Saturday, 14 September 2019

Ushi Models Tachikawa Ki-94-I in 1/72

Here's a surprise. A new 1/72 resin kit of the stalled Tachikawa Ki-94 interceptor project from Ushi Models due for release in October this year. Unusually the kit features 3D printed detail parts. It's an impressive looking machine and the scheme shown is both refreshing and convincing (although as a legitimate 'what if' an earlier completion could be imagined and therefore a natural metal Homeland Defence bandaged version could be justified), but it will set you back the best part of £62 ($77.42 USD). 

The Ki-94 was designed to meet an Army stratospheric fighter requirement and a full scale mock up of the Tachikawa Ki-94 Experimental Fighter (立川 Ki-94 試作戦闘機) was completed by late 1943. The Army rejected the heavily armed design ( 2 x Ho-203 37mm and 2 x Ho-105 30mm) as too complex and unlikely to achieve the estimated performance of 485 mph at 32,810 ft. However, in 1944, with the B-29 offensive a looming reality, the project was revived and accelerated with the design being completely modified into a single engine fighter driving a six-bladed propeller (the Ki-94-II as kitted by RS Models). The Army approved the design and ordered a static test airframe, three prototypes and 18 pre-production aircraft. A single prototype had been completed by the beginning of August 1945 and the first test flight, with a temporary four-bladed prop, was cheduled for the 18th. A second prototype, to be fitted with the planned six-blade prop was still under construction. The rest, as they say, is history.   

Image credit: All © 2019 Ushi Models via HLJ

Friday, 13 September 2019

Samo's 1/48 Fine Molds Ka-14

Samo Štempihar from Slovenia has kindly shared these images of his splendid build of the Fine Molds 1/48 scale Mitsubishi Ka-14. The main colour scheme was applied using AK Real Colors J3 and the other paints used were MRP.     

 The kit was originally released in 2015 to represent the aircraft depicted in the Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli movie 'The Wind Rises' which dramatised the early life of Mitsubishi A5M and A6M designer Jiro Horikoshi and as such was presented in an overall natural metal scheme. The subsequent 2018 1/72 Fine Molds kit corrected that to Gray-Green, but curiously suggested the use of Mr Color 128 which is IJA Gray Green rather than the 'Navy specification ash green paint' described by Horikoshi-san, and which was probably J3. 

Ka-14 was the Mitsubishi company designation for this project which the IJN had specified as the Experimental 9-Shi Single-seat Fighter in 1934. The prototype took to the air for the first time in January 1935 with a speed exceeding requirement. Subsequent airframes went through several modifications to overcome teething troubles and therein lies some confusion regarding the actual appearance of the eventual six prototype aircraft. The Fine Molds 1/48 kit represents the earliest appearance as depicted in the film, whilst the 1/72 kit represents the subsequent modifications to cowling and tail. Fine Molds had also released a 1/72 kit of the earlier type to be sold exclusively with the January 2014 Model Graphix magazine and it was disappointing that the subsequent 1/72 mainstream kit did not include provision for either version to be built.

The Ka-14 was a significant milestone in Japanese aero-engineering, proving the all metal monocoque fuselage and cantilever wing over the IJN's previous biplane types, and of course developed into the Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter A5M 'Claude' series which saw successful action during the Sino-Japanese war from 1937. It set the pattern for future IJN fighter doctrine in combining agility with speed.

With special thanks to Samo for sharing these images with Aviation of Japan.

Image credits:- All © 2019 Samo Štempihar   

Sunday, 1 September 2019

More Dead Design Goodies - 1/48 Scale

In 1/48 scale Dead Design Models released the following combination vacform canopies and masks in June:-

CM48004 Fine Molds Yokosuka D4Y2-S/3 Suisei Night Fighter - The canopy is split into sections - wind shield, pilot's sliding hood, centre section, observer's sliding hood with cut out for 20 mm cannon barrel and two types of rear section for easier removal from the riser. The two types of rear canopy section are included since some of the early production D4Y2-S sported fully glazed rear canopy sections.Includes complete spray mask for the canopy, ventral window, pilots bulkhead, main wheel discs and tail wheel disc. (Shown in the heading photo)

CM48007 Fine Molds Yokosuka D4Y1/4 - The canopy is split into sections - wind shield, pilot's sliding hood, centre section, observer's sliding hood and two types of rear section for easier removal from the riser. The two types of rear canopy section are included since the D4Y1 sported fully glazed rear canopy part while most D4Y4 sported the faired over rear section. Includes complete spray mask for this canopy, ventral window, pilots bulkhead, main wheel discs and tail wheel disc.

VM48044 Canopy Mask for Hasegawa B5N1/2

The following canopy masks were released:

VM48012 Tamiya Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden - includes bullet proof screen and main wheel discs
VM48021 Nichimo Ki-51 Sonia - includes ventral windows and main wheel discs
VM48043 Fine Molds MXY 7/K1 Ohka 
VM48044 Hasegawa B5N1/2 Kate - includes masks for open and closed canopies, side and ventral windows, internal windscreen plus main and tailwheel discs (shown above)
VM48045 Hasegawa B6N1/2 Tenzan - includes side and ventral windows, internal windscreen plus main and tailwheel discs

SM48001 Control Surfaces Masks for Fine Molds Babs Family

'Optical Illusion' masks for the following kits were released:-

SM48001 Fine Molds Ki-15/C5M/Karigane family (shown above)
SM48002 Tamiya Ki-61-1d

RM48004 Resin Control Surfaces for Hasegawa Ki-61 & Ki-100 Kits

In addition a resin set of flying control surfaces for all versions of the Hasegawa Ki-61-1 Hien and Ki-100 kits was released as RM48004 (shown above). This includes replacement ailerons, rudder and elevators plus actuating arms for rudder and elevators. The fabric surfaces are beautifully recreated.

VM48049 Canopy Masks for Wingsy Ki-51 Sonia Kit

In August canopy masks were released for the following kits:-

VM48023 Nichimo Aichi E13A Jake
VM48025 Nichimo B5N2 Kate
VM48031 Nichimo Ki-45 Toryu
VM48048 Wingsy Ki-51 Sonia (shown above)
VM48050 Hasegawa Ki-45 Toryu
VM48051 Nichimo Ki-43-1 Hayabusa
VM48052 Hasegawa J2M3 Raiden
VM48053 Hasegawa J2M5/6 Raiden

VM48049 National Insignia Masks for Wingsy Ki-51 Sonia Kit

Plus national insignia masks for the Wingsy Ki-51 Sonia as set VM48049 (shown above) and Tamiya Ki-61-1d as set VM48054

And last but by no means least the following 'Optical Illusion' masks were released:-

SM48003 Hasegawa Ki-61 & Ki-100 - all versions
SM48004 Wingsy Ki-51 Sonia (shown above)

All these additions to an already prolific range are useful enhancements for modellers and the inclusion of sets for older kits is to be especially appreciated. If embarking on a Japanese aircraft project in either scale Jan's website is well worth checking out. With special thanks to Jan for sharing the details.

Image credit: All © 2019 Jan Hacijek and Dead Design Models

More Dead Design Goodies - 1/72 scale

Jan Hajicek's prolific Dead Design Models has recently released a plethora of goodies to enhance many different Japanese subject kits in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales. They include canopy masks, a real boon for those with older but still decent kits in their stashes, vacform canopy replacements, resin replacement control surfaces and 'Optical Illusion' masks for control surfaces. 

 VM72056 Canopy & Glazing Masks for the Arii (ex-LS) C5M2 Kit

Released in June were canopy masks for the following 1/72 kits:-

VM72006 Fine Molds Ki-61-1 Hien Otsu/Hei - includes wing light and main wheel discs
VM72009 Dragon Ki-61 Hien -includes wing light and main wheel discs
VM72038 Fine Molds A6M2/3 Model 21, 22 and 32 Zero - open + closed canopy and main wheel discs
VM72039 Fine Molds A6M5 Model 52 Zero - - open + closed canopy and main wheel discs  (see heading photo)
VM72042 Sword J2M5 Raiden  - includes main wheel discs
VM72050 Hasegawa Ki-51 Sonia - includes side and ventral glazing plus main wheel discs
VM72051 Fujimi B6N1/2 Tenzan - includes side and ventral glazing plus main wheel discs
VM72053 Sword Ki-84 Hayate - includes main wheel discs
VM72054 Sword C6N1/1-S Saiun - includes ventral glazing and main wheel discs 
VM72055 Fujimi C6N1/2 Saiun - includes ventral glazing and main wheel discs 
VM72056 Arii (ex-LS) C5M2 Babs - includes side, ventral and wing light glazing, plus main wheel discs (shown above)
VM7263 Fine Molds A7M1/2 Reppu - includes bullet proof glass and main wheel discs 
VM72064 Sword Tachikawa Ki-106 - includes main wheel discs
VM72065 RS Models Nakajima Ki-87 - includes all wheel discs 
VM72066 RS Models Tachikawa Ki-94 II - includes main wheel discs
VM72067 Clear Prop! Mitsubishi A5M2b Early - includes main wheel discs

In addition set VM72068 provides masks for national insignia to replace the decals in Clear Prop! Mitsubishi A5M2b Early.

SM72004 is an innovative 'Optical Illusion' mask (shown above) for creating a rib and fabric effect on both surfaces of the ailerons, elevators and rudder of the Fujimi or AVI Models family of kits of the Mitsubishi A5M Claude.  

VM72070 Canopy Mask for Hasegawa Ki-46-II  'Dinah' Trainer

In August the following 1/72 canopy masks were added to the range:-

VM72022 Aoshima Ki-61-1d - with main wheel discs
VM72023 Aoshima Ki-61-II (Fastback) 
VM72024 Aoshima Ki-61-II (Bubbletop)
VM72025 Aoshima Ki-100 I (Fastback)
VM72026 Aoshima Ki-100 I (Bubbletop)
VM72027 Fujimi Ki-36/55 Ida - includes side and ventral glazing
VM72047 Hasegawa Ki-46-II - includes all glazing
VM72049 Hasegawa Ki-46-III - includes all glazing
VM72069 Hasegawa Ki-46-III Kai Interceptor - includes all glazing
VM72070 Hasegawa Ki-46-II Trainer  (shown above) - includes all glazing
VM72071 Fujimi D3A1 Val - includes all glazing
VM72072 Fujimi D3A2 Val - includes all glazing
VM72073 Fine Molds A6M1/2a - includes both canopies
VM72075 Hasegawa J7W Shinden

VM72074 National Insignia Masks for Fine Molds A6M1/2a Combo Kit

In addition set VM72074 provides masks for national insignia and tail codes to replace the decals for both versions in Fine Molds A6M21/2a combo kits (shown above). 

SM72001 'Optical Illusion' Mask for control surfaces of Fine Molds Ki-43-1 Hayabusa Kit

And the following additional 'Optical Illusion' masks for control surfaces:-

SM72001 Fine Molds Ki-43-1 Hayabusa control surfaces (shown above)
SM72002 Fujimi Ki-43-1 Hayabusa control surfaces
SM72003 Tamiya Ki-61-1d control surfaces
SM72005 Fine Molds A6M21/2a - both versions
SM72006 Aoshima Ki-61-1/II Hien & Ki-100
SM72007 Fine Molds Ki-61-1Hien

 RM72003 Corrected Control Surfaces for Fujimi/AVI Models A5M Claude Kit

In addition set RM72003 provides corrected control surfaces in resin for Fujimi/AVI Models A5M Claude kit (shown above).

With special thanks to Jan for sharing details of these useful and innovative enhancements to 1/72 Japanese aircraft models.   

Image credit: All © 2019 Jan Hajicek and Dead Design Models

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Francesco Borraccino's 1/48 Hasegawa Raiden

Francesco Borraccino has kindly shared these images of his masterful build of the Hasegawa 1/48 scale Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Type 21 kit which he completed painting recently after it had languished, almost built but unpainted, for nearly ten years.  Raiden was designated 海軍 局地 戦闘機 which is usually translated as 'Navy Interceptor Fighter (Aircraft)' but 局地 (kyokuchi) literally means limited or local area. Raiden 雷電 is 'Thunder and Lightning' usually translated as 'Thunderbolt'. Some aircraft seem to look better on the ground than in the air - and vice versa. The Spitfire is an example of the latter, with that knock kneed, narrow gauge undercarriage detracting from the aerodynamic excellence of its lines. But the Raiden is of the former with its powerful 'just about to leap' appearance captured perfectly in Francesco's presentation of an aircraft he describes as a 'true beast'. 

Francesco applied AK Real Colors D1 Deep Green Black to the upper surface and on the under surface a mix of Gunze H-61 and khaki to represent aircraft ケ(Ke)-1105 of the Genzan Ku in Spring, 1945, one of four Raiden subjects offered in the 2009 'Genzan Flying Group' edition of the kit.  The others being stable mate ケ-1103 of Genzan Ku, タイ(Tai)-101 of Tainan Ku in August 1944 and ヤ (Ya)-1195 of Yatabe Ku in December 1944.

With special thanks to Francesco for sharing these images of his fine looking Raiden model and also to Keishiro Nagao of Lifelike Decals for kindly explaining the aircraft designation in correspondence during 2015.

Image credit: All © 2019 Francesco Borracino

Friday, 9 August 2019

Higher and Further ~ Patsy's Ambitious Endeavours

The RAF Flying Review magazine series 'These Were The Enemy' included a number of well known and lesser known Japanese types. No.70 in the series, published in Vol.XV, No.10 in June 1960 featured the Ki-74. The Tachikawa Ki-74 Long-range Reconnaissance Attacker (立川 キ-74 遠距離偵察撃機) is quite well documented on the internet and elsewhere and despite the small number built was assigned the Allied code name 'Patsy'. Its genesis was in a design intended to keep tabs on the Soviets by long-range photo-reconnaissance incursions to the west of Lake Baikal in Siberia. The project was suspended when priority was assigned to the Ki-77 (of which more anon, also courtesy of RAF Flying Review), but resurrected by the Army in a design proposal completed in September 1942. Aspiration was for long range attacks against the United States mainland but the war situation eventually relegated that to an attack against Saipan, although ultimately no operational sorties were conducted as actual production fell far behind that planned.

As usual the Flying Review article eschews any chauvinism with the recognition that Japanese aircraft designers "had proven themselves ingenious, ambitious and progressive, frequently creating exceptionally fine warplanes under conditions that would have appalled their western contemporaries". Operationally the Ki-74 should have been finished in the late-war No.7 olive drab colour but a colour photograph (heading image) suggests perhaps a more blueish dark green, similar to # 27 Ao midori iro or the IJN D2 and also to that seen in a colour photograph of a Tachikawa-built Ki-43-III Ko. That might just be due to an overall blue cast and degradation in the slide film or to non-factory painting by the Army. Photographs also suggest only partial painting of the under surfaces.

By December 1944 only three pre-production examples had been built against a planned production of 26. By August 1945 a further 12 had been completed against a planned production of 109. Tooling up for two line series production of the Ki-74 was in progress at the Sunegawa section of the Tachikawa plant but a B-29 raid on 17 February 1945 destroyed 40% of the wing and fuselage assembly building causing 30-80% damage to the jigs. On 4 April 1945 a second raid destroyed 20% of the Ki-74 final assembly building. In May 1945 a decision was made to transfer production to a new plant near Kumagaya, but it was never completed. Production was also delayed by a shortage of skilled labour as the Army had prioritised Ki-43-III Ko manufacture for Tachikawa as well as problems in the supply of oleos, oil coolers and electrical parts.

The Ki-74 is an impressive and intriguing aircraft with its B-17 like tail but has not yet attracted the attention of mainstream plastic injection kit manufacturers. A 1/72 resin kit of the type was released by A & V Models in the 1980s and it is a privilege to be able to share images (above and below) of a splendid build of that kit by Gunther Arnold, whose modelling blog is well worth visiting and contains a host of other beautifully built Japanese aircraft models, including a number of experimental types. A complete walkaround of Walther's Ki-74 model may be found at his blog here.  More recently A & W Models has released a resin kit of the Ki-74 in 1/144 scale.  

A&V Models Ki-74 resin kit in 1/72 scale

A&W Models Ki-74 resin kit  in 1/144 scale 

With special thanks to Gunther Arnold for his kind permission to share his model photos here.

Image credit:- Article scan © 1959 Royal Air Force Review Ltd.; Ki-74 model images © 2017 Gunther Arnold &; Photographs via web