The Mitsubishi Ki-21 " Sally " was a mid wing, twin engined monoplane bomber with a crew of 5/7. It was produced and continually developed from 1936 to 1944, by which time 2,064 aircraft were produced. Armament, glazing and engines being the main alterations. The long "greenhouse " canopy on the early models was replaced by a dorsal turret to give better protection.
Clean in design with fast, good defensive armament and range, the "Sally " was in the forefront of the Japanese air offensive after December 1941, where it operated throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans, being used in the raids on Ceylon and Calcutta.
There are no frills when it comes to packaging as everything is placed in a large clear plastic bag. The bag contains two moulded plastic sheets, two clear canopy sheets, one bag of white metal pieces, a set of decals and three very large 17 inch by 12 inch instruction sheets printed on one side only.
We will start with the instructions first. The instructions are printed in black and white and seem to be pretty haphazard in context with assembly instructions placed on two of the sheets seemingly at random. One set of drawing is all you get for the cockpit area with the rest of the assembly in written form only. They also include painting details of six aircraft, two of which have the same markings, but are at different stages of its service life. All the sheets have some very nice line drawings to refer to for panel lines etc.
The two white plastic sheets are about 1mm thick. One sheet contains the fuselage and engine nacelles, with the other sheet containing the wings, tail planes, wheels and interior parts. The moulding on the fuselage is not brilliant with the panel lines seemingly quite shallow and fading in and out a bit in depth, so some re scribing will definitely be necessary. The areas for the glazed portions are well marked out.
Research will have to be done to put either the dorsal turret or the "greenhouse" canopy, as there are no cutout marks for either type. The wings are about the same quality as the fuselage regarding the panel lines. The interior parts are very sparse in detail and the cockpit will require a bit of scratch building to make it look half decent. The wheels are just horrible and would be better replaced by injection plastic or resin if any exist, or failing that, "borrowing" from another kit would be a good option.
There are about twenty eight white metal pieces in a bag which contains seats, guns, engine parts, propellers, landing gear legs and the cockpit interior with control columns and rudder pedals. There are seam marks and flash on all the metal parts and some pieces appear to be broken, so a lot of work will be needed to clean / fix these up. Detail is generally not bad and once painted should look quite nice.
The two clear sheets contain the canopy and glazing parts and are devoid of any frame work whatsoever. Adding frame work will probably be the hardest and most time-consuming part of this kit. The clear parts are quite thick and will probably have a protective film on the inside surface, which can be removed with the assistance of tweezers. There are no blemishes are found on the clear parts.
The decals seem fairly thick and have markings for 4 aircraft. Two of the red hinomarus seem to be off center on the white background, but with careful cutting or replacing should be fine. The decals provided with the kit come in a single large sheet with a continuous carrier film - which means each decal must be cut very close to the printed image.
This is not a kit for the beginner or impatient, but is a challenging and highly rewarding model for those wanting something other than your usual injection moulded kits. Completing these types of kits will determine how good a modeller you are as there is little instructions and a lot of scratch building to do. Researching the aircraft is a must for the interior and framework for the canopies. I am looking forward (in a scared sort of way) to building this kit, and would reccomend that everyone should attempt a vac-form kit at least once in their modelling carreer. Rowan Baylis (Merlin) has written a good article on tackling vac-form kits
and it is highly recommended reading for the project.