Saturday, 24 June 2017

Armed Forces Day

Today, Saturday, 24 June is British Armed Forces Day. It is easy to forget, immersed in the routine minutiae of daily life, that good men and women are in harm's way 24/7 on our behalf. Today, especially,  they are remembered and saluted for their service and sacrifices. Thank you.  

Image credits: All via web

Thursday, 15 June 2017

AVI Models Inline A5M3 in 1/72

Hat tip to Iskender Mailibayev for posting a comment alerting me to this future release shown at the Hannants website.  AVI Models is a new one to me but there appears to be a Rising Decals connection. This experimental version of 'Claude', with two prototypes completed, had a Hispano-Suiza inline engine, three-bladed propeller and a 20mm cannon firing through the prop hub, similar in configuration to the Dewoitine 501/510 which may have influenced it. The kit will presumably provide markings for one of the prototypes and three imaginary "What-if" schemes. It will make an interesting shelf display comparison to a Dewoitine in Japanese markings or an essential inclusion for any A5M series line-up. The kit is listed at £14.99 (approx. US$19).

There was (is?) a previous 1/72 resin kit of this type from Choroszy Modelbud and I also have an obscure and undated Japanese 'SLB Parts' resin conversion set, courtesy of the kindness of Tom Hall, intended to modify the neat Fujimi A5M2a kit. That set consists of a finely moulded resin replacement nose,  one piece prop/spinner and radiator with comprehensive looking instructions all in Japanese. 

 Choroszy Modelbud Resin Kit

SLB Parts (Japan) Resin Conversion Set

Image credits: © 2017 AVI Models via Hannants; © Choroszy Modelblud and SLB Parts (Japan)

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Tetsuya Inoue's New Blog - 'Tets Research Institute'

Back in October 2013 I was very pleased to be able to link to a build of a 1/48 Ki-51 kit by Tetsuya Inoue in a blog celebrating Nichimo kits. Then in April the following year I was also pleased to be able to provide a link to Tetsuya's advanced project kit-bash build of a Ki-61-II 'bubbletop' in the same scale.  Since then Tetsuya has continued to work on the project and now has a new blog 'Tets Research Institute' with a modelling section where his very impressive progress on the Ki-61-II is reported (his Ki-51 build is also included and well worth re-visiting). The blog features exceptional and really fine step by step modelling which is impressive, inspiring and useful. And yes, Tetsuya's Ki-61 model is to 1/48 scale - not 1/32!

With special thanks to Tetsuya for alerting me to his new blog and the treasures therein. 

Image credits: All © 2017 Tetsuya Inoue and Tets Research Institute  

Monday, 22 May 2017

Ki-87 Props and that Hairyokushoku Business

The box art for RS Models Ki-87 depicts that sharp-looking, glossy dark brown that so many modellers seem to want to eschew for a flat brick red. The Ki-87 II box art prop is harely visible but looks like it might just be green in imitation of the 'what if' Hayate unit scheme depicted. Ki-87 was a long running project from 1942 but the first prototype was completed in February 1945 so the chances are that the prop was green, like Hayate and photos of the aircraft are consistent with that impression (above). Indeed Noboru Shimoune included it in a list of aircraft with green props matched to Munsell 5 GY 3.5/2.3  which is happily close to FS 34082 @ 1.34 where < 2.0 = a close match. In Model Art # 283 on Hayate the colour chip for the prop colour is shown as 9.4 GY 3.3/2.1 a little lighter than Munsell 10 GY 3/2 @ 2.72 and a little greener than FS 34094 @ 3.11. According to Katsushi Owaki this was recorded by the author Ichiro Hasegawa from the recollection of Tadamitsu Watanabe but was not universally agreed and Model Art # 329, with colour chips input from Kenji Ishikawa, describes the prop colour as "dark grey green". An extant prop blade certainly looks greyish green but appears chalked, creating a more greyish impression, whilst the oiled paint surface near the hub appears greener and slightly more olive.  Don't sweat these hues beyond choosing a green over a dark brown . . .

Writing of grey green the factory applied colour of the A6M2 Zero continues to confound with assertion and belief that it was painted 'Hairyokushoku' (ash green colour), whether 'dimly shining' or not, which was supposedly the Kariki 117 colour standard M1 (in the sage/grey green colour series associated with IJN cockpit interiors). Now look, from November 1941 to February 1942 a team under the command of Lt Cdr Kiyoto Hanamoto conducted a study and trials of camouflage for the Type 0 carrier fighter at the Kaigun Koku Gijutsu-sho (Navy Air Technical Arsenal - abbreviated as Kugisho) at Yokosuka, Japan under the auspices of the Yokusuka Kokutai. Their official report, Kugisho 0266, is dated 25 February 1942 (at the height of the Zero ascendancy) and relates the trial of five A6M2 aircraft flown in various experimental camouflage schemes. The report refers to the Kariki 117 alpha-numeric designations throughout and as an official document concerned with paint colours was unlikely to have just made stuff up. It describes the paint colour "currently in use" for the Zero as J3 Haiiro (ash colour or grey) "leaning slightly towards" ameiro. Ame (飴) means rice jelly, hard candy or toffee but when combined with iro (色), the word for colour, implies a yellowish-brown caramel or amber hue. So, an amber tinted or yellowish-brownish grey, if you will, absolutely consistent with extant samples of paint from the A6M2. Throughout the report the term ameiro is repeated in a kind of shorthand to refer to the then current Zero colour.

If that is not enough to convince that the colour was probably not M1, the Head of Kugisho, in making his recommendation from the report stated that "At present, my opinion is that we may continue with the currently used amber colour" (現用飴色 - gen'you ameiro). With those words by no stretch of the imagination could he be considered to have been referring to a grey green or pale green colour. In fact one of the test aircraft Yo-151, was painted experimentally overall with M1 (described as pale green), so if that had really been the standard factory colour the report could be expected to have described it that way. Why on earth would the authors of the report describe the colour M1 as J3 leaning slightly towards ameiro when they could have simply stated M1? The wilful disregard of that evidence assists no-one. And Tamiya XF-76 is like a slightly chalked and faded variant of the J3 leaning slightly towards ameiro colour, nothing like M1, unsaturated or otherwise. If that Zero model must be painted M1, hopefully only to represent Yo-151 during the Kugisho trials, then Gaia of Japan produced the hobby paint colour matched to M0/M1, tested in 2007 and described as follows in my 2011 PDF guide to the Zero colour:-

"The Japanese paint manufacturer Gaia hung their hat on Jiro Horikoshi’s description of “dimly shining ash green” and like others linked that to the Kariki 117 ‘M’ series of paints called Hairyokushoku (ash green colour). Their paint colour # 211 is identified as ‘Kai Ryoku Syoku’ (Hairyokushoku) ‘M-0’, (Munsell 6.3 GY 5/2) close to FS 24226 @ 2.74 and is a mid-toned sage green." 

Religious-like faith and real paint colour - not the same thing! 

Image credits: Ki-87 photo via Wiki; Rendered colour chips © 2017 Aviation of Japan

Sunday, 21 May 2017

RS Models 1/72 Ki-87 Duo Forthcoming!

With thanks to Iskender for the heads up about RS Models forthcoming Nakajima Ki-87 duo in 1/72 scale. Lovely box art too!

The Ki-87 looks somewhat like a Hayate on steroids and in his book 'Meatballs and Dead Birds' James P Gallagher calls it 'Big Boy', impressed when comparing its size to the P-47 - nearly four feet greater in span and two feet longer. For the prototype Nakajima had the supercharger mounted on the side of the fuselage in defiance of the Army's wish to have it mounted beneath the fuselage. The RS Models Ki-87-II shows that projected configuration, which at Army insistence was to be introduced from the sixth airframe, and appears to include cowling mounted weaponry. The Ki-87-II was a paper project with the Ki-87 to be powered by a 3,000 hp Nakajima Ha-46 engine instead of the prototype's 2,400 hp Nakajima Ha-44. Therefore the Ki-87 kit represents the actual prototype constructed and the Ki-87-II kit is a 'what if'. The standard armament was to be a pair of synchronised Ho-5 20mm cannon in the wing roots with buried muzzles and a pair of Ho-105 30mm cannon outboard of the undercarriage fairings with projecting barrels.

A previous 1/72 kit of the Ki-87 prototype, by Pavla (above), is a challenging build, especially in the construction of the white metal supercharger arrangement, and will likely be made redundant by the release of the RS Models kit.

Image credits: RS Models Ki-87 and Ki-87-II box art and model images  © 2017 RS Models; Pavla Ki-87 box art © 1995 Pavla Models

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Special Hobby 1/72 Tachikawa Ki-54 Hei On The Way

Further to my parting comment on 2 May about Summer kit releases correspondent Zegeye kindly informs me that Special Hobby are preparing a 1/72 release of the Tachikawa Ki-54 'Hickory' or Type 1 Twin-engined Advanced Trainer, a type brought into the news by the wresting (and I use that word deliberately) of a near intact survivor from its watery grave in Japan (there are surviving fuselages reported in storage at the Australian War Memorial and Beijing Aviation Museum). Good news to fill a gap but with mixed feelings as SH kits still seem to be limited run and limited availability, with the comcomitant effect of perhaps discouraging Japanese kit manufacturers from releasing a mainstream kit of the type. Details of the SH project are here

The only previous 1/72 Ki-54 kit that I'm aware of is the A+V resin offering (above), available in different versions and nicely realised by Aldo Chetcuti here,  although AZ Models have also announced a future release, the status of which is unknown. The type offers interesting modelling opportunities as in addition to ubiquitous Japanese military service as crew trainer, general transport and staff workhorse across the Japanese Empire, it was flown briefly by the post-war Gremlin Task Force in Indo-China, by the nascent Red Army of China Air Force (later Peoples Liberation Army Air Force - PLAAF) and by North Korea. A worthy addition to any kit manufacturer's catalogue.  

The series variants are variously reported online but the Hei was the transport version which could carry eight passengers with a small luggage compartment. The Ko was used for twin-engine pilot and navigator training with a single astrodome on the upper fuselage. The Otsu was intended for crew training in bomb aiming, air gunnery and radio communications, distinguished by two dome turrets for 7.7mm weapons on the upper fuselage connected by a long canopy for the instructor to move between them. Fuselage side windows were also adapted for the operation of weapons and two sets of radio equipment could be fitted. For bomb aimer training the usual load was 10 x 15kg but the aircraft could carry up to 800kg.  In a 1956 article series written in consultation with Japanese aviation industry and Koku Hombu veterans Richard M Bueschel refers to the Otsu with the designation Type 1 Operations Trainer. The Tei was reportedly configured as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft with provision for magnetic detection equipment, blind approach landing and the carriage of depth charges.

Image credits: Heading photo via Wiki; A+V box image via Scalemates.