by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
When World War Two exploded across the Pacific in December of 1941, Allied pilots were savaged by “Zero fighters”, but not all “Zeros” were the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force’s iconic Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. The Imperial Japanese Army Air Force 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 attacked Allies and the American Volunteer Group over China, Singapore, and Southeast Asia. Allied airmen came to know it by codeword “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 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 machinegun, 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 USAAF ace over New Guinea said, “An experienced Oscar pilot could send you home talking to yourself!”
I have not built any of the 1/48 Fine Mold or Hasegawa Hayabusas, so I can not directly compare. However, I dare state that this old model is still a worthy contender! Here is why:
- Fine surface detailing includes recessed panel lines, rivet detail and fabric on the control surfaces. Unfortunately, the outer surface of the airframe is lightly textured instead of smooth.
- Molding is good with only a few slight sinkholes, ejector marks, and negligible flash. The lightening holes in the seat back are skinned over and in need of opening.
Overflowing with detail, this kit includes:
- Complete 21-piece Nakajima Ha-115 1,130 hp (890 kW) radial engine with firewall and mounts.
- Extraordinary 28-part cockpit full of individual levers and knobs.
- Thirty-four other parts.
- A large decal sheet for several aircraft, even a post-war Thailand Oscar.
I counted 83 parts before my eyes crossed accounting for the engine and cockpit parts!
The weak aspects are the plastic forms that I think are seated and standing pilot figures. Toy-like tires ruin the main landing gear and tail wheel.
I have not thoroughly checked the scale dimensions nor the shape of the kit for accuracy but judge it worthy to all but intent rivet-counters.
Nichimo produces several other 1/48 WW2 kits of Oscar‘s quality, including their Nakajima B5N2 Kate, Mitsubishi Ki.51 "Sonia", and Tachikawa Ki-9 "Spruce" biplane trainer. Their Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Toryu "Nick” and Aichi E13A1-B “Jake” also build into good models, though they lack the thorough interior detailing of the other models.