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Ki-61

Revell 1/32 Ki-61 Hien (Tony) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Ki-61 Hien (Tony) Scale 1/32
Kit Number H267 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat kit with great engraved panel lines and flush rivets Cons Nothing noticeable
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Long out of production

 

 

First Look

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By 1943, WWII was being fought over the Japanese homeland. No longer was a distant news event, the reality of war upon the Japanese people every day as the great B-29 bombers soared overhead and emptied their lethal loads. Aerial defense against the giant bombers was almost impossible as the sheer numbers were too great for the lightly-armed Japanese fighters to shoot down. It was clear to the Japanese Army that a new means of defense must be devised.

Report of Kamikaze suicide attacks against the Allies by the Japanese Navy lead to an evaluation of this radical tactic by the defending army pilots. Instead of a suicide assault on the B-29s, however, it was determined that the fighter would be directed toward the bomber and the fighter pilot would then parachute to safety as his plane collided with the bomber.

The ideal airplane for this assault was the sleek Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien. Its roomy cockpit allowed ample room for the pilot to escape. Nevertheless, it took a skilled pilot to successfully escape and the losses of both pilots and planes were too high for the ramming practice to continue.

The Hien was unique in other ways. It was the only Japanese fighter of the war to utilize an inline liquid-cooled engine. When it was first encountered by Allied pilots, it was thought to be a license-built Messerschmitt Bf 109. In fact, it had been designed as an improvement of the famous German fighter, and the engine actually was a license-built copy of the Daimler-Benz which powered the Bf 109.

The Hien’s first encounter with American planes came when one of the experimental prototypes attacked one of the B-25 bombers of the Dolittle Tokyo Raid. It was however a full year before the new fighter was to become involved in actual combat.

As the Hien (Flying Swallow) came into service, it gained popularity with its pilots. It was faster than the Hayabusa (Oscar), which it was to replace, and could at least equal, if not exceed, the performance of the best Allied types. One major problem to plague the fighter throughout it’s life was the difficulty of maintenance in the field. When the Hien was met in combat by the Allies it received a great deal of respect and, despite its maintenance problems, became one of the finest fighters of the war.

The kit is by the U.S. model company Revell. It was released by them back in 1972, when they were still based in Venice, California. The detail is damn nice for a 36 year old kit. However, it is now out of production.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a Hien getting ready to takeoff from a runway. It is in overall bare metal with green splotches. It carries the marking of the 105th Special Attack Squadron, whose pilots were trained in ramming techniques. This squadron was operational over Okinawa and Formosa in 1945. This is the ONLY marking option provided on the decal sheet in the kit.

A side panel has 3 walk-around type color photos of the model made up, showing some of it’s features: the removable side panels to display the Ha-40 engine with machine guns, the movable propeller and wheels, the radiator shutter, wing lights, optional long-range fuel tanks, detailed cockpit, clear canopy, engraved fabric control surfaces and the simulated flush-rivets. Also mentioned, are the pilot figure in authentic flight gear and the official Japanese Army markings. Pactra cement is suggested for assembly. A short history paragraph is next to this.

On the other side panel is an advertisement to join the Revell Master Modelers Club for a dollar. This membership would have brought you a tool set of a cement applicator, tweezers, body putty, a spatula and some holding clamps 36 years ago. Not a bad deal, but sadly no longer available. You also got an official club certificate, membership card, 3 year subscription to club quarterly magazine, a 32 page color Revell kit catalog and an official club iron-on emblem to put on your t-shirt. Wow!

Across one corner of the box art is an announcement of a raffle that Revell was running back in 1972. Top prize was a small hover-craft, followed by a catamaran sail boat, a real VW Baja vehicle, Bell & Howell cameras and projectors, kit assortments and paint packages. The entry blank, inside the kit, had to be accompanied by the end panel of any Revell kit box.

Inside the box are 4 very pale gray parts trees, a tree of clear parts, the decal sheet and the instructions.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 10” x 7 ½” format.

Page one begins with black and white photo of the Hien model made up. This is followed by the history of the Hien “Tony”.

Page two begins with some general instructions and illustrations of tools needed to build the kit. This is followed by the first 2 assembly steps.

Pages three through six give a total of 9 assembly steps. These steps are all accompanied by listing of the parts used and what those parts are. Colors to paint parts are called out in each step also. Very informative instructions.

The bottom of page 6 has a two-view illustration of the ONLY marking scheme provided. (already described above) in addition to the national and unit marks, there are some stencil markings, in Japanese, on the decal sheet.

I started to do some rudimentary assembly of this kit. I built the engine, done in assembly step no. 1, all but the 2 cannons that go on top of it. I also built the cockpit assembly, except for the pilot and the glass parts for the gun-sight.

The part trees are not alphabetized, nor are there any parts tree drawings on the instructions. This means that you will have to identify things by the assembly drawings and then search the parts trees for the part number. Bad move Revell.

The first light gray parts tree holds: one half of the fuselage, one drop tank, individual propeller blades, engine exhaust pipes, engine parts, radiator fairing parts, cowling side panels, landing gear legs, wheel door actuator parts and oil cooler parts (22 parts) I have removed the engine parts from this tree and assembled them.

The second light gray parts tree holds: the other fuselage half, the horizontal tail pieces, main landing gear doors, a second drop tank, two 20mm cannons, the tailwheel, radio antenna, pitot tube, carburetor air intake duct, radiator and cockpit interior parts (28 parts) I have removed the cockpit interior parts from this tree and assembled them.

The next light gray tree holds the full span lower wing half.

Then the light gray tree holding the 2 lower wing halves.

Revell molded a long tree of parts and then folded it over so that half of it was tight on top of the other half. I broke this in two in the middle and made two trees out of it.

One of the trees holds the seated pilot figure, and the pilot seat cushion. The pilot is molded in two parts – his front and his back. He is nicely detailed for state of the art 35 years ago, if you care to use him. The other half of the tree I split holds the main wheel halves, the propeller back plate and it’s spinner. I removed the seat cushion to assemble it to the cockpit interior and the propeller spinner got broken off the tree in shipment.

The clear parts tree is next. It holds the three piece canopy, gun sight glasses and wing tip light lenses. (8 parts)

The decal sheet (already described above) and the instructions complete the kits parts contents.

As mentioned earlier, there is a entry blank in the kit for the raffle and also a membership application form to join a Science Program. Which I am sure no longer exists.

This is one neat kit. In the right hands and with some more detail added to the cockpit, it can be a show stopper.

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