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Ki-27 (Nate)

Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-27 (Nate) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review May 2009 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Nakajima Ki-27 (Nate) Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09008 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nicely detailed early Japanese fighter; Spectacular paint schemes Cons Control surfaces and canopies molded solid
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $32.15

First Look

Ki-27 (Nate)
Ki-27 (Nate)
Ki-27 (Nate)
Ki-27 (Nate)
Ki-27 (Nate)

The Nakajima Type 97 fighter, whose design features included highly effective measures to reduce the weight of the aircraft, and whose low wing loading gave the aircraft level flight fighting capabilities unparalleled by any other aircraft of it’s time, has been called the best dog-fighter in the world. It was the Imperial Japanese Army’s first low-wing monoplane fighter, designated the Ki-27. It was in continuous production from 1937 to 1940, and was not only built in much larger quantities than other Japanese aircraft of it’s day, but outnumbered almost every Japanese warplane of WWII.

It was designed to meet a 1935 fighter requirement and competed against designs from Kawasaki and Mitsubishi. The Type 97, was selected as the winner of a fierce  competition with the Kawasaki Ki-28, took it’s maiden flight on 15 October 1936. Though not the fastest, it was easily the most maneuverable. In fact, it was probably the most maneuverable military aircraft of it’s day and possibly in all history. It had plenty of engine power (the Army having chosen the biggest of three possible sizes of wing). The extremely low wing loading was evident. The loaded weight was roughly half that of contemporary Western fighters. However, penalties were paid by it’s light construction, and small armament.

At the time, Japanese pilots cared nothing for speed, fire-power or armor, but sacrificed everything for good visibility and maneuverability. They resisted the introduction of later aircraft such as the Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) “Oscar”.

Hundreds of Ki-27’s fought Chinese and Soviet aircraft over Asia. The aircraft scored about 90% of the claimed 1,252 Soviet aircraft shot down in 1939.  It was placed into action service in China in 1938, and showed its mettle by scoring numerous combat victories over Soviet I-15 and I-16 fighters during the fighting that ensued from the Homonham Incident. The aircraft thereafter served as the workhorse of the Japanese Army’s fighter inventory until it’s later replacement by the Hayabusa.

Other Ki-27’s served with the Manchurian Air Force, and at the time of Pearl Harbor they had outnumbered all other Japanese fighters. Called “Nate” by the Allies, they continued front-line use throughout the first year of the Pacific War. No fewer than 3,386 were built, 2,079 by Nakajima and 1,307 by Tachikawa and the Manchurian Mansyu Hikoki Company.

Hasegawa is a model company based in Shizuoka, Japan. This kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a Ki-27a that is dog-fighting with a Polikarpov I-15 over a Chinese landscape. The Ki-27a is shown in overall light gray, with a red cowling that continues into a long fuselage stripe. There is a white fuselage band in front of the tail and a diagonal red stripe forward of it. The tail has the red number 30 spanning it. There is a kill mark, in the form of a red character of an eagle with it’s wings spread below the cockpit. The propeller is bare metal on the front of the 2 blades and maroon behind the blades. The cockpit canopy is of the early “A” Type and has had it’s center section removed. This aircraft is from the 84th Flight Company Squadron, Guangdong, China 1939. This marking is on the decal sheet and the “A” type canopy is included in the kit also.

A side panel of the box has four color walk-around type photos of the model made up in the box art scheme. Next to these is Hasegawa’s address in Japan. The other side panel has WARNINGS and features of the kit in multiple languages labeled with the flags of the countries that speak those languages (including English).

Inside the kit are 3 medium gray parts trees, one clear tree, the decal sheet and the instructions, all sealed in a cello bag. The tray of the kit is quite blousy and the contents look a little lost in there because of this. There is a single sheet in the kit that has a color 4-view of the box art scheme on it. However, it is showing the aircraft with the later modified “B” type canopy installed. Below this, are photos of a 1/48th scale Shindenai “George” (kit no. J5) and a Type 52 Zero “Zeke” (kit no. J7) that Hasegawa also marketed.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 8 pages of 5 ½” x 8 ½” format.

Page one begins with a black and white photo of the model made up in the box art scheme. This is followed by the history of the Ki-27 in multiple languages, including English. Page two begins with CAUTIONS in the same languages, followed by a paint color listing of Gunze Sangyo brand paints, suggested to use to complete the model.

Pages three through five have a total of 6 assembly steps.

In step 5, you can opt to mount the 2 underwing slipper-type long-range fuel tanks or not.

In step 6, you can opt for either the Type “A” early canopy or the later Type “B”.

Pages six and seven have two 4-views for 2 different paint schemes.

The first one is the box art scheme, already described above.

The second one is for a Ki-27 Otsu of the 102nd Flight Company Squadron, Kakogowa, Japan 1941. It is in overall light gray. It has a red fuselage flash, beginning just below the cockpit and extending to just in front of the tail. This is covered by the Japanese red national circle insignia on a wide white fuselage band. The wing insignias, top and bottom, are also on these wide white bands. There is a black wing-walk stripe at the root of the left wing. The Squadron insignia on the tail is 3 red horizontal stripes with a red chrysanthemum in a circle in the center. The propeller is bare metal on the front of the two blades and maroon behind. There are narrow red stripes on the tips of the blades.

Page eight begins with decal application instructions, followed by the parts tree drawings and a customer service coupon (in Japanese only) to mail to Hasegawa about any problems encountered with the kit. Below this is Hasegawa’s address in Japan and the copyright date of 1988 for the kit.

This is one neat and salty looking Japanese fighter. Detail is of the engraved variety and the cockpit detail is very good.

There is no pilot figure provided as is shown in the box art.

Medium gray letter A parts tree holds: the fuselage halves, horizontal tail surface halves, engine parts and the cowling (7 parts)

Medium gray letter B parts tree holds the wing halves (the lower part is full span). Ailerons are molded solid. (3 parts)

Medium gray letter C parts tree holds: the fixed landing gear spats and wheels, tail skid, joy stick, foot petals, control handles, gun camera, tubular gun sight, cockpit floor and seat, slipper fuel tanks, propeller etc. (28 parts)

Letter D tree is the 2 cockpit canopies. Both are molded shut and will take surgery to open either of them.

The decal sheet, already described above, holds the two marking schemes as well as numerous stencil markings. It completes the kit’s contents. I really liked the markings provided. They are of what was called “Air Superiority marks” used early in the war. Later Japanese schemes on their aircraft were not so spectacular.

I recommend this kit to modelers of all skill levels. The kit is out of production in this box art, but has been re-released by Hasegawa as kit no. HSG 09724 in markings for an aircraft of the IJAAF’s 244th Flight Regiment, 2nd Fighter Company, Chofu Air Base 1943.