Hasegawa 1/72 Ki-51 'Sonia' w Starter Truck

KIT #: 02452
PRICE: 2600 yen SRP; 2100 on sale
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2023 release


The Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Army designation "Type 99 Assault Plane". Allied nickname "Sonia") was a light bomber/dive bomber in service with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It first flew in mid-1939. Initially deployed against Chinese forces, it proved to be too slow to hold up against the fighter aircraft of the other Allied powers. However, it performed a useful ground-attack role in the China-Burma-India theatre, notably from airfields too rough for many other aircraft. As the war drew to a close, they began to be used in kamikaze attacks. Total production was around 2,385 units.

Charles Lindbergh, flying a P-38 Lightning shot down a Ki-51 after a vigorous dogfight in which the much slower Ki-51 utilized its low speed maneuverability and made a fight of it. The Ki-51 served on all fronts in which the Japanese served. They were used right up to the end of the war. Those left in the Dutch East Indies were used by the nascent Indonesian Air Force and the Communist Chinese used them until about 1953.


This is one of several kits that were acquired by Hasegawa when they bought Mania back in the early 1970s. The kit has engraved panel lines, a reasonably well detailed cockpit that includes crew figures if you so wish, and a nicely done though somewhat generic two row radial engine. The fixed gear have the wheel molded into one spat half and the engine cowling is split vertically with a separate front section. Bomb racks for the lower wings are provided as well as a load of light bombs. About the only real option I could see is the ability to cut out fuselage and lower wing window sections if one is doing the reconnaissance version. In this case, the already drilled holes in the lower wing will need to be filled as the recce birds didn't have bomb racks.

Included with this kit is a starter truck. It was not uncommon for IJAAF planes to require one of these to start up the engine so they were fairly common on Japanese air fields. There are two sprues that are included in the bag with the Ki-51. Like the aircraft sprues, these are fairly flash-free. The truck comes with a pair of standing figures as well as a couple of bombs though the latter is not shown as being used for anything.

Instructions are typical Hasegawa and have Gunze paint references. Markings are provided for three planes. The lone marking option is with the 27th Flight Regiment in Kuala-Lumpur in 1942. This one has a fairly complex camouflage scheme of green and brown spots and stripes over the standard IJAAF Grey-Green. This scheme has been boxed before in one of Hasegawa's combo kits. There are aftermarket decals for this kit, but they are difficult to find.  The decals are nicely printed with whites that are actually white and not off-white.


Though this one has been surpassed in terms of detail and price by the Clear Prop kit that was released in 2019, this one still makes into a very nice model (see image below) and is lacking the mass of tiny parts and p.e. bits of the CP kit. I've built a couple of them in the last decade and both turned out well. As an interesting note, I ordered this kit when it was first released in Japan and had it shipped surface to avoid outrageous shipping costs. It took a bit over 2.5 months to get to me.



January 2024

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