1/72 Special Hobby Tachikawa Ki-54 Hei

  • 32 posts
  • Last reply 34 minutes ago
  • 1/72, Ki-54 Hei, Special Hobby, Tachikawa
Viewing 1 - 15 of 32 posts
  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    I was looking for something a little different to do, and Special Hobby has obliged me with a brand new kit of a WW2 IJA plane. Even better, it isn’t a fighter or a bomber. I saw this kit advertised in one of the English modeling magazines, but no one around here could get it. Off to Ebay, and I had the kit in just a couple of weeks.

    Aircraft Background:
    The Ki-54 Tei, also known as the Army Type 1 Advanced Trainer Model A (Ki-54A), was designed as a twin engine advanced crew trainer. It first flew in 1940, and began reaching the training squadrons in 1941. The Ki-54 was flown by the Imperial Japanese Army and by the puppet nation of Manchukuo. It received the code name “Hickory” from the allied forces. The Ki-54B was developed later, as was a transport known as the Army Type 1 Transport Model C (Ki-54C). The last model developed was the Ki-54D, which was used as a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. By the end of the war, 1368 Ki-54s had been built. Following the war, the plane was appropriated to provide transportation in Asia and SE Asia by various nations, such as Nationalist China, North Korea, France, Great Britain, and the United States. Some of these countries used the the Ki-54 until the mid-1950s. Thanks to the internet sources I used to find photos, including Wikipedia and Wikimedia and all of the other sources I forgot to right down.

    That is about all I can find out about this plane from Wikipedia and other sources, so let’s take a look at the kit. My first impression of the kit is very favorable. This is one of Special Hobby’s newest kits, and it appears that the technology used to make the kit parts has improved tremendously. There are still no positive locating pins, but the plastic features fine panel lines, no flash, crisp detail, and finely molded parts. There is a lot of detail in the cockpit, as well as in the passenger compartment. The clear parts are thin and very clear. The decals, which include the instrument panel, appear to be well-printed. My only complaint is that 3 of the 4 paint schemes illustrated in the instructions feature planes with a camouflage so complicated that I wouldn’t even consider trying to replicate it in this scale (or any scale, for that matter). I took a quick look at some of the online hobby shops and wasn’t really surprised to find there are no decals, resin, or photo etch available for this plane. I did find a set of canopy masks, which I immediately bought.

    I searched the internet for some photos of other paint schemes that might be useful for this build, but I couldn’t find much. I only found 1 color photo, and it is of a plane being currently restored. One of the paint schemes in the instructions feature this plane. There is one black and white photo of a camouflaged Ki-54 that I might try to use, but I will need to take a guess at the colors.

    I hope to start on this plane tomorrow. I am trying to work around a looming move to a new house, as well arthritis that has migrated into my hands (getting old sucks). As you know, it is a lot harder to pack and move a built model than it is one in a box, so I plan to stretch this build out for a while so I can limit the number of newly built kits that I will have to move.

    Everyone stay safe.


  • Pedro L. Rocha said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Not my scale but this one really caught my attention. Too bad there’s none made in a slightly bigger scale…those camouflages look like fun, but in 1/72… not so fun. Looking forward to some build photos when you come around building her George

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Thanks, Pedro (@holzhamer). You are right about the camo. Some of them are cringe-worthy.

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    I found some more photos online that have some options for other paint schemes. (Thanks online sources) Colors would be a guess.

    3 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • Bill Koppos said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    2 words…Badger Sotar. I got this airbrush for about 120 and boy does it do tight lines. I don’t know how you are fixed for funds, but you can do any camo you want with this baby and a little practice.


  • Spiros Pendedekas said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    This is such a wonderful entry if a lesser known plane, my friend @gblair! I was amazed by how far “limited run” kits have gone, being much better than older “mainstream” kits!
    Thanks for the detailed info, regarding both history of the type and kit details.
    Looking forward to this super build!

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Thanks, Spiros (@fiveten) and Bill (@billkoppos). I have really been impressed with the kit out-of-the-box. Cockpit will be first, as usual, and we can see how everything fits. Thanks for the recommendation, Bill. My wife has gotten me a couple of really nice airbrushes over the last few years, but I keep going back to my single-action Paasche that I got 40 years ago. It’s like a Timex: it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I think the real problem with the really tight camo is that I just don’t have the patience. Maybe I can warm up with some light mottling, and then move on to the really tight camo. Cheers.

  • Bill Koppos said 1 week, 5 days ago:

    Yes Sir I ran a Paasche H for about 40 years too. Finally the push button trigger gave out and I retired it.

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 5 days ago:

    I got a lot of the interior done today. I continue to be impressed with the kit, but, like many kits, it has both good and bad news. The good news: It is a nicely molded kit with some really nice detail parts. The bad news: It is a nicely molded kit with some really nice detail parts. Let me explain: The parts are nicely molded and they have some really nice detail. But many of the parts are very small, which means they can be hard to clean up. I found the pilot’s seats, which consist of 4 parts each, to be very fiddly to assemble. The back and arms were all separate, and attached with a butt joint to the seat base. The passenger seats were similar. They consisted of separate legs, each pair about an 1/8 inch long. Trying to cut off the sprue nub and prep these parts was an exercise in frustration. I ran into Tom Cleaver’s (@tcinla) problem with “nano-nubs”, where bearly visible nubs would prevent a good contact with the seat bottom. I tried to do a lot of the building on the sprue so that I could have a third hand. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this kit. But it does have some challenges for people with big, or old fingers (or in my case, both). As well as this kit is molded, it is important to remember to check the fit on each piece before you commit to glue.

    I went searching for some interior photos, and I actually managed to find a few in a blog called Arawasi, as well as some other sites. In general, photos of this plane are difficult to find. More tomorrow. Cheers.

    17 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 5 days ago:

    Found one more photo. This is the cockpit from the plane found in the Japanese lake. In the photo, it appears that my choice of interior color looks good, and it looks like the instrument panel was black. The instructions with the kit call for a panel painted in the green interior color. I didn’t think that was correct, but it is nice to have some confirmation.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • Spiros Pendedekas said 1 week, 5 days ago:

    Excellent progress, my friend @gblair! Yep those little gazillion parts can test your patience….
    Looking great, though!
    The net can be amazing: I keep on discovering pics of planes like in your case, providing nice evidence.
    Looking forward to this great build!

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 4 days ago:

    Thanks, Spiros (@fiveten). Most of the tiny parts are off the sprue and glued now. Perhaps I am past the worst. :o)

  • Erik Gjørup said 1 week, 4 days ago:

    Strapping in, trying to catch up.

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 4 days ago:

    Hi, Erik (@airbum). Glad you stopped by. This one should be fun.

  • George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 3 days ago:

    I wanted to glue as much as I could into sub-assemblies that would hopefully make interior painting easier. I did quite a bit of test fit, adjust, test fit, sand, and repeat. It took several rounds of test fitting and adjusting to get the interior bulkheads ready to receive the floor. The interior looked a little plain, so I used some plastic strip to add some generic structure in both the passenger cabin and the cockpit. I don’t really think much of this will be visible once everything is sealed, but you never know.

    I wanted to use some chipping fluid to distress the high wear areas of the deck, especially around the door entrance. I started by spraying some Humbrol Aluminum from a spray can onto the target areas. Just before I painted the interior green, I brushed on some AK Chipping Fluid. I applied the Nakajima Interior Green (AK Real Colors) using my trusty airbrush. I started the chipping process just a few minutes after applying the interior color by brushing some water on the target areas to activate the paint and chipping fluid. Then it was just a matter of scrubbing the area with a stiff brush until you had the effect you were looking for. It is always a temptation to take off too much paint, so quit before you go too far.

    Detail painting is next, followed by building the fuselage and the wings. Everyone stay safe. Cheers.

    8 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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