Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-27 "Nate"






See review


Drew Nix
Scott Van Aken


Ex-Mania kit


Like most of the Western powers, the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) was dependant on biplane fighters during the 1920's and '30's.  At the time of the War with China (1937), the main JAAF fighter was the Kawasaki Ki. 10 "Perry".  Against the ragtag Chinese Air Force (CAF), these biplanes were enough.  But when the Nomonhan Incident occurred with the Soviet Union in 1939, the JAAF suddenly found itself fighting against  I-16s. Seeing that the monoplane was the wave of the future the Army put out bids for development of such a fighter.  Nakajima won the contract with the Ki. 27.  The Army test pilots, who put maneuverability ahead of any other aspects of air combat, hated the Ki. 27 at first.  In fact, so strong was their initial opposition that Nakajima was forced to rework the original airframe to make it more maneuverable.  The new fighter was rushed to the front where it soon became the favorite of JAAF fighter pilots.  Flown by such aces as Tateo Kato, the Ki. 27 soon developed a fearsome reputation over the war-torn skies of China.  Eventually replaced by the Nakajima Ki. 43 "Oscar", the "Nate" soldiered on until the end of the war being used mainly as a trainer.  An interesting historical footnote: Many, if not most, of the "Zeroes" shot down by the AVG were Nates.  In their defense, some of the Flying Tigers did refer to the Ki. 27 as the "I-97".  It was naturally more prestigious to say you had destroyed the vaunted Zero in air-to-air combat than a fixed-gear Nate or an Oscar.


This kit was originally by Mania of Japan.  Hasegawa reboxed the kit, then its U.S. distributor, Minicraft, released it again under its logo.  Molded in light gray styrene, the kit features engraved panel lines and two thick, one-piece canopies (based on which version you decide to do).  This kit was one of the industry trendsetters upon its initial release in the 1980's.  Now we have come to expect this quality and better from even the smallest model companies. Instructions are printed on one 8 1/2 X 14 page and consist of 6 steps.  Written in English, the instructions are easy to follow particularly with the color of each interior piece given.  Decals are for 2 aircraft, a Ki. 27a of the 84th Independent Chutai and a Ki. 27b of the 13th Air Combat Regiment, 3rd Chutai.  The decals are excellent and in register.


Construction begins with the very nice four-piece radial engine.  Following the painting suggestions in the instruction sheet, the main cylinder bank was painted Dark Gray, the push rods and ignition harness Silver, and the oil cooler assembly was painted Copper using Floquil Paints.  After this had dried, a wash of Payne's Gray artist's oil was applied to the engine assembly for that greasy, oily look.  The engine assembly was then glued to the firewall and the engine cowl glued over this assembly.  The two-bladed propeller was painted Floquil Old Silver then the back of the blades were painted A/N Brown using Tamiya Flat Brown Acrylic.

The cockpit interior was next.  When I built this kit in 1994, the thinking of the day was that all Japanese aircraft were painted Aotake Blue in the cockpit area.  Therefore I duly painted the cockpit floor, the rear bulkhead, the instrument panel, and the fuselage sidewalls Floquil Metalline Metallic Blue Acrylic, a good match for Aotake Blue.  Since then, more research has shown that the interior should have been painted either Aluminum or some shade of light green.  Oh, well, live and learn.

The completed and painted cockpit assembly was trapped between the fuselage halves.  The spatted wheels were assembled next with the wheel hubs being painted Aluminum.  The wings were added next (a one-piece lower with two uppers).  Fit was excellent with only a little filler being needed on the wing to fuselage joint at the rear of the bottom wing.  The tailplanes were also an excellent fit. 

The spats were added next, fitting into the slots in the bottom wing perfectly.  Also the drop tanks, exhaust stubs, engine cowl assembly, and magnesium flare illuminator tubes were added during this step.

I was doing the Ki. 27a version so that particular canopy was masked using Scotch Brand cellophane tape and then white glued to the fuselage.  Some Nates carried an overwing gun camera in a bullet fairing on the port wing.  I drilled the camera port out and added this part to the wing (a mistake, as I was to find out later!).  The opening for the telescopic gunsight and the engine cowl were masked with tissue paper before painting began.


After painting the masked canopy Metallic Blue, the kit was ready for painting.  This was an easy paint job.  Nates were generally painted an overall gray.  I used Tamiya J.A. Gray acrylic to paint the aircraft.  This went down very nice with great coverage.  The cowl was painted Insignia Red using Testors Model Master enamel (another mistake!).  The tip of the tailskid was painted dark metallic gray to show paint worn off by take-offs and landings.  After the paint had dried, three light coats of Future floor wax were sprayed over the aircraft in preparation for the decals.  The decals went down without a hitch snuggling into and over the details.  

I mostly used the provided kit decals for the 84th Independent Chutai.  The wing Hinomarus were taken from an old IPMS set that included "weathered" Hinomarus.  It was when I went to apply the red wing stripes that I discovered a problem.  The earlier installed wing gun camera was in the way!  Doh!!  Careful cutting and positioning resulted in an acceptable fit here.  After the red fuselage stripes were applied mistake number 2 was discovered.  The red of the cowl did not match the red of the stripes.  Double doh!!  The stripes are just a little lighter than the cowl.  Too late to change.  

A piece of black decal stripe was cut to shape and put on the port wing to represent the wing walk.  A light wash of Payne's Gray was used to accent the panel lines.  The drilled out exhaust stubs were painted Metalline Burnt Metal.  Another coat of Future sealed the decals.  Poly S Flat Coat was thinned 50/50 with Poly S Thinner and the resultant mixture sprayed over the model.  Pastel chalks were used to show exhaust stains and to highlight the area behind the cowl flaps.


After all painting and decaling, the canopy was removed from the kit.  I wanted to display an open canopy.  Since there were no vacuform replacement canopies available at the time, out came the razor saw.  I cut the canopy into three pieces along the engraved separation lines.  I will pause for a moment to give all of you who have fainted a chance to recover!  Once cutting was complete I noticed how thick the canopy was, a common failing of one-piece canopies. 

I decided to thin the edges of the canopy.  Starting with 240 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, the INTERIOR edges of the canopy parts were carefully sanded to more scale thickness.  Any more fainters?  As you might imagine, this made the canopy very scratchy and opaque.  Not to worry!  The 240 grit was followed, in this order, by 320 grit, 400 grit, and 600 grit sandpaper.  By this time the canopy had cleared considerably.  Next Blue Magic automotive polish was rubbed over the sanded areas.  Clearer still!  The final step was the use of a tri-grit emery board.  An application of Future and voila! a nice, clear, three-piece canopy from a one-piece beginning.

Before the canopy was glued onto the fuselage permanently, the tubular gunsight was drilled out and a drop of Superscale Krystal Kleer added to represent the glass.  At the same time a drop of Krystal Kleer was put in the gun camera opening to represent the camera lens.  The gunsight was added to the fuselage and the canopy glued in place.  Finally the propeller was glued in place.


This is an excellent kit of an important aircraft.  It is relatively easy to build.   Since I built this kit in 1994, at least one resin interior detail set (True Details?) and some decals for Ki. 27 aces have been released.  As far as I know, it is still the only Ki. 27 in this scale.  This kit is still in Hasegawa's catalogue and should not be that hard to find.  A decent start to my JAAF fighters collection.  Recommended.

December 2000


Green, William and Gordon Swanborough, Japanese Army Fighters, Part 2.  Arco Publishing Company. 1978. 68pp. softcover

Sakaida, Henry, Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45. Osprey Publishing. 1997. 96pp. softcover

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