Review by Zac Yates.
For much of the hobby’s history plastic scale modellers have had to make do with inaccurate kits and put up with scale or detail issues, particularly when it comes to panel lines. Modern kits have, for the most part, avoided such ‘fatal errors’, to quote some of the internet’s hardcore, but some modellers will always want better and are happy to fix any such errors themselves.
Given this book is number 80 in Kagero’s Topdrawings series – which covers ships and armour as well as a wide range of aircraft types – there must be quite a few of these ‘Rosie the Riveters’ out there. This book covers an aircraft which has been the subject of about 200 kits in many scales over the past seventy years: the Kawasaki Ki-61.
The book begins with a one-page history of the type in Polish and English, and contains sixteen sheets of profile, plan and detail drawings – fourteen numbered sheets with drawings in 1/72 and 1/48 scales in the book itself, and two lettered sheets of 1/32 drawings on a single loose sheet of A3 paper. The 1/32 drawings cover the Ki-61-I Hei and Tei variants with left, right, top and bottom views for each variant as well as front-on for the Hei and scrap forward and side views of the Tei starboard wing with drop tank in place. The 1/72 drawings have panel lines, whereas the larger drawings also feature rivet lines.
The eight sheets of 1/72 drawings cover a wide range of the Hien family, from the stillborn Ki-60 heavy fighter through the prototype Ki-61, initial Ki-61-I Ko production version, an experimental Ko with evaporative cooling system (this model is only represented by a left profile), the Ki-61-I Otsu, which superceded the Ko, the early Hei (with scrap view of this variant’s late fixed tailwheel), the Ki-61-I Tei and the Ki-61-II Kai. Most variants are represented by a left-side and top-side drawing, while others will also have an underside as well as scrap views representing where detail differed on subvariants.
The remaining six numbered sheets are all in 1/48 and cover the Hei and Tei variants, although one includes a scrap view of the bubble canopy for the Kai. Two of the Tei sheets include scrap drawings of two radiator fairings different to the main profile, but no explanation is given as to their inclusion. It would be helpful to know why these different units were included.
Each sheet includes a data block with production run information, dimensions (including the propeller diameter), and the typical armament. Some also include fuel capacity and, in the cases of the Ki-60 and Ki-61 prototypes, tyre sizes and wheel track width. Although not an issue for this reviewer, it is worth noting all measurements cited are in metric.
There are also eight 1/48 scale painted profiles by Janusz Swiatlon, each with a potted history of the airframe and its pilot (again in Polish and English). One of the profiles – that of Ki-61-I Hei ’83’ – also has 1/72 paintings, of the top and bottom plan views, provided. Several of the profiles have hard-to-read kana (Japanese inscriptions) on the airframe reproduced at a larger size for reference, but without any translation or explanation provided.
Given the number and variety of Hien kits out there, and with the prospect of restored examples of the aircraft taking to the sky once more, this book will be a key part of the library of any IJAAF aircraft modeller.