Kawasaki Ki 61 Hien 1/72 Tamiya

    The Ki-61 was one of the main types of the Japanese Army Air Force and was thus deployed on the battlefields of the Philippines and New Guinea, as well as for the home defense duties. The Hien was the only mass-produced Japanese fighter to be powered by the liquid-cooled engine. It was the Ha-40, which was the German DB-601Aa manufactured under licence.

    Building Tamiya kits are always a straightforward pleasure. The Ki-61 is no exception. The only shortcoming I can see is the lack of underwing pylons. I made them from scratch, but they are available as aftermarket item.
   As usual with Tamiya, it offers only one or two subversions of the type even it would be easy to add only “a small conversion piece” to get another variant. In this case it is the Ki-61 Tei (d) version. In order not to make a mistake when choosing the camouflage, it is advisable to check version and camouflage. Below is a basic overview of the different versions and which manufacturer offers them.

Ki-61-I-Ko (a) (RS Model) – 2x 7.7 machine guns in wings , 2x 12.7 machine guns in fuselage (above engine), retractable tail wheel

Ki-61-I-Otsu (b) (Finemolds, RS Model) -2x 12.7 machine guns in the wings, 2x 12.7 machine guns in the fuselage (above the engine), fixed tail wheel (door removed)

Ki-61-I-HEI (c) (Finemolds, RS Model, Dragon?) -2x 20mm cannon (MG 151/20) in wings, 2x 12.7 machine guns in fuselage (above engine), fuselage extended by 19cm by moving engine bulkhead.

Ki-61-I-TEI (d) (Finemolds, RS Model, Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima, ) -modified wing with 2x 12.7mm machine guns in wings, extended fuselage as previous version. 2x20mm guns in fuselage above engine, minor modifications to fuselage.

Ki-61-I-KAI (d) -2x 30mm cannon in wings , 2x 12.7 machine guns in fuselage.

Ki-61 series II and III or Ki-100 – other development variants with redesigned airframe (wing, fuselage, cabin, etc.) Models of these versions can be found at Aoshima, RS Model, Finemolds.

   I checked selected camouflage together with the Rising decals sheet (Dying Sun III) and the photos with real subject and made sure it is TEI variant of the Hien. The advantage of this camouflage is, I don´t need to take care of problematic related to Japanese Army green shades which this Hien from 19 Sentai was originally painted with. The machine was abandoned at Yontan airfield in Okinawa and made airworthy by VMF-322 and VMF-323 mechanics. They painted the plane by US NAVY blue colour with white and red additions. Nicknamed “Yontan Tony” or “Flying Toy”, the Hien was operated for a while by USMC personnel before running out of spare parts. Then the machine was probably scrapped.

   At the end, I would like come back to my modeling history and show Hasegawa’s kit representing The Ki-61 TEI Teruhiko Kobayashi of the 244th Sentai, Ace with B-29 kills. I would recommend to avoid Hasegawa kit due to its imperfections and obsolescence.


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