The Ki-100 was an adaptation of the Kawasaki Ki-61-II Tony, which had an unreliable engine that prevented its use as an effective fighter. A B-29 raid on the engine manufacturing facility settled the issue, and the Japanese decided to install a radial engine as a desperate attempt to make use of the airframes. They got ideas from the Focke Wulf FW-190A that had been imported into Japan earlier in the war, and the result was a neat low drag installation. Early models used standard Ki-61-II airframes, but later production models had a cut down rear canopy for better all around vision. The type was used in combat by a number of fighter units, but it was never identified by Allied intelligence as a distinct fighter type, usually being called a "Frank" or merely an "unidentified radial engined fighter". There are several sources of information on this aircraft, including a very good Koko-Fan booklet.
OUT OF THE BOX
This is an ancient kit, easily twenty years old and was not really state-of-the-art then. I've had it in my hanger for years, hoping that someone would come out with a better one. However, a few weeks ago, I felt particularly masochistic and decided to build this one, even though it is a rare kit, and is probably worth more in the box than built up. After about three weeks of intensive spare time effort, I finally finished it.
Cast in brittle, dark green plastic,
the kit is surprisingly accurate. The fuselage checks out OK with the Koko-Fan
drawings, although the fin and rudder are not quite accurate in outline.
A major problem is
the lack of an engine; all they have is a flat plate with a hole for the prop. The engine cowling and prop are salvageable, but the cowling has to be reamed out and a radial engine (twin row) needs to be taken from the spares box and fitted inside the cowling.
The cockpit interior has to be removed and completely rebuilt. I used a combination of black and silver for interior colors. The kit required a lot of putty to get the seams filled in properly. In addition, the belly seems a little too deep and needs to be filed down after the wing is installed.
One good feature of the kit is the extra parts included. These are required to do the one Ki-100 that was equipped with a supercharger. There are a lot of photos of this aircraft around. The required supercharger, which goes under the belly, and the small air intake that goes on the inboard leading edge of the wing are included in the kit. I'll save those in case a newer kit doesn't include them.
The wing is made in three pieces, but the wheel wells require detailing before the sections are assembled. The landing gear is rather crude, but it can be cleaned up. A major problem is the fact that the gear legs need to be installed in the wing before the wing halves can be assembled, and the angle has to be correctly estimated. I believe this is because the makers envisioned these models as toys, and the gear was supposed to retract. The inside doors don't move, but the main struts apparently are supposed to. In addition, flaps, ailerons, elevators, and the rudder are cast separately, and a lot of filling is required to correct those problems. Most photos of the airplane show the flaps retracted when the plane was sitting on the ground, so I left mine up.
The tail unit requires some work, as the fin and rudder are incorrectly shaped. Card plastic and putty solved that problem easily enough, although I had to scratch build the elevators, as they were too small. The tail wheel is molded into the fuselage. I cut it off and replaced it from one in the spares box. It is extremely small anyway.
The kit has the usual rivet detail which has to be removed. I cleaned it up and rescribed the panel lines. That was a definite improvement.
The canopy was a real problem. The rear portion was thick but accurate, while the windshield was so far off that I had to redo the whole thing. I made a vacuform mold out of the rear portions, made a new windshield out of wood, and then got out my trusty Mattel vacuform and cast a canopy out of clear plastic. I used thin strips of masking tape to simulate the canopy frames. It worked.
Details were made from scrap and plastic rods and strips. Brake lines were made from thin wire, while the bomb racks were constructed from thin plastic strips. The radio mast from the kit was surprisingly accurate, but thin electronic wire was used for the LF radio aerial.
I used Model Master paints for standard Japanese
camouflage scheme of medium green olive, pale gray, and Microscale
decals. There are no decals available for the rudder striping for the most
photographed unit, but several photos show the plane with a red or white
rudder top and no other markings except a number on the rudder and the
usual hinomarus and orange-yellow wing leading edge stripes. I weathered
it down with black pastels and various shades of gray, black, and brown
paint, and the result is fairly impressive.
I think it would have been easier to scratch-build
the model, but although it is similar to the Ki-61, there are
many differences that kept me from using that approach. I might try it next time, though. All in all, it was a lot of work, but I now have a model in my display case that wasn't represented there before. Next to a standard "Tony" the differences are obvious. I'm glad I did it, but I'll wait for Hasegawa, Fujimi, or Academy to come out with one before trying it again.
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