Author Topic: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale  (Read 280 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The Ki-44 Army Type 2 fighter  is one of many famous Nakajima W.W. II aircraft.



Far less well-remembered is a higher-powered development, the Ki-44.5 Mk. V Sumo.



Powered by a triple-row Kabuki Chai 23 cylinder radial engine, it was hoped the new fighter would give the IJA an upper hand in the air against the allies.



Flight trials were promising so a limited production order was placed late in 1944.



The timing was fortunate indeed as a new class of fighter pilot cadets was completing their training. The war situation was so dire by this point that the Japanese had been forced to draft even their elite athletes into service.



Upon getting their wings in mid-1945, these new pilots were assigned to fly Ki-44.5 fighters of the 34592nd Home Defense Group (Heavy) which would become colloquially known as the Sumo squadron and their new planes would also be nick-named Sumos.



The Sumo squadron continued to hone their combat training in their Sumos. Unfortunately, this advanced training was primarily focused on mid-to-low altitude tactics which would prove disastrously short-sighted.



After two months of relative quiet, the Sumo squadron was alerted to intercept American B-29s in early August.



The entire compliment of the 34592nd's Ki-44.5 Mk. Vs took flight just as the day was starting, determined to shoot down the Superfortresses.



However, with each pilot tipping the scales at an average of 135 kg, the Sumos' triple-row Kabuki Chai 23 cylinder radial engines were hard pressed to even get into the air, let alone reach operating altitude.



Being unable to get within range of the B-29s, this lack of height also precluded the back-up tactic of a ramming attack.



Luckily, the Superfortresses just flew on, headed for a leafleting mission over Kobe.



The Sumos flew back to base, hoping their lack of punch could be cured by a good tune-up.



This was not to be. Production versions of the triple-row Kabuki Chai 23 cylinder radial engine were manufactured so poorly that even after the war, the Allied Tactical Air Intelligence Units had a difficult time getting them to work. Initially, this was thought to be due to defective recessed cowl-flap actuators but the cause was eventually traced to Japanese ornamental squirrels ( Sciuridae Callosciurinae Iaponica) taking up residence in a turbo-supercharger duct.



No more Ki-44.5 Mk. V Sumos were ever made and the war ended before they could make even a minimal impact. None survive today and most so-called "experts" write off the type as being too heavy to even consider.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 11:28:12 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 12:04:27 AM »
This all started with a totally vintage 1/70 (?!) Fujimi Shoki Army Type 2 Fighter (Ki-44) a good friend sent me (thanks a million, hamsterman!). Isn't that box art inspiring?



What's inside the box may seem a little less so, but it helps to keep in mind that this is probably about what one would expect for a kit first released in 1962.



The entire kit consists of 19 parts if you build it gear up and you can max out at a whopping 20 if you include the sole cockpit interior piece, a rather vague pilot-like figure. It's not hard to see the weak point in this kit and the original nose was replaced by an engine in a 1/48 Hs-129 cowling.



I also swapped out the kit prop for one from a venerable Airfix Typhoon. The rest of this was a simple, stock build.



Once I figured out what to do, it all came together very quickly. This one was a blitz and was built inside of 24 hours.



While the star of this model is the new engine and cowl, I was very pleased how the paint and decals worked out too.



Once again the old hairy stick made an appearance, full of Model Masters Field Drab acrylic on the uppers.



Model Masters Primer Gray covered the under side and the cowling and prop were done with Interior Black.



The canopy was tinted on the inside with Semi-Gloss Black and the exhausts were done with Jet Exhaust. A custom mix was used on the guns and engine. I was pleased with the paint because I'd never used Model Masters Field Drab before and have it in mind for a special project. It worked a treat, just like all their other acrylics do for me.



What really amazed me were the decals. The kit decals were used and are probably older than I am. While they're not perfect, you'd never know they were printed over 50 years ago.



That cool squadron marking on the tail is from a sheet Mr Fontaine gave me a while back that's probably a collector's item and I've been waiting for just this kind of opportunity to use it.



Before I forget, here's a couple of "money shots" (U.S. penny for scale).





I'd like to thank Bill for sending me the cool little Ki-44 kit, Jeff for the neat squadron decals (I couldn't have done it without you guys!) and the rest of you who stopped by to look.



I hope you enjoyed the Ki-44.5 Mk. V Sumo and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if it's a bit too heavy for the experts to handle.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 08:11:02 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 02:28:23 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 02:34:40 AM »
Makes me think about a post war Reno style racer version of the Ki-44 with big engine up front.
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Online elmayerle

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2018, 04:06:53 AM »
talk about the weight of history!!  Beautiful model and quite the fun backstory.

I will also echo our fearless leader's comments about an air racing version, I could just see it with a cut down canopy.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2018, 04:32:43 AM »
I could just see it with a cut down canopy.

Maybe like this:

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Offline Camthalion

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Re: The Nakajima Ki-44.5 Mk V Sumo - A Heavy Tale in 1/70 (?!) Scale
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 07:21:12 AM »
very cool.  Looks great