One of the great things about these late-career, free-form compositions from Koike is that, unlike box art, he has the time and incentive to really develop the background of the painting as well as the subject. The Shoki (Allied code name, "Tojo") is well-known for its role in the late-war defense of Japan's own skies, but here Koike has painted something from the war's middle, suggesting a mission over the jungles of Burma, the Philippines or perhaps Vietnam. In all his paintings, Koike takes great pains to accurately show the sunlight, reflections and the aircraft's form in great detail, but a composition such as this, with so much natural color taking up so much of the frame, is a rare treat indeed.
Though over 1,200 examples of the Shoki were completed, sadly not a single example remains. Wartime photos of the plane are black and white, and typically grainy. As such, it is only through a gorgeous painting such as this that we can enjoy the powerful lines of a very capable aircraft that, though not as nimble as earlier, lighter Japanese fighters, had the power and armament to go toe-to-toe with American warplanes.
This original painting is acrylic on heavy art board. The board measures 54cm x 39cm, and the painted area is approximately 44.7cm x 33.5cm.