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The Ki-43 Squadron in service of the Manchukuo Air Force

You probably know that the Manchukuo Imperial Air Force used Ki-43 fighters during World War II. However what is not clear was the number of aircraft, their insignia, their start of service, as well as the bases from which they operated. Fortunately thanks to FineMolds, we will try to demystify the history of Hayabusa fighters in the service of Manchukuo.

Picture 1: Manchukuo ki-43-II markings

Documentation and footage found by experts indicates that the Manchukuo Imperial Air Force’s Ki-43 Squadron flew the Ki-43 II. Version II was a significant improvement over the Ki-43 I thanks to its 1150hp Nakajima Ha-115 engine, redesigned fuselage of the main wing and a three-bladed propeller. The tremendous increase in power output of the Nakajima engine was achieved by upgrading the Ha-25 powerplant with a two-stage supercharger.  This modification helped to improve the top and cruise speed of the aircraft to 536 km/h and 355 km/h while allowing it’s operational range to stay at an acceptable level of 1610 km without drop tanks. The Manchukuo Imperial Air Force’s Hayabusa squadron was pictured in ‘Manchukuo War Chronicles #283,’ dated 12 December 1944. From this, we learn that the squadron operated from the Fengtian Air Base and consisted of 4 aircraft that had been donated by Manchukuo citizens and the Manchurian Oil Company (picture 1). Each aircraft carried the name of its sponsor through markings on the fuselage. The kanji markings transliterate as Gokoku-Gou: ‘Defense of our Country’ + ‘Gou’ being the suffix indicating a preceding number. This is an equivalent of well-known Japanese slogans Aikokoku-Gou ‘For the beloved Country’ for aircraft donated to the Japanese Army and Houkoku-Gou ‘Patriotic Act’ the donations of aircraft to the Japanese Navy. Based on the date of the ‘Manchukuo War Chronicles’, it can be safely assumed that the Ki-43’s were delivered and began combat operations in 1944.

The kit’s decals give the full names of each aircraft and a short description of its donator (picture 2).

‘From Manchurian Oil Company No. 1’ was the first of two aircraft donated by Manchurian Oil Company. The company was founded in 1934 and was expected to extract, refine and sell oil to local customers. It was  a joint venture between the state and private owners. However due to lack of suitable oil fields in Manchuria the company needed to import unrefined oil from the US, the UK and other overseas countries to refine at its Dalian refinery. Decals 1 and 2 should be used for this aircraft.

‘From Manchurian Oil Company No. 2′ was the second aircraft donated by the Manchurian Oil Company to defend Manchuria This aircraft is visible in the photograph from ‘Manchukuo War Chronicles’ at Fengtian Air Base.  To get the markings for this airplane you need to use decals 1 and 2 and replace the last 2 kanji characters with decals 11 and 12.

‘From the Labour Service Group of the Songhua River’ All around Manchuria youth and students were organized into “Manchurian Construction Working Volunteer Corps” which were  employed in civil engineering construction and agriculture work in their region. This aircraft was donated by the workers of the “Denjin Corps” who worked in the Songhua River basin. Decals 3 and 4 should be used for the markings of this aircraft.

‘From the Citizens of Longjiang County No. 1′  was donated by the citizens of the Longjiang County. Decals 5 and 6 should be used for this airplane.

 

Picture 2: Ki-43-II decals for Fine Molds (FB9)
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