From the Box Kit Review: Tamiya 1/48 Hyakushiki Shitei III Air Defense Fighter

(Japanese Army Air Force Ki-46 III, Type 100 "Dinah")

Kit No. 56

by Michael Hays

Opening the box reveals a beautifully crafted, well-detailed kit in relatively flash-free injection-molded light gray plastic of an armed interceptor version of what is arguably one of the most elegant twin-engine reconnaissance airplanes of World War II. Unfortunately, the redesign of the forward canopy gave this interceptor version a rather awkward look when compared to its sleeker cousins. About 83 parts are provided for one aircraft. These are broken down into twelve clear pieces, a couple of rubber washers for the propeller shafts, and the remainder divided into four sections for easy identification. Two different sets of spinners and props come with the kit, but only one set is used, the other set being installed in Tamiya’s reconnaissance version kit No. 45 that appeared recently. Originally the Ki-46-III was generally a pure reconnaissance aircraft, but its performance was so good that Mitsubishi converted a number into high altitude fighters to deal with the growing B-29 threat to the homeland in the last years of World War II. Consequently, this kit omits the cameras that came with the recon version and offers instead a different nose and the two 20 mm Ho-5 cannon and optional 37 mm Ho-203 oblique mounted dorsal cannon that were installed. You have your choice of building the Otsu variant without the dorsal cannon, or the Otsu-Hei version that carried all three cannons. The kit comes also with excellent pilot and observer figures posed to place in their respective seats. Also an optional fuel tank has been provided, along with two bombs and their pylons (my guess is that these were experimental phosphorus bombs used against aircraft formations). Panel lines and surface details have been finely recessed and are accurate in shape. With a couple of exceptions, the kit parts should fit together well, with only a minimum of putty needed. When completed, this Dinah scales out accurately with the dimensions given in Rene Francillon’s JAPANESE AIRCRAFT OF THE PACIFIC WAR.

Black and white printed kit instructions have been produced in four panels on both sides of a single sheet of paper. This includes a brief history of the aircraft in multi-language text on page one, accompanied by a photo of a completed model of the type represented on the box top. Then the construction guide is broken down into eleven steps of easy to follow exploded-view type illustrations, with parts identification printed in both Japanese and English. No parts tree map appears. But three-view profile drawings for color and decal placement have been offered, representing the three options you can build from the kit decals. These represent an aircraft from the 17th Direct Command Squadron, one from the 16th Direct Command Squadron, and an interceptor from the 28th Hiko Sentai, all based in the home islands. The first aircraft sported a unique brown over IJA gray color scheme, with home defense white "bandages." The other two wear a darkened IJA green over IJA gray scheme, and white "bandages" again for the bird from the 28th Fighter Squadron. The major colors called for are combination mixes from Tamiya’s own line of acrylic paints available on the market here in the US.

The decals provided are in register, but all are very thin and somewhat translucent, and they must be carefully applied to avoid tearing. All the deep red hinomarus ("meatballs") are mounted on the white defense bands or else contain a white edge. A nice decal representing the main instrument panel is included, as are decals representing seat belt harnesses. However, no extra stencil markings appear, and the instructions do not show where any warning stencils or wing-walk markings would have been painted.

This model comes loaded with a relatively complete cockpit and details for the observer’s station; and appropriately so, since all that stuff will be visible under the extended green house canopies that cover both locations. Few details need be added to make a presentable kit; but there is always room for improvement for the detail nuts. The instructions provide a formula for mixing an interior color that may have been peculiar to Dinahs. The three-part mixture turns out to be a mint apple green color, which coincides well with color photos I have of Dinah’s cockpit in Monogram’s CLOSE-UP 15 on Japanese Aircraft Interiors. But I’ve also seen color illustrations of earlier variants of the Dinah done in the sandy brown color akin to that used on Kawasaki Tony fighters. It’s probably best to go with the kit instructions here.

The forward cockpit is well detailed and fairly complete for a good looking straight-out-of-the-box project. Still, there is room to add more details if you have good references. About a dozen levers, plus trim wheels, electrical boxes, handles, and wiring can be added. Also, a lever is needed for the otherwise excellent control column. Although there is a very good decal for the instrument panel, the kit part is so beautifully crafted with raised details that it could be painted instead, with instruments coated with Krystal Kleer. Super-detailers may wish to cut off the rails represented on the throttle quadrant (part A2) and replace these and the levers with wire and tin foil. If you do not install the pilot figure, you will need to add seat belts or use those supplied in the kit decals.

Tamiya has replaced the detailed parts for the observer’s station included in the recon version with new parts for the 37 mm cannon installed in the Otsu-Hei version. This area will not demand as much detail as that desired for the reconnaissance aircraft, but still there is plenty of room for extra things, such as map cases and baskets, instrument boxes, and lots of wiring. (For the novice modeler intimidated by scratch-building, this back compartment will still look fine using only the parts provided in the kit.) Again, as with the cockpit, if you don’t install the observer/gunner figure, you may wish to add seat belts.

You may run into a problem when you’re ready to sandwich the cockpits between the two fuselage halves. Although I have not yet built this kit, I suspect the same problem will develop that I encountered when building the reconnaissance kit, since the parts are the same in most cases. I discovered the pilot’s cockpit floor was too narrow and left a noticeable gap between the sidewalls. The solution was to fill the area with plastic shims, coat the region with white glue, and then touch up the spot with paint. (So make sure if you mix colors to Tamiya’s formula, you have enough extra left over to save for such an emergency.) Everything else should go together well between the fuselage halves. However, the tail wheel opening (designed in the kit with its doors fixed in the wheels down position) shows a lot of daylight into the fuselage. You may wish to scratch build a bulkhead to seal this area off when it’s time to glue the fuselage halves together. The wing and tail pieces for Tamiya’s kit come with their flying surfaces molded integrally with their respective parts. The same is true of the flaps which are in the closed position. The three-piece wing fits together well. Tamiya has designed the main landing gear so that they attach to separate boxes which are then glued into the lower half of the wing. Just make sure you don’t confuse the right and left boxes or they will not fit right. The landing gear legs are well detailed; again, detailers may want to add break lines and add a few more gadgets in the wells for a wheels down version. (An excellent source for this area and other kit details is the September 1996 issue of FINESCALE MODELER, which features a super-detailed 1/72 Dinah.) The main tires come in two halves each and are not bulged or flattened. When the wings are glued together, the formation tip lights can be enhanced if they are cut out and replaced with clear plastic in the appropriate colors, ground to shape and polished smooth. And before the wing section can be attached to the fuselage, you need to decide if you want to install the belly tank and drill out the holes where it attaches.

I encountered the other major fit problem for the recon kit when I attempted to attach the wing to the fuselage. Here the fit was too tight. Forcing it in place flattened out the dihedral too much, and the right wing was higher than the left. Vigorous and careful sanding along the left side in particular finally remedied the problem, and the wings then went on with the proper dihedral finally achieved. I suspect the same problem will develop when building this kit, so be forewarned and be prepared.

The engines are attached after the wing has been glued in place. Although well detailed, the engines are distorted by an incorrect representation of the push rods which are molded integrally with the cylinders. This problem cannot be fixed without ruining the engine detail, so I recommend leaving it alone. Fortunately, the problem is not noticeable with the engines buried deep in the nacelles as they are in this aircraft. Again, there is room to add a spark plug harness and wires for those who want to add more detail than that supplied with the kit. Two sets of exhaust stacks are included, and these can be enhanced if they’re drilled open with a fine cutting bit. If you build your Dinah wheels down, you may wish to add actuator rods from stretched sprue or wire to all the gear doors. For an in-flight representation, the tail wheel doors will have to be cut off and repositioned closed. However, I’m not sure how well the main gear doors will fit if you attempt to close them.

Tamiya’s canopy for this aircraft comes in six separate pieces of thin, distortion free clear styrene with slightly raised frames. Both compartments beg to have their canopies in the open position, but the pieces will not fit well when slid back into their open positions. You may wish to vacuform a copy for this effort, or acquire from Squadron Signal a vacuformed canopy made for the reconnaissance version. You’ll have to discard the forward canopy section, but the rest of the parts will fit. Even with closed canopies from the kit parts, the interior details still stand out well.

Add the fine exterior details last, such as radio mast--if desired, pitot tube, ladder, etc. Again, the super detailer may wish to run antenna wires from thin stretched sprue or invisible thread from the radio mast/oblique cannon to the tail and also down into the fuselage behind the forward cockpit. The finished propellers pop into the rubber washers provided and spin freely.

Tamiya’s second offering of this airplane is state of the art and can be built into a great looking kit even by the novice modeler. Whatever squadron you choose to have your Dinah represent, you should find your final product to be an eye-catching replica of one of the most beautifully crafted aircraft produced by any participant in World War II. Dinahs were used extensively throughout the Southwest Pacific, Philippines, and China, and were hard to catch wherever they flew. This kit represents the Ki-46-III Kai fighter version that was modified to defend mainland Japan against B-29s. It’s not as elegant as the sleek nosed -III, but it’s a welcome addition to Mitsubishi’s line of Ki-46 aircraft. Hopefully, we’ll see the Ki-46 II and its trainer cousin, the Ki-46-II Kai, from Tamiya in the near future.


KIT REVIEW: Hyakushiki Shitei III KAI Air Defense Fighter (Dinah)

by Jason Aufderheide

It doesn t take long to figure out Tamiya s Dinah will be a joy to build. High quality clear parts and sharp recessed panel lines greet you when you open the box. Compared to other modern kits, Tamiya's Dinah does not offer much for interior detail. Part of this is certainly due to the fact the Dinah had a rather spartan interior in real life. The detail that is there is well done. Tamiya has always offered great instructions and the direction sheet for the Dinah is no exception. It is laid out in 10 easy to follow exploded view steps.

The Dinah is an interesting subject. Tamiya offers it in both its intended role as a recon plane or as a home island defence interceptor. These two major versions are offered in different boxes as separate products. This (interceptor) kit allows the builder to construct either the "Otsu" variant with two 20mm machine guns mounted in the nose or the "Otsu Hei" variant which included an angle mounted 37mm cannon protruding from the top of the fuselage in addition to the machine guns in the nose. Decal markings are provided for three separate aircraft from Japanese Army units assigned to US bomber interception.

Despite being designed as an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, the Dinah began its role as an interceptor when the war shrunk to the Japanese home islands and back yard in China. It was felt the Dinah's speed (excess of 400 mph) and altitude abilities would allow it to reach US bombers. The Dinah is widely recognized as a beautiful airplane. Depending on personal taste, it may have actually been a more graceful looking plane in the form of an interceptor.


Tamiya's Dinah is a dream to build. Sanding and filling are easily kept to a minimum. There were no fit problems - big or small - on my Dinah. It was probably the easiest twin engine prop plane I have built in terms of construction headaches.I have done some head scratching over how to approach masking and painting
on other twin engine prop planes in the past. The landing gear usually has to be in place before the engine nacelles are complete and many kits also require the gear doors to be in place because they are attached to the landing gear bay interior. The Dinah also requires the landing gear to be in place before painting can begin but the similarity to most other twin engine prop plane models ends there. The landing gear doors can be added later. I recommend following the instructions through completing the wings but leave off the tires and gear doors. I painted the interior of the landing gear bay and masked it before I painted the exterior of the model. The orientation of the landing gear makes it easy to wrap them with tape. After the exterior has been painted the tape can be removed.

One other feature I really liked about this kit was the superb fit on both of the three part canopies. They were simply the best fitting glass sections I have seen. A decal for the pilot's instrument panel is provided but it also has raised details so it can be dry-brushed as well. As I mentioned above, there isn't an overabundance of interior detail. The pilot has the basics and the rear seater doesn't have much more than the 37mm cannon (a two part sub-assembly) and his chair in his compartment. Two nicely molded crew figures are provided. If you use them, you will quickly notice they are identical - from the same mold. Add a mustache or some other feature to create a distinction between them.

Probably the most obvious lack of detail comes in the form of the wing tip navigation lights. Many kits can get away with molding little bumps instead of supplying clear plastic parts because of the small size. Tamiya's Dinah attempts to pull this off but the lights are far to large. Super-detailers and even moderate detailers will probably want to scratch build an alternative. Tamiya should have left wing tip notches and supplied clear parts for a big detail improvement.


Tamiya seems to have a knack for engineering their kits to be easy enough for beginners to build yet solid enough for experienced modelers to dive into with minimum alterations. The large canopy sections may result in a gluey, fingerprinted pitfall for a beginner but that obviously can't be avoided in the kit's design. Experienced modelers may want to look into after-market cockpit details. I would recommend this kit to anyone, at any level.

If I could send Tamiya back to the drawing board, I'd only suggest one change... improving those navigation lights. I am already looking forward to building the recon version of this beautiful airplane.

Tamiya Dinah III Interceptor

1/48 scale

Eric McCann

This is one of Tamiya's more recent offerings - after the (apparently) welcome release of the Dinah recon plane, they released the Interceptor version. This aircraft was modidfied to carry two 20mm cannon in the nose (going from the all-glass nose to a "standard" stepped nose/canopy.) Later variants also had a 37mm cannon added in the fuselage, similar to the German "Schrage Musik" installation, firing upward at a fixed 70 degree angle.

You can build either version, with ("Otsu + Hei") or without ("Otsu") the large dorsal cannon. If you choose to build the "otsu" version, prepare to do some scratch building, however. The rear cockpit area is designed around the cannon installation - without it, all you see is the cannon mount (following Tamiya's instructions, apparently there isn't even a seat in the back - leaving the back as one big empty cavern.) After much searching and finding no pictures of the plain "otsu" variant, I went with the "otsu + hei," mounting the cannon in back. It doesn't break the clean lines of the aircraft as much as it would seem.

As is typical with Tamiya kits, this one gave no real suprises in assembly. The cockpit goes together quite easily, though detailers may want to add photoetch seatbelts. I chose to use (both) crew figures. (Both of which had the exact same pose - a little variety would have been nice...) Just remember - this aircraft has a *lot* of glass area. Any detailing you care to do inside will show - as will any shortcuts and missed areas. Be careful when trimming the sprues holding the front cockpit's rear bulkhead (A-16) so you don't trim off the locating pins. It's not a big deal, but they do help.

The interior area is painted in an unusual (but from the pictures of the Cosworth example, correct) interior color - a light green, best described by others as a "mint" green. Follow Tamiya's mixing instructions, and mix a decent amount of it - it will cover the front and rear cockpits, the fuselage interior (all of it) and the wheel well interiors.

Take your time with the rear cockpit. I felt that it still looked a bit sparse (even with the rear crewman and the cannon) so I added a map table and a partial bulkhead (from pictures of the recon Dinah, from the Monogram closeup sent by a kind soul online - thanks Derek!) which "busied up" the interior just enough. Don't glue the rear cockpit's bulkhead into place right away - detach the rearmost glass area (C1) and use it to align the bulkhead. You can push and hold it in place through the wing opening in the bottom of the fuselage. Also, be careful aligning the nose cap. It fits well, without a seam, when you have it right.

With that done, it's smooth sailing for a while. Put the wheel wells and landing gear legs together per instructions, but leave the wheels off. The landing gear legs mask easily. When the wing/landing gear assembly (step 5) is done correctly, you will have no problems fitting it to the fuselage - again, without a seam (very nice engineering work, Tamiya.) Remember to clear out the area for the landing light (carefully!) You'll probably have to trim it again later. Get it roughed out as well as you can for now.

I skipped most of step 7 until after painting. Put parts E4 on (and A-19, and mask and attach C4.)

Paint the engine cowls (2xD3, 1x each B4 and B5) whatever color your aircraft (you have a choice of 3) requires. Don't forget to trim out the notch up top. Leave them off until after painting, though (the uppersurface color follows the cowl all the way around.) Assemble the engine/cowl assemblies (chosing which propeller/spinner combos you want) and set aside.

Step 10 and 11 are where it gets fun. The three small windows in the fuselage could use some trimming to fit well in the spaces provided, and are kind of a pain to mask. Still, it's better to work with them and clean up afterward, then mess up a paint job. Leave off the 20mm cannon barels (E9) until after painting. I masked and fitted the canopy sections at this point, as well (by the way it looks, these could be positioned opened - if you're interested, and have the references, go for it.)

If you're fitting the 37mm cannon to the top, you may want to hollow the barrel out before fitting it to the fuselage - it's thin, and easier to handle on its own.


You have three aircraft to choose from - Two are in the "standard" grey over green (one Otsu + Hai variant, one Otsu) and one is a Red-Brown over grey- - the variant shown on the box cover. I used straight Tamiya Red-Brown acrylic (XF-64) which turned out darker (and redder) than most peoples' efforts. (But, I like it.)

You may want to paint the yellow ID bands on the wings and mask them, instead of trying to use the kit decal. In addition, if you're building the 17th Dokuritso Hikotai (the reddish brown aircraft) or the 28th Hiko Sentai (the "otsu" variant,) you may want to paint the white "bandages" and mask them off prior to painting the darker colors. The kit comes with (opaque) white decals for this, which work well, but hide any detail underneath them without some decal setting solution. In addition, painting the white bands and using the plain Hinoramus makes it easier to deal with the aileron contrl horns on the upper surface of the wings. If you use the decal bands, trim around them (carefully) and just touch up with red and white paint.


At this point (once the paint had dried,) I fitted the wheels, landing gear doors, nacelles, and nose cannons. Find someplace the aircraft can sit "upward" at an angle - the nacelles don't seem to have all that much holding them on while the glue dries.

All in all, this is an attractive aircraft. The kit won't fall together in a weekend, with the need to watch alignment on a few parts and with the (possible) urge to scratchbuild items for the rear cockpit - not to mention the need to mask or paint the frames over that long expanse of canopy! Still, with a little patience, anyone with some experience building model aircraft should be able to make this into a very nice model. Tamiya's come through again with an enjoyable, well engineered kit. It's well worth the money.

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