BanDai 1/72 Sanka B

KIT #: 0156537
PRICE: 2500 yen when it was released
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two complete kits with stands. 2008 release


The Sky Crawlers (スカイ・クロラ Sukai Kurora) is a 2008 Japanese anime film, directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's novel of the same name. It was released across Japanese theatres by Warner Bros. Japan on August 2, 2008.Animated by Production I.G, the film was written by Chihiro Itō, featuring character designs by Tetsuya Nishio and music by Kenji Kawai. The 3D CG animation for the movie was produced by the Polygon Pictures studio, who also produced the 3D CG for Oshii's previous film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

The Sky Crawlers is set in an alternative history timeline where although the world is at peace, in order to ease the tension of a populace accustomed to war and aggression, private corporations contract fighter pilots to engage in actual combat operations against each other. The film introduces a mystery involving characters called Kildren (キルドレ Kirudore?, "kill-dolls") - humanoids genetically engineered in a way that enables them to live eternally in adolescence.

For those who want to see a movie that is superbly done and has both a lot of action and will make you think, I highly recommend picking this up or watching it on the various streaming anime sites. Here is a link to the opening of the film from You Tube.

All of the aircraft look like very modern WWII types that are vaguely based on planes with which many may be familiar. There are at least eight identified aircraft types in the film. Two have been kitted. This one is the Sanka Mk.B, the standard single seat fighter of the Rostock Iron Works. It is quite reminiscent of the Kyushu J7W Shinden.


 A couple of years ago, I stumbled across The Sky Crawlers movie and immediately started looking for kits. It is not unusual for Japanese model makers to produce kits based on subjects seen in popular anime films and television series. I was able to find this one from several sources, mostly in Japan for over $100.00. Too rich for me. The other kit from this series, the Skyly J.2 is even more expensive. Recently I had the opportunity to get this one for considerably less, though still twice the cover price and snagged it. This kit was also made in 1/48 and recent searches found one for $279.00 (!).

This is a double kit and obviously meant for the home market as everything is in Japanese. The kits have very large mounting holes and so perhaps it is as much a snap kit as it is anything else. Surface engraving is excellent, and while each kit has a cockpit, it is really designed to have the pilot in it. There is no instrument panel or sidewall detail; just a floor, seat and stick.

No nose weight is indicated and the kit will need quite a bit, though there is not really much space in which to place it. The aircraft has contra-rotating props and a gear assembly is built up for this prior to closing the fuselage halves. The kit has a single semi-lower wing with the lower outer wing molded with the upper wing pieces. There are also separate leading edges for the inner wing.

The upper forward fuselage is a separate piece as are the upper fuselage intakes. Canards and fins are a single piece and simply slot in place. A neat option is clear discs so you can model the engine operating when in the flying mode. There is an insert for the lower fuselage for a display stand. Landing gear can either be built up and installed or you can do an in flight option with closed doors. In addition to the pilot figure, the base commander and her dog are included as figures.

Instructions are entirely in Japanese, but not difficult to follow. However, it does become an issue when it comes to paints as all colors are apparently generic and a lot of mixing is required. I suggest watching the movie a bunch of times to get the shades you want. All the yellow bits save the prop spinner are provided as decals. These are nicely printed and offer markings for the two main male characters.  


Bandai kits of recent vintage have been touted as superbly engineered and easy to assemble. This is quite true, though it does come at the expense of some detail. For instance, the inner gear doors have huge slots into which they fit and the main gear doors have large rectangular slot areas so they will positively connect to the main landing gear legs. You either accept this sort of thing or you don't build the kit, it is really as simple as that.

The kit could almost be considered a snap fit, however, to get the best fit, glue is needed to properly lubricate some of the parts into place and to keep them there. It is important to actually follow the instructions on this one to be sure you don't miss something as there are bits that are trapped in place that you would normally add a bit later. The landing flaps are such a case.

There are some decisions that will have to be made during the build process. There is a pilot figure that you'll want to add if you are doing the gear up option. I am building this first kit gear down so did not include it. The interior was painted dark gull grey with the instrument panel in black and then dry-brushed. There is a gear set up so you can have properly contra-rotating props that needs to be free from sprue pips when assembling. In fact, all the parts need to be properly cleaned up prior to assembly or they simply will not fit.

Once the interior and gears were in place, the fuselage halves glued together. Then the wings. You need to insert the flaps prior to attaching the upper and lower wing halves. There is an inner leading edge piece that goes next. Back at the fuselage, the upper aft decking is installed and then the instrument panel. For the forward decking, you glue the windscreen to it prior to installation. There is a small aft lower fuselage bit that needs to be attached prior to attaching the wing to the fuselage. If you don't do it then, you'll have to pry the fuselage up to get it in place.

This is followed by the various cooling scoops and the aft engine cowling. If doing the plane in flight, Bandai provides a pair of clear discs to simulate the spinning props and offers a guide on how to paint these. The prop assembly is somewhat complex and you need to ensure you have things properly aligned or the parts won't fit. This can be left off until after painting as it press fits into place. Canopy and fins fit quite well as do the nose canards.

If doing gear down, you will then need to assemble these items and glue them in place. The wheels are, as you'd expect, a bit small so grab your magnifying lens when it comes time for paint. For in flight, separate 'gear up' parts are provided. On the underside there is a fuel tank that has large attachment slots and you get an area where one of two stand attachment points are inserted. No stand is included, though one is shown built up in the instructions, so apparently this is an aftermarket part from Bandai. Alternately, a cover is provided for gear down. No nose weight is required.
The instructions indicate that the upper surface is a sort of greenish shade (FS 34092) while the underside is a light grey. In the movie, it almost seems as if the planes are an unpainted metal. The upper surfaces certainly don't look all that green.

What I did was to use several shades of Alclad II, painting the underside an aluminum and the upper surface a dark aluminum. I also painted the prop spinner chrome yellow. Once those were on, I misted on FS 34102 as I had some already mixed. This gave a somewhat spotty finish to the upper surface that looked sort of like the movie plane. I then started masking as the nose and the upper fuselage is black. Do yourself a favor and pull off the side intakes as it makes masking the upper black so much easier.

The airframe was then clear coated and I started decaling. I had left the canards and the fins un-glued to facilitate putting on the yellow decals. Well, the decals are a big disappointment. They are brittle and caused me quite a bit of trouble. Perhaps I should clarify and say that the yellow decals were the ones that were the bane of this build. Even using setting solution did not help all that much in terms of snuggle as they are not flexible enough to go into depressions and tended to crack instead. I did the best I could with paint to take care of some of the worst places, but it isn't pretty. When I get around to the second kit in the box, I'll paint the yellow parts.

Once all that was on, I gave the model a coat of clear flat. Then I attached the wheels, pushed on the props and put on the drop tank and rack. The canopy was unmasked and some final painting of the small lower fin wheels and formation lights finished up the project.

Despite the issue with the decals, this is a pretty nice kit. All the contact points are quite positive and the actual building went like a breeze. It is something a bit different from the norm and the contra-rotating prop actually works!


16 February 2018

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