From the Box Kit Review: Tamiya 1/48 Hyakushiki Shitei III Recon Plane (Japanese Army Air Force Ki-46 III, Type 100 "Dinah") Kit No. 45

by Michael Hays

Opening the box reveals a beautifully crafted, well-detailed kit in relatively flash-free injection-molded light gray plastic of what is arguably one of the most elegant twin-engine reconnaissance airplanes of World War II. About 90 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, suggesting Tamiya may plan to follow this kit with a model of an earlier version of the sleek plane. Since the Ki-46-III was generally a pure reconnaissance aircraft, no armament is included for this version, but two beautifully detailed cameras do come with the kit, along with excellent pilot and observer figures posed to place in their respective seats. Also an optional fuel tank has been provided. Panel lines and surface details have been finely recessed and are accurate in shape. With a couple of exceptions, the kit parts 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 10th Sentai that served in New Guinea-Formosa-Japan, one from the 55th Chutai based in Manchuria-Philippines-China theaters, and a third option from the 18th Chutai that served in the China -Indochina area. All represent aircraft painted in the solid IJA dark green over IJA light gray scheme. Of course, Tamiya’s color guide and codes are all matched to their 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. White disks are included for the optional white edge around the hinomarus ("meatballs") needed for some of the aircraft represented. 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. I added about a dozen levers, plus trim wheels, electrical boxes, handles, and wiring. Also, a lever is needed for the otherwise excellent control column. There is no decal for the instrument panel, but it is beautifully crafted with raised details just aching to 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. Note also, that the back of the instrument panel can be seen through the window port under the nose, so you may wish to detail the back to simulate instruments and wiring there--especially needed if you replace the clear kit window part with thinner acetate.

Turning next to the observer’s area, it becomes apparent that in spite of the several details provided in this kit, a lot more have been omitted. Following my references, I needed to add about 100 extra parts for this area, including map cases and baskets, instrument boxes, a table, oxygen bottles, and lots of wiring. Details needed to be added to the floor and more can be added to the cameras if you want to spruce them up a bit.

(Again, however, 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 figure, you may wish to add seat belts. The observer is posed to hold the separate Type 100 camera that comes with the kit. I didn’t install him, so I placed the camera on his seat instead.

You may run into a problem when you’re ready to sandwich the cockpits between the two fuselage halves. 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 goes 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 this 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.

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. I determined this problem could not be fixed without ruining the engine detail, so I left 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 elegant 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 this kit. But 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, 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 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 recent offering of this elegant 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. Some were even turned into fighters, and a few were modified to defend mainland Japan against B-29s. This model represents perhaps the best looking variant of Mitsubishi’s line of Ki-46 reconnaissance planes. Hopefully, we’ll see other versions of this sleek aircraft from Tamiya in the near future.


KIT REVIEW: Tamiya 1/48th Dinah

by Mike Driskill

IPMS #7409

You could have knocked a lot of folks over with a feather when this kit was announced. In the entire history of plastic modeling, only one other really buildable kit of a WW2 Japanese twin-engined aircraft has appeared in quarter- inch scale, that being the Nichimo Ki-45 "Nick" almost 20 years ago. The prospect of a state-of-the-art successor to the cruddy old UPC 1/50 "Dinah" is exciting indeed to fans of that particular corner of aeronautical history.

The Ki-46 was a purpose-designed reconnaissance aircraft, unlike most other contemporary recon types that were merely adaptations of fighters or fast bombers. Famous as perhaps the most aesthetically attractive combat aircraft of the era, it was improved throughout the war. The Ki-46-III variant, with more powerful engines and its distinctively faired-in nose canopy, appeared in 1943. The Ki-46's range and performance were remarkable, and the Allies were never really able to intercept "Dinah" with consistent effectiveness.

The kit is packaged in a comparatively compact box for such a large aircraft, unlike many recent kits that have mostly air in the box! It is molded on five trees of pale gray plastic and one for the clear parts. Engineering of the kit is good, with a spar and positive alignment notches in the wing roots to guarantee the proper dihedral angle. A quick tape-together indicates no obvious fit difficulties.

Accuracy is excellent, dimensions and lines agreeing very well with the latest drawings from Koku-Fan and Maru Mechanic. As you would expect from this manufacturer, the overall refinement is very high, with thinly molded sections, very petite recessed panel lines, and near-perfect subtle rib tapes on the fabric-covered control surfaces. This surface detail is noticeably better than some of the other recent kits in this series.

One minor surprise is that the kit does NOT use modular parts which would ease the production of future variants. The engine nacelles are molded integrally with the top and bottom wing halves, so the earlier Ki-46-II, which had smaller-diameter and shorter nacelles, would require some major new parts. The fuselage would also have to be changed, as the distinctive Model III nose is not separate. It seems to be the Ki-46-III or nothing as far as Tamiya is concerned. Detail components are also first-rate. The first things to catch one's eye are the stunning renditions of the Ha-112 engines. Though molded as a simple one-piece insert, every detail of both rows of cylinders, the crankcase, and the staggered rocker arms are captured. An innovative touch is the wheel wells, these are done as a two-piece "box" which captures every detail of the original. The gear struts have retractor arms and torque links molded as separate parts. The cockpit is also very nice. There are almost 20 parts total, plus a certain amount of detail molded into the fuselage halves, and--something we don't see too often any more--two excellent crew figures. Those who don't find it adequate will be pleased to hear that the True Details set for this kit is already out! The canopies are good, reasonably thin and with all movable sections molded separately, though curiously, mounting them in an open position does not appear to be an option.
There is an attempt to make this kit represent both sub- variants of the Ki-46-III, but with a minor problem. The initial sub- variant had pointed prop blades, starter "dogs" on the spinners, and a collector-ring exhaust system; the late ones had wide round- tipped prop blades, dog-less spinners, and individual ejector exhaust stubs. You get all the needed pieces in the kit for both of these, EXCEPT for the early exhaust system. One can thus correctly do only the later sub-variant. Tamiya seems a bit confused on the subject, showing the correct spinner but wrong prop in the instructions, and listing the right prop as an "alternate."
The decals, a beautifully-done "Invisa-clear" sheet from Scale-Master with absolutely minimal carrier film, cover three rather similar dark-green-and- light-gray machines, of the 1st, 18th, and 55th Chutais, but don't have much stenciling (Aeromaster has already fixed this situation). Instructions are in Tamiya's usual well- illustrated style. The suggested retail is about $33, extremely reasonable for such a large and well-done kit these days. About the only other bad thing I can say is don't try to pronounce the name on the box, "Hyakushiki Shitei," in public! A great kit, highly recommended.


Return to Ki-46 Kit Page