Salty Oscar: 1/48th Otaki (ARII) Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar)
Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Here is another vintage Otaki kit, originally released in the 70s. For its time it was a decent model with recessed panel lines and lots of overdone rivets (very common for this company's releases). Having said that, these kits can typically be picked up at very low cost if you want to try out some modeling skills on a basic build.
Notable Kit Features:
Low parts count
Single piece canopy
Decent separate engine (although you won't see much of it post-build)
Lacking a decent variety of Japanese types, I decided it was time for some opposition to the few Allied PTO types I had built to date. So the next group added to my build collection was a few IJAAF aircraft. (I was still researching the debate over the actual colour of IJN Grey / Green.)
The extreme conditions of the Pacific theater, between the effects of salt spray and sun, aircraft's paint jobs took a beating during its career. I selected a few inexpensive stash kits to experiment with a few choice processes of weathering paint finishes. These old, inexpensive Otaki kits would serve the purpose of trying out some paint weathering finishes well.
Instructions in Japanese only (On my version :)
Spartan cockpit with poor seat
Thick single piece canopy
Overdone recessed rivets (really they weren't close to this noticeable)
Poor pilot figure
Poorly detailed main gear
Note: These same molds were also re-released by ARII in the 80s.
Kit Additions / Modifications:
This was a basic Out of Box build, but the kit build was all about the paint application, so let's look at that aspect...
To provide the natural metal sub surface, I sprayed the kit, with the exception of the fabric control surfaces (as these wouldn't show chipping) with a coat of aluminum paint or NMF - Natural Metal Finish (at this time I was spraying oil based paint).
After that paint cured, I masked off the areas where the national markings would be (as it appeared as though the aircraft may have been delivered in NMF and later field camouflage and unit markings were applied). On this airframe I would be using a "Salt Weathering" technique so the next step was to lightly wet the surface and then sprinkle on some regular table salt. The damp surface will cause the salt to temporarily bond to the paint surface. The key word is damp, don't wet the salt too much or it will dissolve. You just want to bond the salt grains to the finish. Once the salt finish had thoroughly dried, I then airbrushed a few very light coats of green paint over the upper surfaces mixing in some variation to the paint tones as I went. My goal was to have the paint dry immediately after it hit the surface. Again you don't want to get the salt wet at this stage and have it dissolve into the paint on you.
After letting the paint cure, I then proceeded to brush and pick away the salt grains with the final removal done by a light wash. The area where the salt had bonded would reveal the NMF underneath. As it turned out this effect was very subtle, due to the amount of salt I had applied. You can actually build up the salt and gather it in areas that you want to show more 'chipping'. Some additional chipping was added for effect and then, after drying, the paint was top-coated with a gloss finish for the application of the decals. Once the decal stage was complete a matt finish was applied.
For the paint scheme I used a FS34095 green as well as some variations of this green by mixing in a sand colour on the fly. White tail stripes and nose cone were painted over a natural metal finish (NMF). I was pretty happy with the results at the time, although the effect is subtle it was a good training task for what could be done with this salt-weathering technique.
The After-Build Report:
I would only recommend this Otaki / ARII kit to a novice modeler who wanted an inexpensive kit for a simple build or possibly an intermediate, in similar circumstances to myself, where you want to try out a technique on a kit and don't want to chance a potential disaster on a more expensive kit. As a contrast, my understanding is that the 1/48th scale Hasegawa Ki-43 is a much better kit.
Completed build #147 - March 2012 using the 1/48th scale Otaki #OT2-5-500 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers