is making a name for themselves with beautifully molded models in "sub-braille scale," including these fine 1/144 Ki-43-I Hayabusa
'Oscar'. It is item PDR-7
. This release features sprues for two of the fighters.
This kit is also issued by Platz
in their series “The Magnificent KOTOBUKI”*. (See below.)
When World War II exploded across the Pacific in December of 1941 and Allied pilots were savaged by “Zero fighters,” not all “Zeros” were the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force’s iconic Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. The Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) had its own new world-class modern fighter, the Type 1, Nakajima’s Ki-43-1 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon). The graceful fighter was designed by Hideo Itokawa, future pioneer of Japanese rocketry and designer of the Hayabusa satellites.
Hayabusas opened the war attacking Allies and the American Volunteer Group over China, Singapore, and Southeast Asia. Allied airmen came to know it by codename “Oscar” (and briefly as “Jim” in the CBI). Numerically IJAAF’s most important fighter of the war, Oscar fought everywhere Imperial Japan’s army did, ending the war trying to contest the Allied armadas over Japan, and expended as Kamikazes.
If there was a fighter more maneuverable than the Navy’s Zero, Oscar was it. Hayabusas closely matched Zeros in all areas (even their trait of readily exploding when hit) except one: firepower. Pitifully armed with one rifle-caliber and one heavy machine-gun, Oscar had a tough time delivering mortal damage to sturdy Allied opponents. Eventually up-gunned, Oscar could never deliver a useful weight of fire. Still, as a famous USAAF ace over New Guinea said, “An experienced Oscar pilot could send you home talking to yourself!”
In the box are two Ki-43 "Oscar" model kits. Each kit comprises 25 parts on a gray sprue, a clear sprue, and three loose pieces: left & right fuselage; cowl. The loose parts and clear sprue are sealed in a plastic bag, and it is in turn sealed in a plastic bag with the gray sprue. Decals by Cartograf and an instruction sheet complete the contents.
Molding is by BeGo and it is outstanding. Crisp molding, fine recessed panel lines and access panels, thin tubes and antennas and other components. There is a fine texture on the airframe surface but I can not see it without magnification. The airframe shapes look very accurate for the lithe Ki-43. Interestingly, the diminutive tubular gunsight and pitot tube are molded integral to the airframe.
Parts breakdown is a single wing piece, two-half fuselage with the vertical stabilizer molded on one half and the other half joining along a panel line, a cowl, engine and firewall, cockpit, drop tanks and mounts, two choices of landing gear, and ancillary objects.
The first thing I noticed is the aforementioned remarkable surface detail, especially on the bottom of the wing. Part of the wing root fillet is molded to the top of the wing.
The cowling features intricate contouring of the machine gun fairings. The muzzle ends are hollow. The chin has the air scoop and oil cooler grille detail.
Inside that cowl is the two-piece engine and firewall/exhaust assembly. A pin secures the single-piece spinner/propeller to the engine. The engine part has cooling fin detail on the cylinders, and the exhaust pipes are molded with shallow openings.
Ki-43 had a fairly small cockpit aperture so seeing inside the fuselage will be difficult, and yet a nice 1/144 cockpit is provided. It consists of a floor and seat piece. The seat has no detail but the floor features raised detail including consoles with diminutive valves, switches and lever apparatus. It doesn't look like much but is nice to know its there. A separate instrument panel with suggested bezel detail, and a remarkable joystick complete the assembly. No interior side detail is provided.
engineered two landing gear options - up and down. Each gear leg is molded as the gear door and wheel if you want to assemble tit retracted for flight. For gear down, the main struct is molded with the door while the tire is separate. The tail wheel is also separate piece.
Under the wing are holes to mount the drop tank racks. These fit well into the mounting holes and have tabs to fit into the drop tanks.
Finally, the venturi and antennae mast are separate parts. The canopy is a one-piece part.
Instructions and DecalsPlatz's
simple instructions are simple, clear, and uncluttered. One side is the assembly process, and the other side are color illustrations for painting and decaling. Platz
even printed a callout emphasizing the de-spruing burs on the wings and removal thereof. Parts are identified by part number, with painting instructions indicated by symbols keyed to the colors. Mr. Color and Model Master are the paint brands referenced.
Cartograf decals are provided. They are superb - thin yet opaque, crisply printed, minimal clear carrier film outside of the printed areas, and they float off the carrier paper in minimal time and without curling. Decal setting solutions - I used Micro Set & Sol as well as Solvaset - do not hurt them.
Four decal options are available for two camouflaged and two NMF (Natural Metal Finish) Hayabusas:
1. 64th Hiko-Sentai Commander Major Tateo Katō, Burma, 1942
2. 50th Hiko-Sentai, 3rd Chutai, Sgt. Satoru Anabuki, Burma, 1942
3. 18th Hiko-Sentai, Chofu Air Base, 1944
4. 59th Hiko-Sentai, 1st Chutai, Hankow, 1941
helps modelers who want a bare metal finish by printing a three-piece anti-glare panel; it helps around the ridges and compound curves of the cowling. For the homeland air defense (Hondo Boei Butai) markings, the Hinomarus are printed separate from the special white bands.
Modelers thus have a choice of finishes and high-quality markings for their models.
Assembly is straightforward but I recommend good lighting, magnification, and good tweezers. Fit of many parts is so is precise that no glue was used, i.e., the engine firewall-fuselage-cowl assembly. The canopy contours fit nicely along the fuselage, too. After assembling the cockpit and inserting it into slots in the fuselage, the fuselage halves were joined. Alignment is conventional with pin-and-slot but I found some of the holes in the front were to small for joining the fuselage. Small drills rectified that issue and the pins fit trouble free when the fuselage halves were joined. A minimum of liquid cement was applied. Next, the engine assembly was assembled and joined to the fuselage, followed by the one-piece wing. Each stabilizer attached well.
The mating of the wing to the fuselage was tight and required some force to get the fuselage to fit. Even after whittling the underside fuselage/wing area, I could not assemble the models without a step where the bottom wing blends with the fuselage.
After the tires were attached to the landing gear, the gear legs were set into the wheel wells, and tail wheel attached. Although it is a butt-joint, the tiny tail wheel is sturdy one the glue set. While it is almost heresy to admit it, I used old Testors "non-toxic" tube glue for most of the assemble. It held the tail wheel and main gear solid, as well as the horizontal stabilizers (which I followed up with liquid cement for its gap filling qualities). Liquid cement was used to joint the fuselage and even the wings.
The most difficult assembly was getting the drop tanks on their racks. The tank slots were not sized well for the racks. Eventually, I got the four units assembled, and eventually mounted on the models. Pay close attention to the instructions and don't do as I did by cutting off all the parts at once - each drop tank and rack have individual part numbers. Each is attached to a particular side of the wing. I think each is meant to have a slight cant relative to the wing dihedral.
I decided on one camouflaged and one NMF Hayabusa. Using information from Aviation of Japan
and web master Nick Millman, I painted a cockpits blue-gray, and the 50th Hiko-Sentai Ki-43 overall glossy hairyokushoku
(ash/grey-green colour) with a custom mixed dark green upper color. (I used Tru-Color TCP-337 Seaboard Air Line Mint Green.) That upper green was meant to be solid but it crackled slightly over the glossy hairyokushoku
, which gave it an unintended yet pleasing weathered field applied effect.
Decaling with Cartograf products is easy - 'nuff said.
I highly recommend magnifiers and precise tweezers (look up those by Wilder reviewed here on KitMaker Network) for handling the parts. Flush-cut sprue nippers are important, too. A minuscule burr will be a big problem on some parts.
1/144 Ki-43-I Hayabusa
are beautiful kits. Apparently Platz
invested a good amount of time and effort on creating this detailed model. It features excellent surface detail, very fine parts, excellent decals and instructions. Fit is good with exceptions - see below. The choice of multiple aircraft - typical of PLatz
- is appreciated.
Fit is not up to my experience with their N1K2-J Shiden-Kai
(see Click here for additional images for this review
, below) due to the junction of the bottom wing/wingroot to the fuselage. Good as fit is elsewhere, the wing-fuselage fit is crucial to the overall appearance of a model.
created a impressive model with their Ki-43-I and it should be popular with the 1/144 community. There are a couple of other 1/144 "Oscars" out there but I will bet Platz
has set the standard. Recommended.
*“The Magnificent KOTOBUKI” is a Japanese original television animation series... The story centers on a hired bodyguard known as the “Kotobuki Air Squadron”, a team of six young women with magnificent skills. The aerial dogfights scene and the aircraft shown in the anime have attracted a great deal of attention in Japan.
Please remember to mention to Platz and retailers that you saw this model here - on