Hasegawa 1/72 Ki-51 'Sonia' Combo

KIT #: 00993
PRICE: $34.35 from GreatModels
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two complete kits


The Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Army designation "Type 99 Assault Plane". Allied nickname "Sonia") was a light bomber/dive bomber in service with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It first flew in mid-1939. Initially deployed against Chinese forces, it proved to be too slow to hold up against the fighter aircraft of the other Allied powers. However, it performed a useful ground-attack role in the China-Burma-India theatre, notably from airfields too rough for many other aircraft. As the war drew to a close, they began to be used in kamikaze attacks. Total production was around 2,385 units.

Charles Lindbergh, flying a P-38 Lightning shot down a Ki-51 after a vigorous dogfight in which the much slower Ki-51 utilized its low speed maneuverability and made a fight of it. The Ki-51 served on all fronts in which the Japanese served. They were used right up to the end of the war. Those left in the Dutch East Indies were used by the nascent Indonesian Air Force and the Communist Chinese used them until about 1953.


This is one of several kits that were acquired by Hasegawa when they bought Mania back in the early 1970s. The kit has engraved panel lines, a reasonably well detailed cockpit that includes crew figures if you so wish, and a nicely done though somewhat generic two row radial engine. The fixed gear have the wheel molded into one spat half and the engine cowling is split vertically with a separate front section. Bomb racks for the lower wings are provided as well as a load of light bombs. About the only real option I could see is the ability to cut out fuselage and lower wing window sections if one is doing the reconnaissance version. In this case, the already drilled holes in the lower wing will need to be filled as the recce birds didn't have bomb racks.

Instructions are typical Hasegawa and have Gunze paint references. Markings are provided for three planes. The two on the box art are in overall green-grey with various patterns of green or green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces and fuselage. The top plane is with the 27th Flight Regiment in Kuala-Lumpur in 1942. The lower one is with an unknown unit in New Guinea in 1944. A third option has an overall green upper surface and landing gear with the 38th Flight Regiment in Borneo in 1945. Interestingly, none of these planes have the usual yellow wing leading edge ID markings. The decals are nicely printed and seem old school Hasegawa despite the 2010 date on the box.


Hasegawa provided two full kits in this boxing, something that harkens back to my Mania kit, which is #01 and also includes two full kits with six markings options. The Mania kit was also only 800 yen in Japan (at the then exchange rate of 325 yen to the dollar, that was less than $3.00) Comparing the sprues of the Mania kit with the 2010 Hasegawa release, I noticed almost no difference in the quality of the molds. Hasegawa has cut the sprues a bit to get them to fit into their narrower standard box, but aside from that and a teeny bit of additional flash (mostly on clear bits), they are the same. The sprue scan is of the Mania boxing. For those wanting more markings options, our friends at Empire City Decals has a sheet with a bunch of additional schemes on it. As a bit of interest, most of the markings on the ECD sheet are the same as what is in the Mania kit, though these will be useful. The Mania sheets are badly water damaged. None of the ECD markings are a blue Ki-51. Not sure if that color ever really existed but it looks sharp.



February 2011 

I got mine at GreatModelswhere you can find many neat kits and accessories.

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