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Ki-21-Ib Sally (72203) 1:72


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Ki-21-Ib Sally (72203)

1:72 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd




The Sally, as she was known by the Allies during WWII was a heavy bomber designed by Mitsubishi as a replacement for the Ki-20, in competition with Nakajima, who although they lost out on the design of the aircraft, were given the contract for the power plants, as their HA-5 engines were found to be superior to Mitsubishi’s offering originally installed.  A small number of airframes were also built by Nakajima too, with a total of just over 2,000 built between them.  It first flew in 1936 and was intended for long-range bombing missions against Soviet and Chinese opponents, first entering service in 1938 in operations against China.  Initial experience showed that the design was lacking in some respects, extending to the crucial oxygen system that was found to be unreliable.  The Ib was intended to address most of the issues, including the lack of armament and changes to the flying surfaces.  It also had a remote tail gun installation, and could mount an additional fuel tank for extreme range missions.


The type was pretty much obsolete by 1940, and mounting losses prompted the type’s withdrawal from front line service, and sale of some of the airframes to friendly nations.  Uses were still found for the type with the Japanese forces however, and the remaining aircraft were used until the end of the war as cargo transports, trainers, troop transports and communications hacks.  The later variants had improved engine performance with Mitsubishi units, some with alterations to the greenhouse behind the cockpit, which was changed to a turret on some, and removed entirely on transport variants.



The Kit

This is a brand-new tool from ICM, who continue to produce new kits despite the difficult circumstances in their home country.  The kit arrives in a shallow top-opening box that has a captive top flap on the bottom tray.  Inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue in a separate bag, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour with colour profiles on the back pages.  Detail is well up to modern standards, and extends to ribbing on the interior of the fuselage, full representation of the engines and a nice cockpit, plus a set of crystal clear glazing parts.















Construction begins with the fuselage halves, which have the armed Ib tail added to the rear, a lozenge-shaped detail insert to make the wing root recess flush, and the side windows, plus an equipment insert in the cockpit area, and a line of trunking that extends from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail.  The cockpit floor is a long part, with a recessed front end for the flight crew, detailed by adding the rudder pedals for the pilot, and the two seats, which both have separate seat cushions.  The twin ‘bow tie’ control columns are inserted into the floor in front of the seats, and near the rear of the floor are two large tanks that attach on pins.  The assembly is inserted into the starboard side of the fuselage, and has a bulkhead fixed just in front of the crew steps under the mid-fuselage greenhouse.  The front bulkhead has a small circular seat glued to the side of the fuselage and additional details with instrument decals, a choice of two clear chin inserts with an instrument panel, gun mount and a rack of bottles added to it during installation, with a choice of two types of machine gun for the belly window that has two spare mags nearby.  The port fuselage is prepared with tail, wing insert and windows, plus ammo cans and forward fuselage details, more racks of oxygen bottles and a side-mounted machine gun.  The fuselage can be closed around the cockpit after adding the main instrument panel, which has a centre throttle quadrant and dial decals added beforehand.  The mid-upper gunner’s suspended seat is also inserted into holes, but can probably be inserted after gluing the fuselage halves together by flexing the support struts.  His twin machine guns are added to a mount on a bracket, with a pair of magazines on top, after which it is fitted into the insert that is then glued into the opening in the fuselage behind the main canopy.  The main canopy and greenhouse gunner’s canopy are fixed on top of the fuselage along with the nose glazing, which has a choice of two types of machine gun inserted from the inside.


The tail begins by adding the elevator fins, which have separate flying surfaces and rudder panel, then the wings are prepared by inserting a two-part bay in each one before joining the upper and lower halves together, adding the ailerons and landing lights in the leading edges.  They are then glued onto the wing root fairings on the fuselage, which have a lip to improve fit and joint strength.  The wheels are installed under the wings before the engines and lower cowling are made up, starting with the tail-wheel in its yoke, and then adding the two-part wheels to the H-frame main gear, which has a support frame fitted to the front, and a long yoke with mudguard that links the strut lower to the back of the bay.  Four small parts are fixed to the wing inside the bays, and the lower cowlings are made up out of two halves plus a round bulkhead, and a pair of intakes top and bottom, then sliding the lower nacelle over the completed wheels and mating the edges with the recessed lip of the lower wing.  The engines are built-up on bulkheads with the cooling flaps moulded-in, a separate exhaust stack underneath, and a depiction of both cylinder banks, plus the front bell-housing with push-rods, hiding the prop axle inside without glue so that the props can spin later.  The finished engines are covered by two cowling halves and a separate lip, gluing them to the front of the nacelles and finishing them off by adding the three-bladed prop and separate spinner.  The model is completed by installing an antenna post and D/F loop over the canopy, and a curious-looking cranked pitot probe in the leading edge of the port wing.




There are four options on the decal sheet, all in light green-grey, differentiated by their unit markings.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • 60th Sentai, China, Summer 1940
  • 60th Sentai, 3rd Chutai, China, Late 1940
  • 58th Sentai, Harbin, December 1940
  • 105 Kyoiku Hiko Sentai, Hamamatsu, Presumably 1942






Decals are by ICM’s usual partner, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.


As is common now with ICM kits, there is a page of the instruction booklet devoted to the masking of the canopy, using the printed shapes on the right of the page and the diagrams on the left to create your own masks if you wish.  It goes up to 130 thanks to the extensive greenhouse glazing.




A nicely detailed new tooling of this short-lived (in front line service at least) heavy bomber, which should put older toolings from other manufacturers out to pasture.


Highly recommended.


Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.



Review sample courtesy of



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