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Hasegawa's 1/32 scale
Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate

by Ian Robertson


Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank)


Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Ki-84 is available online from Squadron.com




The JAAF’s Ki-84 Hayate was one of the best fighters produced by Japan during WWII.  It exhibited excellent speed, maneuverability, firepower, and defensive armor.  In the hands of a skilled pilot the Ki-84 could hold its own and more against Allied fighters like the P-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt.  However, persistent difficulties with engine performance and an overall decline in quality control late in the war hampered the Ki-84’s effectiveness.  Over 3,500 Ki-84 Hayates were produced during the war. 



Here I present a 1/32 natural metal finish Ki-84 from finish the 104th Hoki-Sentai, late 1944.

Comments about the kit

Hasegawa’s 1/32 Ki-84 Hayate represents another excellent offering in this increasingly popular scale.   As we have come to expect from this manufacturer in 1/32, the model is smartly engineered, well detailed (but see comments below), and the fit is simply superb.  Building this model was enjoyable from start to finish.



There are a two areas on the kit I found somewhat disappointing: cockpit detail and the extended flaps.  The cockpit is somewhat “clunky” in detail, which is a shame given how visible the cockpit is in the completed model.  Most of the controls are molded directly to the sidewalls of the cockpit (e.g., trim wheel) and would have been much better represented by separate parts.  

The seat is another weak point because it is highly visible yet lacking in detail. 

I opted to scratch build a new seat from sheet styrene, although UMI, a relatively new company, offers a resin replacement (harleydst1958pan@aol.com).  I imagine it won’t be long before an aftermarket company has a fully detailed resin cockpit set available for the kit, but this will drive the total cost up considerably.  Out of the box remains an excellent option, and there is plenty of opportunity to scratch build cockpit details. 

As in their 1/48 Ki-84, Hasegawa opted to engineer the kit with the butterfly flaps fully extended.  This is unfortunate because is simply not realistic.  I have yet to find a photo of an intact Ki-84 on the ground with flaps down, and I am not the first to make this observation.   Thus, the modeler is forced to either leave the flaps down (it looks good despite being unrealistic), or modify the kit parts to show them in the proper retracted position. 

The good news is that this is not an overly difficult correction (see below), although I have read some reviews claiming that it was problematic. 

You be the judge.






Despite my criticism of the cockpit, effective use of shadowing with paint or chalk pastel can create effective illusions of depth and detail when the fuselage is closed up.  The actual color of Ki-84 cockpit is controversial, even when one ventures to j-aircraft.com for answers.  The information I gleaned from that site suggested that, depending on the timing of production, suitable colors for the cockpit include aotake (bluish-green), green, or natural metal (for early, mid, and late production aircraft, respectively).  Another post indicated that something closer to olive drab is appropriate.  Because artifacts of Ki-84s and their parts are few and far between, I opted for a greenish home-brew based on other models I’ve seen posted on the web.




The scratch built seat was inspired by the superb work of Jamie “Haggis” Haggo on HyperScale’s Plastic Pics.  I opted to use sheet styrene to construct the seat.  The parachute added to the pan was made from “Apoxie Sculpt”, a two part epoxy.  I added etched metal belts for the parachute harness and painted them forest green as recommended on j-aircraft.  The lap belts, also from etched metal, were painted with Tamiya buff (XF-57). 



The seat was painted the cockpit color and then treated to a smattering of dry-brushed aluminum metallizer to give it a worn look.  The cockpit floor was also treated to this process.   Washes of burnt umber/raw sienna were applied to complete the worn effect.


Surgery is required to display the flaps in their proper retracted position.  The first step is to remove the internal flap detail on the lower wings sections (see below).



Next it is necessary to trim the attachment points on the flaps themselves.  The flaps can then be installed flush with the lower wing surface.  To my thinking this is a rather simple procedure that increases the realism of the completed model. 



As an added detail, I added a thin strip of plastic to the upper trailing edge of the flap so that when the flap was installed it fit flush with the upper surface of the aircraft’s wing.


Eliminating pesky fuselage seams: 

Natural metal finishes inevitably expose imperfections on a model’s surface.  One area of particular concern for me was the long seam of the upper fuselage spine. 



On more than one occasion I’ve filled a seam with putty only to have a hint of it reappear days or weeks later.  With natural metal finishes even a hint of a seam would stand out like a sore thumb.  Therefore, with some timely advice from fellow modeler Kent Eckhart (Boise Kent), I tried to avert the problem at the outset.  Before gluing the fuselage halves together I created a beveled edge along both mating surfaces.  This created a V-shaped trough along the seam when the fuselage halves were connected.  I then proceeded to fill the trough with CA glue and speed the curing process with an accelerator.  Minutes later I scraped (using a #11 blade) and sanded the hardened CA glue flush with the model’s surface.  It took only a few minutes and now I am not worried that the seam will make an unwelcome appearance down the road.   

Landing Light: 

Although not a weakness per se of the model, I found the clear part for the landing light on the port wing to be noticeably thick.  Therefore, I opted to replace the part by stretch-forming a piece of thin clear plastic over the leading edge of the wing and then cutting it to fit the opening for the light. 



While fiddly, this modification greatly improved the appearance of the wing light by removing the large gluing surface of the kit’s clear part.



Painting and Markings


I have already described the painting of the cockpit, so now I will focus on the exterior.  I decided early on that I wanted to build a Frank with a weathered natural metal finish.  Therefore, my first step was to prime the model with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to ensure a smooth and protected surface. 

The markings I chose for this model are not currently available as decals (Note: Aviprint sheet #32003 includes the proper tail symbol but with a white outline that I decided would be troublesome to remove).  Because I wanted the red of the tail markings and hinomarus to match, I opted to paint and mask all red markings on my model.   A circle template was used to cut the masks for the hinomarus from Tamiya tape.  The tail mask, again from Tamiya tape, was based on the Aviprint decal and on a photo of the actual aircraft (pg 953, Scale Aircraft Modeller International Vol 10, issue 10).




The yellow band below the rudder was also painted and masked.  The color profile of this aircraft (pg 952 in SAMI article) shows the band in red; however, from the photograph on pg 953 the band was clearly different in color from the red on the tail.  Yellow is an interpretation I’ve found elsewhere, and it struck me as consistent with the photo.  All fabric control surfaces were painted XF-14 (J.A. Grey) and masked.  The antenna post was painted medium brown and then with a coat of Tamiya’s clear orange to give it a glossy wood-like appearance.  The antenna wires are stretched sprue.




I used various shades of Alclad II metallizer for the natural metal finish.  The base coat was duraluminum, followed by various amounts of aluminum and semi-matte aluminum.  Polished aluminum was used sparingly to enhance the metallic appearance without leaving the model unrealistically shiny.   The wheel wells were also painted natural metal. 

For the purposes of weathering I used a brush to apply thinned black Tamiya acrylic over most surfaces on the model.  On the fuselage I ran the brush from top to bottom,  whereas on the wings and tail the wash was brushed on from front to back.  I find this weathering technique to be very effective in creating a realistic natural metal finish.  The Alclad is highly resistant to the wash, and if the wash pools in places or is overdone it can be sanded out with a micromesh sanding cloth.  The metal finish beneath remains intact. 

Additional weathering was achieved by spraying thinned black Polly Scale acrylic with an airbrush.  This technique was used for the exhaust stains and some of the more subtle detailing around panel lines.  My reference photo was examined frequently to ensure the weathering was not overdone. 

The spinner, propeller blades, and wheel hubs were painted with Tamiya’s XF-26 (deep green) lightened with white.  Decals were used for the yellow warning marks.  The only other decals used on the model were the thin stripes on the landing gear covers.





Images of the completed model were taken outdoors in natural light with a Nikon Coolpix 5400 digital camera.  The “unsharpen mask” 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:

Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937–45
Aircraft of the Aces 13

US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 April 15, 1997
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841762865
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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 14 November, 2005
Last Updated 14 November, 2005

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