Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-27 'Nate' "101st Training Regiment"
|PRICE:||$18.35 on sale at GreatModels|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The IJAAF's first monoplane fighter was the Ki-27. Developed in the mid 1930s at the same time when Supermarine was developing the Spitfire and Messerschmitt the 109, Nakajima's design was a bit less advanced than its European equivalents. This was due to a differing philosophy that was held by the Japanese that the ability to dogfight was of paramount importance. While this held them in good stead during the early days of WWII, it was one that doomed thousands of Japan's pilots.
The main reason was that to get the sort of handling that the pilots demanded, certain things like armor plating and fuel protection were eliminated to reduce weight. This even resulted in the Ki-27 having fixed landing gear as high speed was not considered important enough. However, moving from the biplane Ki-10 to the monoplane Ki-27 did provide a considerable increase in velocity from what has been the norm.
The Ki-27 saw a great deal of action in Japan's wars prior to the Pacific War. In both China and against the Soviets in Manchuria, the Ki-27 bore the brunt of the action in the air. Many Japanese pilots were able to score impressive numbers of victories and soon became household names in the homeland. It was towards the end of the Manchurian war, when the Russian I-16 was introduced that the Japanese had trouble. The I-16 was faster and some had better armament than the Ki-27s rifle calibre machine guns. This was brought even closer to home when the Pacific War started and they were up against more heavily armed British and US aircraft in China and Southeast Asia.
Eventually the aircraft were replaced by the Ki-43 (which still carried over several of the Ki-27s faults in terms of light construction and weak armament). The Ki-27 was then relegated to homeland defense, areas like Formosa and Manchuria which had become 'backwaters', and to advanced fighter training schools. Only one airframe is known to exist and it was pulled out of the Inland Sea back in the late 1990s.
The kit itself is molded in Hasegawa's somewhat hard light grey plastic. Since this is basically a pretty simple kit, there are not a ton of parts. You do get a complete cockpit with control stick, seat, rudder pedals, fire bottle and there is sidewall detail. The four part engine looks quite nice and some painting will enhance the detail given there. As for options, one is a bit limited. Basically, the only options are the use of the two fuel tanks under the wing and whether to use the early or the later canopy. While the canopy is a single piece, many pilots chose to fly without the sliding portion attached so to be properly accurate with some schemes, the canopy will need to be cut.
I should also mention that the mounting holes for the fuel tanks are already made so eliminating those will require the holes to be filled. One other thing is that when the Ki-27 was on the ground, the upper portion of the struts popped up through the upper wing. This has been shown properly on the kit so don't go cutting away the nubs that you see! Another interesting addition are two small exhaust-looking things that are shown extending from the starboard flap. I don't know what those are. The reference shows them in the drawings and they could also be under the port side. The vast majority of the photographs in the reference do not show these so it may be a good idea to leave them off and fill in the holes.
Of course, Hasegawa wants to get a lot of mileage out of a set of molds and has done so with the Ki-27. This kit is still very nicely done with little if any flash. It does, however, come with a different set of markings and since this is a 2008 issue, the decals are very nicely done. In fact, the decals and placement guide are the only different bits as the instructions are the same ones from 1988 that have been in all recent reissues. You have basically three options, all in the overall green-grey. The first two are variations on the box art plane. One has three fuselage stripes and one has one. These are both from the 101st Training Regiment in 1942. The third option is from the 1st Training Squadron in 1944 and is somewhat more subdued. Oddly enough, it carries the yellow wing leading edge ID markings, something I've not seen on a plane not painted with the green upper surfaces. The tail cone section is also painted in red to add a touch more color.
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