Sunday, 12 April 2015

Key Data ~ Raiden Colour Notes

Further to the blog on 'A Gaggle of Old Jacks and Random Thoughts', a pdf on the subject of Raiden colours is now available for those who expressed an interest. Raiden Colour Notes consists of 10 pages with nine colour chips and explanatory notes, the first of Aviation of Japan's new 'Key Data' guides designed to assist modellers and artists with basic but essential information.

Available on request free but with donation appreciated, thank you.

Image credits: All © 2015 Aviation of Japan

Thursday, 2 April 2015

John Haas' 1/48th Ki-64 'Rob' Completed!

Expert craftsman John Haas has now finished his 1/48th scale Kawasaki Ki-64 'Rob' project and here it is. Previous in-progress instalments can be found here, here, here and here. John concluded that although the model had not been easy to build he was pleased with the result. He hopes that blog readers will enjoy these images of the model and find inspiration as to what is possible with old school woodcraft.

A most interesting concept, the Ki-64 explored performance with twin engines mounted in tandem driving two contra-rotating propellers and cooled by a vapour-phase steam condensing system. The rear engine drove the variable pitch front propeller via an extension shaft passing above the cockpit floor between the pilot's legs whilst the forward engine drove the rear fixed pitch propeller. Each engine could be operated separately and it was envisaged that for cruising the forward engine could be shut down with the aircraft flying satisfactorily on its rear engine and front propeller alone.

The cooling system, which was designed to reduce the drag and vulnerability associated with conventional externally mounted radiators, operated with a flash steam generator-centrifugal separator  with a pressurised liquid coolant. The generated steam was circulated through 130 sq ft of wing panels and the condensed water pumped under high pressure into two 18 gal wing leading edge supply tanks by ejector type venturi pumps using the engines as a source of power. 98% of the pumped water was re-circulated and only 2% flashed into steam. There was also an auxiliary top-up water tank in the rear fuselage. For these reasons the designers believed that the coolant system was actually less vulnerable to damage during combat (and not more vulnerable as some sources have suggested) since any loss of coolant through leakage should be adequately compensated by the amount of excess water available in the supply tanks and auxiliary tank. In a post-war report on the system the Kawasaki designers Takeo Doi and J Kitano stated that:-

"As the vaporised water is small compared to the circulating water  it will be apparent that it is not vital if the wing is punctured by gunfire or by missiles."  

Comparison of Ki-64 to Ki-61 Hien 'Tony' ~ same scale

The port wing condenser panels and supply tank served the front engine whilst the starboard panels and tank served the rear engine. Prior to installing the system on the Ki-64 it was tested and improved using a modified Ki-61 with the conventional under fuselage radiator removed (cue unique modelling subject) which made 35 flights from October 1942 until the end of 1943. Once installed in the Ki-64 only five test flights were made before an emergency landing following an in-flight engine fire wrecked the aircraft. Plans to test the system in extreme cold weather conditions using methanol instead of water were never achieved. A disadvantage of the system was the lack of space available for fuel tankage and consequently the Ki-64 would have had a relatively short range of 620 miles. Had it been developed into operational service external drop tanks would probably have been used to extend its flight time. The cooling system was considered to be of sufficient merit by the US Air Technical Intelligence Group which evaluated it post-war as to warrant further study at that time.  

With very special thanks to John Haas for sharing a unique and fascinating project with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All photos © 2015 John Haas

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Recent Rising Decals Releases

An interesting collection of releases from the prolific Rising Decals recently. First up is set RD48020, a sheet of 1/48th scale markings for two foreign service subjects. Firstly an ex-582nd Kokutai A6M3 Model 22, painted white with green surrender crosses and the partially visible original unit code 2-152 as flown briefly by the RNZAF and now surviving at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand. Secondly an A6M2-N 'Rufe' float fighter evaluated by ATAIU-SEA (Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit - South-East Asia) and flown briefly and fatally in Indo-China by the French in September 1946. 

Captured Japanese aircraft subjects seem to be perennial favourites with modellers and both these will present engaging finishing and weathering challenges in order to produce unusual models.  

The next 1/48th scale set is RD48021 Zero Pt II offering a second set of decals for seven examples of the ever-popular Mitsubishi A6M.

  • A6M2 Model 21 of 331st Ku at Balikpapan, Borneo in October 1944 with the tail code 31-130. This aircraft in standard deep green black over grey scheme except for grey painted tail fin and wing tips applied for air defence recognition purposes. 
  • A6M2 Model 32 of Tainan Ku at Buna, New Guinea in August 1942. In standard early factory scheme with tail code V-177, blue fuselage band with unusual red fin and rudder tip.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Konoike Ku at Konoike, Japan during 1944. This aircraft carries the tail code コウ-176 (KoU-176) and appears to be in a camouflage scheme of dark green mottle over the original standard early factory finish.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Kanoya Ku at Rabaul, New Britain in November 1942. In standard early factory finish with tail code K-108, presentation legend on fuselage and diagonal red tail band.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of 22nd Ku in Indo-China during the offensive into Malaya in the winter of 1941-42. In standard early factory finish with tail code II-131, red fuselage and tail bands with six 'bird' victory markings applied to the fuselage. The aircraft number '131' is speculative as the tail is out of view in the reference photograph.
  • A6M3 Model 22 of the 331st Ku at Magwe, Burma in December 1943. In deep green black over grey with tail code 31-161. This aircraft has the grey painted tail fin and starboard wing tip used as recognition markings during a joint IJAAF and IJNAF raid against Calcutta but sources differ as to whether just one or both wing tips were painted for the operation.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Atsugi Ku at Atsugi, Japan in the Spring of 1943. This aircraft carries the tail code R3-116 on an overpainted band and the appearance suggests that it is an ex-carriet aircraft. The tatty looking scheme appears to be either a very heavily weathered deep green black over grey or the standard early factory scheme worn down to reveal the red oxide primer coat.

This set provides for some of the more unusual Zero schemes in a popular scale but provides plain and bordered Hinomaru for only one aircraft.

In 1/72nd scale set RD72068 presents markings for two unusual Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate:-

  • Ki-84 Hayate from first batch of prototypes in the probable markings of the Rikugun Kokugijutsu (Army Flying Test Centre) at Fussa (Yokota), Japan in August 1945. This aircraft appears to be in a heavily weathered depot-applied scheme of dark green over natural metal with Homeland Defence 'bandages'.
  • Ki-84 Hayate of the 2nd Yuso HikotaiRikugun Koku Yuso (Army Air Ferry Command) as flown by Lt Shuho Yamana on a reinforcement ferry flight from Ota, Japan to Saigon, Indo-China during 1944. This aircraft sports an unusual for type 'giraffe-pattern' depot scheme of dark green over natural metal and the personal marking of a white tiger painted on the tail fin. More on this scheme in the final part of the blog series Hayate Thoughts - to come.

Two most interesting Ki-84 subjects for the Sword and/or Hasegawa kits, although Lt Yamana's Hayate already features as a subject on the Lifelike Decals sheet for Hayate Pt.2  72-027.

Finally and also to 1/72nd scale, no less than five resin/vacform accessory and decal sets for the Tachikawa Ki-9 trainer (RS Models) featuring blind flying hoods, different undercarriage configurations and markings for different flying schools.

RD Acr-010 (above) includes alternative markings for the Utsonomiya Army Flying School and Army Air Academy together with a resin blind flying hood of the soft top type.

RD Acr-011 has civil registration markings for J-AJTI of the Matsudo Local Advanced Pilot Training Centre at the Ministry of Communications Air Crew Training School together with the resin soft top blind flying hood.

RD Acr-012 has markings for a Ki-9 of the Kumagaya Army Flying School with a vacform solid type blind flying hood. Alternative red or black flying school insignia are included. This aircraft also has an unusual white star marking on the cowling.

RD Acr-013 has resin parts to represent the early undercarriage style with spats and the markings of a trainer at an unidentified Civil Flying School with the fuselage number 2032.

RD Acr-014 combines the early resin undercarriage and vacform solid type blind flying hood with markings for a trainer at  an unidentified Army Flying School with aikoku presentation markings for # 133. All these sets offer plenty of alternative and colourful options for finishing the very nice RS Models Ki-9 kit.

With thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for kindly providing all the review samples detailed above.

Image credits: All © 2015 Rising Decals

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ki-64 'Rob' in Progress ~ John Haas

John is making faster progress on his scratchbuilt Ki-64 'Rob' than I am in updating this blog! Here is the concurrent second part of his progress to date.

The building of the model proceeded well after some difficulties with the canopy. Even the prop went together without the usual difficulties. Now that the undercarriage is installed all is coming John is pleased with the results and yet there is still a lot to do. The next stage will be Rub 'n Buff treatment to make the metal finish more realistic, then the addition of the Hinomaru insignia and giving the panel detail more depth with some drawing and colour pencils. 

John was curious about the overall dimensions of 'Rob', so photographed the model in situ with an old Ki-61 Hien model built from the 1/48th scale Otaki (now Arii) kit.

Image credits: All photos © 2015 John Haas

Ki-64 'Rob' in Progress ~ John Haas

John Haas' scratchbuilt Ki-64 'Rob' in 1/48th scale continues to take shape in the first of two concurrent instalments.

Deciding that the wing steam condenser panels were flush on their top surface and without protrusions, John applied several layers of Humbrol 27001 Matt Aluminium and 191 Metallic Gloss Chrome Silver to the model with an airbrush. When the paint was dry he applied the panel lines. He experimented on  a proof piece with rivets  applied with a home made tool but it was not a succes. A single row rivets was not a problem, but in lining up more rows there were irregularities. Avoiding the danger of overdoing, John kept the surface detail modest with panel lines and some inspection panels.

At this stage John is ready for a lot of the detail work. The undercarriage has been fabricated and is  ready to install - legs, doors and wheels - and he has to fabricate 6 propeller blades, the distinctively old-fashioned rudder horns for the the elevators, aerial mast, tailwheel, etc. 

Image credits: All photos © 2015 John Haas

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Republican Pilots of the Sino-Japanese War

This excellent 1/32nd scale custom-made resin figure of a Chinese pilot suitable for Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) fighters of the 1937-42 period such as the I-16 is now available on eBay from General Weylin in a very limited edition. The exceptionally well-proportioned and posed figure wears a winter flying suit with characteristic fur collar and is complete with a very realistically modelled seat pack  parachute.

A 1/32nd scale kit of the I-16 Type 10/17 was issued with Chinese (and Japanese!) decals by Special Hobby (below). 

There are also 1/32 scale decals for the RoCAF Boeing 281 (P-26) available from Bestfong. If 1/32nd scale is not your thing you could still photograph the figure in a forced perspective scene with a 1/48th or 1/72nd scale aircraft in the background -  or  even a row of them! With special thanks to General Weylin for kind permission to show the figure images here.

The unsung but heroic Republican flyers of the Sino-Japanese and Civil wars will receive further long overdue attention in the form of Osprey's Aces of the Republic of China Air Force by Raymond Cheung which is due for publication in May.

Image credits: Figure photos all © 2015 General Weylin with permission; Box art © 2012 Special Hobby; Book cover © 2015 Osprey Publishing.