Review: ClearProp 1/144 Ki-51 Sonia

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The Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Army designation “Type 99 Assault Plane”. Allied nickname “Sonia”) was a light bomber/dive bomber in service with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It first flew in mid-1939. Initially deployed against Chinese forces, it proved to be too slow to hold up against the fighter aircraft of the other Allied powers. However, it performed a useful ground-attack role in the China-Burma-India theater, notably from airfields too rough for many other aircraft. As the war drew to a close, the Japanese began using them in kamikaze attacks. Total production was around 2,385 units.

On the day Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb, two Ki-51s were responsible for the last Japanese sinking of a US warship, sinking USS Bullhead (SS-332) with all hands.

F-Toys released a 1/144 Ki-51 around 2010 and that’s the only other Ki-51 in 1/144 that I’m aware of.

ClearProp has 3 levels of kits, each requiring different skill levels of the builder. This kit is an ‘advanced’ kit which means there is some PE in the box.

The kit comes in a sturdy box made of corrugated cardboard that covers all the sides of the box. On top of the box is a traditional box top made of thin card. Just to be clear the kit is 100% inside a corrugated cardboard box. All the parts are inside a resealable bag with various parts inside their own bags as well. The PE fret has a cardboard backing sheet. The packaging is very good. In the box we have:

  • 37 plastic parts
  • decal sheet
  • full colour 7-page glossy paper instruction sheet

The level of detail is very nice and the main parts have fine recessed panel lines. The attachment points are small and they attach to the mating surfaces. There are no alignment pins on the main parts of the fuselage or wings so you will have to take care during assembly. You have a very detailed engine.  There are colour call-outs throughout the build.

The kit is built in 8 steps.

  1. Putting together the cockpit.
  2. Painting the port cockpit wall and adding some decals.
  3. Painting the starboard cockpit wall and adding a decal.
  4. Trapping the cockpit and engine between the fuselage halves and adding the top deck of the fuselage and engine.
  5. Joining the 2 part wings to the fuselage and elevators. Note the bottom part of the wing is in clear plastic because there’s a window in the bottom of the wing.
  6. Adding the undercarriage, underwing bombs, and tail wheel. Be careful adding the bombs as there isn’t a clear place to put them.
  7. Putting the propellor hub on the propellor. Note that painting scheme #1 has a different hub.
  8. Add the canopy, aerial, propellor and gun camera.

The painting guide gives you 4 options, 2 camouflaged and 2 mostly one colour. You also get some bonus decals that allow you to do a second aircraft from each of the units so you really have 8 decals options from 4 different units. I’d note that the 2 camouflage options are pretty complicated. The colours are named and called out in Mr Color. Colours are called out as needed throughout the instructions. Your 4 options are:

  • IJA Type 99 army assault plane Ki-51 “Sonia” 27th Hikosentai, Burma 1942
  • IJA Type 99 army assault plane Ki-51 “Sonia” 6th Hikosentai, Southern China 1942
  • IJA Type 99 army assault plane Ki-51 “Sonia” 28th Hikosentai, Manchuria 1940-1941
  • IJA Type 99 army assault plane Ki-51 “Sonia” Flying Ibaraki, Japan 1942

This kit is available direct from us here for US$34.00 with free shipping.

Conclusion: This is a very nice little kit with lots of detail. It’s a modern 1/144 scale kit with

Paul Tosney – Editor
HobbyLink International
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