Sunday, 10 June 2018

Art McNitt's Ki-27 in 1/32 Scale

Art McNitt and Ken Glass have kindly shared these images of Art's lovely Ki-27 model made from the 1/32 scale Special Hobby kit and expertly photographed by Ken. When finished in the overall grey-green colour the Special Hobby model shows off the lovely lines of the Ki-27 very well and has great 'presence'.

Art, like Ken, has been modelling since the 1950s, with his main focus on military modelling. He retired recently from SRP after a long career in that operation's production facility. His late father was on the St Lo when it was sunk by a kamikaze in the Surigao Strait off Leyte in the Philippines on 25 October 1944. The St Lo, an escort carrier (CVE 63), was part of 'Taffy 3' in Task Force 77.4 under Rear Admiral Clifton A F Sprague. A bomb-laden Zero from the Shikishima unit, one of five under the command of Lt Yukio Seki, crashed into the St Lo's flight deck at 1052 hrs and its bomb set off the torpedo and bomb magazine. The crew began abandoning the St Lo at 1104 hrs and the carrier sank at 1121 hrs with the loss of 114 of her crew and many wounded. The Shikishima unit, composed of volunteers from 201 Ku, was one of four groups making up the 1st Shimpu Special Attack Corps at Mabalcat, the others being the Asahi, Yamato and Yamazakura Units.

Art's model represents the Ki-27 Ko  c/n 91 flown with the sliding portion of the canopy removed by Sgt Maj Isamu Kashiide in the 2nd Chutai of Hiko Dai 59 Sentai during the fighting at Nomonhan in September 1939. The rudder displays the katakana character 'ka'. The 59th arrived late to the Nomonhan campaign and Kashiide claimed only two victories on 15 September, the last day of fighting. He subsequently graduated from the Army Air Academy with the rank of Lieutenant  and went on to become a noted ace against the B-29 during the air defence of Japan, claiming seven of the bombers shot down whilst flying the Ki-45 Toryu with Hiko 4 Dai Sentai. According to early references the red lightning flash represented the 1st Chutai of the unit with the 2nd Chutai using black or blue-black and the Sentai Hombu using green for the insignia, but recent kits, including Hasegawa and Special Hobby, have depicted it as red.

The 59th was formed under Lt Col Issaku Imagawa with two Chutai at Kagamigahara in July 1938 from the 1st Hiko Rentai with the Ki-27 or Type 97 fighter* (Kyu-Nana Shiki Sentoh-ki - 九七式戦闘機, abbreviated as Kyu-Nana-sen - 九七戦) as original equipment and was only increased to three Chutai strength in September 1942. The 15 September 1939 engagement was its only battle honour for Nomonhan in which it claimed 11 enemy aircraft shot down for the loss of six pilots from the 1st Chutai, including the Chutai leader Capt Mitsugo Yamamoto, when it was 'bounced' by fresh Soviet fighters as they pursued the survivors from the first encounter. Three other 59th pilots who also claimed two victories each went on to distinguish themselves as aces - Yasuhiko Kuroe with 30 victories, Katsutaro Takashi with 13 and Takeomi Hayashi with nine. The unit was one of the first to re-equip with the Ki-43 in 1941 and is well known for reportedly displaying the prominent lightning flash insignia on the natural metal fuselage of that aircraft. By the time of the Pacific War its camouflaged Oscars were displaying less ostentatious unit insignia of a single diagonal band in Chutai colour on the fin and rudder with similar spanwise bands on the upper surfaces of each tailplane, a form of marking which continued to be used by this unit until the end of the war. 

Art used Testors ModelMaster IJA Grey-Green for the overall finish with dirty thinner applied to the panel lines and some silver paint to represent chipping. The prop and engine face are crisply molded and look good on the finished model, enhanced by photo-etched framing supports inside the cowling. Exhaust stacks are appropriately deep as molded. The kit decals were used which were thin and settled down well into the very fine recessed panel lines, with many tiny stencils on the airframe. The open cockpit showcases interior details. Art applied a pre-painted photo-etched seat belt to the seat pan and did a good job mixing a representation of IJA # 3 grey-indigo colour for the cockpit interior.  Ken first photographed this model in 2014 but these images were taken recently, luckily he thought as Art usually gifts his completed models to his grandchildren.

With special thanks and very best wishes to Art, and special thanks to Ken for sharing these images. Art is going through a rough time at the moment but is steadfastly and admirably determined to continue his modelling in the face of it. Aviation of Japan is pleased and privileged to be able to share his enthusiasm and expertise. 

* In the Japanese Army the protocol was to articulate the type designation as 'nine-seven' rather than 'ninety-seven', and for all other Types.

Image credits:- All model photos © 2018 Art McNitt & Ken Glass via Ken Glass; Special Hobby box art © 2010 Special Hobby s.r.o.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Dan Salamone's 1/48 Brengun Airfield Oil Cart

Dan Salamone has very kindly shared these images and report of his recent build of a Japanese airfield refueling cart from the Brengun resin kit in 1/48 scale. Dan has created a superb little model with skillfully applied and very convincing weathering.  In his own words:-

"Here is my 1/48 airfield oil cart from Brengun. The kit itself is all resin, and well cast. The only piece not included in the kit is the hose, which I sourced from my local hobby shop.

"The parts have some flash, but nothing difficult to remove. Care needs to be taken removing some parts from the casting blocks, the crank/pump part split and flew across the room. Thankfully it was a clean break and easy to find!

"Also, the pump will not fit on the cart frame where indicated per the instructions. I added a short piece of styrene rod as a riser, then installed the pump on top of this. Otherwise, it will not fit once the oil barrel has been placed.

"I used Tamiya spray paints for the main parts, and Vallejo acrylics for the detail work. Weathering was with artist oils, chips were applied using a small sponge and Vallejo acrylics, and finally the splashed grime was an enamel wash. Final clear coat was Gunze Mr. Super Clear Matt.

"Brengun makes this oil cart in 1/32 scale as well, and will also release a 1/48 airfield fire extinguisher this summer. Hasegawa offers this same apparatus in 1/48 plastic with their Isuzu TX40 fuel truck, and it is a nice little kit. I feel compelled to support any small model company that releases Japanese subjects, and have a copy of the extinguisher on order from HLJ. Buy with confidence...."

With special thanks to Dan for these images and the report. These type of airfield accessories and vehicles can really enhance the display of an aircraft model, with or without figures, and I hope that we see many more of them in future. There is no shortage of subjects, both purpose built or improvised. IJN REO Speed Wagon refueling truck anyone?

Image credits: All model photos © 2018 Dan Salamone; kit box © 2017 Brengun via Dan Salamone

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Japanese Anti-Submarine Aircraft in the Pacific War

An official video preview of this forthcoming book by Ryusuke Ishiguro and Tadeusz Januszewski from Mushroom Model Publications (MMP Books) is now available online:-

. . . and excellent it looks too! As well as enlightenment there is plenty of inspiration for some new mainstream kits and decals. The Kokusai Ki-76, Aichi H9A and Kyushu K11W are long overdue.

Image credit © 2017/18 MMP Books

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Jan Hajicek's 1/48 Mitsubishi Type 96 Kansen Model 2-2 Early 'Claude'

The second model Jan Hajicek has kindly shared here following his return to modelling is Fine Molds 1/48 Mitsubishi A5M2b. In his own words:-

"I’d like to present the most unpopular version of the beautiful Claude. It was the most unpopular because pilots at the end of the 1930s preferred to feel the air stream in open cockpits. When Mitsubishi Type 96 Kansen Model 2-2 with an enclosed canopy was in 1937 (Showa 97) accepted by the Nihon Kaigun in 1937 (Showa 97), the new enclosed canopy was criticised for limiting visibility during combat The pilots of several units had the sliding hood removed from their aircraft. A total of 124 machines with enclosed cockpits were produced, followed by a modified version which  featured only the windscreen without the rear glazing and sliding hood. 

"I chose to model the machine that served with the Hyakurihara Kokutai in Ibaragi Prefecture just at the turn of 1941/42. This machine is recored in two photographs which show some interesting features. The cowling, even after several years, is still gleaming like a mirror and has only few scratches around the fasteners. All Hinomaru and tail planes that were sprayed with the same colour are glossy, too. 

"The rest of the machine appears to have been treated with aluminium anticorrosive dope that after some time had lost its shine and degraded towards a greyish hue. The use of protective anticorrosive lacquer (which had been applied from the A5M2b late version) seems doubtful for this machine and even for most A5M2b early machines. As with most naval machines operating from land bases, this one has had the arrestor hook removed. As one of the few visually recorded machines with the sliding hood it does not carry an external fuel tank. These 160 litre fuel tanks were smaller compared to the more commonly used 210 litre tanks introduced with the late production A5M2b. 

"The kit was built straight from the box without any accessories or other enhancements. Although the Fine Molds kit allows the flaps to be shown lowered I chose to leave them closed. As already mentioned, the model is not fitted with the external fuel tank. The main reason is that I plan to build more Claudes with fuel tanks fitted but also because the kit includes only the 210 litre tanks that would have to be modified, hence my model would not have been built straight from the box. The assembly of the cockpit was one of the most trouble free that I have ever experienced, and there was no need of dry fitting or adjustments. Overall, the fit of kit parts is excellent as to be expected from one of the best toolmasters in the World. Those who appreciate Fine Molds Nano Dread series for 1/700 scale ship models or the newly released machine guns in 1/72 scale would definitely agree with me. By the way, the cowling with engine is just slotted onto the plug on the fuselage without glue 

"The model was sprayed with Alclad matt aluminium. The other paints used were Vallejo, Lifecolor, and my preferred Tamiya clear colours for the formation lights. All Hinomaru, tail codes and propeller markings were sprayed using masks, the only decals used were the stencils and data plates. Weathering was done using MiG products and artist pastel chalks. The objective was to have fun building the kit and to achieve my own idea of how it should look compared to the relatively well maintained aluminium coated aircraft."

As for the Ki-61, Jan has produced Dead Design canopy masks for all the Fine Molds A5M kits (including the 1990s released A5M1, 2a early, 2a late and also for the A5M2b early as modelled here) which include wheel and wingtop light masks. Jan does not hold a large stock of masks in his webshop as he does not wish the tape to deteriorate in storage, hence the 'Freshly Cut' logo on his packaging.   

With special thanks to Jan for sharing these images and his build report on a Claude variant which is not unpopular with me, as well as the information about his specialist range of painting masks. 


 Image credits: All model photos and product images © 2018 Jan Hajicek & Dead Design; Box art © 2017/18 Fine Molds Corp.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Jan Hajicek's 1/48 Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Special Attacker

Jan Hajicek,  the mastermind behind the Dead Design range of masking products, has kindly shared these images of his Kawasaki Ki-61 I Tei built from the Hasegawa 1/48 scale kit and representing an aircraft of 160 Shinbu-Tai at Chofu air base in August 1945. In Jan's own words:

"I finally managed to finish a model that had lain on my shelf of doom for 20 years. I had purchased the kit and FAOW book in 1995 at the Collinsdale Hannants during a trip to Scotland. Back home I purchased the Aires cockpit, but on attempting to install it I realised that it didn’t fit at all. This experience frustrated me so much that the kit went back into the box and waited almost 20 years. I dusted it off two years ago, assembled the main parts, applied surface primer and finally finished it last autumn.

"Eventually I chose to complete it as 160th Shinbu-tai machine. That special attack unit was formed in April 1945 at Chofu from the 244th Sentai and this well known machine was most likely left behind at the air base due to engine or some other failure. I like the heavily weathered appearance. 

"In addition to a replaced front lower cowling panel, the washed off or removed white home defence bands around the Hinomaru are interesting. A careful study of the b/w photo of thios machine revealed that the white colour appeared to be washed off. That seemed similar to Luftwaffe washable winter white camouflage. But that is speculation on my part, not a fact.

"The kit was built more or less like a hybrid. At different stages over the past two decades my view of the assembly changed several times. For example the cockpit was built straight from the box, with photo-etched seat harness, Ho-5 cannons from CMK. I added photo-etched trim wheels and push rods, and re-modelled the wing racks and external fuel tank The 250 kg bomb came from spares, whilst the antenna wire is Uschi VDR. The antenna insulator, cowling fasteners, landing light cover and all formation lights were scratch built. 

"My own masks were used for the canopy, inspection covers and all markings. The fuselage artwork was a Lifelike decal (# 48-005R 244th Sentai Part 3, Aircraft subject # 4). Paints used were Gunze for the propeller, Alclad on the lower surfaces and Vallejo for the rest. Weathering was applied using MiG, Windsor & Newton acrylics and artist pastel chalks."

Jan, who spent five years working as a designer for Eduard and then 10 years as a designer, webmaster and translator for MPM/Special Hobby, has recently begun marketing his own range of masking accessories under the Dead Design logo. During his career he has designed hundreds of photo-etch sets, decals, masks and colour instructions for kits, distinguished by his own 'Dead Design' signature. Jan's perspective is that every aftermarket accessory must help the modeller, either by enhancing detail or by saving time.

With that in mind he has developed excellent masking sets for the recent Tamiya 1/48 and 1/72 Ki-61 kits, including a comprehensive set of inspection panel cover masks designed to facilitate applying different shades of natural metal, as well as canopy masks and masks to paint the Hinomaru. The Dead Design range now consists of 30 sets of masking accessories, mainly canopy masks for Japanese aircraft subjects, with more planned to include inspection covers and canopy masks for early 1950s jets, as well as more WW2 subjects with photo-etched parts and decals. Jan's products can be purchased direct from his own webshop at   

With special thanks to Jan for sharing the images of his splendid model and the news about his range of fine accessories.  

Image credits: All model and accessory images © 2018 Jan Hajicek & Dead Design; Colorised photo-image via web, from an original photo taken by USMC photographer Joe O'Donnell and published in 'Japan 1945, Images From The Trunk' (ISBN 4-09-563013-2) by Shogakukan Inc., 1995.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Combat Colours No 9 The Mitsubishi Zero ~ Errata & Additions

Combat Colours No 9 The Mitsubishi Zero Type 0 Carrier Fighter (A6M) "Zeke" in World War Two
Errata & Additions

Page 6 - Photo - incorrectly printed caption. The caption should read as follows:-

"The first A6M2 captured in China in November 1941 was one of two from the Tainan Ku detachment of the 22nd Air Flotilla Fighter Unit which force landed in bad weather on the Luichow Penisula."

Page 4 - Colour Chart 1. As printed the colours are distorted. Please contact the author by email to request a PDF version of this chart (free of charge) showing the correct colours.

Page 7 - Wing Schematic. The outboard red stencil line on the flap is incorrect. The flap was outlined red on the inboard, front and rear edges only. This also applies to the profile plan views.

Page 9 - Colour Chart 2.  As printed the colours are distorted. Please contact the author by email to request a PDF version of this chart (free of charge) showing the correct colours.

Pages 11/ 12 - Text as published: "The operational requirements for a longer range were then incorporated into the improved engine design with a reversion to the original longer wing (but without folding tips) to accommodate additional fuel tanks in the outer section and aileron balancing tabs to reduce the control forces on the longer aileron". In fact the A6M3 Model 22 retained the folding wingtips. Even some Model 32 retained part of the folding mechanism inside the wing structure such as the handle bar and associated access hatch. I am grateful to Ronnie Olsthoorn for this confirmation.

Page 14 - Upper Photo. A6M2 V-110 was not shot down. PO3c Maeda of Tainan Ku ran out of fuel after becoming lost in pursuit of a B-25 from Lae and force landed this Zero on the beach at Otamata Plantation near Marshall Lagoon on the south coast of New Guinea about 80 miles from Port Moresby. He was made POW by Australian forces and survived the war. The rudder fabric was described as having a pale green (similar to RAF Sky) dope applied, over which it had been re-finished with a grey dope common to the rest of the airframe. I am most grateful to Bob Alford and Bob Piper for an interesting discussion of this incident and others.

Page 20 - Profile 2-2-103. Presumed to be a Nakajima-built aircraft and the airframe colour shown as such, but the presence of the expected white border around the fuselage hinomaru could not be confirmed. This aircraft has been variously depicted with and without the white border which might have been painted out. 

Page 25 - Profile UI-105. It is questionable whether this aircraft, long attributed to Nishizawa, was actually being flown by him in the series of well known photographs taken by Hajime Yoshida, a Nichiei journalist who visited Rabaul, Lae, Buin and Ballale during 1942-43. It is not identified as such in Yoshida's autobiography 'Samurai Reisen Kisha' and as he had become friendly with Nishizawa it seems improbable that he would not have mentioned him if he had been the pilot flying his A6M3 Model 22 Zero up close to the G4M bomber in which Yoshida was riding. I am grateful to Osamu Tagaya for this discussion.

Page 26 - Profile 108. The upper surface camouflage dark green should extend over the whole yellow of the IFF strips on top of the wing in similar manner to the outer strips on UI-015.  

Page 31 - Profile B1-05. The non-standard camouflage demarcation of this aircraft should have been noted.

Page 32 - Profile Ta Ku-101. The caption should read as follows:- 

"Nakajima A6M2-N of Takuma Ku, Japan in August 1943. This heavily weathered Rufe reveals the original amber-grey factory scheme and red-oxide primer beneath its very worn dark green camouflage."

Page 36 - Upper Photo. As for Page 25 re Nishizawa attribution. 

Image credit:- © 2017 Guideline Publications