Sword 1/72 Ki-44-II 'Tojo'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Nakajima Ki-44 Shōki (鍾馗, Zhong Kui) was a single-engine fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. The type first flew in August 1940 and entered service in 1942. The Allied reporting name was "Tojo"; the Japanese Army designation was "Army Type 2 Single-Seat Fighter" (二式単座戦闘機).
It was less maneuverable than its predecessor, the nimble Ki-43, and pilots disliked its poor visibility on the ground, its higher landing speed, and severe restrictions on maneuvering. Yet, the Ki-44 was superior in flight tests. It was an outstanding interceptor and could match Allied types in climbs and dives, giving pilots far more flexibility in combat. Moreover, the armament (including in some versions two 40 mm cannons) was far superior to the older Ki-43. These characteristics made the fighter an effective B-29 Superfortress destroyer and one of the Japanese High Command priorities during the last year of war. But poor pilot training in the last part of the conflict often made them easy targets for Allied pilots.
Initially, the Ki-44 was armed with two 7.7mm guns in the cowling and two 12.7mm guns in the wings. The -II variant and the subject of this kit, differed in that it had a more powerful engine and replaced the cowl guns with 12.7mm version. For those not familiar with non-US gun calibers, these larger guns are the equivalent of a .50 caliber that was standard in US fighters until after the Korean war.
Sword always surprises with its new releases and having this Ki-44 (with more to follow I'm sure), is a wise choice. The aircraft has been kitted before with the most recent (if you can call the 80s recent), being one by Hasegawa. The Hasegawa kit is a nice one, but lacking in fine detail. Before that, Tamiya did one that is pretty much a toy by comparison. Not sure if anyone else molded this aircraft in 1/72 but I'm sure folks will inform me if it is so.
There is one large sprue for the injected parts with resin being used for the engine and the seat. A nice clear sprue includes landing light cover canopy and two windscreens as well as a gun sight. The plastic is very well done with only a tad bit of flash. The interior is quite well done. There is sidewall detail on the inside of the fuselage halves and on the floor. Separate instrument panel, gun butts, control stick and rudder pedals are included. A nice set of belts would have been nice, but you can find these in the Eduard line. The tail wheel cavity also has frame detail and there is an additional frame on which the strut attaches.
About the only thing the Ki-44 carried under its wings were fuel tanks and these are included, along with the side braces. Other options are limited to different wing gun barrels and a windscreen with an opening in it for a telescope to help in aiming. This latter is used in place of the reflector sight. This is topped off with a nicely done separate canopy.
There are four options provided, three of them in unpainted metal. All of them have a black anti-glare pane that goes from the nose to just aft of the canopy. You'll have to paint this feature along with the wing walk area. First option has the white 'bandages' around the insignia. These will need to be painted as well and depicts an aircraft of the 70th Sentai, 3rd Chutai in June of 1945. Another plane from the same unit but without the white surround and many kills as adorned the plane of Capt Yoshio Yoshida is also provided. This is the box art plane. These planes all have green-grey control surfaces. From the 47th Flight Regiment in 1944 is the next all metal painted plane. This one has a broad white bandage on the fuselage only. All aircraft also have yellow leading edge ID sections that will need to be painted. Apparently the markings on the initial sheet were in error and so new ones are provided in an addendum sheet. The last option has a white rudder and prop hub with the upper surface painted in a very rough green paint that does not provide full coverage. This is an 85 Sentai, 1 Chutai plane from China in 1943/44. These earlier planes had the telescopic sight.
The decals are very nicely printed by Techmod. Instructions are also well done with color information provided during construction. There are also a number of information drawings to ensure that you have things properly placed or aligned.
A very welcome new kit for IJAAF fans and one that ably replaces the older kit from Hasegawa, especially in terms of detail. Like all Sword kits, it will probably take some careful construction, but the end result will be well worth the effort.
July 2011 Thanks to Squadron Products
for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the
Contributors. Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page