Saturday, 1 August 2020

Tetsuya Inoue's Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop' Project in 1/48

Following on from the last Aviation of Japan update on his project Tetsuya Inoue kindly shares these latest photos of his superlative model engineering work in constructing his Kawasaki Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop'. The painstaking detail Tetsuya has incorporated would be more than impressive on a 1/32 or 1/24 model but this one is 1/48 scale! A quick look at the Tamiya Ki-61 kit in your stash in comparison to these photos will bring home the extent of Tetsuya's dedication and skill.   

The full progress report can be found at Tetsuya's blog here. Please follow it to enjoy all the astonishing work that Tetsuya has put into this amazing project. Previous Aviation of Japan progress updates may be found at this blog for October 2018, March 2018 and June 2017.
With special thanks to Tetsuya for this latest update and for sharing these photos of his remarkable model engineering project.  

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Tetsuya Inoue

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Kevin Bade's Big Liz in 1/72

Kevin Bade has kindly shared more images and memories of rare kits in the shape of the Create 301 1/72 resin kits of the Nakajima G5N1 and G5N2 Shinzan (深山 - Mountain Recess/Deep in the mountains) 'Liz' long-range heavy bomber project of the IJN. Kevin's build of the G5N2 (above) together with images of the unbuilt G5N1 kit components are shown with his own description as follows:- 

'I purchased this kit directly from Create 301 in December 1999 as my kit log shows with the price being $240 US. As you see from the pictures for a big airplane it has surprisingly few parts. Wings, fuselage, tail and cowlings in cast resin with engines, props, landing gear and interior parts in white metal. The clear parts are in clear(ish) resin. Surface scribing on the main parts is excellent. However the relatively low parts count did not translate into an easy build. Firstly it is very heavy due to the solid cast wings and secondly it is a nose sitter. The manufacturer included a white metal brick that provided the nose weight, cockpit floor and nose gear bay.  

'The weight and the heavy wings and hollow fuselage were a challenge I probably didn't think through enough before diving into building it. I detailed the cockpit to the best of my ability using the FAOW Shinzan/Renzan book. For some reason I know not now I chose to paint the interior a light blue gray which is probably completely wrong. I even added a sextant and a map to the large navigators table as an exercise in artistic flair - or folly. The center section of the fuselage where the wings were to be mounted was built up with multiple bulkheads of laminated styrene epoxied in place in anticipation of the need for a strong structure. The wing root attachment points were drilled out and dowelled to join to the fuselage. 

'After assembling the fuselage halves, adding the wings, tail, metal engines, etc., the nose heavy, and I mean really heavy, weight of this growing large model became evident. It became much more difficult just to handle and never failed to remind me of the law of gravity. The resin clear parts had a pebble grain finish so it was out with the polishing cloths down to 12000 grit or something and then two coats of Future inside and out. I had to build a box with cutouts for the fuselage and wings to sit in as fears of breaking it at some point were nagging me every time I moved it. 

'The model was painted with Aeromaster enamel IJN green and grey but I lightened the topside green and shaded some panels to break up the vast expanse. Decals went on perfectly duplicating the G5N2 photographed I think at Atsugi near the end of the war. Dullcote was applied and then the fun began. Adding the white metal gear and wheels whilst trying to get its three point stance perfect knowing the enormous weight they would be supporting, especially the poor little nose gear with that metal brick sitting on it. Well finally I got that done, added aerials, attenna and props and Liz was done. I was fairly pleased with result. I am no master modeler but she looked the part. 

'Upon close inspection of the photos, now 10 years later, one can see the mass of this model has been its undoing. A long split has appeared along the fuselage spine and one main gear oleo has started to collapse. In retrospect I think that this model might have been better realised as a vacuform kit but part of it is no doubt my not anticipating some things. Sort of ironically my G5N2 issues were the same issues that befell the full size Liz, that of being overweight. I dont know if I can, or shall attempt to fix it but still it was an enjoyable if slightly stressful project that I'm glad I undertook.

'I also have the Create 301 G5N1 and the Unicraft kits also but I think I will wait for the forthcoming Hasegawa kit (keep dreaming kiddo) to build another in that brown and green scheme. Meanwhile the Unicraft Ki-91 is on my bench with prep work and engineering planning ongoing using the lessons I learned from Liz. Cosidering it is even heavier and larger it has not passed me by that I am possibly a glutton for punshment, foolhardy or just overreaching my skillset. But for me that is what makes modelling fun.'

The Type 13 Large Attack Plane project had begun in 1938 with the clandestine purchase of the second Douglas DC-4 by the Mitsui Trading Co. Ltd., on behalf of Japan Airways as the basis for designing a land-based, four-engined bomber with a range of 3,000 to 3,500 nautical miles (3,450-4,025 miles). Nakajima already held manufacturing rights for Douglas aircraft and was instructed to design a bomber version of the imported aircraft. The DC-4 was requisitioned by the IJN and dismantled for study after a single flight at Haneda airport. The resulting Nakajima prototype increased the weight of an already underpowered (and ultimately failed) design by 20% as a result of major modifications to the fuselage and wing structure of the DC-4. The Type 13 flew for the first time on 10 April 1941 but performance was disappointing and there were problems with the oil system. After the completion of a fourth G5N1 airframe the original plan to build 500 was cancelled. Two more airframes were continued to completion as the G5N2 with replacement Mitsubishi Kasei engines of even lower power and all six aircraft were then relegated to transport duty with 1021 Ku, the unit which the tail number '21-05' on Kevin's model represents.     

With special thanks to Kevin for sharing these images and his build report.

Image credit:- All photos © 2020 Kevin Bade

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Michael Furry's 1/48 E8N1 'Dave'

An appropriate companion to the recent review of Rising Decals Nakajima E8N1/2 sheets, Michael Furry has very kindly shared these images of his splendid 'Dave' floatplane built from the Hasegawa 1/48 scale kit. 

Michael built the kit straight from the box, adding only photo-etch seat belts, gun sights to the rear machine gun and rudder control cables. The rigging is .010 steel wire. 

The model was painted with Floquil Old Silver and Bright Silver.  Michael used hairspray and grey acrylic paint for the excellent weathering of the floats and metal sections of the fuselage and wings.  The markings were painted on using custom made masks.  Various shades of green and brown water color were utilised to convincingly replicate a well used floatplane.  

Michael's model represents -189 (Yo-189), an early production E8N1 of the Yokosuka Ku without red tail feathers.

With very special thanks to Michael for sharing these images of his excellently crafted and inspirational model. 

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Michael Furry

Saturday, 27 June 2020

AVI Models DH Puss Moth Over Asia

AVI Models 'Puss Moth Over Asia' (Kit AVI721013) combines a delightful series of iconic De Havilland DH.80A light aircraft kits with Rising Decals penchant for unusual Japanese aircraft schemes. This neat kit of the popular aircraft features markings for four colourful subjects.

DH.80A c/n 2238 (ex G-ABXJ and J-BEAF) displays the Aikoku presentation legend Hachisuka-114 on an aircraft donated to the Japanese Army in 1935 by Tadashi Hachisuka. In silver dope with red cowling, struts and trim, the fuselage is suggested to be beige (or cream?). G-ABXJ was originally registered to Capt Max H Findlay of London Air Park before being sold overseas, presumably to Mr Hachisuka, in July 1933.

DH.80A c/n 2133 J-BAXA 'Hiwa' (ひわ - Siskin) was operated by the Asahi Shimbum newspaper company from Haneda airport, Tokyo, circa 1939. In overall silver dope with black bordered white fuselage band and small Asahi Shimbum Rising Sun flag logos. 

DH.80A '22' of Manshû Kôkû Kabushiki Kaisha (MKKK - Manchukuo Aviation Co., Ltd.) during 1938. In blue and silver dope with Hinomaru added to wings and the white-painted tail for IJA liaison duty. MKKK had acquired 12 Puss Moths in 1932-33 registered as M-11 to M-22. A further 15 aircraft were manufactured without licence by MKKK using purchased engines and propellers, registered as M-23 to M-37 and designated Mankô-shiki 3-gata (Mankô type model 3).  Some of the MKKK Puss Moths were used to support military operations by transporting senior IJA staff officers and engaging in other liaison duties, as well as bombing using improvised methods during Operation Nekka in 1933.

DH.80A 'M-11' of MKKK based at Chinchow in 1934. In blue and silver dope with Manchurian roundels and tail flash. This was the first Puss Moth acquired and registered by MKKK.   

For some unknown reason the fuselage moldings have omitted any representation of the side doors and those will have to be scribed in by the modeller. Interior detail consists of a floor, instrument panel, control column and three seats but omits the rear bulkhead, which was variously equipped with a luggage rack or radio equipment, and the internal door furniture (see the Britmodeller feature linked below for details). Interior colours are unknown and no clues are given but brown leather upholstered seats and door facings with a wood veneer instrument panel are indicative of the type as manufactured.  

An interesting kit offering something unusual but relevant for Japanese aircraft enthusiasts who may find the choice of subject the most challenging part of a project. A skilful and useful build of the identical 'Puss Moth Over Europe' issue of this kit may be found at Britmodeller, resulting in a superb and exceptionally attrractive little model of the Czechoslovak Baťa OK-ATG.  

With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for the review kit. 

Reference: 'The Eagles of Manchkuo, 1932-1945: An Illustrated History of the Civilian and Military Aviation' by George Eleftheriou and Kiri Domoto-Elftheriou (Arawasi 2011).

Image credit: All © 2020 AVI Models via Rising Decals

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Dennis McCone's 1/32 Mitsubishi Raiden

Dennis McCone has kindly shared these images of his Mitsubishi Raiden model built from the Hasegawa 1/32 scale kit, the second in a trio of large scale Japanese aircraft projects.

Details were mainly painted with Humbrol enamels, whilst the upper and lower surfaces were finished with Sovereign Hobbies Colourcoats which Dennis reports airbrushed beautifully. All markings were painted using masks by Mal of Miracle Paint Masks and again using Colourcoats paints. Very impressive - new to me but I am glad to learn about and link them! Dennis commented that the masking job was tricky but in the end worth it. The only decals used were the data plate on the aft fuselage and the wing fuel filler points.

The seatbelts are from the superb RB Productions IJN seat harness set, which although fiddly came out looking great.

Dennis reports that the kit was a very nice build, as is normal for Hasegawa.  The only aspect that gave him some concern was the fit of the cowling to the fuselage but which in the end also came out well.

With special thanks to Dennis for sharing these images of his impressive large scale Raiden model. 

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Dennis McCone

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Sea Boots and Spats from Rising Decals!

Recent Rising Decals releases include two sets for the Nakajima E8N1/2 Type 95 'Dave' reconnaissance seaplane in 1/48 and 1/72 scale, plus two sets in the 'Unknown and Less Known Units' series for the Kawasaki Ki-32 'Mary' and Mitsubishi Ki-15 'Babs'. 

Set RD48030 shown above and below is recommended for the 1/48 Hasegawa E8N1/2 kits and contains markings for four different aircraft as follows:-

  • E8N2 '5-8' Houkoku 168 'Kamaishi Go' of the seaplane tender Chiyoda - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown kumogata style camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces but no location or date is mentioned
  • E8N1 'ナチ(NaChi)-4' of the heavy cruiser Nachi during training west of Kyushu, Japan in April 1936 - the aircraft is in overall natural metal and silver dope with red fuselage band, red painted tailfin, rudder and tailplanes, a dark painted cowling, under surface and partial side surface to the main float and undersurfaces of the wing floats for which matt black is suggested.
  • E8N1 'ヨハ (YoHa)-91' of the Yokohama Ku at Yokohama base, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces. No date is mentioned.
  • E8N2 '1-5' Houkoku 208 'Dai Ni Chosen Bei Koku Go' of the armoured cruiser Izumo at Shanghai in 1939 - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces and has a white fuselage band.

Set RD 72088 shown above and below provides markings for no less than eight 'Dave' floatplanes and is recommended for the 1/72  RS Models kits. This sheet includes markings for the same four subjects as the 1/48 sheet plus the following additional subjects:-

  •  E8N2 'A1-2' Houkoku 352 'Dai Tokyo Tabako Go' of the battleship Nagato deployed to the Seto Inland Sea in October 1941 - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces and has a diagonal yellow fuselage band
  • E8N1 '5-1' of the seaplane tender Kamoi deployed to the East China Sea during June and July 1938 - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces and has a white fuselage band
  • E8N1 'アマ(AMa)-22' of the Amakusa Ku at Amakusa seaplane base, Shimoshima Island, Humamoto Prefecture, Japan in August 1945 - the aircraft is depicted in green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces with grey under surfaces but is reported to have been in an extensively worn condition with dirty markings
  •  E8N1 '整練(SeiRen)-65' of the Yokosuka Ku maintenance training unit, Oppama airfield. Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan - depicted in overall natural metal and silver dope. No date is mentioned. SeiRen is an abbreviation for Seibi (整備 maintenance) and Rensei (錬成 training).

The green and brown camouflage on IJN floatplanes is reported to match the colours D2 and H2 in the Kariki 117 Standard. Rising recommend Gunze Mr Color 15 IJN Green and a mix of Gunze Mr Color 4, 6 and 7 in the ratio 30%, 30% and 40% respectively. The H2 colour is approximate to FS 20122. For the J3 under surface grey Mr Color 315 is suggested. That matches FS 16440 whereas FS 16307 is closer in appearance but without a corresponding Gunze paint. Both FS colours are Munsell GY (Green Yellow) but 16440 is significantly lighter than 16307, better representing a faded and chalked surface.

Set RD72090 shown above is a set of markings for a single subject 'Mary' of an unknown unit featuring a Samurai helmet insignia on the tailfin and rudder. The insignia includes a red flash above the helmet which is marked as optional. The rudder tab is marked in red and white stripes which will have to be painted. The aircraft is depicted in the tri-colour 'China' camouflage scheme on the upper surfaces for which Gunze Mr Color 16 IJA Green, 527 Khaki and 526 Brown are suggested.  Under surfaces are depicted as 128 grey green.  Recommended kits are the 1/72 Amodel or Xotic72/Aviation Usk unfortunately neither of which are accurate representations of this aircraft.  

Set RD72091 shown above is a set of markings for a single subject 'Babs' featuring a large yellow arrow symbol on the cowling and fuselage. Three interpretations are depicted in the instructions including that shown in Model Art Profile 14 ('Army Ki-15 "Babs", Navy C5M, Kamikaze and Asakaze') as displaying a red arrow which would require the decal to be painted over. The red border will assist that endeavour. Upper surface camouflage is depicted as green and brown or a tri-colour scheme of green and brown with grey green as suggested in the Model Art book which states that the unit is Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 16 Chutai (Independent Flying No.16 Squadron).  Again Mr Color 16 and 526 are suggested for the green and brown. Recommended kits are the 1/72 Hasegawa (ex-Mania) and Arii Microace (ex-LS).   

The two 'Dave' sets offer interesting alternatives to the kit decals whilst the 1/72 sets are welcome additions to the Unknown and Less Known repertoire.  With special thanks to Mirel of Rising Decals for providing the review samples.
Image credit: All © 2020 Rising Decals