This twin was Japan’s attempt at a twin engine “heavy fighter”.
Serving from 1942 to the end of the War, the Ki-45 can be regarded a reasonable entry to the genre.
I’ve mentioned several times that the “typical” Japanese fighter design was very light and emphasized combat of maneuver. That may be partly why the Japanese Army looked into a heavy fighter design with more realistic expectations than many other powers. They under no illusions about it being a dog fighter that would go toe to toe with single engine fighters.
They sought a multi-role aircraft that could provide close support, long term standing patrols, a bomber destroyer and maybe even a night fighter.
Kawasaki’s first attempt, the original Ki-45 prototype was not a success and was rejected by the Army. After nearly giving up on the project and completely shaking up the design team, new head designer Doi Takeo produced an attractive twin that was designated Ki-45Kai. The “Kai” means modified, but it was truly an all new design. Uniquely among Japanese combat types, every Ki-45 produced would carry the “Kai” designation. It also had self-sealing fuel tanks and crew armor from the start.
The new type first saw combat in October 1942. It was not only a new type, but a new concept for the Japanese Army and it was somewhat underemployed for a while. But it saw increasing use in close support and anti-shipping. Its forward firepower was two 12.7 mm guns; usually considered a heavy machine gun, but the Japanese Army’s use of exploding ammunition made it more of a light cannon. There was also a forward firing 20 mm tunnel gun. As the type found its niche in Burma the Army deployed new squadrons to Timor and New Guinea. From mid-1943 it also came to be Japan’s best anti-PT Boat weapon.
All told 4 variants (differing mostly in armament) totaling 1690 examples were built. The last two versions were intended for operations against B-29s, and indeed the type was one of the more successful for that purpose.
This particular aircraft was assigned to the 5th Flight Regiment in Timor, late 1943. Protection for Eastern Dutch East Indies airfields and area shipping were their main function.
This is the Hasegawa kit. It was one of their last WWII kits before they switched over wholly to Gundam and Anime themes. And that sort of makes me sad, they were really putting out first rate kits when they withdrew from the market. But apparently there is now far money in giant robots than historic subjects.
I will look forward to building a few more of this type; its a nice kit of an attractive plane with a variety of interesting variations in armament, colors and markings.