Thursday, 16 January 2020

Zegeye's 1/72 Kyofu 'Rex' Floatplane-Fighter

These kindly shared images of Zegeye's (Zbyszek Malicki) very impressive 1/72 Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu (強風 - Strong Wind), Allied code name 'Rex', built from the excellent Hasegawa kit of 1995 vintage, are a reminder that the third intended part of the Shiden-kai, Shiden & Kyofu Colours series of articles (from 2010!), concerned with the exterior colours of this floatplane fighter, was never posted. An omission to be rectified. . .

The model was built straight from the box and Zegeye chose Kawanish Green from the now defunct Aeromaster paints range for the upper surface and Gunze IJN Gray from their 'C' range for the under surface. The kit decals were used, representing an 'early type' aircraft of some distinction from the 22nd Special Base Force (特別根拠地隊 - Tokubetsu-konkyo-chitai) at Balikpapan, Borneo in 1945 (although the kit instructions state Surabaya, Java) with its distinctive blue tail code. The 22nd Special Base Force was part of the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet and consisted mainly of sub-chasers and patrol boats with a guard force and port affairs department. Special Base Forces assigned to Guard Districts and Fleets were similar to IJN Base Forces but were primarily tactical rather than administrative in function, usually located at Fleet HQs or in forward areas.  The commander of the 22nd Lt Masaharu Nishiwaki was a floatplane pilot himself and in early January 1945 he arranged to obtain and operate Kyofu aircraft left behind at Surabaya by 934 Ku when it was disbanded in March 1944. 934 Ku originally had nine of the type on strength (in addition to the A6M2-N) and three serviceable examples were collected and used by the 22nd from Balikpapan on patrol and interception duties. 

 The Kyofus engaged Allied bombers on several occasions, claiming damage but without confirmation of any 'kills'. Two of the aircraft were subsequently destroyed by Allied strafing and the survivor 022-121, the subject of Zegeye's model and the Hasegawa kit, was then converted at the Surabaya depot into a two-seater for use on liaison duties between the two locations. After the evacuation of Balikpapan the 22nd air echelon moved to Jakarta and in July 1945 was consolidated with 936 Ku. From there the two seat Kyofu survivor was used to fly medical supplies to beleagured units still in Borneo, Flyer 1/C Tokujo Nakanishi earning an individual citation for successfully completing this sortie in stages, landing on a river in the dark and overcoming engine problems on the return flight.  It is possible that this particular aircraft survived to be photographed post-war at Surabaya (?) in Indonesian markings.

The Hasegawa Kyofu kit was also released in separate 'late type' (Sasebo Ku) with individual exhaust outlets and 'prototype' versions in 1996, with an added 'Aquarama' water display base in 1997 (which is a rare gem), as a 'combo' kit with the Nakajima A6M2-N 'Rufe' in 2012 (Sasebo Ku and prototype), in an 'early/late type' combo in 2013 (Otsu and Sasebo Ku) and as another Rufe combo for 934 Ku in 2015.    

With special thanks to Zbyszek for kindly sharing these images of his model with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All © 2020 Zbyszek Malicki


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

More on Dr Kimura

This snippet 'A Pair of Swallows' from the Modelling section of the October 1963 issue of Flying Review International magazine (Vol.19 No.2) mentions a visit from Dr Hidemasa Kimura, designer of the Ki-77 and reveals that he was also a keen modeller. Eichiro Sekigawa will be remembered by veteran Japanese aviation enthusiasts in the West for his seminal 'Pictorial History of Japanese Military Aviation' published by Ian Allan Ltd., in 1974. The Nichimo Ki-61-II was indeed a good kit for its time and has been previously featured here in April 2012 (scroll down) with images of a model made by Ken Glass posted here in July 2012. The remarks about the Revell kit (to be featured here in due course) are puzzling as it does not represent a Ki-61-II but rather a hybrid Ki-61-I!

Dr Kimura was also involved in the design of the NAMC (Nihon Kōkūki Seizō 日本航空機製造 - Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation) YS-11 turboprop airliner, the first indigenously designed post-war aircraft to be exported from Japan with two aircraft delivered to Filipinas Orient Airways in 1965. The YS-11 gained FAA certification the same year and domestic operation began with Japan Domestic Airlines Co., Ltd. (Nihon Kokunai Kōkū 日本国内航空) and Japan Transocean Air Co., Ltd. (Nippon Toransuōshan Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha 日本トランスオーシャン航空株式会社). The YS-11 was also operated by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Japan Coast Guard in the electronic warfare, ELINT, training and passenger/freight roles. A total of 182 aircraft were produced from 1962 to 1974.

Despite limited commercial success outside Japan and controversy surrounding its development and design many different kits of the YS-11 have been released since 1965 by Hasegawa and Doyusha to 1/144 scale, Otaki, Paramount and Sanwa to 1/150 scale, Platz to 1/200 scale, and Bandai and Imai to 1/72 scale.  One Man Model released new 1/72 and 1/48 versions in 2017 and 2019 respectively.  When W R Matthews reviewed the Otaki kit (original box art shown above) in the December 1965 issue of Flying Review International (Vol.21 No.4) he described it as 'cleanly pressed but has a good deal of rather heavy rivet detail ' and 'well worth having' for the airliner enthusiast. 

Image credit: Dr Kimura photo web; magazine images © 1963 & 1965 Flying Review International magazine published for Purnell & Sons Ltd., by Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.; Book cover art by George Heiron for Ian Allan Studio © 1974 Ian Allan Ltd.; Box art © 1963 Nichimo and 1965 Otaki   

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Dr Hidemasa Kimura's 'Flying Fuel Tank'

This first hand account by Dr Hidemasa Kimura (1904-1986) of the development and flight of the Tachikawa Ki-77 under the project designation A-26, appeared as part of the 'Now It Can Be Told' series in the February 1964 issue of Flying Review International magazine. It is too interesting to remain buried in an old magazine and is therefore presented here in its entirety. The A-26 designation represented 'A' for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper which had first sponsored a non-stop Tokyo to New York flight and '26' for the Japanese Imperial year (Kōki - 皇紀) 2600 for 1940. The A-26/Ki-77 featured here in May 2014 as a superbly scratch-built model in 1/48 scale by John Haas (heading image) and was also the second kit as FSM-002 produced by the late Horatio Hernández in his Friendship Scale Models enterprise as featured here, here and here.  

The mysterious fate of the second prototype, lost on an inaugural Seiko (成功 - Success) flight to Germany via Singapore on 7 July 1943 remains unresolved. In June 2001 Larry deZeng posted at the information that in the same month RAF 'Y' Service personnel had intercepted the following Ultra signal from Berlin dated 7 July 1943 to Kdo.d.Flughafenbereich 6/VI (Airfield Regional Command) at Sarabus, Crimea, which exercised authority over the entire Luftwaffe airfield infrastructure at that time:- "On 8/7 an allied aircraft will fly via air grid squares 3420, 2560 and 2510 to Sarabus. It is a two engined low wing monoplane, wing span 30 metres, metal fuselage, natural colour, wings grey. The aircraft must not be fired on under any circumstances." The Ultra signals intelligence analyst at Bletchley Park had added the following note:- "This presumably refers to undertaking 'GOA' in which an aircraft was flying to Sarabus from Tokio (sic) via Singapore". Ultra Signal CX/MSS 2867/T8). 

According to Deniz Karacay also posting at the first (non-scheduled?) non-stop flight from New York to Tokyo was by Boeing 747SP in November 1975 with Dr Kimura as passenger!

 Dr Hidemasa Kimura 1904-1986

Image credit: Heading photo © 2014 John Haas via Aviation of Japan; Article scans © 1964 Flying Review International magazine published for Purnell & Sons Ltd by Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd.; Dr Kimura photo via web, original source unknown.


Friday, 27 December 2019

Danilo Renzulli's 1/72 Kawaskaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien

Danilo Renzulli has very kindly shared these images and details of his impressive build of the RS Models Ki-61-I Tei Hien in 1/72 scale, looking splendid in the Italian winter sunshine. The model represents c/n 5262 of Hiko Dai 244 Sentai, assigned to Sentai Leader Capt Teruhiko Kobayashi as a reserve aircraft after he was wounded on 12 April 1945 and as illustrated by Ronnie Olsthorn in Osprey's 'Ki-61and Ki-100 Aces' (2015). 

Danilo reports that progress on this Ki-61 project remained 'trapped' by long interruptions due to his home move and was plagued by painting issues related to inconsistencies in paint quality - with Humbrol no longer the paint he was used to for a lifetime. It is true that long gone are the days when a single, smooth and  opaque coat of Humbrol enamel paint could be applied by brush straight from the tin and they call this progress! He found it compulsory to use a primer to avoid unwanted extensive chipping.

 The model was enhanced with some Eduard photo-etched parts for the cockpit and the use of Albion Alloys 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm telescopic tubes to make up the pitot tube. Danilo added extra detail to the undercarriage components with photo-etched links and wire brake lines, whilst the landing gear down indicators and drop tank connections were also added using metal wire. Navigation lights were added by drilling holes into the wingtips and vertical tail then adding a tiny drop of Crystal Clear. The navigation light on top of the fuselage was likewise carefully carved out in the plastic thickness and a drop of Crystal Clear added. Machine guns were replaced with Quickboost items. 

 The upper surface colour scheme was mixed using Humbrol paints and the undersurface using Alclad. The blue and white fuselage stripes were painted on as were the hinomaru using masks by Maketar. Danilo found the masks useful but a challenge, requiring patience and care when locating and removing them. He also warns that they cannot be used over a model sprayed with the hairspray technique as the upper paint layer will be removed as he discovered to his expense with a Ki-84 model. The anti-slip panels were added using # 2000 wet and dry sanding sheet.  

 Danilo found the RS Models kit not bad and recommends it as going together well with a fit requiring no great effort and the result an accurate appearance. Nevertheless he says that he has a whole Sentai of Tamiya and Aoshima Hiens waiting their turn to show up on his workbench!   

 With special thanks to Danilo for sharing the images of his splendid Hien model with Aviation of Japan and providing the details of his build.  

Image credit: All photos © 2019 Danilo Renzulli

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Season's Greetings

With Very Best Wishes to All Aviation of Japan Contributors and Readers for the Christmas Season and New Year

Image credit: Atogoshita and Yabu Lane ('Snow in the City') No. 112 in the winter series of 'One hundred famous views of Edo' by Utagawa Hiroshige 1797-1858

Monday, 23 December 2019

Dragon Slayers and More from Rising Decals

Recently two new and very welcome sheets from the prolific Rising Decals for the popular Kawasaki Ki-45 Type 2 Two-seater fighter Toryu 'Nick' in 1/48 and 1/72 scales, together with a new 1/72 sheet for the K5Y1 'Willow' in the innovative 'Unknown and Less Known Units' series. And, as hoped for, a new AVI Models 1/72 kit of the Gasuden KR-1 Chidori-Gô based on their De Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth kit

Set RD48028 (heading image) contains markings in 1/48 scale for eight Ki-45 Toryu from seven units as follows:-

  • Ki-45 Kai Hei '10' of 11th Hakko-tai 'Kokon-tai' at Hokota airfield, Japan in November 1944 - in overall olive brown or black(ish) brown colour.
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei '1' of the same unit as dlown by unit leader 1Lt Kyoichi Miura
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei c/n 4101 of Dokuritsu Hiko 25 Chutai at Liaoyang airfield, Manchuria in February 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey with individual aircraft name 'Tachibana'
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei of 5th Sentai, Negros, Philippines in August 1944 - in dark green mottle over grey
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei as flown by Sgt Yoshio Sakaguchi of 5th Sentai at Kyoshu airfield, Japan in April 1945 - in overall olive brown or black(ish) brown colour
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei of Dokuritsu Hiko 71 Chutai at Kallang airfield, Singapore in July 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey
  • Ki-45 Kai Ko of Dokuritsu Hiko 84 Chutai at Canton, China, May-June 1942 - in a heavy green mottle over grey-green
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei of 53rd Sentai at Matsudo airfield, Japan in February 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey

This sheet offers some interesting and unusual choices including the 25th DHC example (about which more below), the mysterious 71st DHC Toryu at Singapore and the early Indo-China and Canton-based test Chutai bird, the first to engage the enemy in combat (although the 5th Sentai scrambled its six new Toryu to intercept the Doolittle raid they climbed per tactical doctrine to high altitude and did not make contact with the low-flying raiders).

Sheet RD72086 (above) contains markings in 1/72 scale for no less than 12 Ki-45 from seven units as follows:-

  • Ki-45 Kai Tei c/n 4101 of Dokuritsu Hiko 25 Chutai at Liaoyang airfield, Manchuria in February 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey with individual aircraft name 'Tachibana'
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei as flown by Sgt Yoshio Sakaguchi of 5th Sentai at Kyoshu airfield, Japan in April 1945 - in overall olive brown or black(ish) brown colour
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei of 27th Sentai at Clark field, Philippines in August 1945 - in overall olive brown
  • Ki-45 Kai Hei of Dokuritsu Hiko 25 Chutai at Shinkyo airfield, Manchuria in August 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei of 45th Sentai at Clark Field, Philippines in August 1945 - in overall olive brown
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei as flown by Capt Totaro Ito of 5th Sentai at Kyoshu airfield, Japan in November 1944 - in overall olive brown or black(ish) brown colour with individual aircraft name 'Kuzuryu'. Ito was a Bukosho winner with claims for nine B-29s.
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei of 53rd Sentai at Matsudo airfield, Japan in 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey; the white trim lines are included for the striking nose flash but the red will need to be carefully painted
  • Ki-45 Kai Ko of Dokuritsu Hiko 84 Chutai at Canton, China, May-June 1942 - in a heavy green mottle over grey-green
  • Ki45 Kai Ko of the Army Flight Test Centre at Fussa in January 1942 - an unarmed aircraft in overall grey-green 
  • Ki-45 Kai Tei of 53rd Sentai at Matsudo airfield, Japan in February 1945 - in dark green mottle over grey

This sheet also includes partial markings for two more 53rd Sentai Toryu each bearing kill markings (adjusting the colour to better display the white markings the second 53rd insignia shown above appears near black but is cobalt blue on the decal sheet). Again an excellent sheet with some interesting and different subjects. The Hasegawa kit is recommended but the decals would probably work ok with the venerable Revell kit too. Regarding the two Dokuritsu Hiko 25 Chutai aircraft, the tail marking of the first subject, representing a stylised '25', was adopted from the beginning of 1945. Each aircraft was assigned an individual name and other names assigned were 武蔵 - Musashi, - Sakura, 伊予 - Iyo and 天竜 - Tenryu.  The tail marking of the second subject was designed by aircrew member Tsunetake Fujiki and adopted from the unit's establishment in August 1944 until the end of that year. The dual circles in the centre symbolised the '8' and '0's of the unit's coded designator - 'Manchuria Dai 800 Butai'. With the July 1944 2nd Air Army re-organisation this unit had been established as the 'Composite Twin-seat Fighter Squadron' under 15th Air Brigade HQ for the air defence of Anshan, until formally designated Dokuritsu Hiko 25 Chutai in August 1944. The unit also operated Ki-45 nightfighters in the overall black(ish) brown colour displaying the '25' unit insignia. The dual markings for this unit are especially welcomed by this reviewer. A Key Data Guide for Toryu colours is in preparation but has been delayed by  family commitments.

The Yokosuka K5Y1 'Willow' biplane trainer is catered for in 1/72 with a lovely set of markings (shown above) representing 'J-BCPQ' operated by the Kaigun Yobi Kokudan (海軍予備航空団 - Navy Reserve Air Group), a flying training unit for university students. The set is designed for either the AZ Models, Valom or Arii (ex-LS) kits and offers an attractive alternative to the usual Navy schemes for this type. The insignia is beautifully and crisply printed with the anchor design in metallic ink.

Last but not least is the AVI Models 1/72 scale Gasuden KR-1 kit (shown above), designed by Rising Models, which consists of the basic Fox Moth sprues with the addition of a replacement resin fuselage and crisply moulded seven part resin engine and prop. Kit decals by Rising offer a difficult choice between two very attractive examples - the silver doped and blue trimmed 'J-BBJI' operated by Nippon Koku Yuso Kenkyusho (Japan Air Transport Service) from 1935 to 1937 or a silver doped aircraft operated by the Manchukuo Kaijo Keisatsu Koku Butai (Maritime Police Air Unit) with the distinct Manchukuo roundels in six positions. The decal sheet is also by Rising and includes the blue fuselage trim for 'J-BBJI' although the wing leading and tailplane edge trim will need to be carefully painted. This neat kit should appeal to Japanese aircraft, civil aircraft and inter-war biplane enthusiasts.

With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for kindly sending the review samples to Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All images © 2019 Rising Decals