Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-45kai-koh
|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-45kai-koh|
|NOTES:||New mold kit. Includes fuel truck|
The Ki45 had it's origins in the 1930's "Strategic Fighter" fad. The development of the all-metal monoplane fighter led to the thought that a twin engine larger machine could be used for more roles, foremost being long-range bomber escort, but included bomber interception and ground attack. This larger machine could carry more fuel, a second crewman with a defensive gun, and heavy armament, concentrated in the front fuselage. Several Countries were enamoured (love that English spelling) of this concept and developed aircraft for it. Germany, of course did the Bf110, France had it's Potez series, the Netherlands it's Fokker G1. Japan, planning a long-range Pacific war, was watching with interest. The Kawasaki firm answered the specification with the Ki45. Cheif designer on this project was Takeo Doi, who later also was responsible far the Ki61 Hien. The airframe that emerged was a shapely twin engine two seater that showed some Heinkel influence, with elliptical wings and rounded rudder. Underpowered by two 820 HP radials, initial tests were disappointing. Speed was way under that hoped for, and maneuverability poor. The future of the project was in doubt, but re-engining with more powerful engines, and some aerodynamic redesign saved the fighter. Now with 1000 HP engines, the machine reached 323 MPH, and all aspects of it's performance improved. With armament settled at two 12.7mm machine guns in the nose, and one 20mm cannon in a fuselage "tunnel", production was approved in November 1941, and given the name "Toryu", the Dragon Slayer.
The improved machine was now a very maneuverable two seater, the first examples entering service with the 5th Sentai in August, 1942. The 21st Sentai operated a mix of Ki43 Hayabusas and Ki45's initially, one chutai (squadron) being sent to captured Rangoon, Burma, to provide more firepower to engage in what would be the machine's primary role, bomber interceptor. Here the Toryu scored some successes against raiding B-24's. The new twin was also soon encountered over China, New Guinea, the East Indies, and Rabaul, and assigned the name "Nick" under the allied code system. Upon entering combat it's career began to parallel it's other strategic fighter cousins. Efficient against unescorted B-17's and B-24's, and effective at ground and shipping attack, when the Toryu met single-engine fighters or it's twin-engine, single seat competition, the Lockheed P-38, the outcome was seldom good., the 7.7mm defensive rear-gun being rendered useless during any kind of maneuvering.
As the J.A.A.F. forces were forced back to the homeland, the Ki45 Sentais more and more became bomber interceptors, first over Manchuria, then Japan proper as the country came under B-29 attack. A new version appeared, the Ki45 Kai-Hei. Taking from previous night-fighting experience, this model was armed to the teeth. Two 20mm cannon were mounted behind the front cockpit, at an oblique angle, much like the Bf110's "Schrage Musik" installation. The Tunnel 20mm was replaced by an automatic 37mm cannon. The blunt nose of the first version was made more pointed and sometimes the rear-gun position plated over. Perhaps the most effective use of the "Toryu" was in horrifying ramming attacks, which resulted in many downed and damaged B-29's. When P-51 Mustangs began to accompany the B-29's in April, 1945, the ballgame was over.
It looks good to me, typical Hasgawa quality and engineering. The version represented in this first boxing is the Ki45 Kai-Koh, the initial version into service. This model had a rounded nose, with two 12.7mm machine guns and one 20mm cannon in a ventral tunnel. The nose parts are on a separate sprue, obviously the later versions are in the works, by providing the later pointed nose used by the type represented by the old Nichimo kit. Also on the sprues are some dandy "Ta-Dan" air to air bombs, perfect for use with those Shokis and A6M5 Zeroes you have in your stash. Late style individual exhausts are also here (the koh type uses a collector exhaust).
Kit courtesy of www.hlj.com
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