Hasegawa 1/72 Ki-84 'Hayate' Combo
|PRICE:||$14.99 on sale ($45.00 SRP)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2012 limited edition. Two complete kits|
Design of the Ki-84 commenced in early 1942 to meet an Imperial Japanese Army Air Service requirement for a replacement for Nakajima's Ki-43 Hayabusa, just entering service. The specification recognised the need to combine the manouverability of the Ki-43 with performance to match the best western fighters and heavy firepower. The Ki-84 first flew in March 1943. Although the design itself was solid, the shortage of fuel and construction materials, poor production quality, and lack of skilled pilots prevented the fighter from reaching its potential. A total of 3,514 were produced.
The Ki-84 addressed the most common complaints about the popular and highly maneuverable Ki-43: insufficient firepower, poor defensive armor, and lack of climbing power. The Ki-84 was introduced with two 12.7 mm (.50-in) machineguns and two 20 mm cannons, a considerable improvement over the single 7.7 mm and single 12.7 mm machine guns of the Hayabusa. Defensive armor offered Hayate pilots better protection than the unsealed wing tanks and light-alloy airframe of the Ki-43. In addition, the Ki-84 used a 65 mm armor-glass canopy, 13 mm of head and back armor, and multiple bulkheads in the fuselage, which protected both the methanol-water tank (used to increase the effectiveness of the supercharger) and also the centrally located fuel tank.
It was the powerplant that gave the Hayate its high speed and prowess in combat. Derived from the Homare engine common to many Japanese aircraft, the Hayate used a direct-injection version of the engine, using water injection to aid the supercharger in giving the Ki-84 a rated 2,000 hp at takeoff. This combination—in theory, at least—gave it a climb rate and top speed roughly competitive with the top Allied fighters of the late Pacific theater, the P-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt (with top speeds of 433 and 426 mph, respectively). Initial Hayate testing at Tachikawa in early summer 1943 saw test pilot Lt. Funabashi reach a maximum level speed of 634 km/h (394 mph) in the second prototype, but after the war a captured example was tested by the U.S. Army using high-octane fuel and achieved a speed of 690 km/h (430 mph).
The complicated direct-injection engine, however, required a great deal of care in construction and maintenance and, as the Allies advanced toward the Japanese homeland, it became increasingly difficult to support the type's designed performance. Compounding reliability issues was the Allied submarine blockade which prevented delivery of crucial materials for construction of components such as the landing gear. Many Hayates consequently suffered strut collapses on landing.
This is another of Hasegawa's Combo boxings where one gets two kits and markings for three aircraft. First issued in the 1980s, the kit has mostly raised panel line detailing, a very basic cockpit with but a somewhat generic seat, floor control stick and a clear plastic instrument panel. A decal is to be placed over this. I found a tiny bit of flash on one wing tip in both kits. There is the usual ejector pin marks on gear struts and gear doors, a passable engine front and a one-piece canopy section. The only options are drop tanks and those really are not options as there are holes already drilled in the wings for them. It is not a complex kit.
Instructions are standard Hasegawa with Gunze and generic paint references. There are three markings options and I'll start with the box art planes. The first one is from the 51st Flight Regiment at Shimodate in 1945. This aircraft is in Olive Drab over Light Grey with a white spinner. Next is a 22nd Flight Regiment plane based in Korea during 1945. It is in Dark Green over unpainted metal. Finally a scheme not shown is from the 101st FLigh Regiment at Fujieda in the summer of 1945. As the tail arrow might be either white or yellow, both are provided. This plane is also OD over Light Grey. All planes have a 'Cowling Color' anti-glare panel on the nose. The decals are very nicely printed and provide data markings as well as the yellow leading edge strips for two planes.
Hasegawa's Ki-84 (pronounced Kee 84) is one of their nicer 1/72 fighter kits. It is a hassle free build and makes into a great model. There are resin cockpits and wheels around for this kit so if you want to do something about the Spartan cockpit, you can do so for very little additional money. I would NEVER have bought this kit at retail as they can be found in separate boxings for $15 or less in many places. But I cannot pass up a deal even if I already have some of the single box kits and this deal is a good one.
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