Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-43-I '64th Flight Regiment'

KIT #: 07303
PRICE: $20.70 on sale (44.99 SRP )
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2012 boxing


The Ki-43 Hayabusa was the Japanese Army Air Forces' equivalent of the Navy's A6M Zero. It as the first fighter with retractable landing gear in the service and was built with maneuverability and range as its main requirements. Its armament was pathetic with twin 7.7mm machine guns and it had almost no armor protection for either the pilot or fuel systems. Against an inferior enemy, like the Chinese, the plane was a terror. Against a better equipped adversary, it didn't fare quite as well.

The initial aircraft were in squadron service when the Pacific war broke out and they were quickly sent to Southeast Asia where they participated in the fight against the Allies in Burma and southern China. They were also found in the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea. While they were quite successful against Allied aircraft and their inexperienced pilots, by mid 1943 when better planes were available for the Allies, the Ki-43 began to show its deficiencies.

However, many JAAF aces flew the Ki-43 and it was modified throughout the war, though it never was able to reach parity with Allied types. It was decided to code name these planes in the 1942/43 time period as most Allied pilots didn't know what Japanese planes were called. Interestingly, all these planes were given 'hill-billy' US names like Zeke, Claude, Topsy, Pete and so forth. Never a Tom. or John, or David. The Ki-43 was code named Oscar, though throughout the war, like most Japanese fighters, it was simply referred to as a Zero!


This is one of Hasegawa's staple kits along with the newer tooled A6M, J2M, Ki-44 and Ki-84. All of these were done within a few years of each other and as such are quite similar in their look and detail level.

The first thing you see is that the wing tips are separate. This is to allow the later model Ki-43s with their longer wings to be done using one sprue for the wings. This means that the tips of the ailerons will have to be filled and sanded as the tips cut through them. I would seem to me that offering separate ailerons would have eliminated this need, but Hasegawa chose this method.

Like the Ki-84 and newer mold A6M, the detailing is just superb. For most builders, aftermarket is really not required. Unlike the Ki-84, you don't have a lot of separate knobs and buttons in the cockpit. I recall that there were as many as 15-20 parts to the Frank cockpit and this one only has 9 and that includes the sidewalls.

Thankfully, the only 'plug ins' are the prop and the tail wheel. This makes for a much sturdier construction. The aft part of the prop spinner is an interesting construct as it comes in two parts, trapping the prop between them. The forward part is a separate piece. This should help with painting if you have a two color spinner.

The tires are already flattened and not bulged. You also get a pair of drop tanks should you wish them. The canopy can be displayed open, which is quite nice. Also separate are the underfuselage 'butterfly' maneuvering flaps. These slid back to increase the area of the wing and therefore increase maneuverability. However, I must mention that looking at several dozen images of Oscars on the ground, I did not once see these deployed.

Instructions are typically excellent and give Gunze Paint matches. There are decals for three aircraft of the 64th Sentai, all from the early 1942 time frame and all in Nakajima Dark Green uppers with Grey Green undersides. They are all listed by who flew the plane and they differ only in the tail arrow and the stripes that were applied to the fuselage. The decals themselves are very nicely done and are the more modern ones where the white is actually white.  


I just cannot seem to keep away from doing Ki-43 kits. I just like the multiplicity of unit markings and paint schemes that are available. It had been a while since I'd done a -I so though this would be a good one to use. As I usually do, I prepainted a lot of the parts on the sprues. Specifically the interior bits using what's left of my Aeromaster Nakajima Interior Green acrylic. I thin this with alcohol (100 proof vodka seems to work well) and have no real issues with coverage or stick on bare plastic. The engine and landing gear were painted aluminum using Alclad II.

To add a bit to the interior, I installed a set of Japanese Army seat belts to the kit's seat. The fuselage was then closed up after the sidewall pieces were installed and a polycap installed to hold the tail gear. I then assembled the wing tips and opened the holes in the lower wing for the drop tanks. Then the interior was installed and any seam work was dealt with. At this time I also sanded down the combat flaps until they were as thin as I could get them without issues. I also had to grind away a bit at the well section so they wouldn't stick out too far. These were then glued in and the wings assembled. After seam work, the wing tips were attached. The wings and tailplanes were then glued to the fuselage. I painted the area around the cockpit black, masked the clear bits and installed them.


It was at this time that I started painting. I painted the airframe overall dull aluminum using Alclad II. This looked OK, but a bit too dull so I sprayed some standard aluminum over it to shine it up just a tad. I then painted the wing leading edges white then yellow using Tamiya paints. This was masked. The lower surfaces of the tailplanes were masked and the upper surfaces painted Nakajima Army Green using some of my dwindling Aeromaster acrylics. I made sure this was also a bit on the underside of the leading edge of the wings. A bit more masking was done and the aluminum was re-done where needed. Sounds simple, but for me, this was several weeks. I then installed the main gear legs. I'm less than jazzed about the two piece main gear, but understand why it was done.

With the plane on its gear, it was given a clear coat of Future in preparation for decals. For this build, I used MYK A 48064, Ki-43-I 'Southern Front' along with the set for insignia, 48063. If you recall, MYK decals work like regular decals, but each decal has a clear film over it that you remove with tape once the decals have been on the model for a day. This actually works very well and practically eliminates any clear carrier around the decal. Downside is with two part decals, such as fuselage bands, you have to do one side at a time, so decaling can be time consuming. In this case, a bit more so as the fuselage bands had cut-outs for the tail bolts that had to be properly aligned.

I chose the markings for Capt. Miyamani Masao, head of the 2nd Chutai, 50th Sentai in Burma during late 1942. As usual, the decals are superb. You can use standard setting solutions with these and I used Microsol. It also makes for a colorful aircraft.

With the decals on, I continued with the build. This involved attaching the engines and painting the engine cowling which has a yellow forward ring with the rest being Nakajima Army Green. The cowling was attached and the wheels built up and attached. I also glued on the drop tanks, the radio mast, and the gear doors. The prop was assembled and painted 'prop color' which is a brown primer. I also installed the drop tanks, which fit so well they are not glued in place.

I dare say that there are few 1/48 Japanese WWII fans who have not build this kit in one of its various guises either from Hasegawa or from Nichimo. For some reason, Fine Molds has not done the early -I, but to their credit they do the -III which Hasegawa only does in a pricey limited edition due to the resin parts in the kit. I know I'll do more of these as I have at least a half dozen still on the shelves and enough decals to keep me going for a long time. The kits are well engineered. Those in a hurry can have them done in a week or so. The rest of us will plug away at them at a slower pace. This one took about a month from start to finish. By the way, the base boxing of this kit is continuously in production so it is pretty much always available.

5 March 2021

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