Tuesday 4 November 2008

Tales of Tigers & Tri-Colour Camouflage ~ Part 1

When LS issued their Ki-46-II in the 1960's (if anyone knows the exact year please comment, thanks) the box art represented an interesting tri-coloured aircraft of the 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (DHC - Independent Flying or Flight Squadron) in China. This was the same unit, but not the same colour scheme, chosen by Airfix for their own Dinah released in 1965.

The Ki-46-II was released as the first in a 'family' of four Ki-46 variants by LS followed by the Ki-46-III, Ki-46-III interceptor and Ki-46 trainer, all using a number of common sprues which meant inevitable compromise over details.  

This particular scheme, based on a single photograph, has been variously interpreted in profile art and even attributed to a post-war Red Army of China Air Force example. Of course it is impossible to determine exactly which colours were applied to the original aircraft from a monochrome photograph (although some profess to possess the dark art necessary to do this), but it is a curious and interesting fact that the LS box artist managed to accurately represent three of the colours subsequently identified in the JAAF paint colour standards in use until February 1945. These three colours have long been associated with the so-called "China Tri-colour" scheme, although their combinations and shades are diversely depicted. The yellowish brown colour was probably # 33 Kaki iro, confusingly not related to khaki but to the persimmon, a yellowish to orange brown colour. The strong reddish brown of # 4 Seki Kasshoku is sometimes misleadingly described as 'tea colour'. 

The painting and decal instructions in the original kit were poor and did not provide much in the way of details about the scheme. In addition to the 18th DHC tiger option, the tail markings for the 19th Hiko Dan (Flying Brigade) were also included. The tiger, although perhaps appearing odd, was closer to the original than the more stylised and dramatic Airfix rendering.

(Note: This article was updated on 11 March 2015 with more correctly rendered and described colour chips).

Images credit: Box art & decal sheet © LS circa 1960; Rendered colour chips © Straggler 2008


Ken Glass said...

Hello Nick,

A year late, but an interesting tidbit of info came my way recently. In November, 1970 Bunrin-Do (Koku-Fan Publisher) printed a landscape layout, coffee table sized book with a bright - simulated aluminum cover, titled "the World Aircraft in Colour". It featured many large size b/w photo reproductions, in the French 'artsy' magazine style, and 48 color illustrations by Mr. Kikuo HASHIMOTO (often seen rendered as K. Ha). Page 31 is devoted to a single, side elevation color profile (of 14" length) of the same Ki.46-II as seen in the L&S kit #A301 box art and featured in your 11/4/08 blog posting.

Three of the camo colors used by K. Ha' were very different and noteworthy. He depicted the plane with a very much darker green, even blacker than Munsell 10 BG 2/2 and visible as such even in very poor lighting available to me as I write this.

The terracotta brown colors used in both images are similar, somewhere around Munsells 10 R 5/6 and 10 R 5/8. The terracotta brown segments are in the same positions in both color illustrations. Is their color similarity due to possession of definitive data to hand, or the lack of any such from which to propose a viable alternative? I suspect its more the latter.

The L&S kit box art has the IJA #30 color segments as you noted in your posting, but these same color patches are an elusive olive green in the K. Ha' color profile. My closest Munsell standard color chip of 7.5 Y 4/4 is visibly too yellow, lacking enough blue to green it up. All the standard chips I have in the Munsell GY hue range are way too green compared to the K. Ha' profile color.

The plane's undersides in the L&S box art is a pale blue-gray while K. Ha' used a pale neutral gray near Munsell N 7.5/.

A final note regarding the K. Ha' color profile. The darkest green segments appeared oddly a deep purplish blue color when first viewed upon arrival from Japan 2 weeks ago. I then viewed them under better lighting than is available today under sodden rainy skies at Noon to 1 PM my time on 11/10/09.

Ken Glass

Richard said...


I believe the LS Dinahs were released in the mid-seventies, I recall seeing a review or a mention of them in Scale Modeler magazine around 1977-8. I didn't purchase one until 1981, when my father was assigned to Misawa AB, Japan.

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks for your thoughts and memories, Richard. According to one Japanese website the LS kit was listed in a 1966 'Plastic Model Guide' which tallies with Burns citing original production in the mid-1960s with single digits. I haven't studied LS Ki-46 kit boxes and catalogue numbers in detail but my oldest LS Ki-46-III kit box, purchased in the mid-1970s has the 'Japan Safety Toy' logo, a toy standard that was introduced from 1971. I'll take a look at some 1960s Airfix magazines to see if they include any adverts for the kit.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

My second sentence in the comment above should read ". . single digit catalogue numbers."