ICM 1/72 Ki-27b 'Nate'

KIT #: 72202
PRICE: $15.00 SRP($7 as a bagged kit from an online auction)
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Ryan Grosswiler


For a history of the subject and description of the kit contents, please visit the preview.


   On a whim, I tagged this to another online purchase. Though I have the classic Hasegawa kit squirreled away I've always liked the Nate's dainty looks and was curious about ICM's rendition of it. Plus it was cheap, a bagged kit with instructions but no decals.

  For a change of pace, I decided to simply glue the whole kit together one non-flying day at work, and concern myself with painting later. Management lets us do things like this so long as we get our work done and don't push it. I worked my job for 45 minutes, then worked on the Nate for about ten or fifteen. It actually was a nice diversion and interestingly made me more productive. In this manner, by using MEK as cement, I had the basic airframe together by the end of the day, having worked on it for about 2.5 cumulative hours.

  ICM's assembly sequence 
naturally starts you with assembling the interior parts, including an extremely involved engine-firewall-and-accessories subassembly. It does all fit--by the skin of its teeth--but I found it helped a lot to build up the main engine component, tubular mount, and firewall, and then let it set up for a few minutes before returning to add all the little parts. I took a few minutes to drill out the exhausts and carburetor intake tubes with the tip of my knife.

   The completed powerplant assembly is then 'worked' into the assembled fuselage halves.  This is why I like to use fast-curing solvents such as MEK or the late-lamented Tenax 7R (still available, by the way, from Micro-Mark as "Same Stuff"); they set up quickly but still leave you some time to flex the joints a little as you do further assembly. This is a very useful attribute when assembling kits like this in which fit isn't necessarily
 poor, just not 'positive-alignment'. Before the fuselage-engine assembly cured I dry-fit the cowl ring a couple of times to make sure it would fit.

   The cockpit is built on to the wing center-section (part #A33) and offered up to the fuselage, but on mine the wing wouldn't seat correctly until I'd removed 1/16" from the trailing edge and about 1/8" from the leading edge from that center section part. For the level of detail in the kit, oddly, the cockpit sidewalls are rather bare.
 I omitted the guns from their unusual location--on the bottom of the floor, ahead of the rudder pedals--as they are invisible on the finished model and only cause problems.

   The rest of the assembly went smoothly, except the main landing gear--be careful that you don't assemble the legs on backwards to the wheel pants, like I did. Drill out the receptacle holes in the wing a little more for the gear struts to slide into. The strut tops come up through to poke out a little above the top of the wing, depicting the landing gear under load, like the real aircraft. The tail cone (part # A3) also required a little trimming and finessing to fit properly.

   I sprayed the engine and cockpit from outside the assembled model with a very dark gray, then picked out prominent details with a fine brush. When done, the oil cooler ring was glued on to the engine and painted similarly.

   The late-version clear canopy fairing should be a little shorter than the early metal one, but both versions are the same length in the kit. It's a minor goof and not really noticeable, but simply used the Falcon vac-form replacement, intended for the Hasegawa kit, which after a bit of sanding fit fine. Antenna and pitot tube were replaced or reinforced with brass wire.


  As noted, mine was a bagged kit missing decals. I also wanted to somehow highlight ICM's superrealistic exterior detail, and experiment with airbrushing the markings. So I chose the option shown in the instructions of a camouflaged machine operational in China during December 1941, and did the following:

  Canopy was masked and the whole model sprayed with Tamiya AS-12 Silver lacquer straight from the can in two light coats. Grey underside was airbrushed and the demarcation line from the wing root to the tail masked. The browns and green of the top were airbrushed free-hand. All markings were masked with Tamiya tape and sprayed, the Hinomarus courtesy of my new toy: the DSPIAE stepless circle-cutter (That rather expensive little tool is quickly proving its worth in my shop: I'm now masking little circles and dots like a bat out of hell. Airfix Sunderland, you're in my crosshairs!).

  Painting complete, I then used a 1000-grit pad to gently wet-sand the leading edges, upper surfaces, cowling areas, and generally any place which would receive lots of contact with grabby, disassembling, and clambering crew plus other elements to gradually expose the silver (and that exquisite surface detail) beneath. Sort of like shabby-chic furniture. Not wanting to overdo it, I stopped when I felt it looked realistic. Well, maybe a bit too far! This was a most enjoyable step and it would have been very easy to get carried away. Protected under a layer of Future, a dark-gray wash followed, then an enamel semigloss final coat. Canopy masks came off after 24 hours.


  Done! A completed model in less than six hours, two of it masking.


The RS kit apparently being a real beast, there are going to be natural comparisons between this ICM offering and the good ol' Hasegawa one. ICM's obviously has much better detail and looks more refined externally when done. If you simply want to get a Nate in your lineup soonest, then go with the tried-and-true Hasegawa product; you'll spend less than half the time assembling it. But I found the construction challenges of ICM's release not too daunting and will build another sometime--possibly with an opened-up cowl.


Maru Mechanic Editorial Staff.  #25 Nakajima Type 97 Army Fighter. Maru Mechanic, 1980

Ryan Grosswiler

4 October 2018

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