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In-Box Review
148
Ki-44 with Contrarotating Prop
Nakajima KI44-I Type 2 Fighter Shoki w/ Contra-rotating Propellers Limited Edition
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Nakajima KI44-I Type 2 Fighter Shoki w/ Contra-rotating Propellers
Series: Limited Edition
Mfg. ID: 07331
Media: Injection-molding and cast metal


Introduction
Powerful engines on small airframes give fighters great performance. Powerful engines on small airframes give fighters horrible gyroscopic aerodynamic forces to contend with. Co-axial contra-rotating propellers mitigate P-factor and propeller torque, and can transmit engine power into thrust more efficiently, yet are difficult to engineer and maintain. Japan followed every major aeronautical country in experimenting with contra-rotating props. Ki-44 Shoki had powerful engine on a small airframe and most served in Japan, presumably why a Ki-44 was a contra-rotating test bed.

Ki-44 Shoki history
Imperial Japan’s compact Ki-44 (Japanese Army designation "Army Type 2 Fighter") “Shoki” (“Demon Queller”: a very popular character in Japanese folk mythology, Shoki the Demon Queller) was designed as Japan’s first interceptor fighter by Nakajima Aircraft Company in 1939. The concept called for a heavily armed high-speed fighter with a high rate of climb. Maneuverability was a secondary concern. No small radial engine of sufficient power was available so Nakajima designed the small Shoki around a huge bomber engine, the 1,250 Hp Ha-41 14-cylinder radial. It was eventually replaced with the 1,520 Hp HA-109. The Type 2 had a relatively small wing, hence a high wing loading. This allowed high performance but at the price of a challenging landing speed. The Shoki was unpopular with Japanese pilots who were accustom to the docile, extremely maneuverable Ki-27 and Ki-43. Nakajima inconsequentially improved low-speed handling with their “butterfly” flaps. Originally armed with four machine guns, a pair of 7.7mm Type 89s and two 12.7mm Ho-103s, the standard became four Ho-103s. Many were built with a quartet of 20mm cannon. Small numbers were produced with 37mm or 40mm cannons replacing the wing machine guns. Pilot armor and self-sealing fuel tanks were installed. Nakajima built 1,225 Ki-44 aircraft.

Code-named "Tojo," the Ki-44 was based at many high value sites such as Balikpapan and Hong Kong, and were reported at Rabual, notably by VF-17 ace Ira Kepford during his harrowing wave top escape on Feb. 19, 1944. Shokis are best known for home defense over Japan intercepting B-29 raids, as they were one of a few Japanese fighters capable of reaching the altitude of the Superfortess.

In the box
This model is sealed in a plastic bag held in a traditional lid/tray box. Hasegawa box art is usually appealing and this kit art is great! Inside are 94 parts on 18 sprues (Many sub-sprues are molded attached to main sprues.) or loose in a bag:
    81 x gray styrene
    5 x cast metal contra-rotating propeller parts
    4 x clear parts
    4 x poly caps

Decals and instructions are loose in the box.

Molding is almost to the high standard that Hasegawa is known for: razor-sharp recessed lines and excellent overall molding; no mold seam lines or flash. However, two things mar the molding: visible ejector circles inside the landing gear doors (Common on Hasegawa models.) and two sink marks above the wing root filet on the right fuselage half (Rare on modern Hasegawa models). I also noticed some excess styrene on the bottom lip of the windscreen.

Otherwise the airframe exterior is almost glass-smooth, except for the control surfaces which have fabric texture. The canopy parts are clear and undistorted with low frame detail. Airframe component parts are traditional with left and right fuselage halves and separate cowl, single-piece lower wing with separate left and right wing tops, and two single-piece stabilizers. Landing gear wells are molded into the wing. The HA-109 engine is a assembled with two identical rows of cylinders and a crankcase hub.

Hasegawa molded this model a step above common with a void across the top of the fuselage just ahead of the canopy and a separate panel to fill it. Separate cowl flap strips for each side are also provided. As are the exhaust pipes. Additionally, the standard kit has separate propeller blades, hub and spinner. Each drop tank is a three-piece assembly: left and right halves plus a pointy rear half (Two variants in fact)!

Special parts
Five cast metal parts make up the contra-rotating propeller system. The parts have a slight texture and the props have seam lines.

Detail
All surface detail, panel lines and rivet detail, is engraved.

Raised detail includes the cockpit walls, instrument panel, and cockpit floor. The instrument panel is very detailed with bezels and instrument faces, although the detail seems a bit big. The seat has recessed lightening holes but those are not molded open. A dozens parts build the cockpit including a throttle assembly, accessory panels, a seat frame.

While I don't know how many Shoki versions Hasegawa has kitted, I am happy that one of the clear parts is the early telescopic gun sight.

Decals, instructions, paint
The instructions open into a tri-fold. Black and white line art illustrate the steps and sub steps that build the model.

Smooth, registered, opaque, sharp decals are provided and are impressive. Hasegawa includes propeller tip stripes, plenty of data stenciling, and leading edge yellow identification stripes. You are provided a sharply printed instrument panel if you do not want to brush paint the dials.

Only two paint brands are keyed to parts, not surprisingly, Mr. Color and GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color. Paint suggestions are keyed to most parts at each stage.

Conclusion
Hasegawa Shokis are fairly recent kits and it is a good model. Fans of Imperial Japanese subjects tired of the typical Zero or Oscar should be intrigued with this model.

While the molding is generally good, I am disappointed by all of the ejector circles. I am very surprised by the sink marks on the fuselage.

If you want a better cockpit then buy a resin aftermarket set. A set has recently been reviewed here on Aeroscale, seen at Click here for additional images for this review, below. The impressive decals are smooth, registered, opaque, and sharp.

The metal prop assembly is good and will allow you to build a special Shoki..

I can recommend this limited edition kit.

Please remember to tell vendors and manufacturers that you saw this model here - on Aeroscale.

Click here for additional images for this review.

SUMMARY
Highs: Razor-sharp recessed lines and excellent overall molding. Great detail. Quality decals.
Lows: Ejector circles and sink marks.
Verdict: Hasegawa's 1/48 Ki-44 kits are high quality with commendable detail. This special kit will give you a unique model of the Shoki.
Percentage Rating
80%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 07331
  Related Link: 1/32 Ki-44 by Hasegawa
  PUBLISHED: Jun 23, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.04%

Our Thanks to Hobbico!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Certainly an interesting, and unusual subject. One that I would be interested in.
JUL 02, 2013 - 09:23 AM
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