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

by Ron Cline


Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate Frank


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




The Frank has always been one of my favorite aircraft, and 1/32 my favorite scale, so when Hasegawa released their 1/32 kit it was a ‘must have’ for me. The kit builds up beautifully right out of the box, but I made a few changes and additions just to dress it up a bit.





Starting in the cockpit, I decided to replace the only part of the kit that really disappointed me- the seat. Hasegawa has molded the seat with back and bottom cushions, but as most of us know, the only cushions used in most WWII fighters was the pilot’s parachute pack.  Since the plot normally donned this pack before entering the plane, the seat would be just a basic shell. Using the kit seat would have bugged me to no end, so I made a new one out of soda can aluminum (I learned of this medium from Scott Murphy; he’s the first one that I’VE heard of using it, so it’s his idea in my book).  

Using the kit seat as a pattern, I drew the seat shape on the aluminum (one piece for the back, bottom, and sides), cut it out with scissors, and cleaned up the edges. The lightening holes were punched out using a Waldron punch and die set (an invaluable tool well worth the price if you do any detailing), while the ribs were scored in with a scribe. The seat was then folded to shape in the same manner as doing a photoetched part. The shelf in the bottom of the pan, and the 2 curved braces were cut out, holes punched, bent to shape, and then super-glued in place.  Last up was the rear brace made from a section of Evergreen channel stock. The only painting done on the seat (other than the plastic rear brace) was a Burnt Umber oil wash. Compared to the kit seat, the difference is very noticeable; in my opinion, this is the single biggest improvement that can be made to this kit.


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The rest of the cockpit was built pretty much straight out of the box. Even though the side panel detail could have been better represented by using separate parts, versus having it all molded in one piece, once everything is painted and closed up in the fuselage, the ‘one piece’ effect isn’t really as noticeable as you might expect. 

The main color I used for the cockpit was Floquil Pullman Green (sprayed over a base of Tamiya Silver Leaf), followed by a wash of Tamiya Smoke in all the recesses, and then drybrushed with various greens. The paint chipping was done by scratching off the green to expose the silver undercoat. The lap belts on the seat are from Cutting Edge, while the shoulder harnesses were made from lead foil with wire hardware. The kit decals were used for the instrument panels.


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A couple of other changes to the cockpit area, that don’t show up well in the photos, are the replacement of the kits gunsight glass with thinner ones made from clear sheet, and the lightening holes in the headrest structure being drilled out. I also added the bulletproof glass that was installed inside of the windscreen (Hasegawa missed this part); this was made from a piece of thick clear plastic. 

The engine received an ignition harness and oil lines made from small diameter solder, and the prop control rod from a section of brass rod. The cowl interior was bare, so I added some structural detail with Evergreen strips. The interior of the cowl was painted with Tamiya Silver Leaf, and then dirtied up with a wash of Sepia watercolor paint. Once the engine is enclosed in the cowl and the prop is installed, most of these details are no longer visible, but I know they’re there!



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The ends of the exhaust stacks were opened up, and cowl flap actuator rods were added from short sections of toothbrush bristles. The exhaust were painted with Model Master Burnt Iron metalizer, and later given a bit of rust using pastels. The face of the oil cooler was replaced with a section of photoetched screen to give it more definition.

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Next, I moved on to the main gear wells. I’ve always been ‘strange’ in that I like detailed gear wells on a model. To me, they allow you a glimpse into the interior of an airframe without having to open up access panels, and they give the impression that there’s more to the plane than just the exterior; it wasn’t just an empty shell. It’s a detail that will go unnoticed most of the time, but turning over a model to look at the underside and seeing empty wells just leaves me wishing for more. Like I said, I’m strange…

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Hasegawa has done a pretty good job on the wells, but since they’re molded integral with the lower wing there are some limitations to what they could do with injection molding; this results in the vertical walls being bare. I added a bit of structural detail to the inner most walls with styrene and a couple of styrene discs (punched out using the Waldron set) as access panels.  In the middle of the rear walls is an open lightening hole; I cut out this section of the wall and replaced it with a punched piece of aluminum cut to shape; this gave me a realistic thinness.. It’s barely visible in the photos, but there’s some plumbing behind the holes that can be seen on the finished model if you look hard enough. The plumbing that runs along the rear walls was done with small diameter solder and wire, with lead foil strips for the hold down straps.  

 I decided to raise the flaps as it’s extremely rare to see a Frank on the ground with the flaps extended; this turned out to be a simple modification. On the lower wing piece, remove approximately the rear two thirds of the flap well. Take the flap itself and remove the inner mounting tab. Using a knife or file, shave down the forward, upper section of the flap to get it to sit flush in the well (it doesn’t take much trimming). Looking at the topside of the flap, there’s a panel line running across just forward of the trailing edge; this small strip of the flap will show through the narrow cutout notch in the trailing edge of the upper wing. I needed to add a bit of material to the outboard end of the flaps to close the gap on my kit. Glue the wing together; the forward part of the flap well that was left in place will keep the upper wing from squeezing in. Finally, glue the flaps in place and you’re done. Simple, huh?



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I removed the pointed ends of the flap guides since most photos of Franks in the field showed them as missing (perhaps people were impaling themselves on them?). A few other minor details done at various stages were the replacement of the kit landing light with an MV lens;  drilled out cannon barrels; brake lines added to the main gear legs with small diameter solder; flattening the bottom of the main gear tires; some extra structural detail added to the inner, lower sections of the main gear doors; a new pitot tube made from a section of styrene rod with a brass rod in the end; ‘separating’ the tail wheel from its yoke by carving a groove around the joint; adding the entry step below the cockpit, above the wing root; and adding the aerial wire with its spring tensioners at the ends.



Painting and Markings


The markings represent those of Major Koki Kawamoto from the HQ Chutai of the 50th Sentai, flying out of Phnom Penh, Indochina in April of 1945. Kawamoto was the CO of the unit, and was credited with 8 kills. I specifically chose this aircraft because it was colorful, and it’s not available on any decal sheet (at least, not yet); I like doing subjects that are different from the ‘masses’. 

 The camouflage, unit markings, and the Hinomarus were hand painted with artist’s oil paints. This is the second kit I've painted with oils; it's not hard to do, but it is a slow, time consuming process due to the slow drying time of the oil paint. Here’s how to do it…

I first sprayed the whole model with the Tamiya Silver Leaf; being a synthetic lacquer, it's pretty tough when dry. Next up was an overall undercoat of Tamiya Black Green acrylic. This served 3 purposes- it first gave the oils something to 'grab' onto; they don't work well on a glossy surface. Second, it acted as a 'pre-shade'. And third, being an acrylic, it didn't 'bite' into the Silver Leaf, making it easy to scratch later for paint chipping.

The oils I used were from Windsor & Newton. For the camouflage and Hinomarus, I used the oils straight (no thinning), but I did thin them a bit with turpenoid for the unit markings so that they'd be easier to paint. The colors were mixed up by eye, using some of this color, some of that color, etc, until I was happy with it. An important thing to remember is to NOT mix the colors together completely; you want to have a bit of variation in the mix. Using a brush with fairly short, stiff bristles pick up some of the paint and then wipe most of it off in a paper  towel. It's sort of like drybrushing, but you want to leave more paint in the brush; kind of a 'wet' drybrush. Apply the paint, one panel at a time, using a stippling motion. By that I mean you apply it by holding the brush perpendicular to the surface, and 'tapping' it against the surface. Don't worry about getting the color on completely even, you want to have some variations in it. Once you've covered all the panels needed with that color, change the color mix a bit by adding some more paint (it doesn't take much). Now go back and apply some of this new color to selected panels to give the surface more variety; you can repeat this as much as want to get the finish you're after. The oils dry slowly, so there's no need to rush. When you're done, set the model aside to dry (it can take several days; see what I mean by this being a slow process?).


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Once the paint has dried, you use the same process to paint the next camo color. You can simulate a feathered paint edge by carefully applying the paint with the stippling motion.

If you do any masking, use a low-tack masking material such as frisket film as you don't want to pull up the paint when you unmask it.

The finish will dry to a semi-flat. You can gloss coat for decals if you wish. It was at this point that I did the decals; the kit decals were used for the wing ID bands (LOTS of Solvaset used on those!) and all of the maintenance stenciling. Next, I applied some thinned Tamiya Smoke to the panel lines to bring them out just a tad. The paint chipping was achieved by carefully scratching the surface with 100 grit sandpaper to expose the Silver Leaf undercoat. The final step is applying a flat coat; I used Model Master clear flat shot straight out of the bottle. Once the flat coat is applied, the finish will really 'come alive' in that you'll be able to see the subtle variations of color across the surface.

As I said, it's not a hard process to master, but it's definitely one that takes patience. Working mostly on the weekends, it took me about a month to paint this one. 

The last thing done to complete the build was to add exhaust stains, some powder stains around the cannons, and dirt to the landing gear and undersides; this was done with pastels. 



I like to show off my work on some kind of display base; this one was made using a picture frame. The design was laid out and masked on the backside of the glass and spray painted. The information placards were made on the computer. Simple, but it helps with the overall presentation.





Hasegawa has done a terrific job with this kit. The modifications I made to mine were done just to satisfy my own whims, and are in no way necessary to achieve a great looking model. I hope that Hasegawa will see fit to continue with WWII Japanese subjects in this scale; I’d LOVE to see a Ki-61 Tony and a Ki-100!



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Ron Cline
Page Created 16 August, 2005
Last Updated 23 February, 2006

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