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Eduard's 1/48 scale
Nakajima Ki-115 Tsurugi

by Ian Robertson


Nakajima Ki-115 Tsurugi


Eduard's 1/48 scale Ki-115 Tsurugi Profipack is available online from Squadron




In early 1945, Nakajima company was awarded the task of designing and building a purpose-made suicide attack plane to resist the impending invasion of the Japanese home islands by allied forces. What resulted was a "no frills" aircraft capable of carrying a single bomb weighing 1,764 lbs (800 kg) into its target. Because the Ki-115 Tsurugi (Saber) was intended to be built by semi-skilled labor, the design was kept very simple*.probably too simple. The fabric-covered tail surfaces had an inner structure of wood, the fuselage was made of a steel structure with a tin engine cowling and thin steel panels on the center sections, and the wings were an all metal stressed-skin construction. The undercarriage lacked shock absorbers and were jettisoned upon takeoff. Returning to base was not an option.


Although the Ki-115 was easy to build, its performance was poor. The undercarriage was incredibly crude, and the pilot's field of vision for taxiing was completely inadequate because the pilot sat so far back from the front of the aircraft. In the air, the Ki-115 was difficult to handle, even for an experienced test pilot. There was no defensive armament, so the aircraft would have been vulnerable to interception by allied fighters.

More than 100 production examples of the Tsurugi were made, but none were used in combat. Thus, the Ki-115 is a mere footnote in WWII aviation.



Eduard's 1/48 scale Ki-115

Given the obscure nature of Ki-115, this was not an aircraft I expected to see in 1/48 scale in anything other than a limited run kit. However, Eduard has stepped forward and produced a high quality 1/48 injection molding of the aircraft. Although the kit is likely to have limited appeal because of the Ki-115's obscurity, fans of WWII Japanese aircraft, as well as modelers looking for something a little out of the ordinary, may want to give this model a closer look.



Although not for the rank beginner, the Eduard kit is relatively easy to build. My particular model was built from the "profipack" version, which included photoetch details and canopy masks. The photoetch was a nice touch (it included engine wiring, seatbelts, fuel tank caps, bomb details), but perhaps not as advantageous for this kit as it is for other profipack kits because of the Ki-115's simplicity.


I really enjoyed building this model because it was a refreshing change from the ordinary. However, I experienced two areas of difficulty. First, the cockpit I built and installed prior to gluing the fuselage halves together was too wide to allow for proper fitting and alignment of the wings. I'm not sure if this was a fault of the kit or my construction. In any case, I was forced to remove the cockpit after installation, modify it, and then refit it before attaching the wings. If I were to build this kit again, I would first glue the fuselage halves together and then install the cockpit tub from beneath (I ended up doing it this way anyway, but with more fuss than is desirable).

My second difficulty with the kit was the brittle nature of some of the smaller pieces of styrene. Specifically, the struts for the stabilizers, tail support, and main landing gear all snapped while cleaning molding seams off the parts. The struts for the stabilizers, as well as the tail support, were replaced with metal wire. The main undercarriage was more complex so I glued the parts back together.

I replaced the kit's pitot tube with fine syringe tubing.


Painting and Markings

The cockpit was painted to simulate the Ki-115's simple wood construction. Light tan Tamiya acrylic paint, followed by a wash of reddish brown Model Master enamel, was applied to the seat and cockpit floor. A clear coat of Polly Scale satin gave the wood surfaces a slight sheen. Details in the cockpit were sparse, as one would expect for such a simple aircraft design.

I opted to display my Ki-115 in a natural metal finish with a black antiglare panel on the nose. The model was first primed by spraying a thinned mixture of Mr. Surfacer 1000 over all surfaces. Mr. Surfacer brought to light all the minor scratches and seams which needed to be filled and sanded smooth before proceeding. Once the blemishes were corrected I applied a second coat of Mr. Surfacer and then polished the model to a gloss sheen using Micromesh sanding cloths. Panel line details and rivet details were restored. The model was then sprayed with a coat of Future floor wax and polished a second time.


The natural metal finish was simulated using various shades of Alclad II metalizer. I began with a uniform base coat of semi-matte aluminum, followed by a dusting of aluminum. Centers of panels were then highlighted with polished aluminum. My goal was to create variability in the amount of light reflecting off the surfaces, as one would expect on the real aircraft. I did not want the model to appear highly polished, since this would not have been very realistic for this particular aircraft in my opinion.

The propeller and spinner were painted with Polly Scale Japanese Army Brown. Paint chips were avoided since the aircraft was not designed to be flown repeatedly and thus would not have developed such wear and tear.

Decals were added directly to the Alclad II surfaces. The kit's decals performed superbly.

Panel lines were treated to a wash made from reddish-brown and black Model Master enamels. Broad areas of the fuselage and wings were also subjected to the wash in an effort to create further variation to the model's surfaces. Finally, orange chalk pastels were applied sparingly to the upper fuselage and wings to give a hint of rust. Photos of Ki-115s captured after the war show significant rust accumulation over the natural metal finish, but my model was not intended to represent an aircraft left exposed to the elements for so long, so I kept the effect muted.




The kamikaze pilot is from Jaguar.




Images were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 5400 digital camera. The "sharpen edges" tool of Adobe Photoshop was used to restore some of the clarity and crispness lost during image compression.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2004 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 09 November, 2004
Last Updated 09 November, 2004

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