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George R Blair Jr
71 articles

1/72 Special Hobby Tachikawa Ki-54 Hickory

October 4, 2021 · in Aviation · · 25 · 3.2K

I am always looking for something a little different to build, and I was pleased when recently released this new model. The new Special Hobby kits have a very good reputation, so I was eager to build this plane for the Empire of Japan group.

The Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory" (Army Type 1 Advanced Trainer Model A) was developed as a light transport and a multi-engine crew trainer. It is similar in size and function to the Airspeed Oxford, the Beech 18, Lockheed Ventura, and the Avro Anson. There aren't many photos available of this plane, especially of the interior. There are apparently only 3 surviving Ki-54s, including one that was recently recovered from the bottom of Lake Towada in Japan.

Building this kit required the normal test-fit, sand, re-test, re-sand, then glue. It went together well with just a few fit problems to deal with. This plane has a very tall mast on top of the fuselage. On some photos you can see an antenna wire going back to the tail, and on other photos there is no wire. The mast on the model is extremely delicate, so I chose not to tempt fate and add a wire. I also discovered after I was done that the pitot tube is the wrong configuration, which I will fix sometime. There are decals for 3 different Japanese planes, one in overall gray/green, and two with very intricate squiggly camouflage. Guess which one I chose? I used AK Real Colors for the paint, sealed with Tamiya Clear Gloss. The kit decals had a lot of extra clear film on them, which I trimmed off before applying. The decals worked well with MicroSol and MicroSet. Everything was sealed using Tamiya Clear Flat.

Weathering was done using artist oil colors and Odorless Turpenoid. As I was finishing this build, this month's copy of Scale Aircraft Modelling Magazine arrived with the Ki-54 on the front cover. They have a full build article in the magazine, and it was nice to see they encountered the same problem areas I did. Of course, they chose to do the squiggle camo. So, anyway, build is done, it was fun, and now on to the next build. Everyone stay safe. Cheers.

Reader reactions:
17  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

25 responses

  1. Awesome result, George @gblair
    Your paintwork and weathering is superb as always.
    Definitely pressed the like button.

  2. Fantastic result, George! A challenging kit of a rarely seen subject, built in excellency!
    Your chosen scheme brings out the nice aircraft lines very nicely.
    Love your detailed and joyfully followed build thread, as well.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful entry at the equally wonderful "Empire of Japan" Group build!

  3. You beat it into submission, @gblair! Nice looking result.

  4. Thanks, Spiros @fiveten, John @johnb, and Tom @tcinla. It was such a fun build that I may build another Special Hobby at some point.

  5. Looks great! a nice looking aircraft.

  6. Very nice work, George. The Ki.54 is a handsome aircraft. I was not familiar with the type until now. I really like the AK grey/green color, which has a similar shade to Japanese Army uniforms. Good subdued weathering. The trimming of the kit decals was very successful as the markings actually look painted on.

  7. Thanks for the kind words, Colin (@coling). It is really cool that companies are starting to release models of Japanese planes other than fighters and bombers. I have found that AK Real Colors seem to provide an accurate version of the various colors we use.

  8. Great job, George. That’s one that I truly know nothing about.

  9. Thanks, John (@j-healy). I also didn't know anything about this plane till I got the model. I suspect that this is because manufacturers create models of the Japanese fighters and bombers, but not the transports. When I read that Special Hobby was going to release a Ki-54, I assumed it was a fighter until I saw a photo.

  10. Handsome plane and good looking model George. Great job. i Love the liaison aircraft too and did not know about this one. Thanks for the info .

  11. Thanks, Bernard (@bernardbedeur). Special Hobby has certainly raised the standards of their kits.

  12. Dang it - I was vacillating on whether or not I needed one of these, and now I'm gonna have to go shopping! Looks great! I just bought a couple of profile series books on the Japanese aircraft in the S. Pacific theater, and pulled my Ki-48 and -49 out of the stash, then opened my wallet WIIDDDDE for a Ki-21 Sally on eBay, and almost bit the bullet on this one as well. I can't let my S. Pacific collection be without one of these after seeing how well it built up for you! I like that scheme too - some of the others I'm doing will be more complex camo, but I like this simple scheme - it wears well on a transport.

  13. Thanks, Greg (@gkittinger). I am always looking for something a little different to do, whether it is an unusual plane, or paint scheme, or whatever. I was on Ebay looking for another kit and this one popped up. I did a little research and discovered it was new, so I jumped. After all, what's more unusual than a WW2 Japanese plane that isn't a fighter or a bomber? By the way, the other two schemes that came with this kit were a spaghetti bowl of squiggles, so I voted for the 3rd scheme.

  14. Nice job on your build, it came out looking great!

  15. Thanks, Bob (@v1pro). It was a fun kit.

  16. Here's the fuselage & tail section of the 3rd & 4th option from that kit, taken in the Treloar Centre (storage and restoration annex for the Australian War Memorial) in Canberra during an Open Day in 2009

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  17. Thanks for the photo, Jaime (@ddgboy). It is amazing that you can store a plane on a rack like you would store sundries at a big box store. This would make an interesting diorama.

  18. This is a hitherto unknown airplane to me. You did a nice job building it, George @gblair, and nice clean build.
    It’s nice to see some more obscure aircraft coming out as kits... one I’d like to have is a DC-5.

  19. Thanks, Jay (@ssgt). I am always on the lookout for an interesting paint scheme or model, and it was a "no-brainer" when this one popped up. I spent 12 of my 20 years in the Air Force flying C-141s, so a model of a transport plane was a happy find.

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