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

KIT #: 07468
PRICE: 4000 yen SRP
DECALS: two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 Limited Edition with resin parts


Like the Mitsubishi-produced A6M Zero, the radial-engined Ki-43 was light and easy to fly and became legendary for its combat performance in East Asia in the early years of the war. It could outmaneuver any opponent, but did not have armor or self-sealing tanks, and its armament was poor until its final version, which was produced as late as 1945. Allied pilots often reported that the nimble Ki-43s were difficult targets but burned easily or broke apart with few hits. In spite of its drawbacks, the Ki-43 shot down more Allied aircraft than any other Japanese fighter and almost all the JAAF's aces achieved most of their victories in it

The Ki-43-III was the final version of the Hayabusa and was powered by the  Nakajima Army Type 1 Ha-115-II engine. Maximum speed increased to 358 mph. This variant had ejector exhaust which was introduced in the Ki-43-II Koh. Most of this later version were built by Tachikawa as Nakajima switched to building the Ki-84 Hayate.

This is not their first Hayabusa boxing nor will it be their last. Hasegawa has basic boxings of the Ki-43-I and of the Ki-43-II, but not of the later war Ki-43-III. For that version, they rely on resin castings for a new cowling and exhaust, hence a rather steep price for the variants. They are also not produced very often so one needs to get them when one sees them available. They are not, of course, the only Ki-43-III ever done with Fine Molds producing one as one of their initial kits. However, the FM kit does not fit all that well as is somewhat lacking in detailing compared to this one.

The 64th Flight Regiment is probably the first IJAAF unit to fully equip with the type and spent most, if not all the war in Burma/Indochina. Initially the unit was quite successful against Allied air power, but as the war progressed, superiority passed them by, as it did with most all Japanese units. By the time the Ki-43-III came around, it was a near-obsolescent type.

I have built quite a few 1/48 Ki-43s, most of them the Hasegawa boxing. The cockpit consists of a floor, forward and aft bulkhead, seat, stick, control column and rudder pedals. There are decals for the instrument panels and the cockpit has sidewalls that are inserted into the fuselage halves. One installs the cockpit from the underside so can join the fuselage halves as soon as the interior is painted. A polycap is used to hold the tail strut in place. Wings have separate tips and one needs to open some holes for the fuel tank pylons and carb intake.

The engine provided both rows as well as a gearbox/pushrod assembly. This latter piece holds a polycap for the prop shaft. The exhaust on this kit are resin castings and as they don't utilize the fuselage cut out, a resin filler piece is provided to close that slot. The exhaust fit into the same slots as the earlier variety. This is all covered by the new resin cowling.

Landing gear are quite nicely done with separate wheels and tire. The tires are flattened on the bottom. Probably the 'worst' part of the kit is that the butterfly flaps have to be posed extended. This is not at all prototypical and I have ground away at the flap and flap well to have these items closed.

Instructions are standard stuff. Gunze paint references and well drawn construction steps. The two markings options are for planes that are in Nakajima army green over unpainted metal with yellow wing ID markings. The box art plane with the white bits is from Cambodia in 1945 while the other with the red bits was based in Burma during 1944. Both were flown by Hideo Miyabe. Decals are superbly printed and include the yellow wing ID markings.


Some of us would rather build an Oscar than a P-47 (for instance). For fans of the type, this is a nice addition and is probably the best -III done in this scale. I do wish Hasegawa would retool the lower wing to rid us of the extended combat flap, but that is not likely going to happen so it is back to the grinder and sandpaper.



August 2018

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