Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Woody Kubacki's 1/48 Scale Shoki

Woody Kubacki has very kindly shared these images and details of his meticulous build of the Hasegawa Ki-44-II Shoki 'Tojo' kit (# 09137) to replicate the unusual scheme depicted by Ronnie Olsthoorn as Profile # 4 in Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 100 'Ki-44 Tojo Aces of World War 2', an early Ki-44-I of Hiko Dai 33 Sentai in China during early 1943. Apart from the blue grey camouflage this aircraft had unusual fuselage hinomaru consisting of a central red disk with aluminium border 0.5" wide, then a 2.75" wide yellow border with another 0.5" aluminium border outwith that, presumably the result of careful masking. The rear fuselage senchi hiyoshiki was 4". wide with 0.5" wide blue edging, the tail insignia blue-black but perhaps originally blue.  



Woody describes his build as follows:-


'The build started off with the cockpit, with the kit seat being thinned down and the holes drilled out.  Seat belts were created using Tamiya tape and lead wire and rudder pedal straps were added using thin strips of styrene.  

'Next the cockpit was painted in AK Real Color IJA#3 Hairanshoku (AK R329)


'Ignition wires were added to the engine and the engine was painted aluminum and given a wash of Tamiya Panel liner black and dark brown. 


'The fuselage was then closed up and the wings attached.  Only slight filling was required before the plane was primed with Gunze Mr Surfacer 1500 and any imperfections in the bodywork were identified and corrected.  The aotake was simulated by spraying an aluminium paint first and then spraying a mix of clear green and blue over that and finally a flat varnish to dull the shine.  

Mr Color C76 on the left, custom mix on the right

'The model was then sprayed with an aluminium metallic paint (Gunze Mr Color SM 206 Super Chrome Silver), and then a marble coat was sprayed overtop. 


'Next was the tricky masking of the fuselage hinomaru, leaving a 0.5 mm ring or aluminium, then a 1 mm yellow ring and finally a 0.5mm ring of aluminium.


'Then the base medium grey was sprayed over the entire aircraft, using Gunze C35 IJN Grey (Mitsubshi) in this case. Gunze Mr Color C125 Cowling Color was sprayed for the anti glare strip and C58 for the orange-yellow leading edge ID bands. National and tail markings were masked using Oramask 813 and sprayed with Gunze Mr Color C327 Red FS 11136 (which is as close a paint as I could find that matches their C385 Red (IJN Aircraft Marking) . 


'Finally the most challenging part of the build, the mottle.  I mixed a dark blue grey paint (5 parts Tamiya LP-13 IJN Grey (Sasebo Arsenal) and 1 part Gunze C71 Midnight blue) and proceeded to mottle the aircraft. Tail markings were painted in C71 Midnight blue, the remainder of the markings were painted and decals applied. Finally, the plane was chipped and weathered with Tamiya Panel liner and oil paints.'


After a fairly critical appraisal of the Ki-44 pre-production fighters in operations over Malaya and Burma with Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 47 Chutai at the beginning of the Pacific War, the Koku Hombu authorised the limited production of a further 40 aircraft, considering the type suitable as an anti-bomber and interceptor fighter. In December 1942, pursuant to a temporary defensive policy in China, the China Expeditionary Army was to arrange for the deployment of the Shoki (Type 2 single-seater fighter*) to each of the frontline airfields in north, central and south China as soon as possible. The first operational unit to receive the Shoki was the 33rd Sentai, then based at Canton and equipped with the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 'Oscar' (Type 1 fighter). Only five Shoki were delivered to the unit during the autumn of 1942 or early in 1943 and they equipped a special shotai (flight) formed for air defence duties over the Wuchang area in central China. The air defence posture for the Shoki did not last long in China and it was soon being used offensively, pioneering the hit and run tactics developed by its champions at Akeno and coming as an unpleasant surprise to Chennault's flyers.


With very special thanks to Woody for sharing the images and details, with more to come. 

* The Type 2 designation has caused some confusion as the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu 'Nick' was designated the Type 2 Two-seater Fighter, resulting in the Ki-44 sometimes being attributed to units which operated the twin-engined fighter. 

Image credit: All photos © 2021 Woody Kubacki

Monday, 8 November 2021

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

Back in 2014 Aviation of Japan  referenced a challenging project by Tetsuya Inoue to kit bash the 1/48 Hasegawa Kawasaki Ki-61-I and Ki-100 to produce a model of the Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop' fighter, linked to his own impressive website Tets Research Institute. Now after eight years Tetsuya's project has finally reached fruition and he has very kindly shared these images of his stunning model (which will fortuitously herald a short season of Imperial Japanese Army fighter models and topics) as well as uploading many more at his own website here. Previous updates for Tetsuya's project can be found in Aviation of Japan entries for August 2020, May 2019, October 2018, March 2018 and June 2017. 

These awesome images speak for themselves in terms of Tetsuya's magnificent achievement, the details of which would be considered superlative in 1/24 scale let alone in 1/48 scale. A painstakingly meticulous and systematic approach, combined with a forensic appreciation of full-scale detail realised by patient modelling skill taken to an extraordinary level have created a more than museum quality model which literally presents the Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop' in miniature form inside and out. Wonderful.      


With very special thanks to Tetsuya for so kindly sharing updates and images of his incredibly impressive project with Aviation of Japan. Do please visit his website to enjoy more of a truly magnificent exposition of applied modelling skills to produce an exceptional model of  this rare Kawasaki fighter aircraft.  


Image Credit: All photos © 2021 Tetsuya Inoue & Tets Research Institute

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Alex Rodionov's 1/72 Nakajima B5N1 'Kate'

Hot on the heels of his 'Val', Alex Rodionov has also very kindly shared these images of his stunning build of the Airfix 1/72 Nakajima B5N1 'Kate' attacker in classic and colourful red-tailed configuration.


In lieu of conclusive information about the colour scheme Alex elected to represent a painted aluminium finish. The markings are from Rising Decals set RD72059 'Japanese Naval Carrier Bombers Pt.II' and represent an aircraft of a maintenance practicing unit with tail code SeiRen-377 (for Seibi Renshuu) at Yokosuka in 1941. The red fuselage stripe was promulgated in November 1940 to distinguish the aircraft of the 3rd Carrier Division. The stripes on the tail, although often described as aim-off assistance for the rear gunner, are for drift measurement, usually set 5 degrees apart from the centre line and used in conjunction with smoke floats or dye markers and a drift sight and plotter to assist in lining up a bearing from the drift sight to the indicator in order to calculate deviation in heading. 


The final image shows Alex's Airfix B5N1 lined up with an example of the B5N2 built from the earlier Mania/Hasegawa kit.


With very special thanks to Alex for sharing these images and more great models to come from him.

Image credit: All photos © 2021 Alex Rodionov 

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Alex Rodionov's 1/72 Aichi D3A2 'Val'

Continuing a mini-theme of IJN attackers Alex Rodionov has very kindly shared these images of his model of the Aichi D3A2 dive bomber made from the 1/72 Fujimi kit, and delightful to see this later version of the iconic 'Val' presented and modelled so well. 

The main paints used to finish the model were Tamiya XF-11 J.N. Green and XF-76 Gray Green (IJN) with markings from Rising Decals Japanese Naval Dive Bombers Pt.II to represent an aircraft of 1081 Ku at Atsugi airbase in 1945. The unit is an interesting one, originally established at Atsugi as a carrier unit on 1 April 1944 but operated as a transport unit when consolidated with 1021 Ku on 15 July 1944. Duties included ferrying various aircraft to other frontline units but the operational history of this particular kanbaku with its replacement ailerons is obscure. 

Alex shared images of his excellent 1/72 A6M5 Zero here back in September 2019 and has also shared images of his 1/72 Nakajima B5N1 'Kate' made from the Airfix kit and to be shown separately.  


With very special thanks to Alex for sharing these images of a very fine model and for his patience in waiting for them to appear.

Image credit: All photos © 2021 Alex Rodionov