Wednesday, 25 February 2015

That Other Shoki ~ Update

Following the blog about the Fujimi Shoki, James Nicoletti kindly sent these images of the earliest edition kit as issued by Air Flash in Canada, which had been gifted to him by his longtime friend M. Philippe Medard in France. Burns* records this company as re-issuing Aoshima kits in the late 1970s (which seems very late for this box) and does not mention Fujimi kits. No address or dates of operation for Air Flash are given but there is a little more on this brand in the thread at the website here

The kit appears identical to the Fujimi original but the instructions have been re-printed with the Air Flash logo. Judging by the other images in the linked thread the style of Air Flash over-printing was inconsistent. Any further information about this company is welcomed. I'll add the box art to the previous blog with a cross link.

PS. I just received some of the sample sprues for the forthcoming Airfix Nakajima B5N kit courtesy of  Hornby - more on those later but it looks like IJN modellers are in for a real treat. The Hasegawa/Mania B5N is dead. Long live the Airfix B5N!

* Burns, John W, 'In Plastic - WW2 Aircraft Kits', Kit Collectors Clearinghouse, 1993.

Image credits: All © 2015 James Nicoletti

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Maxim Gorbatyuk's 1/72 1st Hiko Sentai Ki-27 Ko

Maxim Gorbatyuk from Odessa in Ukraine first showed these images of his very cleanly built and colourful ICM Ki-27 Ko at Britmodeller and very kindly gave permission for them to also be shown here at Aviation of Japan.

This model was partially assembled more than five years ago and then put aside for various reasons. The final assembly and painting was then undertaken as a weekend project to take a break from several more complex builds. The ICM kit provides a beautifully detailed engine with the option of displaying it exposed with open panels but Maxim dislikes stripped down models as he feels that the open panels spoil the overall apperance of the aircraft. His decision to display the engine panels and cowling closed up was the greatest challenge in the build as they needed to be extensively reduced to about half their thickness in order to accommodate the engine. Maxim fabricated engine push rods from stretched sprue and drilled out the manifold intakes and exhaust pipes. He also made the undercarriage mudguard supports from stretched sprue.

For painting Maxim used GSI Creos ('Gunze') Mr Color 56 Nakajima Grey-Green as the overall base colour. The ICM decals are poor in both quality and colour fidelity so Maxim used masks and his own home made stencils to paint the bands and Hinomaru insignia. Then light post-shading was applied with Mr Color 101 Smoke Gray, followed by slight shading and weathering with tempera paints, an "oil dots" technique and AK Interactive products.

Maxim's model represents the aircraft of the 1st Hiko Sentai commander Lt Col Toshio Kato who has sometimes been confused with the famous 64th Sentai commander Maj Tateo Kato. His aircraft with its low pressure balloon tyres was photographed at Kagamigahara, Japan in June 1939 just before the unit went to join the fighting at Nomonhan. Sentai Commander Toshio Kato's period of air combat at Nomonhan was from early June to 12 July 1939. He engaged Soviet I-15's on 27 June and SBs and I-16s on 5 July when multiple claims were made for both. But many of the I-16s claimed by the Japanese 97-Sen pilots that day actually returned damaged. 

On 12 July Lt Col Kato was very badly burned when his aircraft was fatally damaged in combat and he had to bail out behind enemy lines. He was rescued by Sgt Toshio Matsuura who landed his Ki-27 near the fallen commander under fire whilst Sgt Maj Mitsuyoshi Tarui (who was to become a 28-victory ace) and Sgt Maj Muneyoshi Motojima (16 victories) strafed Soviet ground troops to keep them at bay. After his rescue Lt Col Kato did not continue as Sentai commander or appear in command elsewhere so it is presumed that his injuries were serious enough for him to be invalided home. Sgt Matsuura was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite (金鵄勲章- Kinshi Kunsho), 5th Class (below with medal ribbon) for rescuing his commander.

Toshio Matsuura later fought over Malaya, the East Indies, Burma and New Guinea, being promoted to Sgt Maj and achieving at least 15 victories before returning to Japan in 1943. He was killed in a flying accident on 2 December 1943.

Lt Col Kato's distinctive Ki-27 is also the subject of a beautiful profile by Ronnie Olsthoorn which was not included in Osprey's Ki-27 Aces but is shown here with his kind permission. A print of this profile in two sizes is available from Aviation Graphic.

The 1st Hiko Sentai was the first aviation unit of the Japanese Army, originally constituted as the Koku Daitai (Air Battalion) at Tokorozawa, Japan in October 1915. The unit became the 1st Koku Daitai in December 1917 and the 1st Hiko Sentai in July 1938. It fought throughout the Second World War equipped consecutively with the Ki-27, Ki-43 Hayabusa and Ki-84 Hayate, and displaying the same simple unit insignia of the rudder and elevators painted in the Chutai colours. The 1st Hiko Sentai ended the war at Takahagi, Japan as part of the 12th Air Brigade defending the Eastern Air Group Area as part of the Mobile Air Defence Forces with 20 Hayate on strength. 

With special thanks to Maxim Gorbatyuk and Ronnie Olsthoorn for kindly allowing their superb creative work to be shown here.

Image credits: All model photos © 2015 Maxim Gorbatyuk; Order and Ribbon image via Wiki; Aircraft profile © 2015 Ronnie Olsthoorn

Monday, 23 February 2015

Update ~ Al DuVal's Collection

Further to the blog about Al DuVal's collection of 1/48th models it is a pleasure to report that a permanent home for the collection has now been found at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas. Al loved that place and it would have meant the world to him to know that his models would be on display there.  

Thanks to Mark Smith for this good news.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A6M2-K Trainer Vignette in 1/72nd scale

Modeller Giuseppe Grande very kindly sent these images and information about his superb 1/72nd A6M2-K Zero Trainer vignette featuring a painstaking conversion of the Tamiya A6M2 kit. One can almost feel the heat of the sun on that bleached airfield concrete.

Giuseppe originally planned to use the AML kit but found it undersized and elected instead to convert the recent Tamiya kit using some AML parts. A challenging part of the project was completing the rear cockpit of which details are obscure. Nevertheless Giuseppe was able to elicit indications from an exhaustive article at  He opened up a rear compartment on the Tamiya kit and scratch  built the cockpit using the AML kit as a guide. The front cockpit, almost perfect in the Tamiya kit, was enhanced with an Eduard photo-etch set. Giuseppe also obtained the CMK set for the two-seater Zero as it contained ready to use parts such as a vacuum canopy and a resin cast rear fuselage framework. 

Giuseppe fabricated the rear cockpit fuselage fairing using a vac-form of the CMK resin cast part. This problematic operation required special attention as well as a lot of work and Giuseppe recommends it only for very experienced modellers. The exposed engine is a CMK Nakajima Sakae with replacement Vector heads to which were added some Eduard photo-etch parts. The exhausts were fabricated using 1mm lead-wire. The flaps and undercarriage were detailed using Eduard phot-etch whilst the wing pitot was made from plastic rod. 

Giuseppe painted the model to represent a well-used, faded and subdued finish using an orange-yellow ochre colour matched to FS 33434, weathered with brown oil paint and Citadel inks. The CMK figures were finished with Vallejo acrylics and Citadel inks. Giuseppe made the base himself and added resin and Brengun photo-etch accessories such as the bucket and tools.

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

Image credits: All photographs © 2015 Giuseppe Grande

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Museum of Classic Model Airplanes

The Museum of Classic Model Airplanes is a Japanese website with an impressive gallery of civil aviation in 1/72nd scale that includes many solid scale and scratch-built models as well as kit conversions, resins and vacforms.  The titles are in English and the Museum a cornucopia of wonderful models of lesser known aircraft but of particular interest to readers of Aviation of Japan will be the three galleries dedicated to Japanese Civil Aviation from 1919-1939, Japanese Navy Aviation and Japanese Army Aviation before the Pacific War. 

Nakajima Type 90 Seaplane, 1931

Aichi Type 96 Carrier Bomber, 1936

A selection of model photographs from the Galleries are included here with the kind permission of Shinichi Miwa the Museum owner to whom grateful thanks are extended. Shinich-san has focussed on modeling 1/72 scale vintage civil aircraft for almost 20 years but IJA and IJN subjects are also in scope. The heading photo is of a model of the Nakajima Ki-11 Communication Plane of 1935, the forerunner of the Ki-27.

Mitsubishi Type 93 Twin engined Light Bomber, 1933

Mitsubishi "Ohtori" of Asahi Newspaper Company, 1936

Image credits: All © 2015 The Museum of Classic Model Airplanes

Friday, 20 February 2015

John Haas Modelling the Ki-64

In response to a comment about his Ki-64 project in yesterday's blog, John Haas has very kindly sent these images of the work in progress. An accident in dropping the model has delayed the project and required a re-work but the images speak for themselves. John has also provided a link to a gallery of his other models here.

I share John's interest in this type and have previously struggled with both Czechmaster resin and MPM kits of the Ki-64 in 1/72nd scale, now languishing on the shelf of doom. In addition to the tandem engine and contra-rotating prop the design also incorporated a vapour faze cooling system with steam condenser panels and outlets on the wing surface which increased the speed of the test aircraft (a Ki-61) by 25 mph during flight trials. This system circulated water under pressure to generate steam which passed to the condenser panels in the wings.

The Ki-64 was designated as an experimental high speed fighter (shisaku kousoku sento-ki - 試作 高速 闘機). Preliminary study for the project began in 1939 and after a hiatus was resumed in October 1940. Much work went into the development of the cooling system with testing of the equipment installed on a Ki-61 at Akashi during the summer of 1943. A prototype was completed by December 1943 but flying trials immediately produced problems with a serious oil leak from the rear engine on the fifth flight and numerous difficulties with the contra-rotating propeller mechanism. Curiously the design was allocated the Allied code name 'Rob' in the belief that it would eventually be encountered in combat but the project was suspended before completion due to the ongoing technical problems and war situation. During flight trials the Ki-64 achieved a speed of 437.3 mph at 16,400 ft and plans were in hand to increase engine capability to 2,800 hp in order to achieve a 500 mph top speed.

Armament was proposed to be a single Ho-5 20mm cannon in each wing and either two Ho-5 or two Ho-103 12.7mm machine cannon mounted in the upper cowling for synchronised firing. There was a parallel project but that's another story.  It could be said that the Ki-64 is a better proposition for a what-if fighter model than the Ki-78 so perhaps we might see a new 1/72nd scale kit one day!

Whilst on the subject of solid or scratch-built models, this Japanese club site dedicated to solid and scratch-built modelling is really worth exploring as there is a multitude of superb models on display, including many Japanese types. It is all in Japanese but fairly easy to navigate by clicking on the links to the left of the main page and the models themselves do much of the talking.

Image credits: All photographs © 2015 John Haas