MPM 1/72 Ki-21 'Sally'






See Review


Scott Van Aken


short run kit with resin parts


During the years leading up to and for the first years of the war in the Pacific, the Ki-21 was the JAAF's premier heavy bomber. It first entered service in 1937 and by the standards of the time, was a formidable bomber. It was successful in action against the Russians during the Nomonhan 'Incident' and during the the prolonged war against the Chinese. Despite its obsolescence, it was still in front line units until late 1943 when it began to be replaced by the Ki-67 and other more modern types. Even then, there were units who continued to fly the Ki-21until the end of the war. It was in service longer than any other Japanese warplane of the period.

When their time as a bomber was over, the Ki-21 was converted as a transport aircraft, operating throughout the Pacific area. Probably one of the last desperate operations was undertaken in April of 1945, when nine specially outfitted 'assault transports, laden with special demolition troops , headed for Allied occupied Okinawa. Seven of the aircraft succeeded in reaching the target area, where all but one of the planes was shot down by US fighters. The remaining aircraft crash landed on Yohan airfield where the twelve troops disembarked and managed to destroy seven US aircraft, damage two and destroy a large quantity of fuel and ammunition before being killed by US Marines. A few months later, the Ki-21 returned to Okinawa, only this time painted white with green surrender crosses.


With this highly anticipated release of the Ki-21, MPM has put a major dent in the value of  the old Revell kit. If you have been following how MPM has been improving, you will know that they are getting better and better with each release. Their Ki-83 that was built by your editor was a real pleasure and a huge improvement over the Me-262v9 that was done several years ago.

Don't get me wrong, MPM kits are still short run as they show several signs of that. For instance, there are large ejector stubs on the wings, tailplanes, and fuselage that will need to be removed before starting construction. There is also some flash on parts and the edges of things like windows and such are ragged and will need preparatory sanding before construction starts. a few of the thicker parts had some minor sink marks in them that will also need filled. The wings are butt fitted, which generally isn't a problem as MPM's plastic is a bit softer than others so gives a good glue join.

MPM has also been doing their kits with injected clear bits. For this I am also grateful as I really am not good at vacuform canopies and prefer not to have them. Another pleasant surprise is that the props do not have separate blades (Yay!), so alignment woes are gone!

The kit comes with a rather substantial number of resin parts. All of them are destined either for the interior or as part of the engine/exhaust. A sample of the parts is shown to the left. Detailing on the resin parts is the usual superb craftsmanship we have come to expect from MPM. The rest of the kit is also very nicely detailed with petite engraved panel lines. Some of these may disappear under sanding, but should be very easy to restore.

The kit comes as a Ki-21-IIa with the long greenhouse aft canopy section and the 'stinger' 7.7mm machine gun in the tail. You cannot build an earlier -I version as the -II has uprated engines and a different cowling. The -II versions also have fully enclosed main wheels as the nacelles were deepened slightly to allow them to be fully enclosed. You'd also have to remove the tail gun. What is nice is that you can build a -IIb with the dorsal turret as that part is included in the kit. I'd imagine that a dedicated -IIb kit will soon be coming as all it needs is a different decal sheet.

The instructions are very good, offering the usual fine exploded construction steps. One thing that has changed is that there is no color reference chart. All the color callouts (except for the overall schemes) are only given as H and HU references for Humbrol colors. For those of us who do not have a ready reference sheet for Humbrol colors,  or cannot get these colors locally, this is a definite step backwards. 

The decals are by Propagteam and are well known for thinness and excellence in printing. Two schemes are given. The first is an overall green with grey undersides and yellow IFF wing leading edge bands. This particular aircraft is from the 98th Bomber Sentai, 3rd Chutai. The other option is an overall aluminum aircraft with green upper surface splotches and yellow IFF wing markings from the  12th bomber Sentai, 1st Chutai. Unfortunately, MPM does not give any unit info and I had to do quite a bit of research to come up with those unit IDs.

Anyway, the kit looks to build into a very nice model, and while not cheap, is certainly much less than is being asked by kit collectors for the older Revell kit.


Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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