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 Marushin # S032 Nakajima Ki-43-III - Hayabusa/ Oscar - Chiran - Kyushu 1945

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Kyushu J7W


Posts : 192
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: Marushin # S032 Nakajima Ki-43-III - Hayabusa/ Oscar - Chiran - Kyushu 1945   Sat Feb 18 2017, 21:37

Nakajima Ki-43-III  - Type 1 Fighter Hayabusa/Peregrine Falcon, Allied code name Oscar

Producer Marushin ( This diecast line is occasionally active, but releases are limited )
Scale 1/48
Model Number S032

Nakajima Ki-43-III Hayabusa 'Oscar' Fighter, Chiran - Kyushu 1945[/b].

Marushin diecast are impressive pieces of of metal. Very little plastic, solid, great panel lines but completely bereft of cockpit detail. They need to be assembled but this as a rule is easily done. Saves on box storage space. Other that the Willow, I encountered few snags that were not worked through with very basic modeling skills and a small screwdriver and swiss army knife. The canopies are snap in arrangements but a drop of clear elmers glue holds them in place. Some owners have used 1/48 plastic  model cockpit interiors and created astonishing detail to flesh out their Marushins, but I personally have never attempted this. The landing gear is also sparse on detail but not so noticeable. Cannon, machine guns and pitot tubes are metal rods and should be painted. The rods can take a bit of filing down to place within the wings. Still this is more than worth the effort.

This particular Oscar is a KI-43-IIIa.  Marushin utilized the existing tooling of the KI-43-I and with the new engine cowling, exhaust rings, 3 bladed prop, dropping the telescopic gun sight, new glass canopy  and new oil coolers,  created a creditable copy of the KI-43-III to capitalize on the movie.   It is one of the rarest Marushins out there and as with all their models are extremely true to the original aircraft.

This release was linked to a Japanese movie, called For Those We love with other translations being We Die For You.

 The focus is on  the Japanese Army Toko special attack units training and eventually flying from the base at Chiran on Kyushu during the Okinawa campaign in the spring and early summer of 1945.  While there is a lot of factual information in the film,  the unit markings on the tail are fictional so as not to represent any one unit or pilot.

Specification of Ki-43-IIIa:
One Army Type 1 (Nakajima Ha-115-II) fourteen cylinder air-cooled radial rated at 1300 hp for takeoff and 1230 hp at 9185 feet driving a three-bladed propeller.

Maximum speed 358 mph at 21,920 feet.
Climb to 16,405 feet in 5 minutes 19 seconds.
 Service ceiling 37,400 feet. Normal range 1320 miles.
Maximum range 1990 miles.

4233 pounds empty, 5644 pounds loaded, 6746 pounds maximum.

wingspan 35 feet 6 3/4 inches,
length 29 feet 3 5/16 inches,
height 10 feet 8 3/4 inches,
wing area 230.34 square feet.

Two 12.7-mm Type 1 machine guns in the engine cowling. equivalent of US 50 cal.
Two 66-pound or 551-pound bombs could be carried underwing.
Two 44-imp-gall drop tanks could be carried.

As I go into the development of the original KI-43 I won't rehash it here.  The number of KI-43-IIIs completed is not clear, it seems to have been available in substantial numbers from late 1944. Tachikawa took over Ki-43 production after the introduction of the Ki-84 Frank, and they built about 2500 Ki43s (no subtype information available)   Units like the 64th Sentai however chose it as their replacement for the Ki-43-II over the Ki-84 and all of their front line machines were Ki-43-IIIs by the war's end.

Despite the obsolescence of the basic design, developmental work on the Hayabusa continued until the end of the Pacific War making the KI-43 series the most produced fighter of the Japanese Army.  The Ki-43-IIIa came out in time to be used in the final battles of the war and ended its days assigned to units defending Tokyo and other major Japanese cities.  It was also used in numerous suicide attacks during the final phases of the Pacific War.

While the Oscar was considered “meat on the table” to many Allied pilots who came later in the war and with superior aircraft, in the hands of an expert pilot it was still dangerous as late as 1944, as Lt. Col. Charles Older - the first ace of the AVG back in 1941 and by then a leader of the 23rd Fighter Group in China - discovered on a mission to Hankow in May 1944.  As he related in a 2002 interview, his flight of the 23rd Fighter Group was caught at low level after strafing one of the airfields that were their targets by several Oscars, one of which was flown by a real expert, who managed to shoot down Older’s element leader and both of the wingmen in the flight.  Older himself only escaped by pushing his P-51C to the maximum and employing every trick in the book to finally evade his deadly foe in low-level combat over the city rooftops.   He considered it one of the most memorable fights he was ever in, and felt lucky to have survived.

 Americas 2nd leading Ace Thomas McGuire was killed stalling out  in low level combat in the Philippines in earl January  1945 against an early production  KI-43-III piloted by an instructor (Akira, Sugimoto) who got on his and his wing mans tail.  

 While in experienced hands it could give a good account of itself,  the airframes inability to add additional effective MG and cannon limited its effectiveness as a destroyer of B-29's and later generation US fighters.

The Ki-43-IIIa was the last Hayabusa variant. Ten prototypes were built starting in May of 1944. It was similar in airframe and armament to the Ki-43 KAI, but was powered by a Najajima Ha-115-II Sakae air-cooled radial rated at 1230 hp at 9185 feet. This engine employed individual exhaust stacks to provide a certain amount of exhaust thrust augmentation greatly improving its speed.

It also incorporated improvements in armor plate for the pilots seat and to a  limited degree compare to US aircraft,  self sealing fuel tanks.  Some prototypes were sent to fronts for evaluations.  Series production began in late 1944 with units receiving them in the Philipines in time to combat the US invasion, most of the aircraft being built by Tachikawa Hikoki K.K..

Tachikawa also built two prototypes of the Ki-43-IIIb, which was a specialized interceptor version powered by a 1250 hp Mitsubishi (Ha-33) 42 (Ha-112) fourteen-cylinder air cooled radial. The pair of 12-7-mm machine guns (which had remained the standard Hayabusa armament since the Ki-43-Ic) were replaced by two 20-mm Ho-5 cannon,(note the bulging in the fuselage before the windshield) which made the Ki-43-IIIb the first Hayabusa variant to carry large-caliber armament.

Further changes were made to the fuselage and wing structure as well as further modifications to the exhaust system. Overall wing span was similar to that of the Model IIIa, at 35 feet 6 3/4 inches. This version was under test when the war in the Pacific ended and brought further work to a standstill.  

Chiran base, now a museum.

Chiran is a sleepy farming village in Minamikyushu City, encircled by lush mountains and crystal-clear ocean on the southern tip of Kyushu. The village is renowned for its green tea, sweet potatoes and its connection to the kamikaze pilots of World War II.  As you enter the village, there are stone lanterns lining the streets. A closer examination reveals that they are numbered, one for each of the 1,036 army kamikaze to die in the battle for Okinawa at the end of the war. Sixty percent of these pilots were teens or college-aged boys — called “the young boy pilots.”

Given just enough training to fly and maneuver, they needed to follow an experienced  leader over the water.  For the most part they  were little more than sitting ducks as they had few fighter escorts.   Just under half of these pilots flew out of Chiran. The lanterns are large, foreboding, and feature the relief of a pilot and words etched in Japanese.

The base was set up in December 1941 as a branch of the Tachiarai Military Pilot School. In March of 1945 — as U.S. forces bore down on Okinawa, finally threatening mainland Japan — the base switched its focus to the kamikaze. Here, the pilots were trained, lived, and spent their final days before their missions.  The airfield is now farmland, covered by budding sweet potatoes.  The gun battery emplacements on a hill overlooking the airfield  shot down a pair of U.S. B-29s sent to hit the field to relieve pressure on the US navy. Up the hill up from these are the old barracks maintained as they were in 1945.    

From take off  it was two hours, past Mount Kaimon, and out to sea to attack U.S. forces at Okinawa in the waning months of World War II. The pilots would try to get past the picket ships and then the  CAP and finally the ship’s proximity fused AA guns, looking for carriers first, carrying a fuel tank on one side of the plane and a bomb on the other.

The museum features 12,500 items related to Japan’s army kamikaze pilots, 70 percent of which are on display. They have photos of each of the pilots who during the battle in the order in which they died. While it is understandable for the defeated, as well as the victors in conflicts, to seek to honor their war "heroes," the militaristic state "brainwashing" in education, media and society at large in Japan in the 1930's and 1940's that led to the blind obedience of the suicide missions of the kamikaze pilots is not really addressed at the museum.  Chiran  focus is rather on the pilots' individual personal stories, and in particular on their final words left in notes before taking off on their deadly missions.

To this day, more than 200 family members of the pilots come to the museum’s memorial service on May 3.  The KI-43 outside the museum is the full scale mock-up built for the movie but the KI-61 Tony and KI-84 Frank, also used in Toko missions are part of the exhibit and rare aircraft.    The wreckage of a Zero is on display.  A few Navy units used the base for a short time.

Firefly House, and the Tomiya Inn are about a 20-minute walk from the museum.  The inn housed Tome’s restaurant — the Tomiya eatery. This is where the pilots could feel free and confided their fears to the owner and cried about their short lives. It was here that they called her Mom, ate their last meals, wrote letters to family that she agreed to sneak out past the military censors, and got their final hugs before taking their fateful flights.

 To her, the pilots weren’t fanatics; they were kids who didn’t want to do what they were being forced into doing  This small museum holds the unofficial letters the pilots could not send through the censors.  Tome’s letters — don’t mention the emperor as do the ones in the official museum written for their officers. Some lament that Japan is losing the war, while others even hope for Japan to lose. No one is smiling in Tome’s photographs, and the pilots send their true goodbyes, thoughts of love, longing, and sadness to family members they will never see again.  This is an underlying theme of the movie and several others like it that have been made over the years.  The Kamikaze were initially formed by the navy and its first missions were flown by well trained pilots in the Philippines, but the army soon joined in.  While there were many volunteers, subtle coercion and peer pressure unique to the times Japanese society norms about honor and duty came into play.

Variant progression

Ki-43-IIIPrototypes powered by Nakajima Ha-115-II engine of 920 kW (1,230 hp)2 × 170 L (45 gal) drop tanks (~3 hour full-throttle endurance)
Ki-43-III "Ko" (Mark 3a)Series model, some fitted with skis for operations from snow
Ki-43-III "Otsu" (Mark 3b)Variant with engine Ha-112-II and armed for the first time  with 20 mm cannons Ho-5. (Prototype - Only 2 Built)
Ki-62 ProjectAdvanced interceptor version of Nakajima Ki-43 with a powerful engine and armed with 30 mm (1.18 in) or 40 mm (1.57 in) cannons.

In the end the KI-43 was another example of Japans inability to adapt quickly enough to the changing reality facing their pilots.  Like the Zero it was up graded and in expert  hands could hold its own, but these hands were in short supply and the lack of a punch made it ineffective as a B-29 killer.   Some units resorted to ramming attempts if they could get into range.  Combine all this with lack of pilot training, poor quality workmanship creeping into scattered production facilities and increasingly  poor quality fuel and the KI-43-III improvements were negated.    

After WWII,

Oscars (MkIII machines wore French colors in the Saigon area as counter-insurgency aircraft used for a short while against the Viet Minh until replacement by Spitfires. The French had difficulty landing them due to lack of proper familiarization and several were wrecked. This was said to have amused the Japanese immensely as they considered it a piece of cake to handle in the air or on the ground. In the Dutch East Indies they were used against the returning Dutch by the forces seeking to keep colonial rule out.  One aircraft remains in the NEI airfoce Museum.

In China, Central Government Forces (KMT) had several Oscars but used them little due to the availability of fresh P-51 and other superior aircraft from the USA and Britain. But the Communist forces, known before 1949 as the Chinese Democratic Alliance Forces, had liberated a wing of late model Hayabusas at Shenyang, Liaoning Province in their occupation of the Northeast in 1945-47.

In another case of demobilized Japanese aiding leftist guerillas, Oscars were also used in the Malaysian insurgency under supervision of Japanese soldiers and airmen who basically continued their war by siding with rebels against the return of British rule. And the Royal Thai Air Force used them well into the 1950s

Books on the subject and war time propaganda posters illustrate the attitudes towards the Japanese near wars end.

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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Marushin # S032 Nakajima Ki-43-III - Hayabusa/ Oscar - Chiran - Kyushu 1945
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