|NOTES:||Special parts are included this time!|
See Scott Van Aken’s review and build of the Hasegawa 1/48th scale Ki-44 in the Kit # 9137 boxing for a very nice overview of the Shoki. For this review I would add the unique aspect of IJAAF leadership sending out the first batch of Ki-44 prototypes directly into combat due to the urgency of the war situation in China. A new experimental unit was formed at Tachigawa airfield, Japan, in early September 1941. It was designated the 47th Independent Air Squadron - a tribute to the legendary tale of the 47 Ronin – the samurai who avenged the death of their leader. On September 5, 1941 the “Kingfisher Force” had seven pre-production and the second and third prototypes as its primary equipment. By December 3, 1941 the unit departed for Canton, China and was on its way to Saigon on Pearl Harbor Day.
As additional information, this unit also fought in the very early war in Burma using these aircraft. As expected, lack of spares eventually reduced the unit to just one or two operational aircraft and it was soon returned to Japan. Ed
First released in February of 1996 (as Kit Jt36 or #09136) the kit is similar to the many Japanese WWII kits released by Hasegawa in the mid-1990’s. Excellent surface detail, good tight fit, clear and easy assembly with decals for the instrument panels that gives you a great cockpit out-of-the-box(OOB) build.
I was not interested in the Ki-44 until recently. While reading the Osprey aircraft of the Aces #100 Ki-44 Tojo Aces of World War 2 by Nicholas Millman book I became very interested in the kit. That led to a trip to the shrine (my modeling stash). I went through my stash to find three Hasegawa Ki-44 releases, the first two #9136/9137 and #9825 Ki-44-II Shoki TOJO China Theatre released in July 2009.
Using the fantastic Modeling Madness Kit Research section I realized many Hasegawa Ki-44 releases had occurred and I had not purchased them. In all probability having the first two Hasegawa releases (and a few Otaki ones too) and finding no big difference between most Ki-44 Shoki’s I likely passed on them. That prompted a slow but sure search for some of the missing releases.
I also read a few kit reviews of the 1/32nd Hasegawa Ki-44 releases and saw one built at a show that was a stunning model. A bit more reading and exposure to a variety of colorful schemes and markings had me hooked on Ki-44’s. I was now on a journey to get some of the old OOP Hasegawa Ki-44 releases because I now knew there were some big but subtle exterior differences and some very cool releases that somehow got by me.
Hasegawa is the master of kit re-boxing and for most releases it is just a new set of decals and no new plastic. I think that’s what happened when the Ki-44 releases came out and I ignored them. As I worked on this kit acquisition process Hasegawa announced two kits. One was # 9958 Ki-44II Shoki Tojo Shinten Seikutai released in October 2011. The next was #7302 – the one in this review. One old release I was anxious to get was #9182 because, as it says in the Modeling Madness Kit Research notes: “09182 will build the rare Ki 44 I only, also includes instructions and decals to modify the kit to build pre-production Shokis that saw combat in Burma and China with the Kingfisher Unit.”
When I obtained kit #9182 I found some new trees, #D,E, and R. I bought it thinking I would get the parts for the prototype which were essentially a different shaped exhaust stack, front windshield for the telescopic gunsight, new pointier prop hub, and the unusual one piece round landing gear cover whose bottom section folded upwards horizontal to the ground.
Nope – when I looked at the kit contents I found a decal for one of the prototypes (Ki-44 8th prototype, 47th Flight Company Squadron, Capt. Yashuhiko Kuroe, Saigon/Indo China, Dec. 1941) and in profile # 3 of the Marking & Painting instructions it stated: “This plane differs from the shape of spinner and main gear cover”. Thank you folks but that was not very helpful. In the shock of “what did I just pay for, Oh No, I could have done this with some other cheaper Ki-44 release rather than a hard to find OOP collectable kit” rant I was stunned with disappointment thus ending my kit search – in a dead end.
If you have ever had this experience you know it is to the modeler the equivalent of “Hasegawa just stole my joy”. But, to those who are patient and wait Hasegawa came through! They released this kit, 07302, Nakajima Ki44 Shoki (TOJO) Prototype 47th Independent Flight Company in May 2012. It has the same exact trees as 09182 – but, YES – it has one new tree “UR” which contains a new prop spinner, main landing gear covers and landing gear box modification for the wing underside. When I first saw this on the Japan 1999 web site a look at the instructions indicated there were a few new parts. From the look of it I expected some resin and etched metal bits. All the parts are in injected plastic and look a lot like low pressure, low volume injection plastic similar to MPM work. Nice but a little rough compared to the shiny, polished normal highly detailed hard plastic Hasegawa stuff – but I am not complaining – this is a wonderful release for the Ki-44 Shoki interest crowd! These bits are a crowd pleaser!
Of note to collectors and those who follow Hasegawa releases in 1/48th it looks like they ran out of numbers in the 9XXX range which was their flagship numeration for 1/48th scale airplane kits. The latest 1/48th scale releases are now in the 73XX range.
I am currently building the #9136 release of the Hasegawa Shoki. It is a nice and easy build. Once I get this one ready for the paint shop the #7302 will be next.
This is a big deal release for anyone who likes the Ki-44 and it looks like once it’s gone it will be gone for a long time if Hasegawa’s past release cycles are to be a guide. It is a shame no aftermarket solution like parts tree “UR” has been released because it is a simple change so get one soon before they disappear.
Thank you Tony Hodun and Scott Van Aken for the Kit Reference section in Modeling Madness. This is a fantastic tool! From this section you will find Hasegawa Ki-44 release information such as:
Ki 44 I : 09182 will build the rare Ki 44 I only, also includes instructions and decals to modify the kit to build pre-production Shokis that saw combat in Burma and China with the Kingfisher Unit.
Ki 44 II a : 09137, 09603 and 09825 build a Ki4 4 IIa (Ko = a) only.
Ki 44 II b : 09177 and 09301 build the Ki 44 IIb (Otsu = b) with faired 40 mm wing cannon, but 09301 also includes parts to cut back cannon fairings and expose the barrel ends.
Ki 44 II c : Both 09136, 09336, and 09531 build a Ki 44 IIc (Hei = c) only. 51020 is the Ki 44 IIc kit with a set of Jaguar resin super detail parts.
Ki 44 II a and II c : Both 09194, 09711 and 09958 include the parts to build either the IIa or IIc version.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and
fairly quickly, please
contact the editor or see other details in the
Contributors. Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page