Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Japanese 'Taifun' in 1/72

Zbyszek Malicki ('Zegeye') built this neat Messerchmitt Bf 108 'Taifun' in Japanese markings from the 2013 Fly kit in 1/72 scale and has kindly shared these 'walk around' images of his model with Aviation of Japan which it is a pleasure to present as the first blog of 2019. In 2017 the Fly kit was re-issued in two versions by Kovozávody Prostějov  (KP) with the resin parts replaced with plastic. The KP kit # KPM0081 contains markings for the Japanese civil Taifun J-BACC registered in August 1936 and as operated in China by Yomiuri Shimbun in a camouflage scheme. 

Zbyszek built the Fly model from the box, judging it a truly short-run kit with its soft grey plastic hard to work with. Earlier editions in brown plastic were of better quality. He found that the fit was poor, requiring a lot of filler.

The exclamation mark decals in the kit were not used as Zbyszek considered them unlikely and possibly only dirt (or the remains of previous paint?). This Bf 108 had the Aikoku dedication # 258 reportedly from the Kyowakai organisation, formally the Manchu Teikoku Kyowakai (Manchuria Imperial Concordia Society), a political organisation avoiding the character of a political party and without aspiration to securing political power but functioning as a background organization to complement the activities of government, striving toward the achievement of an ideal of “nation building” (kenkoku).  Two other Kyowakai-dedicated Taifuns are known - # 259 and # 260.

15 Bf 108 Taifuns of 21 sent to Japan were reportedly purchased by and registered to Manshû Kôkû Kabushiki Kaisha (MKKK - Manchukuo Aviation Co., Ltd), with 12 company registrations known (M-51 to M-62).  The remainder were operated by the IJAAF but the details of acquisition are obscure. The subject of Zbyszek's model has been presumed to be a civil aircraft because of the dark bordered white senchi hiyoshiki (戦地標識 - lit. 'war front sign') band on the rear fuselage, interpreted as being black. Civil aircraft were supposed to have red bordered bands but the black borders have been associated with civilian flying schools where in photographs they appear significantly darker than the national hinomaru insignia. However, officially the red of the hinomaru was supposed to be distinct from the red used for all other markings, being brighter and more towards an orange-red.       

The model was painted with a mix of Humbrol radome tan and white to represent Zbyszek's interpretation of a sun faded RLM 05 Elfenbein (ivory) paint.     

 Fly Box Art 2013

KP Box Art 2017

Image credit: All model photos © 2019 Zbyszek Malicki;; Photograph via web; Fly box art © 2013 Fly; KP box art © 2017 Kovozávody Prostějov   

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Tamiya 1/48 Ki-61-1 Tei Hien by Miroslav Koukal

Miroslav Koukal of the Czech Republic has very kindly shared these images of his superlative build of the Tamiya Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien 'Tony' (Type 3 Fighter - San-Shiki Sentoh-ki - 三式戦闘機) in 1/48 scale. In February 2017 Aviation of Japan hosted an in-box review of this kit by Dan Salamone here.

Miroslav judged this kit fantastic with incredible details and a perfect fit. He recommends it to everyone who loves Japanese 'war birds' from WWII. The kit was released in December 2016 and fortunately for 1/72 modellers Tamiya released an equally fine kit in the smaller scale in March this year.

Miroslav enhanced his model by using Eduard Brassin wheels and exhaust stacks, and Hauler photo-etch parts. With rivets noticeable in photographs of the real aircraft he added them to the model using Petre Dousek's 'Rosie the Riveteer' 0.65mm tool.

Masks from Dead Design and Miroslav's friend Jakub N were used and decals from HGW.

Miroslav chose as his subject the uncamouflaged aircraft of Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi of Hiko Dai 244 Sentai as presented by Tamiya with red fuselage stripe and victory symbols.

Miroslav expressed many thanks to his friend Jan Hajíček of Dead Design for consultation and the masks for inspection covers.

With special thanks to Miroslav for sharing these images of his superbly finished, ultra-realistic model with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All © 2018 Miroslav Koukal.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Season's Greetings

With Very Best Wishes to all Aviation of Japan contributors and readers for the Christmas Season and the New Year. 

Image credit: Snow at Hie Shrine, 1931, (Kawase Hasui 1893-1957)

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Early Japanese Flyers ~ Harry O'Hara

Whilst at least nine Japanese pilots served in the Aéronautique Militaire of the French Army during the First World War, Fusao Ohara, known as Harry O'Hara, served in the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Air Force (RAF). Ohara was born in Tokyo in 1891 but is recorded as running away from home in 1910. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he enlisted in the 34th Sikh Pioneers of the Indian Army, which he reportedly joined when working as a newspaper correspondent in India. On 2 December 1914 he was wounded by shellfire in France whilst serving as a cook, the unit Doctor recording that he was "very plucky and made no complaint though riddled everywhere".  He subsequently joined the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army, arriving back in France with that unit on 24 December 1915.

He was again badly wounded in action in August 1916 during an attack at Guillemot and awarded the Military Medal in January 1917. On leaving the Edmonton Military Hospital and transferring into the RFC he was recorded as having scars from almost 70 shrapnel wounds on his chest, left shoulder and arm, right arm and right thigh. Enlisted as a 2nd Class Air Mechanic he underwent flying training, receiving his wings on 21 July 1917 and promotion to Sergeant. In September 1917 he married Muriel McDonald from Norfolk in a ceremony at Lewisham and in March 1918 he was posted to the School of Military Aeronautics at Reading. 

Harry Ohara was then posted to No.1 Sqn RFC in France but in June 1918 he was again wounded, this time requiring facial reconstruction surgery at the Queen's Hospital in Sidcup after initial medical treatment at Boulogne.  After his discharge in April 1919 he was awarded a pension and lived with Muriel in Islington, London. He worked at St Dunstan's school for the blind finishing the furniture made there with lacquer work and he also taught Japanese at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS). His daughter Geraldine recorded that he loved and admired England, serving as a fire watcher during the Second World War. He was remembered for his kindness and courtesy, despite being greatly troubled in later years by his war wounds and eventually becoming bed ridden. He died in Hampstead in 1951. 

It is an honour to be able to record his service here, albeit so briefly. 

Image and information credit: Great War London         

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Enhancing Jack ~ CMK Resin Detail Sets for the 1/72 Hasegawa Kit

The venerable Hasegawa 1/72 Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden 'Jack' kit of 1977 featured in Part Two of the 2011 Aviation of Japan blog A Gaggle of Old Jacks and Random Thoughts. A nice kit then and still now 41 years later, but falling behind the trend for super detailed interiors. Fred Boucher of Aeroscale has very kindly alerted me to his comprehensive reviews of four resin detailing sets designed for the Hasegawa Raiden by CMK (Czech Master's Kits). Click the set titles below for a link to each Aeroscale review.

J2M3 Raiden Cockpit Set # 7392

Resin floor, sidewalls, bulkheads, seat and other details, together with an instrument panel film.

J2M3 Raiden Armament Set # 7393

Resin gun bays and associated resin parts to reveal the wing armament.

J2M3 Raiden Control Surfaces  # 7394

Separate resin ailerons, replacement tailplanes, elevators and rudder.

 J2M3 Wheel Wells and Covers # 7396

Resin wheel bays and undercarriage parts.

CMK also do a wing flap set as # 7395 and offer the pilot's seat with belts as a separate item # Q72305 for a quick upgrade of the kit parts. A vacform canopy is probably needed to get the best from the cockpit set but I was surprised to find one apparently absent from the excellent  Rob Taurus range. However a Pavla canopy for the Hasegawa kit appears to be still available. Brass cannon barrels and pitot for Raiden are also available from Fine Molds

Image credits: Box art © 1977 Hasegawa Corp.; CMK Schematics via Aeroscale © 2018 CMK


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Dave & Lily

Hat tip to Iskender Mailibayev for alerting me to the new RS Models Nakajima E8N1 and E8N2 'Dave' floatplane kits in 1/72. Other than the Hasegawa 1/48 kit the last plastic kit of Dave was from Aviation Usk in 1/72 subsequently re-released under the Xotic-72 label. There may have been some resin kits but a resin biplane with floats in that scale is a thing to strike terror.

RS Models kit 92224 presents the E8N1 (heading pic) and features markings (above) for Dave as operated in the silver and red scheme from the Myōkō class cruiser Nachi in 1936, a 1942 Aleutians-based bord in the later dark green over grey scheme, another cruiser-based bird from Ashigara  in green and brown camo and finally, a nice touch, the bogus British floatplane from the German commerce raider Orion in 1941, the latter a subject of great delight for pontificating pundits of the naval persuasion. From the box schematic it seems that RS Models would have us believe that the IJN was applying RAF Sky to their aircraft at about the same time that Sidney Cotton was devising Camotint.    

RS Models kit # 92225 presents the E8N2 (above) and features markings (below) for green and brown camo birds from the Hakata Ku and battleships Kongo and Mutsu, as well as another nice touch - a Royal Thai Navy floatplane in overall silver dope.  Dave was not just used for scouting but was belligerent over Shanghai and Canton during the early months of the Sino-Japanese war dropping ordnance, strafing ground targets and dogfighting when necessary.

Will Hasegawa now scale down their Dave kit to 1/72? Probably not!

Back in 2013 this author wallowed in a review of the Hasegawa back catalogue of Ki-48 kits, that venerable but photogenic twin of Mania origin which is a favourite of his. The kit was subsequently re-released again as a Limited Edition in October 2014 with new box art (shown below) and decal options for two 8th Hiko Sentai aircraft operating over Burma. Then in September 2016 the kit was re-released once more in combo with the Ki-51 of similar antecedence to depict aircraft of the Hokota Army Flying School. The latest iteration released in September is a Limited Edition special attack Lily of the Banda unit (万朶隊 - 'ten thousand branches') with nose-mounted fuse extensions for an 800 kg bomb (box art shown above). The Banda-tai was operational in the Philippines during October/November 1944 and was one of the early Army special attack units. An in-box review by Aviation of Japan reveals the disappointing fact that the 'special equipment' consists of nothing more than a single length of brass wire to be cut and sharpened by the modeller to represent a triple or single mounted fuse extension and attached through holes in the nose transparency to be drilled by the modeller too (yikes!). No insight as to the internal arrangements of the fuse extensions is provided, no bomb and no guidance for the rigging wires shown on the excellent box art. The disappointment is compounded by options for two very plain late war schemes for the Banda unit, without any unit insignia. It's a nice kit which has stood the test of time and will be welcomed back in any guise, but perhaps just a little more might have been expected from a 'Limited Edition' with 'Special Equipment'! 

October 2014 Limited Edition Re-issue

Image credits: E8N box art and schemes © 2018 RS Models; Ki-48 box art © 2014 & 2018 Hasegawa Corp.