|KIT:||LS 1/72 Mitsubishi 'Kamikaze', aka Ki-15|
|PRICE:||$1.95 when I bought mine|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
In the mid 1930's the Japanese Army had a requirement for a fast reconnaissance aircraft and so instructed Mitsubishi to come up with one. The specs required two seats and a top speed of 450kph at 3,000 meters with a 400 km radius of action.
A clean, low wing monoplane with fixed landing gear and a 750hp engine was drawn up with the first prototype flying in mid 1936. The aircraft flew beautifully and exceeded all specifications (see if that can happen nowadays!). However, it was difficult to see over that engine for take-offs and landings, and speed fell off sharply during prolonged turning. Despite that, the plane went into production as the Ki-15-I with the first plane delivered in mid 1937.
While the aircraft was undergoing trials, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's leading newspapers, was authorized by the Army to purchase the second prototype to use for a record flight between Japan and England for the coronation of George VI. This aircraft was completed in March of 1937 and registered J-BAAI with the name 'Kamikaze' (Divine Wind).
Between 6 and 9 April, 1937, this aircraft flew from Tachikawa AB in Japan to London, covering 9,542 miles in 94 hrs, 17 minutes, of which over 51 hours of that was in the air. This averaged 101.2 mph and set a record for that distance. Later, two more planes were allocated to the civilian operators and that included J-BAAL 'Asakaze' (Morning Breeze), and J-BAAM 'Sochikaze' (Providential Wind). All of these aircraft were identical to first production Ki-15s aside from not having military equipment installed.
When one opens the box, it is hard to believe that one is looking at a kit from over 30 years ago. The detailing of the parts is just superb with nicely done engraved panel lines and almost no mold flash, sink areas or pesky ejector pin marks. Where the kit gives away its age is in the cockpit. though one gets two seats and a stick and instrument panel (along with two pilots), that is about it and things in there are quite generic. Plus side is that even without the crew in place, you can't see very much, especially through the somewhat thick transparency. If you are not into masking canopies, this one might drive you to drink, but I have done the C5M2 version (which is pretty much the same aside from the engine) and can tell you it is not difficult and can be done in an hour or less. The engine is nicely detailed and you get split wheel spats where you trap the wheel for this particular aircraft. Another option is the spinner, depending on which of the two markings options you choose. Not much of a description, but this is a very simple kit.
Instructions are more than adequate though no discernable color information is supplied (being entirely in Japanese). A parts breakdown, exploded view of all the bits and eight construction steps are on the small instructon sheet. Two more steps show the color and markings options with one plane being J-BAAI and the other J-BAAL. One simply cuts the first registration to put in the last digit of the second. The names on the side are different as well so you need to pay attention. My ancient decals are in great shape and I'm convinced that they will provide no hassles. As to colors, well, looking at the box art, I'd have to go with a light grey with medium blue trim, a very fetching scheme.
I see these kits and the military versions of them on vendors tables all the time. They are generally quite inexpensive and for those seeking an interesting model that builds well, you really can't do any better. I do believe that these have also been reissued under the Arii label.
Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, 1979, Rene J. Francillon
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has over 350,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page