1/48 Hasegawa Ki-27 Nakajima Type 97 “Nate” 77th Sentai
This article is part of a series:
Tonight’s posting will quite probably be my last “new” article for the year. It follows hot on the heels of my other Ki-27 article that was posted last night.
John Clark inspired me to finish both of these kits up when he posted his excellent Hasegawa Ki-27 here on Imodeler a short time ago. So if you’re reading this John, thanks again !
I had originally planned on building up a few of the new Airfix 1/48 P-40B models, but ran out of time due to various reasons. The plan was to use the Eagle Editions EC#30 decal set for the Flying Tigers A.V.G. that I have in the stash. One plane was to be built in the markings of “Pappy” Boyington’s plane (#21), and the other was going to be built as a plane that Dick Rossi flew, which was (#3).
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Dick Rossi years ago at a local seafood restaurant for about an hour. He was a very nice man. So this was going to be a tribute build to him as well…
Which brings us to the story behind this particular Ki-27 that I built my model as… which just so happened to have been damaged in aerial combat by the pilots flying with the AVG. It was going to be a “victor and vanquished” type theme for the builds.
Luckily for us history buffs, “LIFE” magazine was there in Burma, doing a wartime article about the AVG. Here are some of the pilots from the article… Some may look familiar to you.
The photographer who took these original photos was named George Rodger, and these pictures were published in the March 30, 1942 edition of “LIFE” magazine.
Once I saw this picture shown below, and read the caption with it, I just knew that I had to build this plane to go along with the two P-40 builds.
Apparently the Japanese pilot flying the damaged Ki-27 tried to crash his plane into a RAF Blenheim bomber. The pilot missed the bomber by a few feet. The Ki-27 did not go up in flames, which is what allowed us the opportunity to have these extraordinary photos…
The remains of the Ki-27 “Nate” were moved away from the impact area.
In this photo you can barely make out the serial number. It’s a three digit number located at the base of the fin just ahead of the rudder, and I think it’s number “842”
Here you can see “Pappy” Boyington (on the left wearing sunglasses)
Soon afterwards, the rudder assembly was removed…
and various photos were taken with members of the AVG posing with the trophy…
This picture shown below is one you often find online. It has been cropped from the original shown above…
In this picture shown below, you can see an AVG pilot standing next to two different Ki-27 rudders… notice how the colors on the stripes and the 77Th Sentai markings look a little different… Here we have photographic proof that at least two rudders were removed from downed Nate’s
This picture shows the location of the stripes on the sides of the fuselage and fin.
Which allowed me to get a good idea as to how they should be applied on the model.
The next question I had was “What colors were the stripes ?”
This is where I was extremely lucky and found a few color photos online of the actual relic. The rudder / fin stripes were yellow, and the “Stylized” seagull emblems representing the 77th Sentai were blue !
It was stated that this particular rudder was brought back to the US strapped to a foot locker… Notice the slightly different shades of blue. I’m guessing this was due to the paint fading out some over the years, and it could also be an effect of the lighting when the pictures were taken…
Now I could build an accurately marked plane… I was very stoked to say the least.
It seems that there were three rudders from various planes removed from Ki-27 Nate’s that were downed by the AVG pilots. Two remain in private collections, while one is in the “Planes of Fame” museum if the internet sources are correct.
Even though many pilots who flew with the American Volunteer Group thought they were fighting Japanese A5M Claude’s and A6M Zero’s, in all probability they were coming up against Ki-27 Nate’s (which look like A5M’s with fixed landing gear) and Ki-43 Oscars (which would resemble a Zero in the heat of battle).
So here are some pictures of the second Hasegawa Ki-27 Nate that I built recently. The other one was posted last night and can be seen here.
If you’re interested in how I built these two, please follow this next link to the build log.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and looking at the pictures as much as I did building these models and doing the research work behind the scenes. For me sometimes doing the research is almost as fun as gluing and painting !
If you have one of the Hasegawa Nate’s in your stash, build it ! They are a great little kit and go together well. This one used no filler at all. The only weak points are the canopy. But this is a kit that was originally produced by a company called Mania back in the 1970’s. It still holds up rather well in my opinion. Hasegawa ended up with the molds when Mania went out of business. Hasegawa also hired some of the Mania employees and the rest is history… On occasion the kit is re released by Hasegawa with a different set of decals.
The “twin” Airfix P-40 builds are still in the works. I have a few other projects that need finished up first. So please stay tuned and I’ll get them done when time permits.
Take care and I wish you all a very Happy New Year.
Live long and prosper…
25 additional images. Click to enlarge.