Model, Text and Photos by: Mark Smith
Tamiya has an uncanny knack for providing a superior level of detail with surprisingly few parts. I loved this feature building their George, and the Dinah might be the best example yet. No, the cockpit doesn't include all the details you'll find in those photos of the surviving example at RAF St. Athans' Museum...but to anyone who remembers the old Marusan kit of this bird, it's a wonderful representation. The control yoke, cameras, electrical panels, etc. are very crisply done, and deserve special care in painting and detailing. The visible bulkheads with their respective wiring and structural details are very convincing. Lone Star Models offers a resin cockpit that is small improvement on the kit parts and has some problems and omissions of its own; I elected not to use it. At this writing Eduard's brass is still your best bet if you wish to augment details here. The most noticeable omission are the oxygen bottles in the rear cockpit.
The engines are magnificent examples of one piece moldings, and very accurate against photos. You've only to add the gear housings and again, give the painted cylinders a careful wash to bring out the delicate finning.
I think Tamiya took a step up in two areas with this model: first, the surface detail is as finely wrought as Hasegawa's, it being notably finer than on Tamiya's earlier Spitfire, Wildcat, and George. And second, "Invisa-clear" decals by ScaleMaster are provided - in my mind a real improvement over Tamiya's "house decals," usually nicely printed but very thick.
I've seen several finished models of this kit now, and the question is basically 'how well can you paint?' This kit clicks together. The clear parts fit like jewels, even attached in the closed position - impressive considering that each canopy consists of three pieces, and important since, as thin as they are, the pilot's sliding hood is still too thick to attach open without sitting way too proud of the fuselage. The good news: Falcon/ Squadron have spoiled us with a flawless vacform example that will facilitate opening up the crew stations, as used here.
It almost goes without saying, but the landing gear looks to scale and very comprehensive, with the simple circumferential tread pattern on the tires. The wheel wells come in halves, and will take some effort to solve that seam problem if that's important to you, but their detail is also appreciated, whether standing alone or as a fine start for you pathological detailers.
I was happy to see that the initial release of this kit seemed clearly designed for a forthcoming Ki-46-III-Kai fighter version. The forward fuselage break and the parts breakdown on the trees hinted strongly at the parts necessary: new nose, pilot's canopy, and cowl flaps. And two prop styles are already present in the kit, as well as the second set of prop spinners with the Hucks dog starter at the tip. It happened, all right, but no prizes awaited me, though I was soon allowed by Mr. Tamiya to buy one of them! I believe that's the next Dinah I want to do.
I wish I could have predicted the same for the original design operated by the JAAF, the Ki-46-II; it's the model I've always waited for in quarter scale. Fundamental differences in the forward fuselage, pilot's cockpit and canopy mean that Tamiya would faceconsiderably more expense and retooling if they were to offer the step-nosed -II. It's less than likely, but it doesn't hurt to hope.
The markings on this one were all done with paint, the reference being a side view in Model Art #323 (caption kindly translated by Mr Kiyoshi Nakatsuka through the efforts of Ed Esposito), backed by two distant air-to-air photos in the January 1993 FAOW from Japan. A Ki-46-III Dinah in overall grey-green is a bit of a rara avis. And it was too pretty to pass up. All paint used was by Tamiya. The model was built to represent a factory fresh a/c just delivered to the 17th Chutai. I added some details in the usual areas that bedevil obsessive / compulsive aircraft modelers, and Squadron's vacform canopies were used in conjunction w/ kit's, w/ grabs and latches added from brass. Wheel wells are good but were reworked a bit by adding fore and aft bulkheads omitted from kit, along with their structure and details; adding plumbing and small details, and 2 pieces of the Eduard brass set. The landing gear legs were dressed up with brake line, additional retraction mechanisms, and brake drums added to wheels hubs.
The pitot cover often used for this delicate instrument originally had streamers added as per a photo of an 18th Sentai Dinah, but it vanished a while back. Finally, the windows replaced with clear stock, and the antenna post cut down and aerial strung.
It's about eight years old, and still an
absolutely great kit.
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