Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |

Hasegawa's 1/48 scale
Nakajima Ki.44-II Shoki

by Fernando Rolandelli


Nakajima Ki.44-II Shoki
Akeno Training Air Division, June 1944

Hasegawa's 1/48 scake Nakajima Ki.44-II Shoki is available online from Squadron.com





Hot on the heels of the Ki.43 specificacions, the Japanese Army issued another assignment to the Nakajima aircraft company, this time for a radically different air defense fighter. The company set up a new design team, led by Tei Koyama, to deal with it. He accepted from the start the visibility restrictions imposed by the big bomber engine, the new Ha.41, however well faired in, and incorporated “butterfly” flaps on the 12th model, to keep maneuverability within acceptable levels.

First examples were flying by the second half of 1940, but they proved not to live up to expectations, especially in a flying competition against the Navy A6M, which could outpace and outmaneuver both Nakajima products, while having greater range and heavier armament; Ki.44 was found to have an edge only in vertical speeds. Modifications led to an improved speed, and the pre-series examples were sent to a new experimental unit, named the “Kingfisher Unit” (later 47th Independent Coy), for combat evaluation, in September, 1941. No matter what Japanese propaganda published, this unit was somewhat of a fiasco, even against the overwhelmed Buffaloes and Hurricanes trying to defend Malaya and Burma.



The change of engine to the much more reliable Ha.109, and a switch to more standard chin oil cooler (as was the case with the Ki.43) did much to bring the Ki.44 to maturity. However, they were never really successful in their intended role of interceptors, having no chance against the fast, high-flying, well-armed and enormous B-29s. In spite of this, the aircraft was popular among their crews because of the modicum of protection it offered, their sturdiness and a fast dive which could at least take them out of trouble.

The Kit

This is the Hasegawa JT37 Ki.44-II ko “85th Flight Regiment”, and it is designed and molded with the particular care Hasegawa puts on Japanese subjects. However, the cockpit is somewhat simplified and the guns shape is rather fancy. An Eduard PE set, 48-212, was thrown in for good measure. No, both wing and fuselage are about the same scale… in the box it looks like an overfed Hayabusa fuselage mated to 1/72nd scale wings.






With no Shoki surviving to date, data on the cockpit is scanty at best. There are a couple of pictures from the original ATAIU files in the book by Mikesh. However, having being developed in parallel to the Ki.43, it may be assumed that many of the fittings and systems were shared, a vision supported by the few pictures available and evidently shared by the people from Eduard! Armed with this assumption, I set up furnishing the cockpit. The main contributions of the PE set are the instrument panel and the seat, and believe me they alone are worth the investment. The electrical panel on the right sidewall is too prominent in my opinion, next time I shall shave off some of its back.



I added a scratchbuilt throttle unit, and a prominent hydraulic distributor on the left floor, plus many cables and tubing. I hollowed out the front “bulkhead”, as there was nothing like that on the real plane, and made a shelf and new MGs butts from scratch (but you could use the butts of any Browning .50 resin ones!) I also opened the left entry door, thinned it and replaced the lost internal detail with the appropriate PE piece. The whole set was painted in Aotake; though there is no specific information, Ki.43’s cockpits were like that. Therefore, I airbrushed the whole in Alclad II “Dull Aluminium”, and then sprayed very light coats of Xtracolor Aotake, except in the seat, which I chose to leave in NMF. Electrical cables are Red, and hydraulic tubing in Tan.

Main Construction

I set to detailing the engine, adding the spark plug cables to the collector ring, and mating that to the engine. Gluing the fuselage halves together was uneventful, not having been unduly disturbed by my scratch built gun shelf.

The cowling has a too prominent step where it meets the upper fuselage; I chose to filling and sanding it and marking it with a panel line, but the effect ended up looking too subdued.



Wings were somewhat problematic: the trailing edges of upper and lower halves do not match. I choose to extend the upper wings, though in truth it seems they are the correct ones, for shortening the lower halves would have crazed the outline of the Fowler flaps. Of course, my lazy nature soon found an excuse not to cut and replace them by the PE ones in “deployed” position, as no picture of a Shoki on the ground shows that attitude. I left the opening of the holes for the drop tanks to the last step; those little things often do not look good at all. In this case, after much filling and sanding, they did. The anachronistic telescopic sight received a rod for opening the security cap and was added after painting, with the windscreen already in position. I cheated and glued the reinforcement of the canopy hood to the fuselage, simply sliding the hood over it afterwards.

I added gun muzzles made of perforated rod to the cowling openings; the wing guns were replaced by barrels found at the PE, twisted around a pin. By themselves, they look too bare, so I added the last section of the injected parts, with fairly good results.



Painting and Markings


Natural Metal Finish

I chose to build the natural metal finish example in the instructions; having the Home Defense White bands it only had half the Akeno badge decal on a metal zone. I used the Alclad system, priming everything in Grey Primer, and applying Aluminium as a base, as well as Dull Aluminium and Duraluminium to some panels to provide interest. Beware that Japanese planes were wholly skinned in a munition quality dural, so do not make the usual metal panel tricks that makes US jets of the fifties so handsome. The finish was really outstanding, but in many instances, the masking tape lifted up not the Aluminium, but the primer! As I had had no problem in a parallel project, I guess it was because I had not given the primer proper time to set, but anyway, it was very disturbing.



White bands were painted in Xtracrylix, which are glossy and grips to the Alclad as glue, but the Black antidazzling and the Yellow ID strips were painted in Humbrol enamels, which proved fragile (I used that to my advantage to make scraps and dents both by rubbing the paint off of pricking it out with a toothpick), while the Gray-Green fabric surfaces were treated with WEM’s appropriate colour. Drop tanks were painted the customary Orange-Yellow; I guess it was an aid in the recovery of these once dropped.


Two versions are provided, both well documented:

  • 2nd Coy, 85th Flight Regiment, Capt. Yukiyoshi Wakamatsu, Nanking, China, 1943, in Green mottles over NMF, and the customary flight surfaces in Light Gray-Green. This machine, sporting “halo” Hinomarus and the leader Red stripe on the fuselage, is shown in a picture on pg 21 of the Schiffer book.

  • Akeno Flight Division, Akeno airfield, 1944, the “winged” badge denoting combat status. A rather anonymous machine, but a couple of pictures of what could be this one are shown on pg. 32 of the same book.

I dread painting mottles over NMF, overspray usually kills it, so I chose the latter, and used the kit’s decals, a rather unusual practice. They were the usual Hase stuff, well printed but stiff and thick. The “hot flannel” trick was used and, guess, it worked: the decals went properly down in every cranny and panel line beneath them.



Nothing could be done about their thickness… but as most of them were on the White bands, I could hide the carrier under some Gloss varnish (I cheated and sprayed Xtracrylix Gloss on the metal parts of the fin, to help the Akeno winged badge to settle, and of course it worked fine, with absolutely no bad effects on the metal finish look). All decals were oversprayed a protective coat of Xtracrylix Gloss and then a Flat finish, together with the White bands.


The usual dark Burnt Umber and Black concoction was sprayed on every non-NMF surface, as well as used for exhaust stains. Panel lines were stressed by an oil wash, which was also used for fluid stains. Pictures show Shokis in a fairly well entertained and clean state, but I had to overdo the exhaust stains a little to hide some other nitty-gritty (shame on me).





An unusual machine, keyed to a specialized role in which it did not succeed completely (but the B-29 was a mighty machine… against B-17s and B-24s it could have had a chance), and, as such, lacking flexibility for doing anything else (as demonstrated by its failure as air superiority fighter even in the extremely favourable environment of the Malaya and Burma campaigns) was soon superseded by GP fighters like the Ki.84 and Ki.61/100. Being in the process of building one of the latter in parallel, I may say it looks like a streamlined bird, while the Shoki seems more of a fatty fish. However, it is a powerful albeit pleasant looking machine and one wonders what it could have done as a racer in the late forties, perhaps fitted with a more powerful and reliable American radial, had some examples survived.





  • “Japanese Aircraft Interiors”, Robert Mikesh, Monogram Publications

  • “Ki.44 Shoki In Army Service”, Bueschel, Schiffer Publications



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Fernando Rolandelli
Page Created 06 February, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page