Fine Molds 1/48 Mitsubishi Karigane Aircraft 'Kamikaze'

KIT #: FB 26
PRICE: 3600 yen SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 release

Despite the relatively weak engine and fixed undercarriage, the Ki-15 was remarkably fast. During the initial flight testing, the Asahi newspaper Asahi Shimbun obtained permission to purchase the second prototype. The aircraft was given the designation Karigane (Wild Goose), flying on 19 March 1937, being named Kamikaze and registered as J-BAAI. It was the first Japanese-built airplane to fly to Europe and caused a sensation in 1937 by making the flight between Tokyo and London, for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, between 6 April 1937 and 9 April 1937 in a flight time of 51 hours, 17 minutes and 23 seconds, a world record at the time Following the success of the Japan-England flight, a small number of Ki-15s were sold to civil customers. One of the early production aircraft was named "Asakaze" (J-BAAL) and was also used by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper; others were used by various civilian operators as mail planes.
Fine Molds has been producing some superb kits as of late. These are high quality moldings with excellent engineering, making for a fairly hassle-free build and this one portents to continue that trend. This kit was released along with the standard Ki-15 military version and differs from the initial release in having the various bits and pieces for this variant. In fact, only the A and B sprues are the same with the rest providing bits for the differences that include a different engine and smaller tail surfaces.

Since this is a two seat aircraft, there is a lot of interior detail as a lot will be visible through the greenhouse.  Things like the fuselage fuel tank are part of the fit. You also get a complete radio suite for the radio operator/observer.  Full sidewall framing is separate and will eventually encase the cockpit assembly.

Wings are a complete upper and lower half into which a wing spar is inserted. Holes for the centerline external tank or bomb rack will have to be opened if you wish to use these items. You are provided two bombs with separate fins and frankly, all the little fiddly pieces you see on the sprue diagram? Most of those are for the bombs. Most of us will not use this option.

Wheel legs accept slotted wheels so you can easily paint the plane prior to attaching the main wheels. The engine is built up very much like their Claude kits so it means that it not only fits well, but looks right when done. Engine cowling is upper and lower sections, which means there may be a lip seam to deal with. As expected, the kit has a separate motor mount to take care of the different versions. The prop is a single piece with a large spinner. All the clear bits are added from the outside. The one piece greenhouse will require some major masking time, but will be well worth it. I expect Eduard or someone else to offer a masking set for this for those who like these.

Instructions are well done with parts of it in English and Gunze paints being the standard reference. The aircraft that is being boxed is basically overall silver with blue areas on the upper fuselage, upper landing gear and the entire engine cowling. This is listed as a rather dark blue, FS 15050. This will have to be painted on as the thought of a decal to cover all that airframe is daunting and would be a nightmare to get to snuggle down, especially over the canopy. The decal sheet is nicely printed and my experience with Fine Molds decals is quite positive.

Probably more folks will go for the military version and I'm sure that Fine Molds will sell a lot of them. However, the Kamikaze was a record breaking aircraft and looks cool as well. Either will be a great addition to your collection.


December 2018

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Purchased by me.

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