Thursday, 6 June 2019

Zegeye's Neat 'Claude Made For Two'!

Zegeye's (Zbyszek Malicki) splendid A5M4-K built from the 1/72 Choroszy Modelbud resin kit has already been shown at Britmodeller but he very kindly offered to share these images of the stages of his build and the finished model with Aviation of Japan.

It is evident from these that considerable work went into enhancing the interior and engine, as well as into construction and painting. 

The model represents an aircraft of the Oita Kokutai. Production of the A5M4 fighter series had terminated in 1940 but development of a two-seat trainer version from the A5M4 airframe was initiated at the 21st Naval Air Technical Station at Omura. The cockpit was moved forward with adjustments to the engine mounting and firewall, making space for a second cockpit behind it. A rollover pylon was added between the cockpits and spin stabilisor strakes were fitted to both sides of the rear fuselage. Spats were removed or replaced by an abbreviated form (as shown on the model). A total of 103 A5M4-K were manufactured.

Of particular note on this model is the excellent effect of subtle surface wear and weathering with the original orange-yellow paintwork showing through the dark green camouflage. Beautifully achieved. 

With special thanks to Zbyszek for sharing these images of his excellent model. 

Image credits: All © 2019 Zbyszek Malicki

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Yokosuka R2Y Keiun

Another 'lost and found' RAF Flying Review article in this occasional series, this time from the March 1959 (Vol.XIV No.7) issue and featuring an interesting account of the Yokosuka (Kugisho) R2Y Keiun (景雲 - 'Auspicious Cloud') experimental reconnaissance aircraft by Mr Ichiro Naito, translated by Mr Takeshi Hattori and published therein by courtesy of the Japanese magazine Aireview

English language data on Keiun is sparse so Mr Naito's first person account is especially welcome for its details even if 60 years old! A Model 2 (R2Y2) variant of the type was planned to be powered by a Mitsubishi Ne-330 turbo-jet engine fitted to each wing (as shown above in the article's side-view plan).

 Fine Molds Keiun 1995

Fine Molds Keiun 2001

Fortunately for those modellers interested in Japanese experimental types there is a decent 1/72 kit of the fascinating Keiun by Fine Molds. First released in 1995 it was re-released in 2001 with new box art depicting orange-yellow under surfaces. The kit is currently in stock at HLJ for a very reasonable £11.91 (US$15.91) and there is a photo-etch details accessory set AA-17 available separately at £7.74 (US$9.92). A 1/72 resin model of the turbo-jet powered R2Y2 was announced for release this month by International Resin Modelers but comes with a hefty price tag of US$100 for non-members.  

A splendid model of Keiun built from the Fine Molds kit is shown here (above and below) courtesy of the builder Mr Hiroyuki Kato via Mr Hiromichi Taguchi, the editor of the excellent Japanese monthly web magazine Web-modelers. Mr Taguchi's web magazine should be of special interest to those who enjoy seeing older kits as well as recent releases carefully built and painted. The magazine also features nostalgic articles about Japanese aviation and modelling history, including past times Japanese model shops and  modelling magazines. All the back issues of the magazine can be browsed at the website.

With special thanks to Mr Hiroyuki Kato and Mr Hiromichi Taguchi for their kind permission to share the images of Mr Kato's Keiun model with Aviation of Japan. The RAF Flying Review article is from the author's own collection of the magazine. Please credit and link to Aviation of Japan if referencing this article or its contents, including Wiki updates, thank you.

Image credits: Heading image via web; Magazine pages © 1959 The RAF Review Ltd; Box art © 1995 & 2001 Fine Molds Corp.; Keiun model images © 2019 Hiroyuki Kato via Hiromichi Taguchi & Web-modelers

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Jan Hajicek's 9-Shi Improved Prototype in 1/72

Jan Hajicek has very kindly shared these images and his build report of the Fine Molds 1/72 IJN 9-shi Experimental Fighter (Mitsubishi Ka-14 Improved Prototype) at Kagamigahara airfield, Japan in the Spring of 1935. In Jan's own words then:

"The Type 96 kansen is one of my favourite IJN types where I’d like to build the whole genealogy. I have already built a 1/72 scale A5M4 and 1/48 scale A5M2b Early and since Fine Molds released the 9-shi Experimental Fighter (Mitsubishi Ka-14 Improved Prototype) last year I was happy to get it because the first prototype released as a Model Graphics magazine issue was hard to obtain (although I do already have one). The kit is much better that even expected revealing finely recessed panel lines with excellent cockpit and engine details.

"The kit was built almost straight form the box. I  added some wiring to the cockpit and engine and a seat harness from photo-etch. That was my idea to finish the kit quickly. It was an enhanced prototype and should look like new – shiny and almost clean.

"During the process I found that the exhaust stacks protruding from the cowling would be evident and I could not live with the fact they were not hollow. As the exhausts are in the form of tubes that were diagonally cut off I wondered how I should recreate them without spending too much time. This is a common catch that usually stops my progress. But this time an idea quickly came. I used thin aluminium foil from which I formed tubes over an Evergreen plastic rod, glued the mating line and then cut the desired angle. Then I slipped them off the plastic rod and attached them to the already adjusted, shortened kit part.  The result looks much better than solid plastic.

"The construction of this kit was easy and delightful. Every part mated with the other as it should and the only trouble I encountered was in mating the cowling assembly to the fuselage. That was mostly due to the thick colour coat I had sprayed since I painted the cowling assembly and fuselage separately and assembled them afterwards. 

"When Hasegawa released the 1/48 E8N Dave in 2015 featuring overdone fabric and ports I wondered how this could be revised. At that time an idea arose of a mask that after spraying would create an optical illusion. It took time to realise that idea (in the meantime a fellow modeller from CZ had started to produce such masks for 1/72 scale kits) and I first used it on this kit, even though I used a similar method on my Fujimi 1/72 scale Type 96 Model 4 Kansen. I must admit I have not mastered this method yet but the result is good for a 1/72 scale kit. Unfortunately the oil wash almost ruined my work as it absorbed into the clear coat making the overall appearance faded.

"Mask used – canopy both sides, all markings and control surfaces Optical Illusion Mask. Colours - Gunze overall, Vallejo for the small parts. Weathering – MiG and Artist chalks."

With special thanks to Jan for sharing these photos of his excellent model and the details about his build. If anyone is interested in the masks for this kit please email Jan.

Image credits: All kit photos © 2019 Jan Hajicek; Box art © 2018 Fine Molds Corp.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Canopied Claude and Silver Tony in 1/72

The new 1/72 A5M2b 'Canopied' Claude from Clear Prop! due to be released is rather pricey at about £23 (and over £43 at HLJ which might be something to do with exchange rates or customs duties). Even with a photo-etch sheet and decal options for a camouflaged bird and three natural metal machines it seems expensive, but perhaps that is just an outdated perception of prices on my part. There appear to be a large number of small detail parts for cockpit and engine which is consistent with the previous Gloster E28/39 Pioneer kit from this company and an innovative method of sprue attachments which reduces the possibility of damage to the external airframe parts. Hat tip to Clear Prop! for the Hemp (sic) under surface colour ;-), although natural metal might be more appropriate for this one. More to follow on this as the 'canopied' Claude is a favourite. 

Tamiya have recently released a silver-plated version of their superb 1/72 Ki-61-1 Tei Hien 'Tony' kit. This seems to have attracted some sniffy reviews which seems a little unfair. Many modelers find it difficult to achieve convincing natural metal finishes and the silver-plating in this case is about on a par but a little brighter and shinier than an airbrushed Humbrol Metalcote Polished Aluminium rather than the excessively 'chromed' finish on early silver-plated kits. The upside is a smooth and consistent shiny aluminium finish ready for the mottle camouflage decals which are included in the kit (approximately # 21 green) or for painting in other camouflage finishes such as the # 27 blue green mottle, or # 7 solid with wear and tear - or leaving as is. I guess also that the finish could be lightly scoured with graphite dust to represent a more weathered and oxidised aluminium appearance.  The downside is that the plating covers every single kit part and will have to be carefully removed from mating edges by scraping to facilitate gluing. Tamiya cite their X-11 Chrome Silver paint for touch ups but I reckon you could get away with the aforementioned Humbrol Metalcote too.  In addition to the mottle camouflage decals the kit comes with the same three decal options as the original kit with the blue or red fuselage stripes to suit preference or prejudice. There is a comprehensive history of the type in English, the usual very clear instructions (from the original kit) and a nice touch - a sheet of 'Tech Tips' for modelling tools, how to use them and for painting - English included (Fine Molds take note!). Box art is new and more inspiring than the original ground-bound image. The kit retails for about £14 at HLJ which seems reasonable. In conclusion, nice one Tamiya!

Image credits:- A5M2b box art and contents © 2019 Clear Prop!; Ki-61 box art © 2019 Tamiya, Inc. via HLJ