Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-43-I '11th Flight Regiment'

KIT #: 09540
PRICE: $20.00 shipped (used)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2004 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 'hillbilly' 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, Allied pilots 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 two aircraft, both shown as painted in dark green over light grey, both from the 1942 time frame. The colorful box art plane is from the 11th Sentai in Burma during late 1942. The other is from the 1st Sentai based in Japan. It has an impressive set of blue fuselage stripes with a blue rudder carrying three white stripes to denote the 3rd Chutai. References I have on this unit shows that the elevators were often painted to match the rudder color, but this is not shown in the instructions. Nor is this feature shown in a newer aftermarket sheet I have with these same markings. Choice is yours as I doubt anyone will notice. Decals are old school in that the whites are not pure white. There are aftermarket decals if you wish to replace these 17 year old decals.


I dare say that there are few 1/48 Japanese WWII fans who have not build this kit in one of its earlier guises. As the king of limited release kits, this variant has probably been boxed a half dozen or more times. The kit is a very nice one and I know I've done a couple of these early planes myself and would have no qualms about doing another in the near future. The photo below is another of the 1st Sentai planes, this time from the 2nd Chutai in early 1942. Note the lack of yellow wing ID bands introduced in late 1942 and that this one has yellow elevators to match the rudder. 

February 2021

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