by: Russ Amott [ ]
The Ki-45 was Japan's effort to produce a heavy fighter for long range escort and bomber attack duties. The initial design was underpowered and had structural issues, but the Army insisted the project continue. Kawasaki reworked the airframe and installed a new engine, the Mitsubishi Ha-102. The aircraft was finally adopted as the Ki-45 Kai. Different armament options were installed, with the Kai Hei carrying one Ho 203 37mm cannon in the nose, one 20mm Ho 3 cannon on the fuselage underside, offset to the right, and a 7.92mm type 98 machine gun in the rear gunner's position.
The Ki-45 saw some success as a bomber interceptor and as a Kamikaze late in the war, but was badly outclassed by Allied fighters.
Hasegawa has offered a 1/72 scale boxing of the Ki-45 many times over the years (Editors note: I have counted twelve. One of them they just reversed the box art from a previous release..), with different variants and marking options made available. This latest boxing offers the markings of the 4th flight regiment and features the Ki-45 Kai Hei, armed with a 37mm cannon in the nose, ventral 20mm cannon and single flexible mount machine gun at the rear of the cockpit.
The kit comes in the standard top opening box, which offers generous space for the contents. While this doesn't smash the parts together, it does allow them to move about during shipping. As all the grey styrene sprues are placed together in one bag, this allows them to rub against each other, leaving some scratching and scuffing on the surface of the parts, and several parts were broken off the sprues as well. Fortunately, there did not appear to be any real damage done. The clear parts and vinyl propeller inserts are bagged separately to protect them.
The kit is in Hasegawa's often seen modular design, which allows for simple variations of an aircraft to be done using the same primary mold parts. In this case, the nose is a separate part.
The "A" sprue carries the fuselage halves and horizontal stabilizers. Attached is the "K" sprue with the nose sections which include the 37mm cannon. Panel lines are recessed and detail looks good. There was a tiny bit of flash. The gun is molded solid and would look better if drilled out a bit.
Sprue "B", with sprue "G" attached is the upper wing surfaces, engine nacelles and landing gear doors. Again, panel lines are recessed and there was only limited flash. There are prominent ejector pin marks on the inner face of the landing gear doors and faint sink marks on the upper wing surface.
Sprue "C" is the lower wing surface, molded in a single piece. The ventral gun position is recessed into this part.
Sprue "D" is the cockpit assembly and tailwheel. The pilot's seat has a large ejector pin mark that will need filler. The instrument panel is flat but a decal is included for better detail.
Sprue "E" x2, engines, propeller and cone, landing gear assembly. The engines are very basic but with the propellers in place I don't know how much would be seen. The air intakes are molded in two parts, with the opening being a separate, recessed piece. The tires also have two small ejector marks on them on the rear face.
The clear parts sprue features thin canopies with no distortion or marring on the parts.
Four vinyl inserts are included, but only two needed, to mount the propellers and allow them to be removed for transport or painting, or just to play with.
The decal sheet includes the markings for the 4th flight regiment, featuring two aircraft. The first, flown by 2nd Lt. Sadimitsu Kimura, Ozuki Airfield, Yamaguchi, 1945, and the second, unknown, also from Ozuki Airfield, Yamaguchi, 1944. Decals include the instrument panel, large white band identification panel markings and yellow bands for the leading wing edge, for those who prefer not to mask and paint these areas. They appear to be in good register, but seem just a tad thick. My experience with Hasegawa decals is that they tend to look like decals.
The instructions are provided in simple line drawings and assembly is quite simple. The paint scheme for both aircraft is identical, with overall gray-green surface covered with a squiggly lined dark green camouflage pattern over the upper surfaces.
Assembly is quite simple. The cockpit is first, and is very basic. Two bulkheads, two seats, instrument panel and rear gun mount. These should be lined up with one of the fuselage halves to get things to fit as the panels must line up properly. I believe there are aftermarket cockpit sets available for those who need more detail, as this kit has been in fairly continuous production for years.
Once the cockpit is completed it installs into the fuselage and the halves are joined. I pre-painted the interior areas with Tamiya field drab and then painted the seats black and gun mount in steel. The tail planes were added and checked.
The wing surfaces were attached, again painting the interior of the wheel wells. Fit was generally good. A test fit of the fuselage to the wings showed a gap. I could have forced the wings to the fuselage, but the wing angle would have been excessive, so a small piece of scrap styrene was added to one side to fill in the gap. My one sided approach left some minor tweaking and sanding to be done. The nose was then added.
The engines were built up, with the nylon inserts added. The multi-part assembly process here did not provide an ideal fit, but things did go together. The landing gear doors were attached and the landing gear assembly was installed. The latter is rather nice looking for the scale. I added the canopy parts so they could be masked and painted in place. The propeller blades need some sanding as mold seam lines were more pronounced here. The propellers are not handed.
I left off the rear machine gun and antenna mast as I tend to lose these parts while painting. Speaking of paint, I did not have the correct colors on hand, so painting has to wait until I can make it to the hobby store.
This is a decent, basic little kit and a good representation of the Ki-45. In this scale, there really isn't much more to be had. Detail is fairly good, but very (very) basic, especially in the cockpit and with the engines. A combination of newer technology and higher expectation based on more recent releases may leave some modelers wanting more from the kit. Aires, Pavla and Eduard, just to mention a few, offer aftermarket detail sets and masks for those who wish to extend what the kit offers.
Online prices appear to be in the $25.00 US range, although the kit may be had for less if you look around.