Friday, 24 April 2009

IJN Tail Codes

Well known colour photograph which has appeared in various publications but worth showing again as a good, clear image for the colours of the tail codes.

'YoD-135' in yellow and 'YoD-198' in white. Note Zero behind Raiden also has yellow tail code and extreme weathering on Raiden. Unusual.

Note also Irving tail code 'YoD-198' is horizontal to ground line not airframe line.

In monochrome photographs it is difficult to determine whether codes are white or yellow. Did the colours signify anything? Hikotai?

Image credit: a-waka

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

J-Model Works

Omami's splendid J-Model Works (Mokei no Hanamichi) website is well worth a visit. In addition to a gallery of excellent models (predominantly IJN ships but some aircraft too) there is an index of useful links to many fascinating Japanese model sites and manufacturers - all in English too.

Image credits: ©2009 Omami & J-Model Works

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Aichi D3A 'Val' Interior in Detail & Colour ~ Extra

A flurry of emails has prompted this extra post in the Aichi D3A2 'Val'; Interior in Detail & Colour series to clarify the origin of the photographs. Whilst the source of the formatted images (for the Aviation of Japan blog) was Mark Smith, it was Greg Springer who actually took the majority of the photographs in 1976. Greg has very kindly given permission for the photographs to continue to be shown here.

I was puzzled when Jim Lansdale mentioned the s/n as being 3150, because the data block shown in one of the photographs is 3357. This minor mystery was also cleared up by Greg who explained that there are two D3A2 airframes at the Nimitz. The main one, shown in most of the photographs, was 3150, recovered from Gasmata together with an A6M2 of the Tainan Ku by Australian military forces. In gratitude the Nimitz allowed the Australians to keep the A6M2 which was later restored and is now in an Australian museum. An enquiry from Jim Long led Greg to discover and photograph the constructor's number in the 1980's.

The tail section and propeller are from 3357. They were recovered from Cape Mensing on the northwest coast of New Britain near Cape Gloucester. This aircraft was coded 82-248 from the 582nd Ku and was probably part of the ill-fated attack on the Cape Gloucester landings in late December, 1943.

The image of the data block shown above is from Greg's photo-shoot in 1976. The block appears to have been applied over the dark green and primer, preserving the dark green beneath it. The circular aperture is the transverse tube for hoisting the rear fuselage for maintenance.

With Special Thanks to Greg for the clarification and the additional details about these aircraft.

Image credit: © 1976 & 2009 Greg Springer   

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Sweet Little Zero

It is very hard to believe looking at these pictures (and click on them to see the real deal - those canopy frames!) that this superb model of the A6M2 is only to 1/144th scale - the Sweet kit as built by Mark Smith.

Mark has also kindly sent me his review of Sweet's latest Zero version in this scale, the Model 22, A6M3.

"My buddy P F Simmons had a surprise for me when I dropped by before Christmas this year - yet another release in Sweet Aviation's burgeoning line of 1/144th scale Mitsubishi Zero kits. Hard to believe, but this is the 22nd release in their line-up of single-engine WWII fighters (the 21st was the Model 32 with clipped wingtips). This one is my favourite so far and for my money the prettiest, the Model 22 which flew some of the longest and most gruelling missions in the Solomons campaign.

This kit, like the original, eliminates the separate folding wingtips of the A6M2 releases and has the appropriate tiny details of the ailerons and trim tabs, antenna mast and propeller spinner and prop. The box art is exquisite (I wish Sweet would drop the "manga" cartoon style box art they opt for on some of their releases). Best of all are the markings options. This version sported the most variegated camouflage of all the Zero variants, as evidenced by the five variations on the decal sheet so nicely done by Cartograf. Overall grey, stippled green camo and solid green over grey are all there from the 582, 201 and 202 NAGs. The fifth option is one I've never seen, '2-163' as flown by Lt Shirou Kawai from Rabaul, New Britain. It has two diagonal leader's stripes on the fuselage and the tail codes also have stripes above and below; these being provided in both yellow and white (Sweet is apparently not sure which is correct and leaves it up to the modeller to decide). I sure would love to see the photograph(s) this scheme is based upon.

I now have five different Sweet Zero boxings, which together sport decals for 33 different airframes! Thanks to P F I also have the separately marketed Akagi Fighter Group decal sheet, which provides 21 additional choices! Good grief! When I first started collecting in this scale I always bemoaned the dearth of available decals.

Unlike the A6M2 kit which I built, this one has a pilot seat provided, much appreciated as it's a pain to make in this scale and will be visible.

Whilst I can testify that painting the canopy frames in this scale is crazy-making, think of it as the one hard thing you have to do to make a lovely little model. I have built three of Sweet's Hurricanes, two Wildcats and the Model 21 Zero, and the tool-making, accuracy and fit of these kits are outstanding.

I keep waiting for them to branch out with something a bit bigger. Think of the money Sweet could make with a B-17 in this scale! Well, we can dream - and in the meantime build lots of Zeros. - Mark Smith

Image credit: Box Art © 2009 Sweet Aviation; A6M2 model © 2009 Mark Smith

RAF Cosford Show

Courtesy of Gary Wenko, some more pics of the Japanese Aviation Special Interest Group (JASIG) of IPMS (UK) display at the RAF Cosford show.

Image credit: © 2009 Gary Wenko JASIG IPMS (UK)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

On The Soapbox Again!

Oh dear, it's that time again. I know I shouldn't. But I find myself inching towards that soapbox in the corner and flicking the megaphone switch to 'On' again.

A correspondent, who shall remain nameless, used the witty phrase "never one to let the facts get in the way of his opinions" in respect of a well-known forumite, who shall also remain nameless. Having a quick shufti round the forums this morning I was struck, in a rather sad way, by just how much company this character has. It appears that a majority of threads, especially on the dreaded subject of colour schemes, are more about opinion than fact, even to the point where one poster characterises any facts dropped into the thread as just opinion. It is almost as though the fact (forgive me) that subjective interpretation inevitably comes into any discussion about colour means that "anything goes". That attitude becomes a major attack line for some, who appear to prefer opinion or even speculation over and above the few facts that are known and who plainly detest the fruits of the research they are too idle, ignorant or egotistical to embark upon themselves.  

It seems reasonable to contribute information to these sort of threads, until you realise with a sinking heart that the same question will be asked again, that any factual information will soon be lost or forgotten and that the same wazzocks will wrap up any good stuff in a foggy cloud of speculative waffle and/or lots of questionably relevant pictures intended to demonstrate, presumably, their ability to trawl the net (there is an element of both competition and combativeness here, as though the more photos are crammed into a post the more established the "expert" credentials are). Well, deja vu with the colours of Hayate maybe two or three times, but not regularly every six weeks! Thus this blog.

What saddens me even more is that the dogged detective work of genuinely serious colour researchers in the past and the present seems to be so easily forgotten or ignored and replaced instead with pearls of opinionated wisdom from modellers (primarily), who seem to really believe that long hours spent staring at black and white (or even colour) photographs of their favourite aircraft gives them some kind of magical and superior expertise to determine the real colours of the original. That wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that quite often these same characters actually pour scorn on the fragments of primary documentary evidence that the real researchers have spent years of work and often expense bringing to light. That is just plain rude and ignorant. 

Their logic seems to run along the lines of "Because only 25% of known fact supports this conclusion that allows me to offer instead 100% of pure, unadulterated, speculative opinion" instead of basing an opinion on what is known. Bullshit. Some of them even add insult to injury by qualifying this opinion with the time-worn phrase "I'm no expert but . . . ". Well, if you're no expert just wind your neck in and get back to your modelling! The other classic refuge is "Well, there is a lot of debate about (e.g. interior) colours". Is there? Where? The local modelling club? No, this phrase actually means (translation): "I don't know and I used this really weird colour but I'm going to pretend it is based on some serious mysterious "debate" somewhere". Bullshit. But maybe in this case it is understandable bullshit if your very nice model in the "wrong" colours is being challenged by some mega-bozo with all the usual books who thinks he knows more about it and you feel the need to defend yourself online. Tip: If you get asked aggressively "Is there any evidence for that colour?" answer thus: "Is there? I'd really like to know."  

Please don't take this as displaying any kind of badge for colour police credentials. I think it is perfectly fine for modellers to interpret their models any way they want and to use what little evidence there is to make their own informed decisions. I think it is fine, even to be encouraged, to display speculative or interpretative colour schemes. No, what is unfortunate is when these very personal and subjective decisions are dressed up as some kind of definitive guidance or status quo for everyone else to follow and then begin to do the rounds of unsuspecting innocents - like the dreaded "Ameiro". A skill for making superb models does not automatically translate into unimpeachable accuracy, especially when it comes to colour, but a few misleading words may lead to that assumption. So when you complete that 1/32nd Shoki model please don't represent the decisions you made about its colour as being the last or even first word on the subject - they probably won't be!

No modellers were harmed in the production of this post but some egos may have been bruised. Touché.

Japanese Aviation Special Interest Group IPMS (UK)

You can't have a much better demonstration of modelling and the real thing than this photo of the IPMS (UK) Japanese Aviation SIG (Special Interest Group) model display at the RAF Cosford modelling show, set up in the imposing shadow of the world's only surviving Mitsubishi Ki-46 'Dinah'.

Sitting at a desk authoring a blog is a very different (and much less arduous) proposition to the sterling work Gary Wenko, leader of JASIG, does in promoting both the SIG and the hobby. Gary does an enormous amount of legwork to fly the Japanese aircraft modelling flag at all the shows in the UK, driving many miles and lugging many model boxes, setting up the displays and being a dedicated focal point for stimulating and maintaining modelling interest in all aspects of Japanese Aviation here - not without its political dimensions. He also creates, edits and publishes the regular all-colour JASIG newsletter 'Japanese Aviation News' which reflects Japanese aircraft modelling for a worldwide membership and Gary's passion (shared by me) for kitography, the rarer, older models and the lesser known aspects of the genre, including captured aircraft, be they Japanese aircraft in Allied markings or vice-versa.

If you are interested in joining the Japanese Aviation SIG please contact Gary via the link in this previous post.

Image credit: © 2009 Gary Wenko JASIG IPMS(UK)

Saturday, 11 April 2009

International Guests Welcome

When I put the flag counter up I imagined that visits to this blog would probably be from a dozen countries at most. I am surprised, delighted and humbled to see visits from 51 countries in seven days. Hopefully, not all of them arrived here by accident!

Well, all are very welcome here and it is a special delight to see the countries of the East so well represented too. It's wonderful that an arcane interest can extend, be shared and enjoyed beyond national boundaries without politicians interfering. That is the liberating power of the blog and the internet. Long may it continue.

BTW if you go to and click on a country you will see a page of useful information about it, including its geography, people, government, economy, communications, transport and military.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Aichi D3A 'Val' Interior in Detail & Colour ~ Part 2

Continuing our exploration of the pilot's cockpit in the Aichi dive-bomber, Photo 1 shows the starboard side of the position with the seat mounting frame visible to the right of the image.

Photo 2 shows the bulkhead behind the pilot with the seat mounting frame and what appears to be an equipment rack.

Photo 3 is another view forwards, through the instrument panel towards the engine firewall, showing the ammunition magazine for the cowling mounted machine guns. The instrument panel has been dislodged to the right. The rusted mounting brackets for the machine guns may be seen and the corresponding apertures in the firewall.
On the question of just what the interior colour was, before commenting on the appearance of the colours in these photographs, let's look first at what has been reported elsewhere.

Ryan Toews reported that in his examination of artifacts from a D3A2 s/n 3178 he had matched the interior paint as a green very close to FS *4062. He suspected that this was a "somewhat bluer variation of the similar paint (FS *4095)" found on the Nimitz museum D3A2 by Greg Springer. Greg suggested an alternative colour of FS *4102, available in a number of hobby paint ranges, as an acceptable representation for *4095. A comparison of the colours does not support the notion that *4062 and *4095  are just variations of the same or even similar. As the attached swatches illustrate, the colour families appear quite distinct and different; the DE2000 difference calculation being 14.7 (where 2.0 or less = a close match).

Greg has commented that the yellowish "zinc chromate" colour is a pigment "leaching" from the original paint as a result of degradation, rather than a separate, painted on colour. If that is the case it might explain the residual strong blue-green chroma as a shift from an original, more olive green, but some scientific evidence is needed for this.

A well-known photograph of another artifact, the ammunition magazine for the cowling guns from a D3A1, appears to show two greens. One of them, not dissimilar to FS *4062 and another, paler green. Unfortunately this artifact has not been measured and it is not clear which of the greens may represent the original colour and which the "leached", degraded or fire-damaged shift.

With Special Thanks again to Mark Smith for sharing these unique images with us but Special Thanks also to Ken Glass whose expertise, legwork and expenses all contributed to turning the original colour prints (wherein lies another tale to be told in due course) into the digital images that you see on these pages.

To be continued . . .

Images credit: All photographs © 2009 Mark Smith; Rendered colour swatches © 2009 Straggler.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Aichi D3A 'Val' Interior in Detail & Colour ~ Part 1

Aviation of Japan correspondent Mark Smith of Dallas, Texas has very kindly shared a superb collection of colour photographs revealing the interior of the 'Fredericksburg Val' s/n 3357 for our study and enjoyment. Although the aircraft was in a sadly derelict state the exceptionally clear photographs reveal many interesting details and provide a useful insight to the probable colour scheme (which will be discussed in more detail in subsequent posts).

Photo 1 is a general view of the aircraft in situ showing the remnants of the red primer coat.

Photo 2 is of the undersurface centre section with what appears to be the remains of the original grey paint. 

The sketch provides a general view of the interior to assist in identifying the views in the photographs.

Photo 3 shows the pilot's cockpit looking forward with the remains of the instrument panel and the ammunition magazine for the cowling guns visible to the left of the image.

Photo 4 shows the port side of the pilot's cockpit with the control stick visible in the right foreground and the seat attachment frame to the left of the image (the seat is missing).

With special thanks to Mark for making these images available.

To be continued . . .

Image credits: All photographs © 2009 Mark Smith

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Late War JAAF Propeller Green

There are different reports on the distinctive green painted finish of late-war JAAF propellers. Shown here are some of them.

Munsell 10 GY 3/2 is the colour recorded by Ichiro Hasegawa from the recollections of Tadamitsu Watanabe as depicted in Model Art 284. Kenji Ishikawa disagrees with this interpretation.

Munsell 5 GY 3.5/2.3 is reported by Noboro Shimoune as the late-war prop colour for the Ki-84, Ki-87, Ki-43 III Ko, Ki-94, Ki-100, Ki-102 and Ki-106 aircraft.

Munsell 2.5 G 4.5/2 is the colour reported in Model Art 395 specifically for the Tachikawa-built Ki-43 III Ko prop from information provided by Tachikawa Chief Designer Kenichi Oshima and Tachikawa sources. It is a paler, brighter green than the Shimoune swatch.

Munsell 5 G 3/1 is the dark greyish-green paint of swatch 2-3 recorded in the 8609 Feb '45 joint IJN/JAAF paint consolidation document.

Image credit: Rendered chips © 2009 Straggler

Thursday, 2 April 2009

New RS Models Tachikawa Ki-9 in 1/72nd scale

Although still listed as a 'future release' Hannants website now has images of the two 1/72nd scale Ki-9 kits announced from RS Models.

The "standard" kit has markings options (provided by Rising Decals) for Japanese,Chinese Republic, Nanking Government (a Japanese puppet regime in China) and Thai versions.The 'special unit' kit has options for Japanese special attack ("Kamikaze"), Manchoukuo, Korean and captured American versions.

As with recent RS re-issues windscreens and clear parts are injection molded and the photo-etch includes pre-painted instrument panels. 

One to look forward to I think. Now, about that orange . . . or is it yellow . . . 

Image credit: © 2009 RS Models & Hannants