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Hasegawa's 1/48 scale
Nakajima Ki-43-I

by Tom Dungan


Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Oscar)

Hasegawa's 1/48 scake Nakajima Ki-43-II is available online from Squadron.com





The Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) – code-named ‘Oscar’ by the Allies – was the intended replacement for the successful Ki-27 ‘Nate’ IJAAF monoplane fighter. Although initially disliked by test pilots, the production aircraft had phenomenal range that was well-suited to Japanese strategic plans. The fighter was underarmed and fragile relative to its opponents after 1942, but was a surprising and dangerous opponent to the Allied men and machines of 1941-1942 who were expecting to fight bi-planes. The initial success led the IJAAF to delay development of successors, and thus the Ki-43 had to serve until the end of the war. The –II and –III versions offered limited upgrades to firepower, protection, and performance.

Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Oscar

This is a typical modern 1/48 Hasegawa kit, which means fine engraved panel lines, good interior and exterior detailing, and kit engineering to allow multiple versions with minimal additional tooling.



Hasegawa offers both the –I and –II kits in multiple re-boxings with different fuselage, cowl, oil cooler, and wingtip parts. The somewhat simple kit reflects the fact that the Hayabusa was a small, relatively simple aircraft.





Cockpit detail is good out of the box, with fully-detailed sidewalls. However, the pilot’s seat is very thick, so I fashioned a new seat out of a soda can to achieve scale thickness. The only other addition to the kit was a set of photo-etched seat belts from an Eduard IJAAF set.

For cockpit painting, the builder will have to enter the morass of information regarding Hayabusa cockpit colors and make a choice. The Ki-43-I restored by the Alpine Fighter Collection in New Zealand has a blue-green aotake interior, and this what I used as there were photos available. There is significant opinion that this is an exception – including the fact that later –II and –III versions had painted interiors. In any case, I sprayed Testors aluminum from a rattle can, then coated with transparent blue and transparent green.


The wingtips are an area of potential problems, as separate wingtips are used in the versions of the kit to allow long-span –I and shorter-span –II wings. Hasegawa would have you join each wing half and each tip half before gluing the completed tip to the completed wing. I chose to complete each half as a unit, and then glue the halves. This allowed me to ensure the exterior of each wingtip join was good, and sand off the mating surfaces from below to get the completed wing halves to close up.

Hasegawa continued their tradition of providing lowered “butterfly” flaps on WWII Japanese fighters, despite the fact that they were rarely deployed when on the ground. I’m OK with giving modelers the choice (I’ll probably build one someday with the flaps deployed – “accuracy” be darned – just to provide a talking point for my usual lay viewers), but there is work to be done if you want to take the high road and close them up. I sanded the flaps down to PE-like thickness, then glued them into the provided recesses. That wasn’t difficult – unless you were the skin on my finger – but then the recesses for the deployment arms had to be filled, and retracted arms built from styrene.


The only other issue I found with the build was with the landing gear, as the instructions were unclear on the exact mounting position of the gear doors on the landing gear. I’m not sure if I did it right, but using photos as a guide, the L-shaped top half of the door should be fitted with the upper part of the “L” flush with the wing. The lower gear door should then mount flush with the lower leg of the “L,” but should flare out a few degrees. I had to cut down the mounting points on the inside of the gear door to get the right flare. The gear door thickness is obviously overscale on a small aircraft like this, and PE or thinner scratchbuilt styrene replacements are recommended for the purist.



Painting and Markings


I used the kit markings and color scheme for Major Katsuji Sugiura’s Hayabusa, based in Burma during October, 1942, as this was a most colorful bird. According to my references Ki-43-I’s left the factory in natural metal finish and were repainted in the field. Figuring that field painting would be done without priming or other metal preparation, it would weather quickly. However, I didn’t want to over-weather – something that has struck some of my other Japanese builds before!

I decided to try the salt-chipping method of simulating flaking paint to weather my model. I used ordinary table salt, although the grains were larger than ideal. I’d recommend buying a finer grain or grinding up table salt. After spraying an aluminum base using a Testor rattle can, I used a paintbrush to place drops of water in areas that I wanted flaked paint. Then another brush was used to place individual salt grains into the water drops. I focused on high-traffic areas like wingroots, wing walks, and the fuselage sides below the cockpit. Once the water dried, it was time to paint!



I simply went with Tamiya IJA Green and IJA Green-Grey acrylics, sprayed with an Iwata Eclipse CS airbrush. I pre-shaded the panel lines, but they really didn’t show up on the topside. To break up the green topsides, I used lightened shades of IJA Green to paint various panels, and to make random streaks on the fuselage (up-and-down) and wings (front-to-back). This is more apparent in person than perhaps in the photos.

After the paint dried, I used a dull scalpel blade to “scrape” off the salt grains, exposing the aluminum underneath. One unexpected thing that happened is that the evaporated salt water cast a whitish color through the green top-coat. Not sure if this is a property of the salt used, but I thought it looked like part of the paint wear – even if unintentional.

Panel washes were limited to flying surfaces, flaps, and panels around the engine. Washes were applied using brush-painted artist’s oils, then excess later removed using Q-tips soaked in turpentine.

I used kit decals for all the markings – including the stripes, which had to be touched up with paint. Solvaset was used to fix the decals, which were applied on a gloss coat.

Final details included adding monofilament antenna wire, drilling out the exhausts, and weathering with pastels.





I’ll leave it to you to decide if I met my intention of not over-weathering. I learned enough with this first salt-chipping exercise to refine the technique next time.

I very much enjoyed building this kit, and wonder why I don’t see more examples built. There are certainly ample colorful schemes available. It would make a great “quickie” between more difficult projects.




  • “Camouflage and Markings IJA Type 1 Fighter Nakajima Hayabusa (Oscar)” - http://ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/1997/02/stuff_eng_oscar.htm

  • Japanese Aircraft Interiors 1940-1945, R.Mikesh, Monogram Aviation Publications, 2000

  • Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, R.Francillon, Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1987

  • “Peregrine Falcon,” Richard Caruana, Scale Aviation Modeler International Vol.6 Issue 9, SAM Publications, 2000

  • “WWII Japanese Aircraft Photos” - http://www.ijaafphotos.com/



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Tom Dungan
Page Created 05 June, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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