The Kawasaki Ki-48 was a Japanese twin-engine light bomber used during World War II . Its Allied code name was "Lily".
The development of the aircraft began at the end of 1937 at the request of the Japanese military high command. Kawasaki received an order to develop a "high-speed bomber ". It was inspired by the Soviet Tupolev SB. Kawasaki had the advantage of the experience of designing the Ki-45 twin-engine heavy fighter. However the new design had a number of defects. It could carry only a 800 kg bombload and was equipped only with three machine guns , which made it very vulnerable to enemy fighters. The aircraft was considered an acceptable light bomber for the first years of the war.
The aircraft served in China from late 1940, replacing the Kawasaki Ki-32 , and were widely used in the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Dutch East Indies. All models continued in service until the Battle of Okinawa during April 1945, when many were converted into kamikaze aircraft armed with an 800 kg bomb.
AZ Models' 1:48 scale Ki-48 I "Sokei" kit is composed of three sprues of light grey plastic parts, one sprue of transparent parts, a zip-lock bag with resin pieces, a decal sheet and a small instruction booklet. Everything is located within a rather small top opening cardboard box. Every sprue is protected within it's own plastic bag and nothing was damaged in my sample even if one clear part was detached from it's sprue.
My first impression of the plastic parts is that they look nice but there are some areas were the surface detail is a bit soft. It seems as if the molds suffered a bit so a good cleaning session will be necessary. Having said that, the surface of the plastic is very smooth and the panel lines, though a bit heavy, are well rendered. As is, the effect is somewhat to clean in that there are no rivet lines. Some will prefer it to be like that but others will want to enhance the surface finish with a riveter tool.
The inside of the fuselage halves are devoid of any details, so to make the interior of the model look busy, AZ Models have provided several parts such as a cockpit floor, a seat, cushions, a control stick, an instrument panel, several instrument consoles and radio racks, armament, bulkheads etc... The result should be acceptable but some additional parts on a photo etched fret wouldn't have been luxury in my opinion. There are no seatbelts provided for exemple and those on the decal sheet look very rudimentary. The quality of the interior detail parts is variable and here, once again, some cleaning will be necessary.
Resin parts are provided in the kit and they are nicely molded. Most of them will represent the two Nakajima Ha.115 engines once assembled but there are also items for the interior such as fuel tanks.
The clear parts are nice but a bit foggy. Maybe covering them with future will help to make them more transparent. They are all molded in closed position which is a shame if you want to show the interior, provided you have added some extra detail of course. Otherwise, I think the clear parts are acceptable as they come in the kit. It is quite obvious that fitting the glazings to the airframe will be a crucial step in the build of this model since there are quite a lot of them!
Instructions and decals
The instructions are composed of two A4 sheets of paper printed in black & white, folded so to make a small A5 size 8 pages booklet. It comprises a parts layout, a 42 step assembly guide, a decal position guide and a rudimentary color table with no references to any brand of model kit paint. Three-views of the marking options, printed in color, are present on the back of the box and act as decalling and painting guide.
Decals for three aircraft are provided:
1 - Ki-48-I, 90th Light Bomber Air Combat Regiment, Tak, Thailand. Shot down by AVG over Rangoon, January 1942.
2 - Ki-48-I, 34th Light Bomber Air Combat Regiment, 1st Company, Thailand, April 1943.
3 - Ki-48-I, 75th Attack Air Combat regiment, China, october 1941.
The decals look good overall, though the red of the Hinomarus look a bit dark. No fuselage strips are provided so you will have to had them by yourself by using masking tape. The yellow ID bands on the wing leading edges are missing as well.
Being not a specialist of the Ki-48, I can't comment on the overal accuracy of the model dimension wise. I've compared the kit to drawings and photos I found in the Maru Mechanic n°2 and even if some mm are off here and there the kit very much looks like a Ki-48. Hardcore modellers probably won't be happy with it but in my opinion it is ok for a short run kit. For me the real issue is the overall level of detail. I think it is better to do something in that direction rather than waste too much time on getting the overall dimensions right. But of course it is alright to think the other way around.
This is a nice kit overall but it should be considered more like a good base to work with than anything else. Out of the box it will look like a Ki-48 but on closer inspection, many details will be missing, especially in the interior area and the external surface finish is somewhat simplified. I can't help myself to think that a photo etched fret should have been included in the kit for the price. In fact AZ Model have produced one (A4001) as well as a sheet of masks (A4002) but these are sold separately so when added to the cost of the basic kit it makes a too high price tag in my opinion.
Like this, I would only recommend the kit to Japanese WWII aircraft enthusiasts with good references of the subject and some solid experience with short run kits. Others will be happy with more accessible models like Hasegawa's Ki-45. Tamiya also has some nice twin engined aircraft in it's catalogue...
AZ Model's Ki-48-I model kit is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale