by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
I must admit, Hasegawa's large-scale Ki-61 would probably have passed me by if not for Andy Brazier's chance remark asking how it compared with the superb MDC resin kit. Of course I (notoriously) need few excuses to buy a new kit so, when I spotted the Hien in Modelzone, it was almost a foregone conclusion that I'd reach for my wallet!
As it turned out, this impulse purchase proved to be a real gem because, back at Castle Aeroscale, one look inside the box was enough to confirm Hasegawa's Ki-61 is an example of one of the mainstream manufacturers at the top of their game. The kit comprises:
142 x grey styrene parts
13 x clear styrene parts
A set of polycaps
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Note: This initial release also includes a "bonus" white metal figure
The moulding is basically perfect - not a trace of flash or sink marks. Ejector pin marks are kept as small and out of sight as possible and the sprue attachments, in most cases, are among the smallest I've seen.
The surface finish is quite superb - very fine engraved panel lines. plus delicate embossed rivets and fasteners. There are a few raised and hinges. Fabric surfaces are depicted drum-tight, with just raised rib tapes. Overall, the finish is subtle and convincing - I wish more manufacturers could match it.
Test fitConstruction-wise, the kit follows the style that Hasegawa set with their 1/32 scale Bf 109s - separate wing panels supported by a substantial spar attached to a belly panel. This complicates assembly slightly, but the fit is excellent. The fuselage is also a precise fit and there's also a spar for the horizontal tail.
Hasegawa has sometimes been fairly accused of "over-engineering" their kits, trying to squeeze too many versions from a single set of moulds with plug-in sections that aren't always the best of fits. Thankfully, that's not an issue here - the only version-specific parts are the gun covers and you'll be glad to hear they fit perfectly.
Some detailsThe kit has been kept straightforward and free of gimmicks. The cockpit is quite nicely kitted out, but you won't be surprised to learn that it can't quite live up to Radu Brinzan's beautiful resin version for MDC. Nevertheless, all the basics are there and the addition of some will help things spring to life. The instrument panel is excellent with crisp dials that will repay careful painting. Decals are also included, but they'll struggle to settle over the moulded details. The seat pan is a bit simplified and there's no harness included, although these won't be evident for anyone using the well detailed pilot figure.
The radiator has nicely depicted vanes and cores and, while there's no mention of lowered flaps in the instructions, the inner face of the wings has rib details ready for those unable to resist reaching for the razor-saw.
The undercarriage is straightforward, lacking brake lines but with weighted tyres. The propeller features separate blades which are well moulded and feature line-up pins, so setting the correct angle is a cinch.
Clear partsThe kit comes with a choice of closed or 3-part open canopies. The clarity is excellent and the framework crisply defined. The sprue also features formation and navigation lamp covers.
Instructions & DecalsAs you'd hope with a Hasegawa kit, there are no problems to report - the diagrams are clear and the assembly sequence logical. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are indicated throughout.
There's a choice of three colour schemes offered:
1. 244th Flight Regiment, flown by Capt. Teruhiko Kobayashi, Chofu airbase, January 1945.
2. 6th "Shinten Seikutai", 18th Flight Regiment, flown by Lt. Mitsuo Koyake, Kashiwa airbase, January 1945.
3. 39th Training Squadron, flown by Sgt. Iwao Tabato,, Yokoshiba airbase, March 1945.
The decals are well printed in excellent register and a silk finish. The red used is quite bright and, although examples of vivid Hinomarus are occasionally noted in references (e.g. in Robert Mikesh's "Broken Wings Of The Samurai"), I'll probably mask the markings and paint them in a duller shade.
ConclusionHasegawa's Ki-61 is a great kit - it's not at all flashy, instead it's straightforward and concentrates on getting what's important right; precise fit and a lovely surface finish. As such, it's suitable for all modellers of average ability upwards. It's also very well priced - £25 for a kit of this size and quality is excellent value. The kit will look great built straight from the box, but the way it's designed, it's also clearly inviting aftermarket details to take it to the next level. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.