Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-61 Hein


9012 (JT 12)


@$25.00 MSRP


See Review


Kelly Jamison




When first seen in the Pacific Theater of operations, Military Intelligence thought the new sleek menace was a licensed version of the magnificent Messerschmitt Bf-109E which was known to be in Japan at that time. In reality it was a very brash attempt by the Japanese Military Industry to improve on the German fighter. It was first given the name of “Mike” when it was thought to be a Messerschmitt. Then it was thought that the design was a modified Italian aircraft, so it was given the name “Tony”. It wasn’t until the aircraft was photographed on Rabaul that the United States realized that they had a whole new aircraft on their hands.

When it was confirmed it was a new type not seen before, the code name “Tony” had already stuck. The Japanese Army called it a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Hien”. It was the only mass produced liquid cooled inline engine Japanese fighter during the entire war. The Japanese Army never worked all the bugs out of the Ha.40 inline liquid cooled powerplant and a version of this airframe incorporated a radial engine turning it into the exceptional Ki.100. The fighter was used extensively in the Philippines and New Guinea area and was one of the main interceptors trying to stem the inundation of B-29s over the Japanese Homeland. Many B-29s fell pray to the lustrous fighter. Many consider the Ki-61 series to be Kawasaki’s definitive product during Japan’s conquest of the Pacific.


            This is without a doubt my favorite Japanese aircraft. It is a very sleek and very colorful aircraft for a sometimes very uninteresting Japanese Army paint schemes. It is molded in a dark gray high quality plastic with no flash. The decals and canopy are wrapped in their own bag.  Very well packed but you would not expect anything less from Hasegawa. The decals seem a bit thick and the white has already yellowed a bit. The box art is gorgeous as usual.


 I purchased an Aries resin and photo-etch cockpit to spice the kit up a bit. The resin is cast in a crème color and has no pinholes or warping. It comes complete with a full set of machine guns and a detailed firewall. If you sought to put a modified DB-601 engine in it would be an easy modification. I decided to display the aircraft with the machine gun cover and ammo boxes uncovered. If you do the same you will need to cut the deck out that is in front of the cockpit windscreen. This weakens the front of the fuselage so you need to be careful and not warp the fuselage halves during assembly. As usual, trial and error is the mantra of the day. The interior was painted a strange kind of tan known as Kawasaki Interior Tan. The best equivalent I found was Model Masters Acryl RLM 79 with a soft black wash to bring out highlights and detail in the cockpit. I had to sand down the sides of the fuselage a little bit and trial fit the deck behind the headrest many times. Everything in the cockpit area got a coat of the tan with the exception of the machine gun area and engine bay area. That was painted flat black.

The resin cockpit went together with no problem and looked great assembled. Use the kit instructions to paint all the different levers and knobs their proper color. The instrument panel is the photo film type with the photo-etch panel. Paint the back of the clear film white and then use a drop of Future Floor Wax to glue the film to the back side of the instrument panel. The Future allows you extra time to get the instruments aligned up perfect and gives a glassy look to the different instruments. A set of Eduard seatbelts finishes off the cockpit nicely. Don’t install the gunsight until the end of the build or you will loose it during sanding. Just follow the instructions and you will be done in no time.

            I assembled the lower radiator and grill. Then paint the radiator flat black with a dry brushing of silver to pick out the detail in that area. There is a faring that goes behind the radiator that you shouldn’t forget once I was happy with the fit of the resin interior I glued the two fuselage halves with my favorite welding torch. Tamiya Liquid Cement. I left the top engine cover and machine guns off until final assembly. I sat the fuselage off to the side and started on the wings. In order to get the fuselage to meet the upper wings I glued the upper wing sections onto the fuselage wing roots. Then I fitted the one piece bottom wing section to the fuselage bottom and upper wing parts. This caused large gaps in the front edge of the wing roots but made the cord of the wing fit against the fuselage much better. All of these areas would be filled with Tamiya Putty. The landing light area was painted flat black with a small disk of Bare-Metal-Foil to represent the light. Then the lens was fitted and sanded to shape, polished and masked off for protection. I built a small 90 degree “T” jig to get the tail planes level and then glued them in place. It was looking like a plane already! I painted the landing gear legs and covers tan along with the small wheel covers and linkage. A small band of Bare-medal-Foil simulated the oleo strut. The radiator flap got put on next. It looks much like those on a P-51 and serves the same purpose. I sanded all seems and joints making sure to polish out any scratches or blemishes that will show up under the silver paint. A bit of Mr. Surfacer here and there and the plane was ready for masking and painting.


            I like to use Alclad II for all my silvers now. I picked up a new bottle of Alclad Primer Black and shot the plane completely. It was very strange to see the plane in gloss black but that is what Alclad calls for (Your editor should point out that it is only required for the very shiny colors such as bright chrome or polished aluminum). Now it was time to shoot the entire plane with Duralum Silver. Don’t forget to paint the wheel spats and the small wheel covers while you have the airbrush loaded up. While the silver was drying I moved to the prop and spinner. It assembled easily but the back of the spinner could fit a bit better to the nose of the spinner. They got a shot of a special dark brown mix made from Model Masters Acryl Rust and Flat Black. Remove the masking tape from all control surfaces. After the plane was completely dry I masked off all flight controls then sprayed all the control surfaces Tamiya IJN Gray. You can tape right over the silver without worrying about damaging the paint. Alclad surfaces are very durable.

This is where it gets a bit different than your normal way of putting a plane together. I put the Hinomarus on at this time. You have to put the white disk down first and set it up with your favorite setting solution. Let it fully dry then put the red one over the top. Take your time and get the alignment perfect before using any kind of setting solution for the red part. Now it is time to paint the “Palm Frond leaves” pattern. Use the diagram that came with the AeroMaster decals. It is a good guide on how to apply the pattern. Some use a paint brush and some use an airbrush. It is up to you how you want to apply the camouflage pattern. I used Tamiya JA Green to replicate the camo. Arguments have been made that 34092 European Green is a more accurate color. When I used this color the Silver underneath made the green too light. So I switched to the Tamiya paint. Once all was dry I masked off the area for the yellow identification panels on the wing leading edge. You can use Tamiya low adhesive tape directly onto the silver paint with no problem. My preferred color for this is Model Masters Acryl Chrome Yellow. Don’t forget that there is a small stripe on the wheel covers that needs yellow also. So you need to mask off this area and hit it with yellow at the same time. I then finished decking out the plane with the markings of Lt. Yoshimitsu Tarnui of the 68 ACR, 2nd Company at NewGuinea/Hollandia in April 1944 from AeroMasters decal sheet 48-133.


The rest of the plane was just straight forward assembly. There are small intakes, coolers, gunsight, pitot tube and other sundry items that need to be painted and put onto the plane. The antenna got the same brown as the propeller and was superglued into position. I used 2lb fishing line painted black for the antenna wire. The tail wheel is a nice little unit and glues straight onto the fuselage. The top of the engine cover got a dark black/blue color airbrushed onto it and glued into place. I had to bend the photo-etch cowling into shape. Take your time when doing this. The canopy is too thick to cut apart and poise in the open position. I don’t know why Hasegawa molded it in one piece. But it is clear and useable so I cut it apart and I used the forward section and aft section of the kit glass and a Squadron Vac-u-form canopy center section. To get the canopy to look good slid back in the open position you have to use the thinner vac-u-formed canopy. It got trimmed out in silver and glued on with Micro Krystal Klear.


            The model didn’t give me any nasty surprises and was a very easy build even with the resin cockpit and gun bay.  Watch those forward wing roots and you will do just fine. It looks great and really stands out on the shelf. I spent about 20 hours on this. You should have some experience with multimedia kits if you want to tackle the resin addition and photo-etch add-ons. I recommend this kit for all skill levels.

May 2003


Squadron Vac-U-Form Canopy #9561

Eduard Model Accessories Seatbelts IJA 49 005

Aries Kawasaki Ki-61I Cockpit Set #4017

AeroMaster Decals Kawasaki Tony Ki61 I part II 48-133

Arco-Aircam Aviation Series No. 27 Kawasaki Ki.61/Ki.100

Osprey Aircraft Series #13 Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45

Camera: Sony DSC-F707

Kelly Jamison

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