Nichimo 1/48 Ki-45kai 'Toryu'
|PRICE:||$20-30.00 range on auction sites|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||An older kit that is still well worth building|
The Ki-45 was initially used as a long-range bomber escort. The 84th Independent Flight Wing (Dokuritsu Hikō Chutai) used them in June 1942 in attacks on Guilin, where they encountered, but were no match for, Curtiss P-40s 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, attack (anti-ground as well as anti-shipping) and fleet defense. Its greatest strength turned out to be as an anti-bomber interceptor, as was the case with the Bf 110 in Europe. In New Guinea, the IJAAF used the aircraft in an anti-ship role, where the Ki-45 was heavily armed with one 37 mm (1.46 in) 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.
In 1945, the forward and upward-firing guns showed some results 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 and P-47s escorting B-29s over the skies of Japan brought the Ki-45's career to an end.
The Ki-45 was to be replaced in the ground-attack role by the Ki-102, but was not wholly supplanted by the war's end.
Three Ki-45s fell into communist Chinese hands after World War II. Unlike most captured Japanese aircraft, which were employed in the training role, the three Ki-45s were assigned to the 1st Squadron of the Combat Flying Group in March 1949 and were used in combat missions. These aircraft were retired in the early 1950s.
Not all that many people know a lot about Nichimo. They have been around for quite a while and while some of their models include toy-like features (folding wings, motor for the prop), they have or had the distinction of doing kits that others did not. Still no 1/48 scale Jake from any of the majors, but Nichimo did one.
The Ki-45 (pronounced Key-45) is a surprisingly modern kit considering its age. All engraved panel lines with engraved rivet detail. A pretty complete cockpit that really only lacks a bit of additional detail, like seat belts to bring it to modern specs. There is interior side panel detail and a number of boxes to fit along the walls. There are not really any optional pieces with this as the Ki-45 spent most of its wartime career as a heavy fighter and was actually fairly good at it. The clear pieces are all well formed and have distinct frame lines, which makes it easy to mask. The engines are nice representations as well and thanks to the close cowling and large spinners, not much will be seen.
Instructions are mostly in Japanese and
there are generic paint references. Decals are for three planes of the 53rd Hiko
Sentai, a unit much photographed in the last year of the war as they operated on
homeland defense. One marking option is shown on the box art, one in the
instructions and side panel, while the third (which has an arrow motif on the
side) will have to come from reference or internet photos. I have included a
photo of this third option on a build of mine from the 1980s. I'm not sure how
well the markings in this kit will work as it has been around for a while, but
there have been a number done for the much newer Hasegawa kit so getting
something to work
an issue. Note that the white on the nearly invisible wing and fuselage
'bandages' is not totally opaque so you'll see any underlying camo. Do not let
the accompanying photo fool you as in person, you can see through the white
Despite the age of this kit, it is still very much a viable alternative to the
Hasegawa kits. The detail difference is mostly on the inside and this kit's lack
of inserts and tiny pieces will be a real boon to those who want to have a nice
model without a lot of fuss.
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