In-Box Review
Kawasaki Ki-61-II Kai
Kawasaki Ki-61-II Kai
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

RS Models have released a new 1:48 kit of the ultimate development of the Ki-61 Hien - the ‘II Kai.

I call it a “new kit” slightly advisedly, because it clearly owes a great deal to Hasegawa’s classic models of the Ki-61 and Ki-100. Presumably, there’s some sort of licence agreement in place but, interestingly, while many of the parts are nearly identical, they have been refined in some cases with more detail, appliqué panels and fairings, and different style fabric surfaces. The kit is produced with limited run technology, but inherits the general crispness of Hasegawa’s mainstream offerings. RS Model’s Hien comprises:

59 x tan styrene parts
3 x clear styrene parts
2 x resin parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes

The surface detailing is generally very good indeed, with sharply defiined panel lines and neatly depicted fabric covered areas. There’s a touch of flash here and there, but really nothing to worry about, and the only place I’ve found any poor moulding is the engine panel on the starboard fuselage half. Being a “short run” kit, one thing you’ll expect is ejector pin marks to clean up, but once this is done the fit is very satisfactory.

Despite the Hasegawa heritage, there are no locating pins on the major parts, but the fuselage halves line-up perfectly in my kit and the wings have impressively thin trailing edges. The fit at the wing roots looks good and tight so, overall, this promises to be quite a straightforward build - a breeze for modellers experienced with traditional short-run kits, and a good introduction to the genre for newcomers.

A few details
Construction starts with the cockpit which is nicely detailed for this scale with 18 parts. As elsewhere, the resemblance to Hasegawa is obvious, but the parts have been remodelled somwhat and the overall result is more detailed. As a short run kit, it’s perhaps a little disappointing that RS didn’t include an etched seat harness (as they did with their Fokker D.XXIII) to complete things, but the “office” should look pretty good as it stands. The instrument panel is completely different and really rather good.

If the “office” is quite impressive, sadly the same can’t be said of the exhausts, which really are pretty shapeless. It’s a shame RS didn’t include resin replacements, because the styrene parts will need a fair bit of work to stand close inspection.

There’s a drop-in section for the cowl gun troughs, which the instructions show to drill out, although no gun muzzles are included. I would expect to have to do a little checking and trimming to ensure a good fit for the cowl - especially as it’s so prominently placed.

The propeller and spinner are neatly moulded and attach simply, with no option to rotate.

The way RS have tackled the ventral radiator bath is oddly different to Hasegawa, and will result in a slightly awkward seam to clean up that doesn’t correspond to a full-sized panel line (as far as I can tell).

The main undercarriage is pretty neat, with new resin wheels provided, and nicely detailed gear legs and doors. The mainwheel wells appear to have been redone, being deeper and with different details to the Hasegawa kits.

The drop tanks have had an overhaul too, with some nice extra detail, although the pylons are unchanged.

Finally, the canopy is supplied in three parts, with a separate sliding section. It’s good and clear, with crisply defined frames.

Instructions & decals
The assembly guide is neatly printed on one fold-out sheet, with construction broken down into 21 clear stages. The drawings are excellent (very much in the “MPM” style), with painting suggestions keyed to most details. Generic colour names are given, and no particular model paint ranges suggested.

The exterior painting guide is printed in colour on a second sheet and shows two schemes:

1.Ki-61 II Kai, 56th Sentai, Itami, Japan, 1945
2.Ki-61 II Kai in “what if” colours for the 55th Sentai, Sano, Japan, 1945

The decals look to be very good quality, being printed in perfect register. The hinomarous are supplied in a good, deep red.

I really like RS Model’s Ki-61 II Kai, and assuming it’s all been cleared with Hasegawa, it offers a great chance to model the Hien with the distinctive cut-down rear fuselage more commonly associated with the Ki-100. At around £30 in the UK, it's a touch pricey, but not excessively so for a short run kit - and it looks set to offer a very satisfying build of an unusual subject.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: A neatly produced and detailed kit of an unusual subject. The decals look very good quality.
Lows: Minor moulding defects as you might expect with a short run kit. Poorly represented exhausts.
Verdict: Clearly owing a lot to Hasegawa's Ki-61 and Ki-100 kits, RS Models' new ‘II Kai will make a distinctive addition to any collection of Japanese WW2 fighters.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48002
  Suggested Retail: £32.32 (Model Hobbies)
  PUBLISHED: Nov 04, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Rowan, Another really well detailed and written review. While I don't have a great deal of interest in Japanese WW11 aircraft, your description of this kit has me somewhat intrigued. Joel
NOV 04, 2014 - 04:12 AM
The longer-nosed Tony is, I believe, the most beautiful fighter of WWII. With the "fast back" canopy, this is a very appealing model. That instrument panel amazes me. I need to acquire one of these.
NOV 04, 2014 - 09:26 AM
Hi Fred I don't know that I'd go as far as calling it the most beautiful fighter of WW2 (and Mal almost certainly wouldn't! LOL!), but it's definitely a fine-looking beast. All the best Rowan
NOV 04, 2014 - 11:19 AM
Nice review, could be something for me.
NOV 04, 2014 - 08:03 PM
I agree the Ki-61-II is the most beautiful single engine fighter aircraft of WWII, particularly the "bubbletop" version. Twin engine would be more crowded for best looks, but the same manufacturer's Kawasaki Ki-45 is up there as well for twins. I wonder if the curved left wing (from the Hasegawa 1/48th kit) is fixed on these moulds? It seems likely given the all new sprue: It may seem like a very easy problem to fix by bending: Don't believe it for a minute... Bending will inevitably cause a dimple on the thin top side plastic. Also, the Hasegawa wings don't taper continuously in two straight top/bottom lines from root to tip (as they should): The bottoms are moulded in a strange lateral concave curve, especially the left wing, so the outer half of the wings are almost paralell top/bottom, rather than tapering to a fine sharp wingtip; any attempt to bend the outer wings hugely exaggerates the fact the wings are almost straight on top but curved on the bottom... I got close to fixing it but it took several kits, and in the end the lack of continuous taper was just too obvious... Great new subject to see! The exhausts should have many substitutes, so that doesn't seem to be a big deal. Gaston
NOV 04, 2014 - 08:29 PM
While it's certainly a streamlined and graceful looking aircraft, a P-51-D gleaming in the sunlight stands out as one of the most beautiful in the skies. And I'm quite sure that the British across the pond have a much stronger attachment to their Spitfires. Joel
NOV 05, 2014 - 01:32 AM
I don't know, I'd say my most beautiful fighter of WWII would have to be the Hawker Typhoon with a bubble top. It just has beautiful lines on the whole aircraft, and I find something beautiful about that big old chin radiator!
NOV 06, 2014 - 07:08 AM
Or, as Joel said, the P-51. It might not be my favorite plane of the war, but it sure does have that look.
NOV 06, 2014 - 07:09 AM

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