Otaki 1/48 Ki-43-II 'Oscar'


Otaki 1/48 Ki-43-II 'Oscar'






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Now sold under Arii brand


Nakajima's Ki-43 Hayabusa was a turning point aircraft for the JAAF. Prior to this aircraft, the thinking of the time was for a lightweight aircraft that was capable of being superior in a dogfight. The mount of the time was the Ki-27, a very small, low-winged monoplane with fixed landing gear. The Ki-27 was very maneuverable and able to dogfight successfully with biplane fighters.

Most pilots disliked the Hayabusa upon first meeting. Here was a (relatively) large aircraft, that was a bit heavy and had retractable landing gear. Sure, it was faster than the Ki-27 by quite a bit, but it could not out-dogfight it. Reluctantly, pilots had no choice but to start flying their new mount. As they flew it, they began to appreciate the qualities of the aircraft and the extra speed that it provided. All they had to do was to take advantage of the pluses of the aircraft and develop new tactics. 

The Ki-43 quickly entered service and by late 1942/early 1943 had completely replaced the older Ki-27 in all theaters of operation. Where it was mostly seen was in the CBI (China/Burma/India) operating area and in New Guinea and the Philippines, areas where the Army had jurisdiction. 

The Oscar, as the Allies code named it, was operational throughout the war, being used as training and suicide aircraft late in the war. After the way, those aircraft still remaining were used by the countries in which they were left. Both the French and Indonesians used the Ki-43 for a few years. Those in Indonesia were often pieced together from planes found on the scrap pile. This model was painted to represent one of those planes from a photograph in an old Aircam book.


The Otaki kit is one of the oldest 1/48 kits of this plane around, and still can be built into a nice model. However, its accuracy must be questioned. Though it doesn't say, it is probably supposed to be a late Ki-43-II. However it has some shape problems, particularly the wings. These seem to be too broad and of not quite the proper shape for a Ki-43. The exhaust are also incorrectly shaped and the underfuselage fuel cooler wasn't used until the Ki-43-III. If you are not concerned about such things, it will still build into an aircraft that cannot be mistaken for anything other than an Oscar.

What you get in the box is several sprues of medium grey plastic, a small sprue of clear and a nice decal sheet. The kit has a full cockpit with some detail on the side walls and floor. It includes an instrument panel, control stick, seat, rear bulkhead and a pilot for the seat. Considering the age of the kit, the detailing and amount of 'stuff' in the cockpit is quite remarkable. These kits were among the best on the market when they initially appeared and stayed that way for many years.

The wheel wells are very shallow with no detail. Your choice of underwing stores is limited to a pair of generic drop tanks. Frankly, the Oscar looks terrible with things under its wings! The engine is comprised of two banks of cylinders along with separate pushrods. 

The markings are for three aircraft; one from the Akeno fighter training school in overall natural metal with white bands behind the Hinomarus, one from the 63rd Sentai with dark green upper surfaces and another in natural metal with green mottling from the 25th Sentai. 

There really are not many parts to the plane at all and it is a quick build. 


Construction is actually quite anti-climatic as kits go. The small number of parts means that there are few places for the kit to have errors. Probably the biggest problem, other than cleaning up the mold marks from the parts, is the infamous wing/fuselage joint. It is here that I used the most filler on the kit, most of it on the underside. I also had some trouble getting the canopy to fit will. This part needed some sanding to get it to properly conform.

The rest of it went together extremely well and it is almost embarrassing to have to write this much about kit construction!!  


Now this is the part that was the reason for building the kit back then in 1984. I really liked the idea of an airplane made up of spare parts. Sort of like that Johnny Cash song about stealing parts from his auto assembly line job and putting them together to make a car. Where I probably went wrong is by making the various bits look too clean!

From my reading, it seems like all Oscars were produced in natural metal and painting was often left to those units in the field. However, it also seems like the upper color of overall green was factory applied in the later batches of aircraft. It seems now that there was no underside color to Oscars and they were left in bare metal. Well, I painted some of my parts with underside army grey and it is too late to change that.

Anyway, on to the painting part. First thing I did was to paint  the rudder, landing gear covers, and leading edges of the wings with white. Then the rudder was masked off and the leading edge and gear covers were painted yellow for the IFF stripes. Then those were masked. I then did the green/grey parts. This is because I was using Metallizer and had not learned the secret to being able to successfully mask it. That took care of the aft fuselage, ailerons, and one wing tip. Those were then masked off. Strangely, I left the underside of the ailerons natural metal (they should have been silver dope) which was more correct than painting them grey (at least, I think it is. I get so confused about this).

Now that everything was masked off, the rest of the airframe was painted aluminum Metallizer. But wait, what about the anti-glare panel? I had forgotten that and had to very carefully mask the Metallizer to paint it.

The blue-black for the anti-glare was mixed using Gunze Acrylics, which is what I used for all the other colors.

Now for the markings. No one did an early Indonesian Air Force sheet and still doesn't. However, they were simple to make. I had a set of decals from IPMS Spruce Goose from their 1983 convention (at least, I think that is where they came from). They give Hinomarus and separate white circles in various sizes. It was just a matter of matching them up. I put a full white circle down and then cut a Hinomaru in half for the rest of it. Easy. The tail letters came from a number/letter sheet of some sort. Since I didn't gloss coat the kit, I had some silvering problems with the letters and numbers. The red on the upper half of the rudder was from a solid red decal sheet with the red part cut to fit. Prop was painted 'rust' with the yellow bands coming from a yellow stripes sheet.

Exhaust stains were airbrushed on using flat black and light grey. I was brave back then. Nowadays I don't use an airbrush for that, but pastels. The kit has survived many moves and the only parts that have broken off are the antenna and the tail wheel!


What can I say but that it looks neat (at least to me). The kit really is very easy to build and a nice job can be done by even the newest modeler. Today you have the nice, but more expensive Fine Molds Oscar to build instead of this one, but for a quick build with no fuss, any of the old Otaki kits is hard to beat.

August 2000 

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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