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Hasegawa 1/48 scale Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Oscar)

Manufacturer: Hasegawa, distributed by Marco Polo Import Inc., 532 S. Coralridge Place, City of Industry, CA 91746, 626-333-2328, www.marcopoloimport.com
Kit: No. JT 80
Scale: 1/48
Price: $22.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 72 parts, decals
Pros: Good moldings, excellent fit
Cons: Less detailed than other recent Hasegawa kits
The Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa, Allied code name "Oscar," was the Japanese Army Air Force's equivalent to the Navy's Mitsubishi "Zero." This similarity caused Allied pilots, lacking proper information, to mistake the nimble Ki-43 for the Zero. The Oscar was the JAAF's first fighter with a retractable undercarriage. It entered combat in December 1941 and soldiered on until VJ-Day, though it was obsolete by then.

Hasegawa's Ki-43-I is an all-new kit of the type's first production model. The surface detail is cleanly represented with engraved panel lines and embossed panels. Features include drop tanks, flattened tires, a positionable canopy, and a detailed Ha-25 engine. Surprisingly, clear parts for the navigation lights are not provided.

Cockpit construction is fairly simple and somewhat plain. The seat bucket seems too small and too thick for the scale. The cockpit assembly fits neatly into the assembled fuselage from the bottom before the wings are installed.

The wings go together without much effort. The unique combat (or "butterfly") flaps are given as separate parts. A quick check on their fit confirms that they must be installed in the open position, but on the ground, they should be retracted.

The fit of the wing assembly to the fuselage is very good. With careful gluing, no filler should be needed. The prop spinner is given in three parts: a nose cap and a two-piece body. The fit here is sloppy.

I painted my Oscar using Gunze Sangyo's WWII JAAF colors. Decals are provided for two aircraft; I used the one flown by the First Flight Regiment commander. The decals went down OK with setting solution, but be careful applying the wing stripes as they are fragile and difficult to position at the leading edges.

My primary reference was Bunrin-Do's Famous Airplanes of the World No. 13: Army Type 1 Fighter Hayabusa. The finished model looks convincing when compared to the photos and drawings.

I completed the Ki-43 in a quick 14 hours. Overall it's an easy and fast project, and I would recommend it to modelers of all experience levels.

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