ICM 1/72 Ki-27 'Nate'

KIT #: 72201
PRICE: $2.00 'started'
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The IJAAF's first monoplane fighter was the Ki-27. Developed in the mid 1930s at the same time when Supermarine was developing the Spitfire and Messerschmitt the 109, Nakajima's design was a bit less advanced than its European equivalents. This was due to a differing philosophy that was held by the Japanese that the ability to dogfight was of paramount importance. While this held them in good stead during the early days of WWII, it was one that doomed thousands of Japan's pilots.

The main reason was that to get the sort of handling that the pilots demanded, certain things like armor plating and fuel protection were eliminated to reduce weight. This even resulted in the Ki-27 having fixed landing gear as high speed was not considered important enough. However, moving from the biplane Ki-10 to the monoplane Ki-27 did provide a considerable increase in velocity from what has been the norm.

The Ki-27 saw a great deal of action in Japan's wars prior to the Pacific War. In both China and against the Soviets in Manchuria, the Ki-27 bore the brunt of the action in the air. Many Japanese pilots were able to score impressive numbers of victories and soon became household names in the homeland. It was towards the end of the Manchurian war, when the Russian I-16 was introduced that the Japanese had trouble. The I-16 was faster and some had better armament than the Ki-27s rifle calibre machine guns. This was brought even closer to home when the Pacific War started and they were up against more heavily armed British and US aircraft in China and Southeast Asia.

Eventually the aircraft were replaced by the Ki-43 (which still carried over several of the Ki-27s faults in terms of light construction and weak armament). The Ki-27 was then relegated to homeland defense, areas like Formosa and Manchuria which had become 'backwaters', and to advanced fighter training schools. Only one airframe is known to exist and it was pulled out of the Inland Sea back in the late 1990s.


The kit parts are well molded and with only a small amount of flash. The cockpit has standard appointments consisting of seat, stick, and rudder pedals. The instrument panel is attached prior to assembling the fuselage halves. The kit's engine is nicely done and is a 6 part assembly, including exhaust. One is provided with a firewall and four piece engine bearer.

Wings are single lower piece with two upper halves. For landing gear one can have the standard spatted version or the unspatted gear with the larger balloon tires/wheels. The cockpit fits atop the wing and needs to be carefully inserted into the assembled fuselage. Then all the engine parts are attached to the firwwall along with a number of other pieces that make up the cowling.

Horizontal stabilizers are slotted into the rear fuselage as a single piece and held in place with a cap. The rudder has the tail skid molded to it. The last construction step has you attach the smoke dischargers and ailerons to the wing. The three piece clear section along with the gunsight is attached to the upper fuselage. Note that this is the early version with the rear portion of the aft section in metal. The landing gear of choice are installed and the prop attached. A neat feature is a hole in the upper wing to show the landing gear posts. This is something most other kits seem to leave off.

Instructions are well drawn and provide generic color references. There are four markings options all in overall IJAAF green-grey from China in 1939/40. Decals are nicely printed and are mostly dark red markings.

Back when there was a local hobby shop, there was a sale table. Some of these kits were ones from a collection where the previous owner had started the kit and, for whatever reason, did not finish it. This is one of those kits. It came in a zip bag with instructions and decals. The prior owner had painted the interior fuselage and cockpit floor. The wings, minus the ailerons, were glued together and the interior floor installed. The engine bearers and firewall had been assembled and the spatted landing gear was gone. Most of the parts had been cut free of the sprues.

First thing I did was to clean up the wing's mold seams. Then I attached the ailerons. These don't fit well and you'll need to trim both the ailerons and attachment points. I also repainted the interior, engine bearer assy, and the seat a proper yellowish green Nakajima interior green. The control stick had the actuating arm portion broken so I glued it along with the rudder pedals onto the interior floor. All these interior items are quite flimsy.

While I was fussing with that, I glued the fuselage halves together. I also glued the upper part of each main gear together. This has squiggly shaft sticking up from it. This will fit into the hole in the upper portion of the main gear fairing that is molded with the lower wing. The upper portion fits through a hole in the upper wing half. These holes had to be enlarged to get this assembly to fit. I also glued the engine assembly together in preparation for painting it. I used steel for this with a bit of dry brushing. It was then attached to the engine bearer and when dry, I attempted to glue it in place. No joy so I left off the bearer and got it installed.

At this time, I tried to attach the wing assembly, which included the lower machine guns. No way was it going to fit so I removed the guns (which you won't really see anyway). I also had to do some carving at the front upper part of the forward wing to get it to fit into the fuselage. Back at the front, getting the cowling pieces to fit well was also a struggle. Eventually, I got all the pieces in place, but did have to sand on the top of the engine all the way around to get it to fit.

At the back, the elevators, rudder and end cap were installed. I did have to do a bit of carving to get any semblance of fit out of the end cap as the area where the tail skid fit was far too narrow. I then filled the cockpit and the engine area with tissue in preparation for painting.  


All four markings options were for overall green grey  paint. The option for this version that didn't have wheel pants required the rudder and elevators to be blue (I used X-17 Sky Blue from the Tamiya line). The cowling was red on the front and yellow just behind it. Again, Tamiya paints, though to be honest, the red does not match the red in the decals. I then removed the tissue from the cockpit and masked the clear parts. Thanks to a stress line in the canopy, I broke it in half while masking. It was then glued together and glued in place.

I started with a decal from the kit sheet that I wasn't going to use. It quickly broke apart when trying to remove it from the sheet. The rest of the sheet had a couple of coats of Microscale decal film brushed on. This took care of the breakage issue for the most part, but the stripes still proved to be a bit fragile. The fuselage ones are a bit too long as well. Eventually I got all the decals on and gave the kit a coat of Tamiya matte clear.

The last steps were attaching the wheels, prop and gun sight once the masking was removed.


This is the third 1/72 Ki-27 I've done. The RS kit was a bit too fussy and relied on photo etch for detail, but looked great when done and had good decals. The Hasegawa kit was a pretty easy build all the way around. This one falls in third due to the fairly poor fit and the issues with decals. Nonetheless, it is done and is on the display shelf. Now I can start something else!




Nakajima Ki-27 'Nate', by Wieliczko & Szeremeta, Kagero, 2004.

August 2020

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