Hasegawa Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia

Hasegawa's Ki-51 was originally produced by the now-defunct Mania brand. Like the other ex-Mania kits in the Hasegawa catalog, it features fine recessed panel detail, optional parts and good overall fit. The cockpit is basic, and I simply used what was provided. What information I could find suggested the interior was a green shade, close to US interior green, so that's what I used.

There are a number of windows in the fuselage sides and wing centre section which are moulded solid, with recessed areas inside the parts. I wasn't sure whether these were present, but I decided to open them all. I replaced the thick kit windows with sections of clear styrene. While working on the wing, I opened the landing lights. I omitted the bomb racks from my model and thinned the thick kit pitot tube.

The kit assembles very quickly, and it was soon ready for paint. The 2-3 photos which show Sonias in French markings are poor quality and don't reveal much about the colour scheme. After reviewing photos of Japanese Ki-51s, I decided that the finish would be overall grey-green, with a heavily weathered overspray of green. The factory-applied grey-green base colour seems to have been very robust, contrary to the typical impresion of Japanese paint quality.

I started with white on the wing leading edges, and under the roundels. I then sprayed ModelMaster Japanese orange-yellow on the leading edges, and masked these off, along with circles under the areas where the roundels were to be applied. I followed this with a base coat of ModelMaster IJA Grey enamel, then a coat of Humbrol gloss clear. I applied irregular blobs of Micro liquid mask, and when these were dry, I slowly applied the green squiggles, using a fine tip on my Passche H. Based on photos, I varied the direction and application style of the overspray on different areas of the aircraft. Once this was dry, I used a toothpick and masking tape to lift the dried liquid mask, as well as scratching the green around access panels, etc.

I scoured the spares box for roundels that matched the sizes of the Hinomarus in the kit. I made the tail tricolour from scraps of red and blue applied over a white rectangle, and finally added the number 7 on the tail. After a coat of ModelMaster clear flat acrylic, I added landing light lens from MV and covers from clear packing tape, along with airbrushed exhaust stains and MIG Pigments Vietnam earth applied to the wheels and spats.

This was a fun little project. Reference info is sketch at best - I had a low-quality scan of an article from Avions (issue 78, September 1999). I'm sure someone will turn up new evidence to prove my model completely wrong, but until then...

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