by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Originally published on:
RS Models have released a new 1:48 kit of the ultimate development of the Ki-61 Hien - the ‘II Kai.
I call it a “new kit” slightly advisedly, because it clearly owes a great deal to Hasegawa’s classic models of the Ki-61 and Ki-100. Presumably, there’s some sort of licence agreement in place but, interestingly, while many of the parts are nearly identical, they have been refined in some cases with more detail, appliqué panels and fairings, and different style fabric surfaces. The kit is produced with limited run technology, but inherits the general crispness of Hasegawa’s mainstream offerings. RS Model’s Hien comprises:
59 x tan styrene parts
3 x clear styrene parts
2 x resin parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The surface detailing is generally very good indeed, with sharply defiined panel lines and neatly depicted fabric covered areas. There’s a touch of flash here and there, but really nothing to worry about, and the only place I’ve found any poor moulding is the engine panel on the starboard fuselage half. Being a “short run” kit, one thing you’ll expect is ejector pin marks to clean up, but once this is done the fit is very satisfactory.
Despite the Hasegawa heritage, there are no locating pins on the major parts, but the fuselage halves line-up perfectly in my kit and the wings have impressively thin trailing edges. The fit at the wing roots looks good and tight so, overall, this promises to be quite a straightforward build - a breeze for modellers experienced with traditional short-run kits, and a good introduction to the genre for newcomers.
A few detailsConstruction starts with the cockpit which is nicely detailed for this scale with 18 parts. As elsewhere, the resemblance to Hasegawa is obvious, but the parts have been remodelled somwhat and the overall result is more detailed. As a short run kit, it’s perhaps a little disappointing that RS didn’t include an etched seat harness (as they did with their Fokker D.XXIII) to complete things, but the “office” should look pretty good as it stands. The instrument panel is completely different and really rather good.
If the “office” is quite impressive, sadly the same can’t be said of the exhausts, which really are pretty shapeless. It’s a shame RS didn’t include resin replacements, because the styrene parts will need a fair bit of work to stand close inspection.
There’s a drop-in section for the cowl gun troughs, which the instructions show to drill out, although no gun muzzles are included. I would expect to have to do a little checking and trimming to ensure a good fit for the cowl - especially as it’s so prominently placed.
The propeller and spinner are neatly moulded and attach simply, with no option to rotate.
The way RS have tackled the ventral radiator bath is oddly different to Hasegawa, and will result in a slightly awkward seam to clean up that doesn’t correspond to a full-sized panel line (as far as I can tell).
The main undercarriage is pretty neat, with new resin wheels provided, and nicely detailed gear legs and doors. The mainwheel wells appear to have been redone, being deeper and with different details to the Hasegawa kits.
The drop tanks have had an overhaul too, with some nice extra detail, although the pylons are unchanged.
Finally, the canopy is supplied in three parts, with a separate sliding section. It’s good and clear, with crisply defined frames.
Instructions & decalsThe assembly guide is neatly printed on one fold-out sheet, with construction broken down into 21 clear stages. The drawings are excellent (very much in the “MPM” style), with painting suggestions keyed to most details. Generic colour names are given, and no particular model paint ranges suggested.
The exterior painting guide is printed in colour on a second sheet and shows two schemes:
1.Ki-61 II Kai, 56th Sentai, Itami, Japan, 1945
2.Ki-61 II Kai in “what if” colours for the 55th Sentai, Sano, Japan, 1945
The decals look to be very good quality, being printed in perfect register. The hinomarous are supplied in a good, deep red.
ConclusionI really like RS Model’s Ki-61 II Kai, and assuming it’s all been cleared with Hasegawa, it offers a great chance to model the Hien with the distinctive cut-down rear fuselage more commonly associated with the Ki-100. At around £30 in the UK, it's a touch pricey, but not excessively so for a short run kit - and it looks set to offer a very satisfying build of an unusual subject.
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