Saturday, November 6, 2010


Here are some images of Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank) Prototype. From Wikipedia "The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (疾風 hayate) ("Gale") was a single-seat fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. The Allied codename was "Frank"; the Japanese Army designation was Army Type 4 Fighter. Featuring excellent performance and high maneuverability, the Ki-84 was considered to be the best Japanese fighter to see large scale operations during WWII. It was able to match any Allied fighter, and to intercept the high-flying B-29 Superfortresses. Its powerful armament (that could include two 30 mm and two 20 mm cannons) increased its lethality. Though hampered by poor production quality in later models, a high-maintenance engine, a landing gear prone to buckle,and lack of experienced pilots above all else, Hayates proved to be fearsome opponents. Exactly 3,514 aircraft were built.

Design of the Ki-84 commenced in early 1942 to meet an Imperial Japanese Army Air Service requirement for a replacement to Nakajima's Ki-43 fighter, just entering service. The specification recognized the need to combine the maneuverability of the Ki-43 with performance to match the best western fighters and heavy firepower. The Ki-84 first flew in March 1943. Although the design itself was solid, the shortage of fuel, construction materials, poor production quality, and lack of skilled pilots prevented the fighter from reaching its potential.

The Ki-84 addressed the most common complaints about the popular and highly maneuverable Ki-43: insufficient firepower, poor defensive armor, and lack of climbing power. The Ki-84 was a cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, except for the fabric-covered control surfaces. It had retractable tailwheel landing gear. Armament comprised two fuselage-mounted 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns and two wing-mounted 20 mm cannons, a considerable improvement over the two 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns used in the Hayabusa. Defensive armor offered Hayate pilots better protection than the unsealed wing tanks and light-alloy airframe of the Ki-43. In addition, the Ki-84 used a 65 mm (2.56 in) armor-glass canopy, 13 mm (.51 in) of head and back armor, and multiple bulkheads in the fuselage, which protected both the methanol-water tank (used to increase the effectiveness of the supercharger) and the centrally located fuel tank.

It was the Nakajima Ha-45 radial powerplant that gave the Hayate its high speed and prowess in combat. Derived from the Homare engine common to many Japanese aircraft, the Hayate used a direct-injection version of the engine, using water injection to aid the supercharger in giving the Ki-84 a rated 1,491 kW (2,000 hp) at takeoff. This combination—in theory, at least—gave it a climb rate and top speed roughly competitive with the top Allied fighters. Initial Hayate testing at Tachikawa in early summer 1943 saw test pilot Lieutenant Funabashi reach a maximum level airspeed of 624 km/h (387 mph) in the second prototype. But after the war a late-production, captured example was tested in the US with high octane fuel, and achieved a speed of 687 km/h (426 mph).

The complicated direct-injection engine required a great deal of care in construction and maintenance and, as the Allies advanced toward the Japanese homeland, it became increasingly difficult to support the type's designed performance. Compounding reliability issues was the Allied submarine blockade which prevented delivery of crucial components, such as the landing gear. Many further landing gear units were compromised by the poor-quality heat treatment of late-war Japanese steel. Many Hayates consequently suffered strut collapses on landing.

The Ki-84 is known to have appeared in three Japanese Ministry of Munitions sanctioned camouflage schemes;

Type N: The entire airframe was left in its original natural metal. Because of the different grades of alloy used for various panels the overall finish soon weathered or oxidized to a pale metallic grey, with variations in shade and texture, depending on the grade of duralumin used for each area of skin. A black "anti-glare" panel was painted on the top forward fuselage and engine cowling (see photo of 73 Hiko-Sentai aircraft).

Type B: Irregular blotches or stripes of dark green on the basic natural metal scheme. This was applied once the aircraft reached its operational base. On occasion the edges of national (hinomaru) and Sentai markings were accidentally covered.

Type S: Three variations were seen on Ki-84s; S1 – Dark green upper surfaces, with light gray/green lower surfaces. S2 – The light gray/green on the lower surfaces was replaced by a pale blue/gray. These colors were often applied on an unprimed airframe; because of this and the poor adhesion of Japanese paints in the later years of the war this scheme often weathered quickly, with large patches of natural metal being visible (see photo of 85 Hiko-Sentai Ki-84 on a Korean base). S10 – The upper surfaces were left in a red/brown primer with the under surfaces in natural metal. The black anti-glare panel was optional.

Other schemes were applied, particularly by the Shinbu-Tai "Special Attack" units. For example, a Ki-84 of 57 Shinbu-Tai, flown by Corporal Takano, had very dark brown-green upper surfaces (some sources state black), with a large red "arrow" outlined in white painted along the entire length of the fuselage and engine cowling. White Kana characters "hitt-chin" (be sure to sink) were painted above the arrow on the rear fuselage. The under surfaces were light gray.

Factory applied markings included six hinomaru (national insignia), outlined with a 75 mm (2.95 in) white border on camouflaged aircraft, on either side of the rear fuselage and on the upper and lower outer wings. Yellow/orange identification strips were applied to the leading edges of wings, extending from the roots to ⅓ rd of the wingspan.

It was a general rule that Japanese planes in overseas territories had a narrow white line called the "border break through line" or "field identification mark" surrounding their hinomaru; planes belonging to interception forces in Japan proper placed the insignia inside a white square (colloquially known as the "Homeland Defense bandage"), so anti-aircraft defense units could more easily distinguish them from enemy planes.

The inside of the fuselage and the wheel cover wells were painted in a dark opaque bluish gray, and the propeller spinner was painted with a variety of colors based on the unit it belonged to.


Pablo J. Álvarez said...

Another Nakajima, and this Ki84 looks as well as the Ki43.

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks Pablo - I like this series that Hasegawa put out. This one is the Frank Prototype which I think is neat.

William said...

That's nice clean work; very nice! And I think the Hayate is one of the better-looking WWII fighters. Is this one of the older Hasegawa kits, or a newer release?

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks William - I agree the Hayate is one of nicer craft. It has a brutish look as far as Japanese aircraft go. As far as the age of the kit goes I think it's from around 2005/2006. It has beautiful detail.