Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima Ki-84-1a Hayate 'Frank'
Model, Text and Photos by: Fernando Rolandelli
The Hayate is one of a handful of Japanese fighters designed to the latest standards of the time. Gone were the exclusive reliance on manoeuvrability and Bushido-inspired courage; the plane had a powerful engine, armour and self-sealing tanks and a decent armament. Its own complexity and the terrible conditions of the late-war Japan industry proved to be obstacles which could not be overcome; no one knew how a particular machine would perform, and aircraft delivered to combat units had so wildly different performances that pilots took straws to determine who would get a good one.
Hasegawa is noteworthy for the quality of its kits of Japanese planes: they are usually a step ahead of even their own average. This is true in this case: the Hayate is a superb kit, well-shaped and finely detailed. However, the interior is somewhat lacking, and the decals are the dreaded "armoured" ones; both beg for replacement. The fact that the Fowler flaps are designed to be assembled deployed is a further annoyance, as are the "poly caps" system for assembling the undercarriage. Luckily, all these problems can be easily overcome.
Construction: the interior
As hinted above, the interior is a weak point. Its "shell" construction means that it ends up being somewhat restricted, but nothing can be done regarding this. What is worse is that it does not fit at all well inside the fuselage, reminding me of some ill-designed resin replacement. The seat is particularly poor; luckily, the Eduard PE has a wonderful piece. Do not fear folding it, it is quite an easy task. The Eduard pedals are also a great improvement. The PE dashboard is, on the other side, hopeless: it designed in a complex manner, involving part of the coaming; it is best discarded for the kit's piece, suitably painted. PE handles and levers and copper cables filled up most of the cockpit space.
Relying on the latest "doctrine", I chose to paint the interior the same Dark Green which would be used on the exterior. The famed "j-aircraft" site cites an official Japanese regulation commanding such a finish, though to what extent it was followed cannot be ascertained. On the other side, Mikesh's book on Japanese Interiors, while stating that there is no data regarding the interior colour, shows a black-and-white picture displaying a very dark tone. The end product is fairly good looking.
Construction: the airframe
The engine was dressed up with PE wiring; the adventurous of you can add the several command linkages that can be seen in the detailed cutaways (but barely in the finished model). The cowling-fuselage joint is tricky, specially after adding the exhaust pipes (would you dare drill them?); be careful.
The wing assembly would be perfectly eventless but for the landing light; I resorted to carving the opening in the leading edge; even so, the fit is untidy. The wing to fuselage fit is, however, perfect.
As said before, the flaps are designed to be fitted deployed, a highly unlikely configuration (the pilot would be unable to leave the plane in the usual manner!) Assembling them closed is nearly impossible, requiring a thorough thinning of the inside of the flaps. As a further annoyance, the flap bays have a lot of lightening holes, which are only hinted on the moulds. Again, a real modeller should thin the plastic from the inside and then perforate them, including the cumbersome oval-shaped ones, to achieve a really accurate look. Being a lazy creature, I left them as they were.
The undercarriage legs are fitted by means of poly caps; this method, rather eccentric for a fixed piece, leads to the legs standing a little proud from the holes on the wells; be careful, or the plane will not square off.
Having decided for a "mid production" machine, the camouflage colours should be the so-called Nakajima Army Dark Green over the usual Grey-Green (would it have been an early model it would be most probably NMF; if a late model, a Dark Brown could be a probable finish as well -cfr. Ian Baker)
The paints came from the White Ensign range; though the old Aeromaster Acrylics could have been used, if available. The former can be diluted with Xtracolor thinner, have a most delicate pigment and are very user-friendly; most important, their colour seems quite right (at least, the plane looks very Japanese!)
The Yellow ID bandswere painted on the camouflage, as was the White rear band (some say it is a HQ flight ID). The peculiar Gray-Green for the propeller was obtained from mixing both camouflage colours, while the Red cap was painted with the new Xtracrylic paint (full mark!). All other interior parts, including the Fowler flaps and bays, were painted NMF.
They were taken from the old Superscale 48-527. They behaved wonderfully, going snugly down even on the tricky access door on the left side of the fuselage. The decals depict a plane from the HQ Flight of the 22nd Sentai, based at Hankow, China, in mid-'44.
22nd's planes were well entertained in long-standing bases; so I went relatively light on weathering. It was achieved first by a general preshading, and then by masking and postshading some particular panels, a dark brown mix for the exhaust stains, running some oleos along panel lines, some chipping via a silver pencil and some pastel powder in lieu of dirt and stains.
A wonderful kit for an OOB project, or for a light detailing such as the one shown. The most adventurous would surely try assemble the flaps up, the most common attitude, or at least drilling all the lightening holes in the flap bays. I did neither. However, the final product is a handsome model of this very important type, a kind of Hayabusa grown fat and muscular.
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