Designed by Hideo Itokawa, the Nakajima Ki-43 was the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force's equivalent to the Mitsubishi A6M, though more lightweight and less sturdy. Aimed at replacing the Ki-27, the Ki-43 had a high rate of climb, excellent maneuverability, and a top speed of over 300mph. The Ki-43 was the most produced fighter for the IJAAF, with nearly 6,000 built, and it served throughout the entire war.
Ki-43-I 64 Sentai, 1 Chutai
Early deliveries of the Hayabusa had the aircraft left in natural metal. The 64 Sentai tail markings were outlined in red for the 1st Chutai, to help them stand out more. No fuselage hinomarus were carried.
Ki-43-I 1 Sentai Hombu
Early Ki-43 camouflage consisted of a dark green upper surface over a greenish gray. The 1st Sentai added white bands to their rudders to denote specific Shotai, in this case, the 3rd Shotai. The fuselage chevrons are also Shotai markings.
Ki-43-I 11 Sentai, 1 Chutai
The Ki-43 soon found itself finished in two-tone camouflages. This Hayabusa has a disruptive scheme of a medium brown over the base green. The Ki-43-I restored at Wanaka was finished in a similar scheme.
Ki-43-I 64 Sentai, 2 Chutai
Another style of camouflage found on the Hayabusa was dark red-brown and dark green, as seen here. In a reverse of the earlier 64 Sentai aircraft, this one has its red arrow trimmed in white. The spinner is also finished in Chutai colors.
Ki-43-I 50 Sentai, 2 Chutai
One of the more attractive Sentai markings found on the Ki-43, the 50 Sentai had a lightning bolt run from the trailing edge of the wing along the rear fuselage to the rudder. The fuselage hinomaru is positioned above this bolt, in a smaller than usual size. A white 19 is roughly painted on the rudder, possibly denoting individual aircraft in the unit. The underside appears to be unpainted.
Several Ki-43s were captured throughout the war years, including this example, finished in Chinese markings. It was apparently captured in good condition, as the photo shows the plane taxiing. The camouflage appears to be overall green over gray, or possibly natural metal.