the larger prop. This of course slowed down production of the first prototype, and it was incomplete by the time Soviet forces overran the factory in Manchuria.

It would have been quite a formiddable opponent, as it was armed with one 37mm and two 20mm cannon mounted in the nose, giving an excellent concentration of fire. This was possible because of the rear mounted engine, so the nose could house the weapons around the nose gear bay for the tricycle undercarriage.

The Kit

The kit arrives in a compact box with an appealing matt finish to the cover painting and box design. Inside are two sprues of parts in a medium grey styrene, a small clear sprue and decal sheet. The fold-out instruction booklet is full colour and mirrors the design of the outer box, containing a brief history of the aircraft, building instructions, and a full colour painting guide on the back page. Immediately it is evident that this isn't a short run kit, but a mainstream product that is suitable for all skill levels. Detail is crisp throughout, and the panel lines are deep but narrow, giving plenty of scope for those of us that like to apply washes to accentuate the lines and bring out the detail.

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The build begins traditionally enough with the cockpit, which although it has surprisingly few parts, has more than adequate detail for this scale and colour call-outs are given for the whole area, with the main cockpit being painted in a green-beige that is referred to as "Cockpit Color Nakajima" in Mr Color's range of paints. If you don't have any to hand, a dab of beige added to British Interior Green would suffice. The nose gear bay installs underneath the cockpit, and both sections are sandwiched between the fuselage halves. There is no sidewall detail on the interior of the fuselage halves, but in truth very little will be seen once the glazing is installed. The upper cowling for the nose and the nose cone itself are then installed, with the large cannons being added immediately after. The barrels aren't hollow, but on the 30mm cannon, the muzzle brake has a hole that adds a little extra detail. These can be quickly drilled out with suitably tiny drill-bits in any case. Although the instructions would then have you install the delicate four-bladed prop and spinner to the rear of the fuselage, this is best left off until later, once the majority of the build work has been done. The bubble canopy is supplied as a single part, and is nicely moulded with well-defined frame lines and good clarity. The other part of the clear sprue is the gun-sight, which attaches to the small coaming that is moulded into the fuselage and sits above the main instrument panel once complete.

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The main gear wells are in the front of the two tail booms, and a neat pair of inserts are supplied to fit into L-shaped locators inside each boom. The booms have moulded in rudders, but as the rudder is completely affixed to the inner boom half, it would be quite straightforward to mobilise them to add a little visual interest. Here is where the build becomes a little bit clever, as you then mate the fuselage with the lower wing panel, which finishes inboard of the booms. The booms and outer wing affix to the top and bottom of the lower wing panel, creating a solid join with minimum seams to clean up. Don't forget that you'll also need to install the elevator between the booms at this stage too, or you will live to regret it. A pair of end-caps are attached to the very front of the booms along with a scoop on the belly, and the majority of construction is complete. All that are left are the landing gear bay doors, a pitot probe, and the landing gear themselves. The bay doors are small and commendably thin, but devoid of any interior detail, whilst the gear legs themselves require little extra work other than adding brake lines to the main wheels. Detail on the tyres is limited to a spoked hub on one side, and representation of the brake assemblies on the other. A quick rub with a sanding stick will give them a little flat-spot to imply the weight of the aircraft upon them.

As the aircraft never saw active service, or indeed left the ground (that we know of), all of the colour schemes provided in the box are fictional, but your choice of finishes is limited only by your imagination with the right decals.

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From the box you can build one of the following "what-if" aircraft:

  • Imperial Japanese Army, end of 1945 - green upper fuselage, wings and booms over bare metal, with white boom and wing bands under the Hinomaru.
  • Manchukuo Air Force, end of 1945 - all-over bare metal with a roundel fashioned from their flag, consisting of bands of colours.
  • Royal Thai Air Force, end of 1945 - dark yellow uppers over grey-green with dark green tiger-stripe style overpainting on the upper surface. A stampeding elephant on a red flag take the place of roundels.

The decals are nicely printed with a very thin, matt carrier film which should settle down well on a glossy surface. The yellow on the Manchukuo roundel seems a little startling however, and from the available pictures online, appears to lack a subtle orange tint. Colour density seems good, and registration is too. Under 2.5x magnification however, there is a very slight hint of pixelation of some of the edges, which wouldn't normally be evident to the casual observer.

Conclusion

Meng are to be congratulated for tackling a subject that must have been hard to research, as the Japanese ordered the prototype and all documentation destroyed as they pulled out of the factory in Manchuria toward the end of WWII. Detail is good for the scale, and construction has been kept simple by sensible design. Other than drilling out the gun barrels and adding some sidewall detail to the cockpit and landing gear bays, there is little that needs doing to the kit from an advanced modeller's point of view. It is suitable for all modellers, and should appeal greatly to those partial to the What-If genre, of which there are many, as well as those of us (self included) that like to model unusual and odd looking subjects.

I would like to make a public plea for Meng to branch out into 1:48 aircraft kits, producing this and their delightful little Kayaba ram-jet powered fighter for lovers of the larger scale.

Highly recommended.

As we received an advanced sample to review, I thought it would be a good idea to build it up, and the build process can be seen here, with the finished article available to view here. Here is one of the pics to whet your appetite :)

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Although not yet available, it will be soon from Hannants in the UK.



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Review sample courtesy of

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It almost looks like they stole P-38 booms from a captured aircraft to get the prototype (almost) built. Interesting airplane!

Andy

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