The Kawasaki Ki-10 first appeared in the spring of 1935. Takeo Doi's neat little biplane was selected in competitive trials against the faster monoplane Nakajima Ki-11 - the Army pilots preferring the Ki-10's superior manoeuvrability.
300 Ki-10-1s were built between 1935 and 1937, entering service as the Type 95 Fighter. An improved version - the Type 95 Model 2 - featured increased span wings, a longer fuselage and larger tail surfaces. The Model 2 remained in production until the end of 1938, with a further 280 being built, holding the distinction of being the IJAAF's last biplane fighter.
Armed with a pair of synchronised 7.7mm Type 89 machine guns, the "Perry" (as it was later christened by the Allies) proved to be a classic dog fighter, performing well in the invasion of China. I fought in the Nomonhan border clashes with the Soviet Union in 1939, although it was really becoming outclassed by that stage. By the time of the Pacific War, the Ki-10 had had largely been retired to training and secondary roles, but it continued to prove useful performing short-range patrol and reconnaissance missions in Japan proper and mainland China.
I've been a fan of FineMolds kits for a few years - they produce high quality injected kits of some unusual Japanese subjects that other manufacturers pass over. In terms of style, they are probably most similar to Hasegawa, with the parts crisply moulded in quite a hard styrene, with scribing noticeable finer than is usually apparent on Tamiya kits. The K-10 arrives in a sturdy top-opening box containing:
80 x grey-green styrene parts on 3 x sprues
32 x tan parts on a sprue of figures and ground accessories
3 x clear parts
2 x poly-caps (1 spare)
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The parts are well moulded with hardly a trace of flash - the only exception to this being the trailing edge of the upper wing, which has a noticeable "fringe" that will be easy enough to sand off. FineMolds have kept any ejector pin marks well out of harm's way. So far so good, but I did find a few sink marks - some on the fuselage where there's cockpit detail on the inside and, rather more of a pain, on the top wing where there are strut-locators on the reverse. The scribing is delicate and consistent throughout, and the representation of fabric surfaces is subtly done.
A biplane kit hardly lends itself to test-fitting, but the fuselage halves line up precisely and the lower wing drops snugly into place. One thing to watch on the wings is the way the sprue attachments intrude onto the mating surfaces, so a little careful preparation will be needed there. The stabilizers are a loose fit, but they match the curved fillets perfectly and have lovely thin trailing edges. The cowling and top decking are separate but a good fit.
Steps 1-4. Things begin logically enough with the interior and the fuselage assembly. The radiator is made up of 4 nicely detailed parts, with neat hex patterns on the cores and a separate coolant pipe.
The cockpit includes a combined instrument panel/ammunition storage onto which fit gun bodies, complete with separate cocking handles. The 3-part seat comes with a separate cushion or parachute-pack with moulded-on lap belts, while the joystick features an amazingly delicate trigger. The fuselage sides have some ribs and stringers (hence the sink-marks) and are further detailed with separate consoles and levers.
The nose is quite complex, with separate top panels and a 2-part cowl-front with cooling fins which traps a poly-cap. The top decking fits over a pair of aileron control rods which will be very vulnerable until the upper wing is attached.
Step 5. This adds the lower wing, stabilizers and rudder. The wings are made up from separate upper and lower halves and must be drilled to accept small rigging attachments. FineMolds also sell a supplementary set of etched parts which includes flying wires.
Steps 6 & 7. The undercarriage can be built with or without wheel spats. Strangely, the inner half of each spat is moulded integral with the wheel, but the detail is still excellent. The tyres are "un-weighted". Because the same u/c legs serve for both versions, separate cuffs to fit around the base of the legs are supplied for the spats.
Step 8 & 9. The top wing comes in for the same treatment as the bottom one and you must drill holes again to accept the individual rigging attachments. Then the undercarriage is fitted, along with the cabane struts. Both have really solid locating pins, so the assembly should be very stable (this would make an ideal first biplane kit for anyone).
The windscreen is crystal clear and has a slot for a neat little telescopic sight.
Step 10. Sees the top wing and the propeller attached. Again, the interplane struts have really chunky locators (unfortunately, it's the attachment points for these that cause the sink-marks). The propeller is a push-fit onto the poly-cap inside the nose.
The kit includes a sitting pilot figure and, in a really neat touch, he comes with separate heads with and without his goggles on.
And that's it for the basic assembly, which looks really straightforward. The instructions are clearly illustrated with a few bi-lingual captions, but what is badly lacking is any reference to rigging the aircraft. As stated above, there's a rigging set available separately, but I'd expect a rigging diagram in the standard kit - as it is, you'll have to go by the excellent box-top painting.
On the plus side, virtually every part is keyed to a neat colour chart listing Gunze and Tamiya paints, along with English and German translations of the colours.
Perhaps the nicest surprise in the kit is the "bonus" set of figures and accessories. There's a standing pilot with a camera and a 6-part squatting mechanic. Also supplied are 2 x tables, 2 x fuel drums, a machine gun and extra barrel, ammunition boxes, a bucket, various packs and bags, a flying helmet and, last but not least, a pair of bottles on the clear sprue. All in all, a really useful set for anyone building a diorama or vignette and, what's really nice, it's clear from the instructions that the alternative Ki-10 kit released (FB-13) includes a different set of figures and accessories.
Painting and Decals
The kit contains markings for two aircraft flown by Captain Tateo Kato, Commander of the 2 Sentai, 1 Chutai, in Manchuria during March 1938. Kato claimed nine victories (7 while flying Ki-10s) in 1938 making him the top-scoring Army pilot in China during the period 1937-41.
Both are painted overall Grey-Green with Orange fuselage bands, while one also has undercarriage spats with Orange flashes and kill marking under the cockpit.
The decals are supplied on 2 small sheets. The first is generic and contains Hinomarus printed in a deep blood red and some stencils for the a/c. The second sheet contains Kato's personal markings, plus insignia and stencils for the figures and equipment and even tiny labels for the clear bottles. The flashes for the spats are likely to be tricky to fit and the decals don't cover the fairings at the base of the u/c legs as shown on the box art. I think many modellers will prefer to paint the flashes, using the decals as a guide.
FineMolds' Ki-10 is a really neat little kit, let down slightly by the minor sink-marks and the lack of rigging instructions. Neither point is a major problem and, in fact, the simple construction would make this an ideal beginner's biplane kit.
FineMolds kits aren't always that easy to find in western model shops and import prices can be high. Therefore, I bought mine from Hobby Link Japan
who offer substantial savings over buying in the UK. Bought this way, the price equivalent of just £12.66 plus P&P makes the Perry excellent value for money. Recommended.