Second 1/48 Hasegawa Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien “Tony” flown by Major Kobayashi, Commander 244th Sentai
I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new 1/48 scale Tamiya Ki-61. To me, the Ki-61 Hien “Tony” is one of the most graceful looking Japanese WW2 planes.
I purchased the new Tamiya kit from a hobby shop in Japan and hopefully it should arrive in a few days. When it does I’ll post some photos of it and possibly do a kit review here on Imodeler. The new Tamiya kit is supposed to have and additional half of one side of the fuselage molded in clear styrene. This will give you the option of building the model as a “see through” plane or a typical build as seen here. From what I have seen on the internet, it also has a very nice cockpit and a complete “license built” Daimler Benz engine.
Meanwhile, this is a Hasegawa Ki-61 that I built several years ago. The Hasegawa kit builds into a really nice plane. I don’t remember any problems during the build.
Much has been written about the exploits of the 244th Sentai. Their mission was the Homeland Defense of Japan, and their goal was to intercept high flying B-29’s. Once they reached the altitude (normally above 30,000 feet) where the B-29’s flew, they were to destroy them using any means available. Not many Japanese aircraft available during this time were capable of intercepting the B-29’s at this height. For some this meant a ramming attack.
The Kanji characters on the rudder mean “confidence of victory”, according to Henry Sakaida, in his book entitled “Aces of the Rising Sun 1937-1945”. I used this book (which is an excellent reference) to gather some information on the man and his machine. My model represents Ki-61Kai c No. 3024. By the War’s end, Kobayashi would be given credit for 14 victories. In all actuality, he had 3 B-29 kills and two Hellcats for a total of 5. The rest were actually damaged aircraft. One of Kobayashi’s B-29 kills was the result of a ramming attack, in which his Hien was destroyed as well. He survived this attack after bailing out of his crippled plane. Desperate times called for desperate measures. The Major led his men by example. I have included several pictures of the “Real” number 24, along with the Major and several other unidentified persons.
I built this kit strictly out of the box, and used the kit decals. The exception is that I spray painted the blue stripe on the air intake on the side of the engine cowling. I thought the decal would not fit very well since it is a complex shape.
When I built this model I wasn’t aware of the differences between the “Hei” and the “Tei” versions.
The aircraft was covered in various shades of Bare metal foil. I sprayed on the leading edge yellow IDFF (Identification Friend / Foe) markings using “Deep Yellow”, and used “Guards Red” for the tail surfaces since it was a close match to the kit decals. I also mixed up a custom blue / black “anti glare” color for the upper portion of the engine cowling. The camouflage pattern was sprayed using my old trusty Aztek air brush. I used Model Master paints for the build. Imperial Japanese Army Green was used for the camouflage color. I sprayed IJA Green around the Hinomaru “Sun Discs” markings as they did on the real planes. One thing that I should have done was to place the Kanji characters on the wing first, then apply the sprayed on green camouflage.
The real planes came from the factory with these Kanji character stenciled on the upper surface of the wings. They were not normally masked off or re-stenciled after the camouflage was applied. Instead they were painted over sporadically as the dark green was applied.
I recently picked up several books on the Ki-61, and will be using them as a reference for the new Tamiya kit.
As usual, comments are encouraged.
Thanks for looking.
21 additional images. Click to enlarge.