Oxford OXFAC015 Imperial Japanese Army Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien "Tony" Fighter - Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi, 244 Sentai (2 Chutai), Chofu (Tokyo), Japan, January 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable."
- Japanese Emperor Hirohito speaking to the Japanese people after the atomic bombings, August 1945
The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien ("Swallow") fighter represented a major departure for Japanese aircraft design in World War II. While other Japanese fighters were designed with air-cooled radials and were optimized for maneuverability, the Ki-61 used a liquid-cooled in-line engine and was designed for speed and power. In fact, the Ki-61 was so different from other Japanese fighters that when the type was first encountered in combat over New Guinea in June 1943, the Allies thought it wasn't a Japanese design at all. At first they believed it was a copy of the German Messerschmitt Me-109, then suspected it was a copy of the Italian Macchi C.202 Foglore or similar Italian fighter. For this reason they gave it the code-name "Antonio", or "Tony", though by the summer of 1943 the Allies were convinced the Ki-61 was in fact a Japanese design.
The Hien proved initially successful in combat against American fighters. As the war in the Pacific ground on, however, the Ki-61 found itself increasingly outclassed, but it soldiered on until the end of hostilities.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale diecast replica of a Japanese Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien "Tony" fighter that was piloted by Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi, who was attached to the 244 Sentai (2 Chutai), Chofu then deployed to Tokyo, Japan, during January 1945. Now in stock!
Wingspan: 6.5 inches
Length: 4.75 inches
Release Date: June 2011
Historical Account: "To Fanfare and Coronets" - Operation Downfall was the overall Allied plan for the invasion of Japan at the end of World War II. Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan, Japan surrendered so the operation was cancelled.
Operation Downfall consisted of two parts - Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet. Set to begin in November 1945, Operation Olympic was intended to capture the southern third of the southernmost main Japanese island of Kyushu, with the recently captured island of Okinawa to be used as a staging area. Later, in the spring of 1946, Operation Coronet was the planned invasion of the Kantu plain near Tokyo on the Japanese island of Honshu. Airbases on Kyushu captured in Operation Olympic would allow land-based air support for Operation Coronet.
Japan's geography made this invasion plan obvious to the Japanese as well, who were able to accurately deduce the Allied invasion plans and adjust their defense plans accordingly. The Japanese planned an all-out defense of Kyushu, with little left in reserve for any subsequent defense operations. Casualty predictions varied widely, but were extremely high for both sides: depending on the degree to which Japanese civilians resisted the invasion, estimates ran into the millions for American casualties and the tens of millions for Japan.