Tets Research Institute

Ki-51 (Sonia) Nichimo 1/48


For my grandfather Kingo Inoue a former test pilot of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Your families are proud of your great work.

About this article

This article was originally posted on Kitmaniac.com in 2013.

While the posting, many persons from all over the world had been looking at this and kindly encouraging me so much. I’d like to thank to them the great modelers, Rafa, Hercmech, NasaNick, Johan, theo, Hans, IIan, eduardo, modellius, Brian, Chuck, Mark, Jesse, Jimmydel, Dionisis and Vini. Some are my FB friends still now, but others not. I miss them.

And again thanks to Nick Millman who kindly introduced this article on his famous blog “Aviation of Japan”, and Ronnie Olsthoorn who provided his great illustration for Nick’s article about my build.



  1.  Mechanism of Military Aircfaft Toryu/Type 99 Assault/Tactical Reconnaissance, Maru-publisher
  2.  Arawasi’s Eagle Eye Series, No.1
  3.  The perfect guide of Japan army aircraft 1910-1945, Gakken publisher (*Special thanks and respects to Mr. Sunao Katabuchi. Your persuasive and thorough paint theory on this book is always my best reference.)
  4.  The Story of the Japan Army Prototype Aircfafts by Kariya Masai, kojin-sya publisher


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) Gallery

Pics of completed Ki-51 prototype. Enjoy !   Thanks for looking !!!


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) WIP #5

  For the expression as a “brand-new prototype”, I decided to dare not to make any weathering but to polish with tissue paper. Just only a few works remained.   Who are the guys ?   Jun.13th 1939 Fine, later cloudy Today, the first flight of Ki-51. The brakes doesn’t work again, take off them, fly without brakes. It seems to be rather good manuvability. Feel so fine to look it flies good. The launching ceremony of the prototype No.1 came out perfect. How big is the pleasure of the colleagues. Drunk with a glass of beer. The first flight was made by Mitsubishi’s pilot, Kingo Inoue. “Its manuvability is …


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) WIP #4

The green might look a little bit lighter? Off course the appearance of color tone often depends on the camera or light condition, but in fact it’s a bit lighter color. And it was the most important and difficult point for this build. It was a continuous process of trial and error. I often went into deep thought even when I was taking bath… We often use Tamaiya’s XF-14(light-grey-green) for IJA aircraft, but I felt the color was too yellow. I assumed that XF-14 might express the sun burst effect. On the other hand, I was building the Ki-51 as the prototype model. As to say, It was a “brand-new …


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) WIP #3

Going to the canopy… Ki-51 had two types of canopy, the early and the late one.   Because I was building this model as the prototype that my grandfather flied, it should hava the early type canopy off course. But the Nichimo’s kit was as a late type, and additionally, I wanted to make the canopy open, so I had to make some modification on that. The kit’s canopy was rather thick and had a bad transparency, so I bought faclon’s supreme canopy set.   But I had a big problem… According to my first guide book “Maru’s Mechanism of Military Aircfaft Toryu/Type 99 Assault/Tactical Reconnaissance”, the early type canopy …


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) WIP #2

Continuing work on the interior.   Not sure about the way that the radio equipped, I assumed that it was hung with wires from the roof, in order to protect the vacuum tubes in it against the shock.   The arch shaped pipe on the rear office is the indicator of flap’s angle. The left side.   Instrument panel for the rear seat I dared not to set the oxgen tank. Because, if I were my grandfather I would not to want to bring such a heavy object like oxgen tank for the first test fligt ! 😉 flap   Adjusting the vertical tail   All parts prepared and fuselage …


Ki-51(Nichimo 1/48) WIP #1

  These are the photos that my grandfather owned when he was alive. My grandfather Kingo Inoue(2nd from the right on the photo) was a test pilot of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and was the test pilot for the first flight of IJA Ki-51(Sonia). These photos above show the flying Ki-51 prototype and the smiling pilots with Mr.Kariya Masai from “Kugisyou”(Japan Aero Technology Laboratory) at the left-end, just after its first flight in 1939 at Gifu Airbase. As seeing the photos, I gradually had become to want to have the plane in my hand closely. Around in 2007, I bought and almost built the Nichimo’s kit of Ki-51. It’s an old …



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