Fujimi Ki-36 Ida
Sometime between Fujimi's bad old days of off-scale, poorly accurate Skyraiders and Crusaders and their heyday of Phantoms, Corsair IIs, Skyhawks and Intruders, they produced some really nice basic kits, including the Ki-36/Ki-55. This was originally available as two separate kits - the Ki-36 box included spatted landing gear, bombs, a machine gun for the rear cockpit, a telescopic sight and a windshield with a hole for the telescopic sight. The Ki-55 kit included unspatted landing gear and a windscreen with no hole. I understand the latest issues include parts for both versions in the same box. The kit parts are well moulded, with recessed panel detail and very subtle fabric detail on the control surfaces. Interior detail includes a decent instrument panel, two crude seats, control sticks and a floor. Clear parts include a thick two-piece canopy, and parts for the windows in the underside of the wing and the rear fuselage sides. The underside window parts in particular suffer from sink marks.
The only photo I've seen of a French Ida was very small, and showed no details of markings, etc. I've found a few colour profiles on the web, which I suspect are fairly conjectural. I decided it was most likely the Ki-36 would have retained the basic Japanese Army grey finish (including the yellow leading edge ID bands), with French roundels applied to match the size and position of the original Hinomarus. If anyone has better evidence, I'd love to see it!
When I first bought this kit, my plan was to slap it together over a weekend - the kit looked really nice and simple to build out of the box. Then I started doing a little research. Aside from the interior, the kit is a pretty good representation of a Ki-36. Some minor areas for improvement include scratchbuilding the oddly shaped pitot tube (shown in the box art), adding clear lenses to the navigation and landing lights, and relocating the starboard aileron hinge fairing to be symmetrical with the port fairing.
Inside the fuselage, I added a few details. The Ki-36 featured several windows in the underside of the wing and sides of the fuselage. As far as I can tell, there was no real floor in the rear cockpit (the kit floor obscures any view from the windows). I added some rib and stringer detail, rudder pedals, modified the pilot's seat and added lap belts, and added a representation of the prominent rollover frame and bracing behind the pilot's seat. The Ki-36 featured a small stool in the rear cockpit for the observer/gunner. Since the French Idas were used for liaison and VIP transport, I suspect they may have been upgraded with a proper seat in the back, but I chose to depict mine in ints original configuration. References are vague on colour details, but some suggest a dark blue-grey. I mixed up a colour to suit, probably erring on the side of blue...
With the cockpit finished, the rest of the kit goes together quickly. I left the rudder separate to facilitate painting the tricolour. After a coat of primer, I preshaded with dark grey, then painted the leading edge ID bands yellow over a white basecoat. The main finish is a thin coat of Model Master IJA grey. For the blue on the rudder I mixed Model Master bright blue and light grey to approximately match the decals. Given the small number of markings, I was too lazy to apply a gloss coat. The wing and fuselage roundels come from spare Model Art decals. The number 4 on the tail came from somewhere in the spares box. Humbrol clear flat was applied to seal the decals and provide an even finish.
Final small details included the pitot, boarding steps, and a cover for the landing light from clear packing tape. I pinned the rudder in place with wire, mounting it slightly offset. Some light exhaust staining was applied, and a little Mig pigments Vietnam Earth applied to the wheels and spats. This is a nicely engineered little kit, and if you don't go to town on the interior, it can be built in a few days. I feel the only poor aspects of the model are the overly thick clear parts, and the hugely overscale telescopic sight (which looks more like a bazooka!). If you can find the more recent boxing with parts for both the Ki-36 and Ki-55, I'd use the Ki-55 windscreen, and drill it to take a telescopic sight from thin rod. Falcon also offer a vacuformed replacement canopy.
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