Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-45 Kai Koh Toryu "4th Flight Regiment"
|PRICE:||3800 yen from www.hlj.com About $60.00 MSRP when it hits the shelves in the US.|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
In response to the rapid emergence in Europe of twin-engine heavy fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110, the army ordered development of a twin-engine, two-seat fighter in 1937, and assigned the proposal by Kawasaki Shipbuilding the designation of Ki-38. This only went as far as a mock up, but by December of that year, the army ordered a working prototype as the Ki-45, which first flew in January 1939. Results from the test flights, however, did not meet the army's expectations. The Ha-20 Otsu engine was underpowered and failure-prone, while the airframe suffered from nacelle stall.
The Ki-45 did not enter use, but the army, insistent on having a working twin-engine fighter, ordered Kawasaki to continue development. Kawasaki responded by replacing the engines with the proven Nakajima Ha-25. Flight tests were promising.
In October 1940, the army ordered continued improvements such as switching to 805 kW (1,080 hp) Mitsubishi Ha-102 engines, and using the wings from the Ki-48 light bomber. This craft, designated Ki-45 Kai, was complete in September 1941 and was officially adopted for use by the army in February 1942 as the "Type 2 two-seat fighter".
The Ki-45 was initially used as a long-range bomber escort. The 84th Independent Flight Wing used them in June 1942 in attacks on Guilin, where they encountered, but were no match for, P-40 Tomahawks flown by the Flying Tigers. In September of the same year, they met P-40s over Hanoi with similar results. It became clear that the Ki-45 could not hold its own against single-engine fighters in aerial combat.
It was subsequently deployed in several theaters in the roles of interception, ground and ship attack, and fleet defense. Its greatest strength turned out to be as an anti-bomber interceptor, as was the case of the Bf 110 in Europe. In New Guinea, the JAAF used the aircraft in an anti-ship role, as the Ki-45 was heavily armed with one 37 mm and two 20 mm cannons and could carry two 250 kg (550 lb) bombs on hard points under the wings. 1,675 Ki-45s of all versions were produced during the war.
The first production type (Ko) was armed with two 12.7 mm gun in the nose, a single 20 mm in the belly, and a movable 7.92 in the rear cabin, and this was followed with the Otsu with the lower 20 mm cannon replaced by a 37 mm tank gun, to counter B-17 bombers. While the firepower was devastating, manual reloading meant that only two rounds could be fired per minute. The next type (Hei) restored the 20 mm cannon, and this time placed an automatic 37 mm gun in the nose. A later addition was twin obliquely-firing 20 mm cannon behind the cockpit and removal of the underside 20 mm guns.
Soon after entering service, the Ki-45 was assigned to home defense, and several were dispatched against the Doolittle raid, though they did not see action. The craft's heavy armament proved to be effective against the B-29 raids which started in June 1944. However, its performance was insufficient to counter B-29s flying at 10,000 meters. Modifications such as reduction of fuel and ordnance were attempted to raise performance to little avail, and in the end aircraft were used in ramming attacks. In 1945, the forward and upward-firing guns showed some results against with the commencement of night time bombing raids, but the lack of radar was a considerable handicap. By the spring of 1945, the advent of American carrier-based fighters and Iwo Jima-based P-51s escorting B-29s over the skies of Japan brought the Ki-45's career to an end.
The next version, Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc were developed specifically for night fighting which were supposed to be equipped with centimetric radar in the nose, but due to production difficulties this did not occur. Having the unique Japanese Army aircraft take part in night defense of the Home Islands equipped four sentais from the autumn of 1944 to the War's end. They obtained notable successes, and one sentai obtained 150 victories and downed 8 USAAF B-29 Superfortresses in their first combat.
The Ki-45 was to be replaced in the ground attack role by the Kawasaki Ki-102, but was never wholly supplanted by the wars' end.
After World War II, three Ki-45 had fallen into communist Chinese hands. Unlike most captured Japanese aircraft that was used for training role, the 3 Ki-45s were tasked to perform combat missions, being assigned to the 1st Squadron of the Combat Flying Group in March, 1949. These three Ki-45s retired in the early 1950s.
You have read from previous reports of how nice the earlier incarnation of this kit really is. This variant differs from the initial production kit by having the bits and pieces to do the Kai Koh version of the aircraft. Typical of Hasegawa, one is offered both raised instrument detail and decals. Fortunately, their decals are an exact match for the panels and fit quite well. In fact, one of them for the main panel is all white and spots of color so you can paint the panel black and then just put on this outline decal.
As one would expect from a limited run boxing, there isn't really that much difference between this and some of the previous issues. Everything that was said about those kits is the same for this one. There are not all that many options, though some of note are the separate open and closed canopy parts, as well as different canopy sections for the oblique cannon that one of the two markings options provides. It is in this area where the differences, though minor, are something to which one has to pay attention. There are some minor interior bits that are not the same between the two variations and so the builder has to have the version that is going to be done in mind from the very start. Hasegawa's instructions have these clearly labeled and any modifications needed are equally well noted.
Hasegawa has thoughtfully given the builder the option to replace all the formation light areas with clear lenses after cutting out the molded in versions. One also has the option of the ventral cannon. These were not always installed due to their weight, a premium when trying to reach high flying B-29s. This variant also has the fuel coolers so don't forget to open the holes for those. A boarding step can also be installed in the extended position. Hasegawa is well known for their molding quality with crisply done engraved and raised detailing. Though the ejector pin marks have not disappeared, I did find them pretty well limited to landing gear legs.
Instructions are standard Hasegawa in that they are well drawn and provide color information and small detail sections when needed. As usual, there is a lot of information provided so one has to be cautious not to miss anything. Markings are for two 4th Flight Regiment aircraft . These both have the home defense 'bandages' on the wings and fuselage. One, with three fuselage stripes, does not have the oblique cannon, while the other, with one stripe does. Both have the somewhat hard edged mottling over the upper surface in Kawasaki Dark Green while the rest of the airframe is in JAAF Grey-Green. The decal sheet is superbly printed and of the 'new' variety with proper whites and reds. I'm not sure just how opaque the white bands are so would caution modelers that it might be wise to paint these on to keep the variegated camo from bleeding through. Leading edge ID stripes are also provided, and again, one may wish to paint these on.
So there you have it. Another superb Ki-45 kit from Japan's premiere aircraft modeler. It should provide an excellent opportunity to add an important type to one's collection. If one has the old Nichimo kit, then perhaps it is time for a replacement, or perhaps you should build them both!
November 2008 Thanks to
www.hlj.com for the preview kit. Get yours
today. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly,
me or see other details in the
Contributors. Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page
Thanks to www.hlj.com for the preview kit. Get yours today.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page