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Ki-61 Kit

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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hien (Tony) Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08078/08078S (ST28) Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $58.95 (basic kit) or $65.95 for the special edition

First Look

Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit
Ki-61 Kit

The Kawasaki Ki-61 was was a unique fighter in the Imperial Japanese service as it was the only production fighter to be powered the a liquid-cooled engine. The Ha-40 V12 liquid-cooled engine powered the Ki-61 and was a license-built copy of the German's Daimler Benz DB 601A.

First flown in December 1941, the aircraft was popular with the test pilots as it posessed good armament, self-sealing fuel tanks, and had good dive performance. The main drawback at that time was the aircraft's high wingloading, but test flights of the aircraft against the Ki-43, Ki-44, Bf 109E and even a captured P-40E revealed that the Ki-61 was the fastest of the group and could outmaneuver all but the Ki-43.

The aircraft entered service in early 1943 and served through the end of the war. The aircraft was an effective air defense fighter against the lower-altitude B-29 strikes and would serve in the air defense role as well as in the Kamikaze role (as anything else flyable was pressed to do). When a US bombing raid destroyed the only factory producing the Ha-40 engine in early 1945, this left around 275 new-production Ki-61s without engines. The solution was to adapt the aircraft to accept the Ha-112 radial engine and these modified aircraft were redesignated Ki-100.

The Ki-61 Hien (Codenamed: TONY) was only available as a styrene kit in 1/32 scale from one source - the classic Revell H276 release. This kit is still not bad by today's standards though interior detailing is basic and it commands a high price on the collector's market. The Revell Tony was one of three 1/32 scale Japanese World War II fighters in the series that also included the J2M Jack and A6M5 Zero.

Enter Hasegawa - they have created a completely new-tool rendition of the Ki-61-I Hei Hien with the same fidelity as their recent (and beautiful) 1/32 P-47D Thunderbolt.

The kit consists of five trees of gray-molded styrene and a single tree of clear parts. The detailing on the surface of the wings and fuselage is finely scribed and just a hint of rivet detail. If there was ever a mad riveter on the tooling staff, he or she has been cast out. This tooling is clean and nice!

The cockpit is nicely detailed though you will want to obtain the eventual Eduard color photo-etch set containing a seatbelt and harness for the pilot and perhaps some placards and instrument faces to add to the visual fidelity of the cockpit.

Assembly of the cockpit and fuselage assemblies is very straightforward as this kit is not over-engineered with details that you won't see after assembly. One interesting innovation in this kit's design is the separate ventral 'belly pan'. This mounts to the underside of the completed fuselage (obviously) but before installation, you add a wing box structure to the pan, providing the fore and aft wing spars that the assembled wings will slide onto. This provides a secure join for the wings to the fuselage and it takes the posibility of misaligning the wing dihedral out of the equation. Nice.

One other note on the wings - the flap structure is molded to the inside of each flap, and the wing structure is molded into the underside of each wing/flap well. The odd thing is that there is no provision molded into the lower wing halves to drop the flaps. Since the detail is there, you have the option to position the flaps if you carefully remove the flap section, but this option is not acknowledged by Hasegawa in its instructions.

The kit provides nicely detailed landing gear, though I don't know if it can be positioned up (the instructions only show the gear installed down and locked).

Kit options include:

  • Seated pilot figure
  • External drop tanks
  • Your choice of one-piece closed canopy or three-piece open canopy

If you obtained the Special Edition release of this kit, you also receive a white metal figure representing Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi of the 244th Flight Regiment. You also receive the add-on set containing brass and white metal guns. The latter is available separately should you get the standard kit and want the upgrade option.

Markings are provided for three aircraft:

  • Ki-61-I Hei Hien, 244th Flight Regiment as flown by Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi
  • Ki-61-I Hei Hien, 6th Shinten Seikutai, 18th Flight Regiment, as flown by Lt Mitsuo Koyake
  • Ki-61-I Hei Hien, 39th Training Squadron, as flown by Sgt Maj Iwao Tabata

These new-tool releases from Hasegawa in 1/32 have been magnificent including the aforementioned P-47, Ju 87, Fw 190, and Bf 109. When I saw this kit, I knew I just had to buy one. Now if only Hasegawa will give us an equivalent new-tool J2M Raiden (Jack) in this scale!