|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Two kits in the box|
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.
Wingsy is a fairly new brand on the market who have released some interesting subjects. This is the first time I've seen the Sonia produced in this scale. Wingsy has produced several boxings, each containing two full kits. This one has markings for those aircraft not operated by the IJAAF.
The tooling is actually quite good. Using a magnifier, one can that the engraved panel lines are not perfectly smooth in the grooves, however, once the kits are painted, I'm sure this will not make any difference. I was particularly impressed with all the interior sidewall detail that has been provided. Decals are provided for those who want to use them as black box and instrument panel faces. You get two of the sprues with the fuselage halves, but only use one set.
The canopy section has the back open so that the included machine gun can poke out. A fairly nice engine is included that even has pushrod detail. The upper surface surrounding the canopy is a separate piece, which is different. I noticed that there were tiny air bubbles in several of the clear parts, so how much those will show when done is unknown. The entire lower wing section is made from clear plastic so that one doesn't require a small clear section for the lower observation window.
It is obvious that the instructions are a 'one set takes care of all' in terms of options. All of the markings options have full wheel covers, while the instructions provide steps for the planes that have removed these items. You are also provided with multiple prop hubs with one long, one shorter, and one that is a bit blunt. You are also given what looks like a gun camera to install. Weapons for the lower fuselage are a single large bomb and four smaller ones. Often these planes were use in a reconnaissance role so had no weapons. I'm fairly sure that most of the provided options flew unarmed.
The kit provides six different options covering three countries. There are three Chinese options; two for nationalist China and one for communist China. Two of these three options are dark green over light green grey while another has a mottled upper surface camouflage. These is an overall green-grey Manchukuo offering, and two French with one being overall green grey and the other with upper surface mottling. The decal sheet is very nicely done and while some markings are fairly small, there should be no issues.
For those who like 1/144 scale military planes, these are very welcome. I wouldn't say they are a good as Sweet as there are few positive locators for parts, much being butt joined, but with careful building, they should make great models. Now to see if anyone does canopy masks. (They do)
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