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Revell 1/32 Ki-43-II Hayabusa (Oscar) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Ki-43-II Hayabusa (Oscar) Scale 1/32
Kit Number H264 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Popular Japanese aircraft subject in large scale Cons Vague marking and painting instructions. Parts not cello-bagged. Shallow wheel wells
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Long out of production

First Look


In the early years proceeding WWII, Japanese fighter design philosophy favored the light, highly maneuverable machines over more heavily armed and armored aircraft of less agility. Air battles were expected to be the twisting, turning, 'dogfight' type of melee seen in WWI.. Therefore, emphasis was placed on aerobatic agility and ability of both plane and pilot. With this in mind and the success of the type 97 Ki-27 monoplane fighter (Allied code name 'Nate') an established fact, the Nakajima Hikoki K.K. was launched upon a design program aimed at producing a 300+ mph fighter with the maneuverability of it's predecessor.

The resultant aircraft entered service in October 1941 as the Ki-43 Hayabusa ('Peregrine Falcon') which was received with much skepticism due to it's advanced (for that time) features such as an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear. It was sluggish in maneuverability compared to the lighter fighters until the 'butterfly' combat flap was adopted. This changed the whole performance picture for dogfighting.

The Ki-43 became quite popular with it's pilots and became the standard Japanese Army Air Force fighter. The Ki-43 was the most often encountered J.A.A.F. type when war came to the China-Burma-India Theater and it received the Allied code name 'Oscar'. It enjoyed huge success over opponents who were found to be flying inferior and outnumbered aircraft. However, in 1943, it was obvious that Allied designs had passed the Hayabusas in performance. But development continued nevertheless until the end of the war.

In retrospect, the 'Oscar' was the best fighter the IJAAF had to offer at the war's outbreak. However, much like the P-39 and P-40 of the U.S. Army Air Corps, it was soon passed by more advanced designed. It was a compromise between the old and new fighter philosophies, but more so in the 'Oscar's' case, because in the quest for lightness, armor and armament were sacrificed to the extent that the fighter never gained the reputation for toughness enjoyed by U.S. warplanes.

The 'Oscar' soldiered on for the war's duration and after the war was employed by the French in Indo-China and by the communists in Indonesia. It deserves far more recognition than has been accorded to it. Overshadowed as it was by the Zero, a type for which it was often mistaken for, it carried the fight for the J.A.A.F. throughout the war.

The kit comes in a large tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a Ki-43-II 'Oscar' being chased by a British marked P-40. It is in the type S camouflage scheme of a base coat of dark green on top with spots of a darker green over that. The bottom is either gray or bare metal. It is hard to tell from the boxart. It carries the tail markings for the Headquarters of the 77th Fighter Sentai, 2nd Chutai, Burma, 1940-41. This is the only marking option provided on the kit's decal sheet. Also, the instructions do not tell you what outfit the markings are for. I searched my copy of 'Japanese Army Air Force Camouflage and Markings WWII' by Donald W. Thorpe, to find what unit these marks represent. Bad move Revell.

A side panel has color illustrations of some of the features in the kit: the detailed cockpit, drop tanks, moveable wheels, pilot figure in flight suit and at detailed Nakajima HA-115 engine with removable cowling panels. It says that the kit will make up into an aircraft with a wingspan of 13¼" and a fuselage length of 11". The kit has a clear canopy and landing lens and gunsight, also a full color decal sheet. The kit has a copyright date of 1973. It is long out of production.

The other side panel has the history of the 'Oscar' next to a listing of Pactra brand paints to use to finish the kit.. Next to this is an application blank to join the Revell Master Modelers Club for a buck. I doubt this club exists anymore either.

Inside the box are four large trees of olive drab parts, a tree of clear parts, the decal sheet, the instructions and a form to join THE SCIENCE PROGRAM for another buck. This program most likely does not exist anymore too. All the trees are loose and NOT cello bagged. This is a shame, because the clear parts are subject to getting scratched by the olive drab parts trees rubbing against them.

The parts trees are not alphabetized, like we usually see in kits. They are, however, numbered on the trees. You have to identify parts using the assembly drawing illustrations as there are no parts tree illustrations in the instructions.

The first large olive drab parts tree holds: One half of the fuselage, one drop tank, the propeller and it's spinner, halves of the horizontal tail surfaces, the seated pilot figure (molded in two parts – his front and back), cowling parts, landing gear legs & it's doors etc. (22 parts).

The second large olive drab parts tree holds: the other fuselage half, the other halves of the horizontal tail surfaces, a second drop tank, the engine cylinders, main wheels, pilot seat, cockpit floor, tailwheel, joy stick, gunsight, air intake scoop, dashboard, cockpit framing etc. (28 parts)

The next olive drab parts tree holds the full span lower wing half.

The last olive drab parts tree holds the two lower wing halves.

The clear parts tree holds the windscreen and rear section of the canopy, a wing light lens and the gunsight glass (4 parts).

The instructions and decal sheet (already described above) complete the kit's contents.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that is accordion folded out into 6 pages in 10" x 7¾" format.

Page 1 begins with a black and white repeat of the boxart, followed by the history of the aircraft.

Page 2 begins with illustrations of tools to use to complete the kit and some general instructions. Below these are the first 2 assembly steps. Colors are called out in each step, telling you what color to paint each item. The engine is nicely detailed and would only improve by adding some wiring.

Pages 3 to 6 give a total of 10 assembly steps. The 10th step is the painting and marking guide. It does not tell you all the colors to use, only that there are olive spots to spray and where the single set of markings go. We are not told what outfit the lone marking scheme represents, as I said earlier.

In step 4, you can opt to display the aircraft with the landing gear folded. However, to do this you leave the landing gear legs off and just glue the main wheels into the wheel wells and then close them in with the gear doors. This tells me that the wheel wells are not deep enough. Step 5 is the option for extended gear. The canopy can be displayed open or shut. The drop tanks are optional. They are molded solid to their wing suspensions. Side cowling panels can be left loose, if desired, to view the engine.

This is a neat, popular Japanese aircraft subject in a nice big scale. For state of the art, back in 1973, it is damn nice. Detail is of the raised rivet variety, but the rivets for the most part are very petite and nice, as is the fabric pattern on the wing flaps and the horizontal tail flaps and rudder.