UPDATE: Due to user error – my installing the cowl gun deck backward – looks like this kit is unfortunately going to be living out its days as a paint mule. I will be tackling the Ki-84 in the future, as I have two Hasegawas and plenty of markings options.
The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (“FRANK”)
For all my interest in World War II, Japanese aircraft, like Italian aircraft, have been something of a blind spot. Pretty much everyone knows what a Zero is, and I can recognize several of the Allied codenames – Tojo, Val, Kate, Betty, Tony, etc – but the actual aircraft, their capabilities, when they served and whether it was with the Imperial Navy or the Air Force, yeah, nothing.
I don’t know why, but I’ve just never been interested in Japanese aircraft. Growing up, it was enough for me to know they were what attacked Pearl Harbor, and what Wildcats, Hellcats and Corsairs knocked out of the sky. I’ve never built a Japanese aircraft, and until recently, had no desire to do so. But seeing several fantastic builds coming out of the Japanese group build on the FSM forums, well, it piqued my interest.
In particular, the Ki-84.
Reaching the front lines in late 1944, the Ki-84 first saw combat during the Battle of Leyte, and immediately gained a reputation as a fighter to be reckoned with. The design incorporated several hard lessons learned at the hands of the Americans, including self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the pilot. A direct-injection, supercharged Ha-45 radial engine good for 2,000 horsepower gave the Hayate its go, and armament of two 12.7mm machine guns and two 20mm cannons gave it ample punch.
Capable of intercepting high-altitude B-29s and able to go toe-to-toe with the best Allied fighters, the Hayate is widely regarded the best Japanese fighter of the war. Like many late-war Axis aircraft, production difficulties proved troublesome, and the degrading quality of Japanese metal and pilots kept the Ki-84 from reaching its fullest potential.
The Tamiya Kit
For all its fearsome reputation, there are actually only a handful of kits which represent the Ki-84, the two most common in 1/48 being an old-but-solid Tamiya and a newer, very well-regarded Hasegawa. I’ve since found my way into a Hasegawa kit, but for my first Japanese build, I’ll be sticking with the Tamiya. Like other older Tamiyas, the Ki-84 is rather spartan, consisting of two small sprues, the wings, and the clear parts.
Unlike other Tamiya kits, the Ki-84 is actually slightly underscale, coming out to closer to 1/50 scale, but the difference is so small that I won’t be sweating it.
After Tamiya’s Razorback and concurrent with the PCM Fiat G.55, this quick, simple kit should be nice and refreshing!
Stay tuned for more…