Hasegawa 1:48 Ki-27 Review

The Ki-27 (allied code-name “Nate”) was the primary front-line fighter of Imperial Japanese Army Airforce in the late 1930s. The maneuverable little fighter saw extensive service over the skies of northern China, Manchuria and Mongolia from 1937-1940, where it outclassed the Nationalist Chinese Air Force, flying mostly Polikarpov biplane fighters.

I built this model to represent an aircraft flown by the the 64th Sentai, in Manchuria, during the summer and fall of 1939. This particular aircraft is said to have been flown by Major Tateo Kato, who would go on to claim 18 victories. In Early 1942, Kato was shot down by a Bristol Blenheim gunner, over the Bay of Bengal.

The kit is a golden oldie. The kit was first released in the 1970s by a Japanese company called Mania. In 1975 Hasegawa bought Mania, and began re-releasing all of their toolings under their own label. Hasegawa periodically re-releases the kit with new decals, and a fresh hip modern price tag. I got this one from a very generous trader on ARC, and he included a sheet of Life Like decals and some resin. More on these later.

The kit has very fine recessed panel lines, and is festooned with tiny recessed rivets, much like the surfaces of modern kits from China. The kit is pretty simple. There are less than 100 pieces total, the cockpit is rather spartan, and engine details are simplified. Nevertheless, things look reasonably accurate. One major drawback, at least for me, was the canopy. It is thick, and slightly textured, which gives it a semi-opaque quality. It also cannot be posed open. Options in the kit are limited to two types of canopy, a set of external fuel tanks, and an over-the wing device, which I think is a gun-camera.

The Life Like decal sheet titled Type 97 Fighters, Part 2 (48-021) features six schemes. Five of these were for aircraft in overall IJA-Gray finish, and one for a gray and green flight school machine. All six schemes provided, are very colorful and flashy.

Construction of the kit began with the cockpit. I used the basic kit cockpit, which is simple, but more than adequate, as very little will be seen through the small opening, and even less through the poor clear parts. I did replace the kit seat with a much nicer looking resin part I had.

The instructions call out for a navy blue color. I researched this and the Nate cockpit was in-fact a grayish blue. I mixed up a color from Tamiya paints and sprayed it on, then painted details by hand, using Vallejo acrylics.

The fuselage halves were glued together and the cockpit was installed through the bottom. Then I glued the upper wing halves to the fuselage. I did this to minimize fit problems at the wing roots. An earlier dry-fit showed that if the whole wing had been assembled and then glued to the fuselage, it would create pretty deep steps at the roots. Using this approach, I just had to fill a small step behind the flaps on the bottom wing, and fill in some gaps along the leading edges.

With the wing assembled, I added on the tail parts and the cowl ring. The diameter of the cowl ring was a bit smaller than the fuselage just aft of it, so out came the bondo. Once dry, I dry fit the cowl ring, and sanded everything down. I then rescribed lost panel lines, and used my Trumpeter ponce wheel to repair the lost rivets.

I tried to improve the canopy by polishing it with a fine abrasive paste and then dipped it in Future. This helped a little bit, and I masked the canopy using my usual method of adhesive chrome foil.  I had to bevel the bottom inner edges of the canopy a bit to get it to fit to the fuselage. If I was ever to build this kit again, I would replace the canopy with a vaccuformed piece.

With the canopy on, I glued together the wheel spats. These needed a bit of putty along the leading edges. The spat assemblies are sided, so make sure you keep track of which one goes with which side.

I also decided to attach the balloon-like drop tanks. These look very unique, as they’re more like the RAF slipper tanks, than the tear-drop shaped drop tanks of most other contemporaneous aircraft. I recall seeing something once, that the Ki-27 drop tanks were the first ever engineered. Not sure that is true.

With the airframe all assembled it was time to paint. I began by priming everything in black. Once the black primer dried, I started spraying on very thin coats of Tamiya IJA-Gray, with a few drops of white added. I made sure to build up the semi-opaque coats of paint in such a way, that the color was never entirely uniform. This method has been around for a while,  but the guy who runs Doog’s Models blog, has really popularized it. He calls it “black basing”, but I try to avoid the term, as I hate buzz-words.

Once the paint dried, I clear coated the model and applied the decals. The Life Like decals worked very well. The colors are very vibrant and opaque. The decals work best in hot (but not boiling) water. I used Mr. Mark Softer on decals going over compound curves and deep recesses. A few days after the decals had dried, I noticed that some of the larger ones, including the yellow fuselage band, one of the hinomarus and the arrows on the tail, had long thin splits. I don’t know if this was a reaction to the Mark Softer, or if the decals had cracked slightly while they were still on the sheet. In either case the fractures were very thin, so I applied more setting solution onto them (Micro’s stuff this time) and clear coated them once dry.

The black primer method ensured that panel lines and rivets were already somewhat visible, but I decided to accentuate selected lines with some brown oil washes. I focused on areas which would tend to get dirty – like around engine access panels, and around the flaps and belly, where oils tend to leak. Everything was sealed with a satin clear coat, and the final details were added.

I glued in the engine parts and painted them using Vallejo metallic colors. I am really impressed by these. Vallejo paints were also used for other small details. Exhaust stubs were painted with my trusty old dual coats of Model Master Enamel exhaust metallizer and rust. The finishing touch was the aerial wire, made from black EZ-Line glued down with aquarium super-glue.

I’m very happy with the result. The kit was a simple and quick build. All told, I probably spent no more than 20 hours on this model. It looks really attractive with its brightly colored stripes, and I love the look of the spats, drop tanks, and two bladed prop. It is a marriage of old and new technologies of the 1930s. I thoroughly recommend this kit, if you can find an older pressing on second-hand discount. Don’t pay Hasegawa’s current asking price, as it is comically high for a 45+ year old model.  I also heartily recommend Life Like decals. I’ll be getting more of their sheets for future projects.


Accuracy (shape and dimensions) – 5

Detail/Finesse of Parts – 4

Build Options – 2

Fit – 4

Decals (Life Like Sheet 48-021) – 5

Price/Value – 5 (if found used)

Overall – 4.2


You might be on a model building forum if…

  1. The original poster’s question has been answered in full, but 25 other guys have to show off that they also know the answer, so they answer it again.
  2. You ask how to improve some aspect of an older kit or tool you own, and the first reply is to buy the newer, better kit/tool.
  3. Somebody tells you your latest build is unrealistic because you didn’t use the latest en-vogue weathering technique.
  4. Some guy responds to every gallery post he sees with nothing but the most superlative hyperbole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The quality of the build doesn’t seem to matter.
  5. An otherwise solid guy uses the term “noice!” all of the time.  He’s a really nice guy, so you don’t want to call him out on it, but dammit that looks silly – its something only dude-bros and spazzes should say.
  6. The blockhead who criticizes every new release for minor inaccuracies, doesn’t seem to actually build any models. Ever.
  7. When you see a model with visible seam-lines, wiggly canopy frames, and a 5 mm thick coat of shiny enamel, and offer polite creative criticism on how the modeler can improve his future work – you’re called out for being mean
  8. WeEd_LoRd69_420 appears out of nowhere and starts panhandling for free models.
  9. The dramatic keyboard warrior who always picks fights with others, gets boxed into a logic corner, and cries that the others are mean to him
  10. Some ding-dong (often same as #9) keeps making noise about how he’s going to leave the forum, because it sucks, and the mod is unfair, just never seems able to leave.Don’t take any of what I said too seriously. Forums are great.  They seem to be slowly going the way of the mammoth, and it is really a shame. Avoid the wasteland that is facebook (except for this blog’s corresponding site 😀 ), and support your local forum.  They are places for thoughtful discussion, well archived information about a variety of subjects, including technical data, build logs, and product reviews. Best of all – many have group builds!

    Scale Modeling Haven recommends the following.

    Aircraft Resource Center – Mostly jet guys these days, but for sheer volume of info – unsurpassed

    The Modeling Madness Forum – Solid, broad range knowledge base, minimal BS –

    Britmodeller – A great place for generalists. Tanks, planes, boats, figures – they’re all there, and more.  A good-natured crowd. Great place for well run group builds. Beware of the easily offended moderator.

    Unofficial Airfix Modelers Forum – Don’t let the name fool you, all kinds of modeling is welcome here. The regulars have a deep appreciation for classic British kits, without fetishizing them, like some of their competing forums do.  These guys take a more laid back approach to modeling, some might call them amateurish, but there is plenty of talent if you look. You won’t find many rivet counters or “Experten” here.

    International Scale Modeller Forum – I’m still feeling my way around this one. This is a generalist forum, but the car modeling section seems especially active, and there is a lot of great talent there. At the same time, there IS such a thing as a stupid question, and this place is a nexus for them. Nevertheless, it seems like a fun place to visit.

Soviet Armor Photo Study and Debugging

There are two goals I have for this blog. The first is to debug the formatting, and make it look nice, and easy to navigate.
I need to cleanup the menus, and work out the best way to import photos from my smugmug gallery. UPDATE A few minutes ago I wrote that my photos stretch weirdly. Might be I imported them wrong. I reset the photos by importing the full HTML from Smugmug END OF UPDATE.

If any of you have the know-how, please please please, comment below.

Second, I need to learn how to take a good photo. I don’t have fancy camera equipment; just a bridge camera that I inherited from my father-in-law, and my phone. The phone works well enough for in-progress shots and other odd stuff. For review and gallery photos, I’d really like to up my game, and get those glossy looking, clear pictures that I see others post online.

The camera I have is a Sony DSC H3, which is not really a point and shoot, and not really a DSLR. It gives me limited control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I’m just now starting to learn what all those things mean and do. After reading a few online guides, I can now  take a picture with the whole model pretty much in focus.  This even applies to photos of kits whose parts of it are sticking out far to the front or back.  Like the barrel of the Trumpeter T-72, seen below.

However; as you can see, the colors are what might best be called, uhm…ugly! Things look too cold, too much like baby poop, and too washed out.  I went through quite some effort to make this kit look like painted steal. The paint has a touch of luster to it, in real life, but looks flat on this photo. The flattening effects are even worse on this Tamiya IS-2. It looks like a card model because it is so washed out. The rich pale green tones are also crushed into a near monochrome.

Exhibit C is the Cyberhobby T-34. I was playing around with the white balance on this, since – well – there is so much white. However, here too I couldn’t quite get the colors right. There seems to be far too much in the green spectrum again.

I get that I need to work on figuring out how to manually set light balance, and play around with the metering modes. But is my photo setup not helping? The light setup I have is two daylight bulbs on work lamps set on either side and slightly above the subject. Are they set too close?

Finally, why are my pictures so damned grainy? I know my camera is technologically speaking – pretty ancient. But its 10 megapixels, which shouldn’t look a little smoother than what I’m getting. I have it set to the highest quality. I think… But as reader Zenek M. pointed out in the previous post, these pictures look like home-video porn.

For the three pictures above, I had set my ISO to 80, which is as low as my camera goes. There is a third value on my camera, which I assume sets shutter speed. However, this seems to change in relation to my F-stop settings, and so I don’t know if I can really control it, in any meaningful fashion.

So there you have it. The state of my photography at this point in time. I hope I can improve, and I am open to suggestions on how to do so. That said, if your suggestion is “go get a better camera”, then you can keep that to yourself. I want to learn how to make the most the equipment I already have, and I don’t have $300 dollars to shell out on a fancy DSLR.

Eduard’s 1/48 Fokker F.1 Build Review

The Kit

Eduard’s Fokker F.I/DR.I has been released in several permutations. Each of these kits shares the same plastic sprues, and what differs is the presence or absence of photo-etch (PE), and the decal options. This particular version was built from the Weekend Edition of the F.I. This meant no PE, and two markings options. The kit was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.

She knows what I like.

Boxart Fokker F.I 8493 Eduard

The plastic parts came in Eduard’s typical dark tan plastic which is very easy to work with. Surface details are nicely rendered, with fine taut fabric effect on flying surfaces. The fuselage has subtle surface detail and angling indicative of linen stretched over a wooden frame. The small details are sharply rendered, as is typical of Eduard kits.

All of the F.I/Dr. I kits come with parts to build either plane. They include the straight anterior edged F.I and more rounded DR.I horizontal stabilizers, the short F.I and longer Dr.I ailerons, and the wing tip skids for the Dr. I.  A quick comparison of the kits dimensions to published plans indicates it scales out precisely.

Small details include a very nice engine, perfectly presentable Spandau machine guns, external flare rack, fine bolts on the propeller boss, delicate control horns, and a well appointed cockpit. The cockpit interior parts include tube framing, floor, generic seat, rear bulkhead, rudder pedals, control stick, map case, and few instruments. All in all, it is sufficient, as not much will be visible through the small cockpit opening.

The Build

Construction of the model began with the cockpit. I simulated wooden surfaces by base coating with Tamiya flesh, then dragging some un-thinned brown oil paint across the surface to simulate wood grain. This was then sealed with Vallejo clear orange. The metal bits were painted a pale green shade. I added an epoxy seat cushion and some generic belts fashioned from wine bottle foil.

The fuselage was then closed up and the horizontal stabilizer and central wing were added. I needed some putty on the bottom of the fuselage, around the insert that represents the bottom stitching. I then installed the interplane struts to the center wing, and the cabane struts to the upper wing, and dry fit the top wing to the rest of the assembly to ensure everything lined up. I did the same with the landing gear at this stage. Holes for the rigging were predrilled into the top wing , in the fuselage decking, and the belly and on the landing gear winglette. A few other odds and ends were added and then the kit was ready for painting.

Both of the decal options in this kit call for a Fokker streaked linen finish. There are many ways to do this. Here is how I did it.

I began by spraying everything a Tamiya light blue mixed with a touch of white.  The streaking was then achieved using a wide flat brush and Vallejo paints. I used the Soviet Green and Camouflage Brown surface primers, and Reflective Green, each thinned with some Liquitex Airbrush Medium. The technique I use can be best described as semi-dry brushing. I dipped the brush in the paint, and wiped off just a bit of excess onto a piece of paper. Then I slowly dragged the brush in wide diagonals across the kit; not stopping until I reached the end of the surface being painted. The first  dark green color was used very sparingly, and only left a few streaks. This was built up with the reflective green, and then the brown. I allowed each color to dry a few hours before painting on the next. The idea is to apply the colors in a semi-opaque manner, and let one set of streaks show through the next.

With the streaking completed, I masked off the white fields for the wing-crosses and painted the cowl with a chrome yellow mixed from Tamiya yellow and orange paints. I then installed the lower wing. This fit rather poorly, and putty and touch-up painting were required. I then installed Gaspatch turnbuckles to the upper wing, and to the landing gear winglette, and used super glue to secure elastic EZ-line to each turnbuckle.
The Gaspatch turnbuckles are a neat product, and add a nice touch of detail to the final model. But they are difficult to line up with the direction the rigging runs in. I tried to overcome this, by gluing the EZ-line to the turnbuckle with regular super glue, and then gluing the turnbuckle to the plastic using slow-setting gel superglue, and stretching the line in the direction I wanted the line and buckle to run in, while the gel glue set.  It mostly worked, but thing look a bit jaunty from some angles.

The machine guns were then installed to the fuselage decking, and painted. These look fairly nice from the box, but some may wish to add PE cooling jackets for that extra bit of flash. I painted some other final details (e.g., cockpit coaming, an instrument on the decking, tires, tail skid) at this point, and I added a gloss coat and the decals. Eduard’s decals are great and conformed to the peaks and valleys of the fabric surfaces, quite nicely, with just a bit of Micro Set.

The next step was to install the landing gear. Here is where Eduard’s Weekend Edition kit falls a bit short. In the Profipack version of this kit, there is a small PE frame which is attached to the fuselage bottom. It has little holes that serve as locating marks for the landing gear struts. On this version, you have to eyeball the front struts, and it is easy to get it wrong. I’m still not convinced I got it right.

When I finally had the gear all figured out, I added the top wing and glued the front  rigging to the holes in the upper deck, and the control line rigging from the deck to the wing’s underside. I should have drilled my rigging holes all the way through the wing and drawn the rigging through it. As it was, I had some difficulty getting the lines attached to the top wing. Things worked out in the end, but I had some touchup painting to do, and many epithets were uttered. I also had a bit of trouble with one of the cabane struts. Things appeared to be lined up correctly, so I’m not sure what was causing the issue, but the strut was curving slightly when I tried to fit it to one of the fuselage locating holes. Some super glue did the trick, but I would still like to figure out where I went wrong here.

Once the wings were done, it was time to add the rudder, rig up the tail with elastic thread, rig the ailerons, add the tires, the engine and the cowl. There is some debate about whether this aircraft; flown by ace Werner Voss, had a yellow or dark green cowl. A chemical process in period photos often rendered chrome-yellow colors as an almost black shade. I went with yellow because I like a splash of color on my models.

I added a bit of weathering using blue and medium brown oil washes to accentuate surface details, and then using thinned oils and pigments to simulate splattered mud on the undersides.  I also could have done castor oil splattering around the cowl, but didn’t consider it until another modeler pointed out what was lacking. The wheels, tail struts, and lifting lugs were added and the model was done.

Despite some fit issues, I found this build to be and extremely pleasant build. Eduard provides you with a great kit, at a great bargain price. If you’re concerned about trying a biplane because of the rigging, then give this little bird a try. (NB: rigging is easy, it’s the strut work that is hard).

Post Script

I’m going to use a 1-5 scale in all of my subsequent reviews on this page. Each kit will be scored on several attributes. A score of 1 being lowest and 5 best.

Accuracy (shape and dimensions) – 5

Detail/Finesse of Parts – 5

Build Options – 3

Fit – 4

Decals – 5

Price/Value – 5

Overall – 4.5

Pardon our dust

I am rebuilding, rebranding, and relaunching this blog. Henceforth it will be known as the Scale Modeling Haven. Its primary purpose is to serve as a digital gallery of my own work, as I am getting into the habit of discarding older models to make room for newer stuff as my skills improve. I want a place where my old builds can continue to live, in the form of photos taken, when they were still fresh and new.

I also want to use this page to provide reviews of kits which I found to be particularly enjoyable.

You might find some mean spirited rants, politics, religion, and the generalized bitching of a high-functioning depressive. In a sense – this is going to be my anti-forum. Hold on to your butts, or whatever.

In the meantime though, I would be happy if somebody can help me figure out how to set up the menu function in WordPress. I want to have a main header menu where people can click on a gallery page, a reviews page, a build logs page, and a how-to page.

I have purchased a Smugmug plan to host my images, and would like to link the gallery page directly to there. Is that possible?

Academy F-4B in Progress

Ever since I’ve finished the IL-2 kits last month, I’ve been opening and closing boxes, but just haven’t felt inspired to work on anything. Then about three weeks ago I pulled out the Academy F-4B that I began working on earlier this year. Its been a slow going, very careful project, but its just what I needed. Its a challenging but not frustrating model, and every little bit I add is a little triumph.

As a reminder, here is where I had left things back in March or whenever it was.

As the year went on I dabbled with the kit here and there, but it was really back in the middle of October that I began to focus on the model. Then  I spent the last two weekends painting the kit.

I started the decals this weekend. It took two evenings to finish the zillion little stencils on the bottom of the fuselage. I hope to have the rest finished by the following weekend.

Then there are a million other little tasks before I can call this project done, but I’m in no hurry to finish.  I’m recovering from the build quickly disorder I suffered from over the last few years.
Being away from home three nights a week for work, for the last month has helped keep me away from the desk, and has kept the project fresh.

Sprue Cutters Union #15: Outstanding Models

I missed last week’s entry on account of lack of time to formulate a well thought out response, but I hope this week’s Sprue Cutters Union topic generates interest amongst readers.  This week’s question is simple: what makes an outstanding model?

The answer is not so simple however. Having read the other union members’ replies, the most common thread  seems to be story telling. A good model should convey its history by means of detail, finish, and final presentation. I don’t disagree with this; but to me, story telling is not always the goal of modeling.

I strive to make models which can be decorative objects for my man-cave. Therefore my own modeling goal is to make attractive, eye catching builds.  To this end, I strive for bright, sharp builds. Detail that pops out, bright colors, and clean builds.  I don’t know if I’ve achieved this goal entirely with any of my builds, but it is something I strive for. There are modelers out there who do this quite well. Folks like Mike Grant, Greg Schmidt, Paul Boyer, Tony Greenland and many others build models that look; in a word, pretty! And I like pretty.

Now I don’t think that pretty has to come at the expense of realistic. But the lynch-pin comes with weathering. Making a pretty model and a well weathered model requires a careful balance. For the record, I don’t believe the “Spanish School” modelers have achieved that balance. They’re style looks pretty, but it is not realistic. Especially when applied to aircraft.  To my eye an outstanding model does not need to be heavily weathered to still look realistic. For example, a USN A-4 could look great with bright colorful decals over a gull gray and white finish and subtle variations in sheen on the base coats from satin to almost flat, a few cleverly placed scuff marks and fluid leaks to simulate wear and maintenance. I don’t feel that every panel line needs to be darkened, the center of each panel faded, and the paint scuffed and sun bleached.  But that’s just me.

Speaking of Skyhawks though. The pursuit of pretty does mean that I’ve been finding myself building a lot of US Navy schemes lately. Aircraft of the 1920s and 30s, and Japanese aircraft have also been finding their way to my shelves and stash as well. This doesn’t mean I don’t build anything in a green and brown camo. The more drab looking craft go a long way to keep the modeling shelf from looking too much like a circus. But when I look at pictures of my displays from years past, when drab and lo-vis were the norm, I can’t help but feel a bit numb.

Below are a few examples culled from around the web that represent outstanding models to my eye. These are just a few of the benchmarks to which I strive.

If any of the images below violate viewing rights, please contact me, and I will remove them.

Greg Schmidt’s 1/24 NASCAR Monte Carlo

Mike Grant’s 1/72 F-104 in flight

Barry Webb’s 1/72 T-33

 photo IMG_0125.jpg

Mikeew’s (don’t know his real name- sorry) 1/48 Javelin (see – camo can be pretty too)


Patrick Lebecq’s 1/35 Horch

Thats all for now. Check out a few others’ opinions on the topic.
Yet Another Plastic Modeller
The Eternal Wargamer
Motorsport Modeller
Mattblackgod’s World
Miniature and Model Painting
Scale Model Soup
Scale Model Workben

The Combat Workshop