Hasegawa 1/48 Ki-43-II Hayabusa 'Mainland Defense'




2400 yen SRP


Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken


2006 Limited Edition


The Ki-43 is to the Japanese Army what the A6M was to the Japanese Navy during WWII. It was the first modern, low winged, retractable landing gear fighter of either service. Both were designed with maneuverability as the major factor in their design. The result was that the aircraft were lacking in other areas that were considered just as important to other powers. They did not have adequate armor protection, and the Ki-43 had rather weak armament of twin 12.7mm machine guns, even compared to the A6M which also had two 20mm cannon. The Ki-43 also had very good range, but this was a result of the lightweight airframe construction and lack of heavy things like armor plating and self-sealing fuel tanks.

Initially the Army did not like the Ki-43 as it was not as maneuverable as the lighter and smaller fixed undercarriage Ki-27. However, it did have much superior range and the war in China required a longer ranged fighter. Despite not being considered maneuverable enough, Allied pilots who attempted to dogfight with the Ki-43 soon found themselves in trouble. Fortunately, the lack of heavy armament of the Oscar often saved the foolish Allied pilots. Despite the known shortcomings of the Ki-43, the type was continually modified and produced even after the type was obsolescent. Many were expended in suicide attacks near the end of the war. To my knowledge, only one example still remains.


If you have read the review or preview of the earlier Ki-43-I, then this kit will be no surprise to you. You will know that the detailing and fit of the kit is generally excellent. So what I'll do with this preview is to concentrate on what is different between the types.

The -I version had a different cowling and a two bladed prop. There was also an oil cooler in the cowling opening. In addition, the -I had longer wings and larger horizontal stabilizers. The exhaust was also different between the two types. All of this has been taken care of with two different sprues, specifically the two center ones in the image above with the fuselage halves on them. While cursory examination showed no difference in the fuselage, I can't see any sense in duplicating the fuselage and I'm sure there are panel differences between the two variants.

Like the previous kit, this one uses polycaps for the prop and tail wheel. The cockpit is the same and very well detailed. Also the same is the deployed 'combat flaps' which were designed to improve maneuverability by increasing the wing area when deployed. I do wish that Hasegawa had left them molded in the bottom of the wing as I have yet to find a photo of a plane on the ground with these deployed. Unfortunately, to model them shut requires some concerted grinding on both the flap and the flap well to get a good fit. A motor tool will take care of this, but one does need to be careful that one does not melt the plastic in the process.

Instructions are equally as superb as before with the usual Gunze paint references.  There are two markings options. The first is the box art plane from the 55th Sentai based at Kmaki  in September of 1944. This has a black anti-glare panel with the yellow ID bands on the leading edge of the wing. The decal sheet includes these bands, but try as I might, I've never gotten the part next to the fuselage to fit properly. I'd recommend painting this. Now all I have to do is follow my own suggestion. The other has a heavily mottled fuselage and upper surfaces save right next to the fuselage. This plane is with the 63rd Sentai at Akeno in December 1943. Oscars were not painted on the underside for the most part and all the upper surface camo is over unpainted metal. These are both late -II aircraft with the exhaust that is pointed aft.


I am a real fan of the Ki-43 and have built quite a few of them over the years. I never seem to tire of the different markings options provided for the tails of these planes along with the camouflage schemes worn by some. The Hasegawa kit is particularly nice and it will take some doing to eclipse it. Even the Fine Molds kit is well worth building and may be easier to find. While Hasegawa rarely repeats limited editions, the base kit is fairly easy to locate if you don't mind getting it from overseas.

January 2021

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