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Tamiya 1/48 Kawasaki KI-61-ID Hien (Tony)

The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (飛燕, “flying swallow”) is a Japanese World War II fighter aircraft. Used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, it was designated the “Army Type 3 Fighter” (三式戦闘機). Allied intelligence initially believed Ki-61s were Messerschmitt Bf 109s and later an Italian Macchi C.202, which led to the Allied reporting name of “Tony”, assigned by the United States War Department. It was the only mass-produced Japanese fighter of the war to use a liquid-cooled inline V engine. Over 3,000 Ki-61s were produced. Initial prototypes saw action over Yokohama during the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942, and continued to fly combat missions throughout the war.

Teruhiko Kobayashi (小林 照彦, Kobayashi Teruhiko, 17 November 1920 – 4 June 1957) was a Japanese fighter pilot during World War II and a flying ace of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. Initially beginning his flying career as a bomber pilot, he rose to fame when he became the leader of 244th Sentai, making him the youngest Sentai leader in the IJAAF when he took command of it in November 1944. He was described as an excellent and charismatic leader by his men and under his command the 244th would become the most famous and successful aerial defense unit in Japan. While leading this unit he achieved five kills (three of these kills being Boeing B-29 Superfortresses and the other kills being two F6F “Hellcats” in the aerial defense of the Japanese Home Islands. He would survive the war and in 1954 join the newly created Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

Released in November of 2016, this kit is one of what I consider to be Tamiya’s “New Generation” of kits. That is, an absolute pleasure to build, allowing one to focus on paint and finishing. The cockpit detail is such that no aftermarket is required, other than a seat harness. The kit practically falls together.

I used Alclad II Aluminum and Airframe Aluminum, Gunze-Sangyo IJA Green, Yellow, and Red acrylics (Mr. Hobby Color). Just for fun, I added:

Eduard #648317 Ki-61-Id wheels
Eduard #648321 Ki-61-Id gun barrels
Eduard #648316 Ki-61-Id exhaust stacks
Eduard #648443 Ki-61-I fuel tanks
UVDR “Just Rig It” antenna wires

The Eduard main wheels weren’t very compatible with the kit’s main gear legs, so the wheels you see are from the kit. The tail wheel is Eduard. This project was very enjoyable, and I can’t recommend this kit highly enough.

References:
Bueschel, R. (1970). Kawasaki Ki.61/Ki.100 Hien in Japanese Army Air Force Service. Arco-Aircam Aviation Series #27. Arco, 1971.
Millman, N., & Olsthoorn, R. (2015). Ki-61 and Ki-100 Aces (Aircraft of the Aces) (Aircraft of the Aces ed., Vol. 114). Osprey Publishing.

12 additional images. Click to enlarge.


24 responses

  1. Very nice, well done

  2. Beautiful work !,

  3. Amazing Hien, James!
    Nice article, too!

  4. Well done James! I enjoyed the backstory as well; thanks for posting that. 🙂

  5. Great looking aircraft, James! This is one of my personal favorites and your rendition of it is outstanding.

  6. Very nice model! I don’t have that kit yet, but I can tell it’s a beauty. You might consider using a camera instead of a phone. Phones distort closeups really bad. Your model deserves it.

  7. Great job on my favorite Japanese WWII bird!

  8. Sharp looking Tony.

  9. I literally just got up from my work bench where I was working on this kit, made a cup of coffee, sat down, opened iModeler, and saw this article. I’m doing Kobayashi’s all natural metal bird with the red stripes.

    It’s interesting, I think, that Kobayashi went on to fly F-86s, and I’d love to find markings for one of his JASDF Sabers. Sadly, in 1957, while flying a T-33, he started losing power not long after takeoff. He ordered the man behind him to eject, saving his life. But Kobayashi stayed at the controls because he was over a densely populated area, and knew that the unguided plane would surely kill people on the ground. He was able to pilot his crippled aircraft to an open area, but, sadly, was unable to eject safely, and was killed in the crash. No one on the ground was injured.

    • I found it fascinating that you were working on this very kit, and took a break to see this! I read about his demise this morning when I was copying/pasting from Wikipedia. Tom Cleaver is the resident author, I am but a mere scientist.

      Anyways, you know what I’m saying…this kit is sublime.

      • I love how Tamiya did that little strip along the fuselage top, so you can get the correct panel lines without having to do any tricky filling and sanding. And the way the inboard gear doors attach is very clever. Best of all, that insert along the bottom center wing suggests to me that they’re planning Ki-100 for the future, and want to use as much of the Ki-61 toolings as possible.

  10. A beautiful build, James
    Japanese aircraft are still missing on my shelf, but reading your comments about this kit it could be that this one is first.
    Really love the paintwork.

  11. That is a beautiful Tony! Love it.

  12. All of the above, looks great!

  13. Well done James, she really looks nice and it appears you had fun building her as well.

  14. Beautiful build!

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