Special Hobby 1/72 Ki-115 'Tsurugi'

KIT #: 72198
PRICE: $21.95
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: High quality injection molded Kit of an unusual aircraft.

HISTORY

The Japanese realized they were up against the wall in early 1945, and both services were using suicide tactics to try to stop the American threats to their mainland. They were running out of standard service aircraft, as well as experienced pilots, and their leaders felt that the Kamikaze was their only hope. In January, 1945, the Japanese Army commissioned the Nakajima company to quickly design a special attack bomber. Nakajima gave the contract to the Nitaka Research Institute and the Ota Manufacturing Company to develop the aircraft. Requirements included extreme simplicity in design, and flight characteristics making it possible to be flown by inexperienced pilots. The resulting prototype, designated Ki-115a, was a small, open cockpit, radial-engined plane of wood and metal construction, capable of carrying an 800 kg. (1,764 lb.) bomb under the center section.

The prototype first flew in March, 1945, but some redesign was required. The fixed undercarriage was redesigned, and flaps were added behind the trailing edge of the wing. Power was provided by a 1,150 hp. Nakajima Ha-35 radial engine driving a fixed pitch metal propeller. The undercarriage had no shock absorbers, and with a tailskid, it was an extremely difficult airplane to taxi or fly, especially for an inexperienced pilot, the type the plane was intended for. A Navy version was planned, but was never produced.

Production began in March, 1945 at the Nakajima facilities at Iwate and Ota, and by the end of the war, just over 100 Ki-115aís had been delivered to various Army units. None of these aircraft was ever used on operations, and most were discovered by American occupation forces at various airfields after the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki convinced the Japanese to surrender.

The Ki-115ís were discovered to be in three paint schemes. Some were painted in Japanese Army green topsides and Army grey, a greenish color similar to Luftwaffe 02 Green, underneath. Most were unpainted, with a few having white surrounds over the hinomarus on top and on the fuselage sides, while others were overall silver with no white borders. The silver variants had Army grey tailfeathers and ailerons. All versions had a thin flat black anti-glare stripe extending from the windshield up to the cowling face. This information is well covered in the kit instructions.

Since the type was never used in combat, as was not encountered by American planes, it was never issued an Allied Code name.

THE KIT

The kit consists of one large sprue containing all of the basic parts; 2 clear canopy sections; 9 resin parts, including an engine, bomb, flap hinges, and individual exhaust stacks; and a small photo etch sheet, with more flap hinges and an instrument panel. There is very little flash.

The instructions are typical Special Hobby, with three sheets of 8 Ĺ x 11 inch paper, folded into 12 pages. These include a history in English and Czech, a sprue and color diagram, 4 assembly drawings, 3 four-view color drawings showing camouflage and markings, and 3 pages of drawings of other kits the company has available.

CONSTRUCTION

Following the instruction guide, and interior should be assembled first. A complete interior is provided, although there is really nothing to attach the instrument panel to. After assembly, mine popped out, and there was no way I could get it back into position as the cockpit opening is very small. . You canít see much of it from the outside anyway, so I left it as it was. The cowling is in two sections, and glued together nicely. Then the engine fits in from behind. I needed to trim the outsides of the cylinders on the engine, as it was a little too large for the cowling. Following the engine positioning, the tiny exhaust stacks should be inserted into their positions. This is, of course, after the airplane has been painted. The cowling will be either silver and black, or black, green, and grey. The wings, in three parts, are nicely done. The lower section gives the correct dihedral angle, and the top sections fit easily into place. The whole unit then fits onto the fuselage. I ended up using strong clamps to get all of the parts to fit, but Iíve had to do this on many models, so this was no big deal. Only a little filler was needed. The horizontal tail units fit into place perfectly, and after the major assembly was complete, I attached the landing gear. These consisted of main and bracing strut assemblies, with the wheels snapping into place. The only problem there was that there was a small knob telling me where the gear legs were to be attached, but the instructions were somewhat unclear. Tabs and holes would have been better. The tailskid is a snap to install. The flaps just attached to the trailing edge of the wing, and they went on fairly well. After major assembly and painting, there were a few extras to install, including the cockpit canopies, air scoops, tail braces, pitot tube, bomb sight (yes, the whole airplane is a bomb), and. of course, the engine and propeller.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The painting instructions are very clear. I painted mine in the green camouflage color, although most photos Iíve seen show the planes unpainted. The decals are of very high quality, and go on easily, even without decal softening solutions. The instructions show the bomb attached to the underside of the plane, and I attached mine this way, but since the plane probably never flew with the bomb installed, it might be more accurate to place the bomb on a small cart and display it underneath the airplane.

CONCLUSIONS

There is only one other 1/72 scale kit of the airplane that I know of, and Scott has reviewed this kit by Aviation Usk. I havenít seen this kit, but from his description, it is a good kit. All I can say is that this kit was a lot of fun to build, and had few problems to deal with. I would certainly recommend the kit to any modeler with moderate experience.

I picked this kit up at the last Phoenix IPMS Convention a couple of years ago. They are available on line.

Brian Baker

16 November 2020

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