Thursday 29 December 2011

AZ Models 1/72nd Mitsubishi Ki-30 "Ann" ~ Part 1

The seasonal break provided an opportunity to take a closer look at this recent AZ Models kit and to compare it directly to a Pavla example. It does not appear to be just Pavla with added surface detail and an injection molded canopy. The re-working, if it is re-working, goes further than that. Whilst the basics are similar, butt-joined main components, including that intimidating separate fin without location tabs or slots, there are a number of important differences. There is a nice build of the Pavla kit here. Follow the AZ Models link to see sprue shots of their Ki-30 kit but the parts handled "in the plastic" look even nicer than that.

The JAAF version was examined but there are kits of RoCAF and RTAF variants available too. The JAAF version comes with decals for three options but the units are not identified on the colour guide on the back of the box. At top is a Ki-30 in tricolour "China" camouflage described as "sand", "dark red brown" and "Japan dark green" over "light blue grey" (of which more anon). The unit insignia is unidentified but the scheme appears to originate from Model Art # 533 'Camouflage & Markings of I.J.A. Bombers' where the colours are identified as An ryoku shoku (暗緑色 - dark green colour), Chakasshoku (茶褐色 - tea brown or dark brown colour) and Kokasshoku (黄褐色 - yellow brown colour). There is a photograph of this aircraft on p.66. The respective FS equivalents for these colours are given in the book as 34079 & 34083, 30117 & 30215 and 33434 - but please treat them with some caution. The comments accompanying the printed colour swatches in the book are translated as follows:-

Dark Green - "This colour had the opportunity to be introduced in full scale during the Japan/China incident and in the Pacific war, this colour only was used as a mainstream camouflage pattern of every kind. Although in the photo and illustration captions in the book, this colour is quoted to be used, we have to remember that there were many variations in the tone since it was used for a long period and on many types of planes. From the broad variations of FS numbers, those chosen are picked from clear colour photos of Type RO transporter, Type 97 heavy bomber etc captured by US Forces in the Philippines, New Guinea etc."

Dark Brown - "A camouflage colour used during the Japan/China incident. Actually, to understand the tone of the colour, three photos of a Type 100 heavy bomber were used, two taken by the Japanese and one by the Americans. The two photos taken by the Japanese are very old and their colour has faded remarkably while the one taken by the Americans is too yellowish, so it was very difficult to understand the exact colour. The FS numbers given are those the author is guessing."

Yellow Brown - "This colour was also used during the Japan/China incident as the above. There is not a certain tone of this colour, so the FS numbers given were decided by the author from the same colour photo taken by the Americans of the Type 100 heavy bomber (same photo as of Chakasshoku) of the 74th Sentai and various photos of Type 97 light bomber, Type 98 light bomber etc., which were artificially coloured (hand tinted monochrome photos). Generally, this is the impression of the "yellow ochre" paint."

From this it is difficult to distinguish between the formal colours known as # 30 Karekusa iro (枯草色 - dry grass colour) and # 33 Khaki iro  (カーキ色) which were both "yellowish browns". 

Some references show the scheme as a brown with two greens, light and dark, as does the Pavla box art (above), but that might be a misinterpretation of the tricolour scheme as applied to the Ki-27, of khaki (yellowish brown), green and indigo, where the dark, greenish-blue of the indigo is perceived to be a dark blue green. Pavla's suggested colours are "Green A3" - FS 34092 or Humbrol 149 Matt Dark Green, "Brown N17" -FS 30266 and "Light Green" - FS 34423. However there are no obvious light greens in the JAAF paint colour standards to the Rikugun kokuki tosou kitei (陸軍航空機塗装規程- Army aircraft painting regulations). The undersurface is described as "Grey A/N2" - FS 36492 or Humbrol 196 Satin Light Grey.

The second option is a 31st Sentai aircraft in a scheme of "medium green" blotches over "light grey", which probably equates to the JAAF # 21 Midori iro (緑色 - green) over # 1 Hairyokushoku (灰緑色 - ash green colour). This aircraft also appears to have command stripes and a stylised eagle victory or mission marking, but the yellow wing IFF strips are unlikely on those aircraft participating in the early offensives of 1942 as they were only introduced from September 1942. JAAF # 21 was the "standard" Army green colour, a Chrome Oxide based green of strong and deep chroma with a subtle olive hue. There is no useful FS equivalent but RAL 6020 Chromoxidgrün (Chrome Oxide Green) is, unsurprisingly, similar and matched in the Revell paint range by semigloss 363 Dunkelgrün. Another closer option is White Ensign Models Colour Coats ACJ05 Nakajima Army Green.

The final option is an aircraft of the Air Academy in an unusual scheme of "Army green" in kumogata pattern over "light grey" with the green further added as a snake weave over the light grey sections. The reference source for this interesting scheme is a photograph of a derelict Ki-30 in 'Meatballs and Dead Birds' by James P. Gallagher*, but for those who want something less challenging there is a photograph of a similar Air Academy aircraft on p.65 of MA 533 in plain grey-green. 

Interior colour is suggested to be "Japan Interior Green", whatever that is, but based on a snippet of research that came up with a personal description of the Ki-51 interior the cockpits of early Mitsubishi Army aircraft might have been painted a malachite green, a slightly gloomy blueish-green. There is a close RAL equivalent to the typical darker variant of this colour - 6004 Blaugrün (blue green). The closest FS 595b value is 34058 but whilst it is de-saturated, lighter and greyer, it is possibly ok  for a 1/72nd model. Again, those old friends Humbrol 88 Matt Deck Green and 104 Matt Oxford Blue in combination lightened with a touch of 89 Matt Middle Blue can be used to approximate the malachite interior colours.

The Ki-30 was the Japanese Army's first single-engined light bomber and perhaps in a category to be compared to the Heinkel He-70 and Fairey Battle. I suspect the fixed undercarriage followed the same considerations as for the Ki-27. Originally conceived with a retractable undercarriage it was found the weight did not justify the reduction in drag. The original fully spatted undercarriage was altered to  a half spat configuration to better facilitate maintenance on the muddy airstrips in China. This aircraft is relatively obscure in terms of documentation, there being no Maru Mechanic or FAOW on the type. 

Directives were issued to Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, Nakajima and Tachikawa in February 1936 to design an aircraft to succeed the Type 93 Single Engine Light Bomber. In May, 1936, after a preliminary review of submissions only Kawasaki and Mitsubishi were instructed to produce prototypes (Kawasaki ultimately producing the Ki-32). Mitsubishi completed their prototype in February 1937, with the Ha-6 engine, but the second prototype and 16 pre-production aircraft built between September 1937 and January 1938 had the Ha-5 installed. The design was formally adopted by the JAAF in 1938 as the Type 97 Light Bomber (九七式軽爆撃機 - Kyu-Nana Shiki Kei Bakugeki-ki)  abbreviated in service use to Kyu-Nana Kei-baku (九七軽爆).

Standard bomb load was 300 kg - 20 x 15 kg, 6 x 50 kg or 3 x 100 kg but with reduced fuel up to 400 kg could be carried, using both the internal bomb bay and wing racks. The AZ Models kit includes what appear to be two resin 100 kg bombs for fitting on underwing racks but there is no provision for displaying the bomb bay interior. Other resin parts are the engine (as a relief molding) and an especially nicely detailed pair of wheels. The kit also includes two injection molded canopies to allow for accidents in cutting one apart to display the open position shown in the instructions.

* Thanks Ken!

Image credits: Box art and decals © 2011 AZ Models; Box art © Pavla 

Monday 26 December 2011

Ki-44 Profiles by Ronnie Olsthoorn

Artist Ronnie Olsthoorn did absolutely sterling work on the profiles for 'Ki-44 Tojo Aces' but the publishing size constraints for the Osprey series meant that a lot of wonderful detail was lost or reduced in the final printed versions in the book. Ronnie has kindly given permission to show some larger size examples here, together with some of the full size details from the profiles. He is now very busy working on the 3D model and profiles for 'Ki-27 Aces' with a surprise in store for the cover art. The heading image shows (top) an 85th Sentai machine reportedly flown by ace Capt Yukiyoshi Wakamatsu and one of the Burma based 64th Sentai aircraft with 4th Chutai tail insignia.

Pre-production Ki-44 (5th prototype) of Maj Toshio Sakagawa of the 47th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai, Saigon, December 1941 and (lower) Ki-44-I of Akeno Flying School painted to play the part of an RAF 'Buffalo' in the Toho 1943 film 'Kato Hayabusa Sentôtai' and flown by future 68th Sentai ace Lt Hiroshi Sekiguchi.

Ki-44-II Otsu of the 87th Sentai, Meiktila Burma in May 1944 and (lower) Ki-44-II Otsu of 3rd Chutai, 70th Sentai at Anshan, Manchuria in August 1944.

Ki-44-II Hei of the 50th Sentai at Meiktila, Burma in late 1943 and (lower) Ki-44-II Hei of the Sentai Hombu, 29th Sentai, Clark Field, Philippines, November 1944. The hard-edged camouflage blotches on the 50th Sentai aircraft are replicated from a photograph. The 29th Sentai example is in the late war factory applied scheme of JAAF # 7 Ohryoku nana go shoku (黄緑七号色 - yellow green no.7 colour), an olive brown paint similar to US Olive Drab. Under surfaces are painted JAAF # 1 Hairyokushoku (灰緑色 ash green colour). The senchi hiyoshiki - white so-called 'combat stripe' (literally war front sign) - appears to have been painted out on this machine.

Three view of Ki-44-II Hei of Capt Teiichi Hitano, 3rd Chutai/Hikotai and 'Sakura' leader, 47th Sentai, Narimasu, Japan, early 1944.

Detail of tail fin, rudder and insignia of 64th Sentai example. The camouflage pattern is carefully replicated from a rare photograph of this aircraft. Typical paint colour was JAAF # 21 midori iro - (緑色 green colour) a deep olive green of strong chroma.

Detail of the cowling of the 70th Sentai example. The paint colour is depicted as the dark blue green JAAF # 27 (青緑色 ao midori iro) and the lustre is replicated from photographs of the actual aircraft. 

Close up detail of the fuselage markings and serial presentation on Capt Jun Shimizu's 47th Sentai Ki-44-II Otsu with 40mm wing armament.

Detail of the Ta-dan air-to-air cluster bombs carried under the wings of Capt Yasuro Masazaki's 2nd Chutai, 47th Sentai Ki-44-II Hei and replicated from a photograph of the actual aircraft with this ordnance. Ronnie went to great pains to get the stencil detail correct - note red-painted retractable step, flap guides and marking under wing.

Top view of the cowling anti-glare panel on Capt Hitano's 47th Sentai aircraft. The colour is a deep blueish-black, JAAF # 32 Koku Ran Shoku (黒藍色 black indigo colour).

All images © 2011 Ronnie Olsthoorn/

Friday 23 December 2011

Arawasi Blog

As I slowly catch up belated congratulations to Arawasi, a quality provider of English language Japanese Aviation esoterica and publishers of Arawasi magazine for starting their own blog here (and a link has been added to the links in the sidebar). 2011 has seen the arrival of much for Japanese aviation enthusiasts to be pleased about but I especially welcome this addition as I especially favour the blog format over the forum format. Information can be imparted in a more permanent and accessible form, questions can still be asked and answered, but the forum free-for-all is avoided. Valuable data is not so easily undermined or obfuscated by those opinionated contrarians who appear to increasingly celebrate ignorance as a form of counter-culture to serious interest (passion really). In a blog the validity and diversity of discussion is not diminished by their bluster, the owner is more editor than moderator. The linking system allows a handy network of interest to be created for readers, not just for the subject but to pull in other subjects of interest as well. Compared to forums it is a lean and focussed format. I hope that more modellers and enthusiasts embark on this format to create friendly, data sharing networks that the serious and passionate can enjoy without the intrusion of the forum gangs.

So far the content of the blog looks to be every bit as diverse and interesting as the magazine with a nod towards cultural iconography in the form of colourful vintage art and even contemporary aviation manga - and the passion for the subject that permeates the magazine is to be found there in spades. 

Yours truly gets a mention here in an interesting and thought-provoking article stimulated by one of my soapbox rants. It was a useful basis for reflection and a guide for responding (or not!) in the alternative reality of the forums.

Both Arawasi and this blog could benefit from more models being featured. They are a mechanism for both inspiration and information sharing. Excellent Japanese model aircraft are still being posted on forums where they disappear after a few days with the usual trail of sometimes inane comments. The code of politeness often discourages positive criticism and therefore limits the spread of knowledge (any well meaning critics are usually set upon by the resident "It looks great" gang). This is a pity because some of the builders read these blogs and must be aware of the focussed interest here. There are some truly superb model aircraft featured on Japanese blogs which are difficult to find for Western readers and I do hope that in future Arawasi are able to link to and obtain permission to show some of these.   

When models are shown I do encourage readers to take the time to add comments, appreciative or otherwise. There is seldom anything more demoralising than working hard to create something, sharing it and then finding only a couple of people have bothered to comment. The same goes for blog posts.

Image credit:- © 2011 Arawasi  

Thursday 22 December 2011

Zero Paint Degradation Schematic Models


In response to some understandable confusion over this aspect of Mitsubishi Zero factory paint colour here are schematic models to help demonstrate the paint degradation explained on page 11 of the e-guide.

The top gradient shows the typical "average" oxidisation and chalking of the exposed paint surface as it is affected by the environment, shifting from a glossy amber grey to a dull, flat dove grey in appearance. The harsher the exposure the more rapid the shift and in some cases beyond the dull grey shown at the end of the gradient. This gradient represents the typical "journey" of the paint on an aircraft as it might be represented on a model.  Diligent maintenance of the paint surface would reduce and delay the shift but not eradicate it entirely.

The lower gradient shows the typical thermal ageing of paint protected from light and exposure for many years (such as the paint layers beneath the oxidised and chalked top surface or preserved paint samples). Again dependent upon the storage methods and ambient temperatures, etc., the darkening and browning of the paint can go beyond the extreme end of the gradient or result in a variegated appearance on the paint surface. 

Variegation in the paint surface can also be induced by localised extremes of heat such as around the engine exhausts and also by the affect of solvents such as fuel or oil. 

Whilst the contrast between upper and lower extremes may seem harsh note that the incremental changes in each direction from the original paint are relatively small and subtle. Bear in mind also that Nakajima paint was often more amber yellow in appearance to begin with.

Image credit: Schematic model © 2011 Straggler

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Seasons Greetings

Wishing all Aviation of Japan friends a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Yufei Mao's 1/48th PLANAF J-6 (MiG-19S) Phantom Killer

It is always a pleasure to be able to post on a Chinese aviation subject, but especially to show these images of Yufei Mao's 1/48th scale model of the Peoples Liberation Army Naval Air Force J-6 (MiG-19S) "Farmer" piloted by Mr Zhushu Wang in which he shot down a USAF F-4C (63-7577) from 390th TFS, 366th TFW "The Gunfighters" which had strayed into China air space over Lingshui, Hainan Island on June 26,1967.   

Yufei built the model using the Trumpeter kit, but with many changes and improvements detailed in his build report here. Yufei found that the fit of the kit was good but that it suffers from some shape issues. He took a large number of photos of a retired J-6 near his home to study the aircraft, and then identified that the most significant problem with the Trumpeter kit were the poorly shaped nose and an incorrect windscreen. He managed to solve these problems by using the HiPM kit nose which is quite accurate and by sanding/polishing the original Trumpeter windscreen.

To further detail the kit he added an Eduard PE set, Pavla Models resin gear bays and a NeOmega resin ejection seat. He also replicated all the rivets,with the help of the photos he had taken of the real J-6. The excellent pilot figure is from his own range of hobby accessories.

Yufei presented the model of the J-6 to its former pilot Mr Zhushu Wang, who lives near his home in Shanghai. Yufei's model was featured in Air Modeller Issue 34 and the Chinese magazine Model World for August 2011. Yufei was able to contact Mr Wang and visit him in 2010 after seeing a TV documentary featuring the Navy fighter pilot. Mr Wang had served in the 16th Regiment of the 6th Division of the PLANAF at Haikou airfield on Hainan Island. He showed Yufei many rare photos of the J-6 aircraft from his unit including gun camera stills of the combat where he shot down the F-4C. 

It was the time of the Cultural Revolution in China and the aircraft sported slogans such as "Serve the People" on the left side of the fuselage, "Must Destroy All Intruders" on the right side and "Long Live Chairman Mao" on both wing fences. The aircraft was also decorated with a red star under the windscreen on the left side to mark the victory over the F-4C.

Mr Wang and his wingman Mr Lu Ji-Liang received a First Class Merit Citation for shooting down the Phantom  together with a small honour note, a pen and a series of the Collected Works of Mao Tse-Tung. Mr Wang retired from the PLANAF in 1988.

More photos of this excellent model are to be seen here. Many thanks to Yufei for his kind permission to show these images here.