Given the popularity of “Luftwaffe ’46” models, I was not surprised to see a kit maker apply the same idea to Japanese “drawing board” aircraft.
Meng Models of Hong Kong has embraced this concept. The Ki-98 is its second such release.
According to the instructions, the Ki-98, developed by Mansyu (Manchurian Aeroplane Manufacturing Company), was to be a ground-attack fighter powered by the 2,200-horsepower Mitsubishi Ha-221 Ru engine. Japanese forces destroyed the prototype, drawings, and other documentation at the end of the war. Evidently, enough information survived for Meng to produce a model of this interesting aircraft.
The kit is molded in light gray plastic with finely scribed panel lines. A 10-page foldout instruction booklet takes you through 12 steps and ends with a decal and painting guide. There are decals for three hypothetical camouflage schemes: Japanese, Manchurian, or Thai.
The cockpit is adequately detailed for this scale, so all I did was add safety belts made from tape. I used Tamiya’s cockpit green (XF-71) for the main cockpit color. There’s room for extra detail, but you can’t see much once the canopy is in place. Though the instructions don’t call for any nose weight, you will need to add some — it is definitely a tail-sitter.
Once the cockpit tub and nose wheel well are glued in, the rest of the construction proceeds at a fast pace. I was impressed with the overall fit of the model. The only area that needed filler was where the bottom of the fuselage mates with the wing. Wing sections and booms literally snap together.
To replicate the color of the wheel wells, I first sprayed them with Gunze Sangyo metallic blue-green (H63), then lightly misted Alclad’s airframe aluminum over those areas.
Since I didn’t have any models with Manchukuo markings in my collection, I chose that option. For the natural-metal finish, I used paints from the Alclad II line. After applying Alclad’s gray primer and giving it a light sanding to produce a very smooth surface, I sprayed the panel lines and some random panels with Alclad black primer. When I sprayed the main color of airframe aluminum, the black undercoat produced some tonal surface variations with just one layer of paint. Next, I sprayed dull aluminum on all the flying surfaces, and buffed some panels with a cotton swab to add variations to the surface. Later, I buffed the entire model to get a metallic sheen, then sprayed on a couple of coats of Alclad’s aqua gloss clear.
There were only eight decals to apply, but they were a little bit of a disappointment. They were rigid and didn’t respond well to setting solutions.
Though I usually shy away from “what if” subjects, this model was enjoyable and easy to build. In only 19 hours I had added a well-detailed, unique model to my collection. I would recommend it to modelers at all skill levels.
A version of this review appeared in the December 2012 FineScale Modeler.