Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Alex Angelopoulos' Ki-44 Shoki ~ Hasegawa 1/32nd Scale

It is a delight to be able to share these images of Alex Angelopoulos' stunning model of the Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki built from the excellent 1/32nd scale Hasegawa Kit and depicting a skull adorned aircraft of the 29th Sentai. 

Alex has been working on this model over 7 months but the build was quite straightforward. He cut out and re-positioned the elevators, scratch built the gun sight and added some cockpit wiring. The exhausts and machine guns were replaced with Quickboost's magnificent resin detail items.

The model was given an enamel aluminium undercoat with Humbrol Metalcote and the Maskol technique was used to replicate paint chipping. Paint colours used were GSI Creos (Gunze) acrylics - IJA Green and IJA Light Grey.

Weathering was added using an airbrush, Mig pigments and oil paints. Not a single decal has been applied to the model. All the markings were painted on using home made masks with the exception of the tail emblem where a Montex mask was used. Beautiful!

This particular aircraft, a Ki-44-II Hei of the 29th Sentai photographed at Hsiaochiang, Formosa, in August 1944, shortly before a brief deployment to Wuchang in China,  was chosen as one of the profiles for Osprey's 'Ki-44 Tojo Aces'.

Thanks very much to Alex for kindly sharing these wonderful images of his model here.

All images ©2012 Alexander Angelopoulos

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Rex Wadsworth's Sweet'n'Yellow Zeros

Rex Wadsworth has kindly shared images of two recent Japanese aircraft model builds. The Sweet 1/144th Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero is a little gem and modelled to depict a Tainan Ku aircraft flown by Saburo Sakai. Rex notes that the detail in this kit is wonderful and painted it using a Testors Model Master mix suggested by Greg Springer and included in Osprey's 'Modelling the Mitsubishi A6M Zero' book by Brian Criner. This is 2 parts SAC Bomber Tan (FS 34201), a little under one part Green Zinc Chromate and one part Flat White. Rex warns that if the Green Zinc Chromate is exceeded the Zero colour turns a "nasty green"!  He lightened the mix with additional white bearing in mind the scale.

Rex used the kit canopy frame decals which, although they work well, are based on Sweet's own colour suggestions and do not quite match the paint mix he used. Kit decals were applied but Rex thinks the fuselage band might be the wrong colour. These went on well and after a gloss coat he highlighted panel lines with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens from a six-pack of "Shades of Grey".

For the new Airfix Zero in 1/72nd scale Rex decided to go with overall yellow-orange to depict the kit subject aircraft before the camouflage green was added. Considering that many Japanese trainer models have paint that is too orange he decided to try a better mix:-

"In the end, I mixed Testors Flat Red and Flat Yellow. These were the paints I had on hand. And with a low budget, I opted not to buy the Tamiya paint that I had a mix formula for. It worked for the best. I started with the Yellow and found that even a small drop of Red will send the Yellow to full blown Orange. That is not what I wanted. In my mind's eye I wanted a true "Yellow-Orange", not an Orange color. I had about 3ml of Yellow and added what was basically a bamboo skewer moistened with the Red to the mix. Perfect! At least to my eye."

Rex wanted to add white-outlined Hinomaru to the undersurfaces but was unable to obtain suitable aftermarket decals so he settled in the end for the kit's plain ones.

The cowling and canopy decking were painted blue-black using a mix of Model Master Dark Sea Blue with a few drops of Flat Black. Cockpit interior was British Interior Green with a tiny drop of Flat Yellow added. The pilot was used to model the aircraft wheels up as this is a kit option and Rex added a wooden base from an art and craft store painted orange and decorated with a Hinomaru. Although "not a perfect kit but at the price a very good investment" he gives two thumbs up for the Airfix Zero - "More detailed than Hasegawa on the inside. The Fine Molds 1/72 Zero is a work of art, but art at a price!" - and plans to build more of them.

Thanks to Rex for sharing these images of his excellent Zero models in two scales. I've seen dismissive comments around the forums about the new Airfix Zero kit in comparison to the superlative Fine Molds version but I think this is unfair (and no doubt involves Airfix snobbery too). It is much cheaper, perfectly reasonable, more readily available (even than the Hasegawa kit) and a proper "model shop" kit, not something you have to buy mail order from Japan in two large plain A4 boxes with two magazines. I intended to provide a link for the Fine Molds kit but had to give up after much fruitless searching on the HLJ site. Hopefully the Airfix kit will reach a wider audience, encourage a plethora of adventurous schemes and versions, become the basis for further variants from Airfix and stimulate a more discerning interest in accurate paint colours. 

Image credits: All © 2012 Rex Wadsworth 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Rising Decals Photo-Etch Sets for Japanese Aircraft

From Rising Decals - a decal company with an established reputation for innovative and original Japanese aviation related subjects, come new and very welcome photo-etch sheets for Ki-48 dive brakes in 1/72 and 1/48th scales together with a plethora of radar antennae for various IJN types. A Good Idea and one that I hope they will be able to develop further.

A really neat aspect of the presentation is that each set contains appropriate decals and a colour guide for an aircraft equipped with the gear. The Ki-48 example is from the 8th Sentai's 2nd Chutai with the distinctive "octopus eight" tail insignia, as operating over Burma in early 1944 (you get two of the  sheet shown above). The dive bomber capability of the Ki-48-II was developed in response to its growing obsolescence and vulnerability in the air, reflecting the earlier capabilities of the Junkers Ju-88, with an intention to deploy the type nocturnally to make precision moonlight dive-bombing attacks against enemy airfields. In China in early 1944 the 5th Air Army HQ directed that:-

"Type 99 light bombers will assault and destroy enemy aeroplanes in night attacks on enemy airfields."

The 16th and 90th Sentai were specially trained in this form of night dive-bombing attack together with radio guide beam usage and long range navigation techniques. To improve performance the crew was reduced to three and all daylight operating equipment removed. This allowed the installation of additional fuselage fuel tankage  to increase the operational range to 1,100 km and in this form the Type 99 light bomber was used against the B-29 airfields in China. Displaying a Type 99 crewed up, in dive-bombing mode with the flaps deployed and the bomb bay open and bomb crutch extended would look impressive - and different - especially painted black!

The other photo-etch sets provide radar arrays for IJN types - the B5N2 "Kate" (Okinawa Ku), B6N2 "Jill" (131 Ku), P1Y1 "Frances" (762 Ku - nice this one with graffiti on the fuselage and weathered Hinomaru borders), B6N1/2 "Jill" (Naval Air Technical Arsenal Air Test Unit) and E13A1 "Jake" (901 Ku).

Thanks to Mirek of Rising for samples. Highly recommended.

Image credits: All © 2012 Rising Decals

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Japanese Armour Colours Primer - Now Available

A PDF e-guide to this thorny subject in similar format to the Zero colours guide. 20 pages of analysis and summary with colour chips and colour schematics. Shown above are ten sample pages as also shown here.


Official Camouflage Instructions + 2 colour illustrations
Camouflage Schematics + 9 colour illustrations
Camouflage Styles +  3 colour illustrations
Tank Colour Paint Sets +  6 large colour chips with analysis, comparisons and matches
Japanese Army Khaki + 1 colour chip
Colour Photo Section + 3 colour photos
Hobby Paints 

As before registered purchasers will be entitled to all revisions and updates at no extra cost. Email order 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Not Nessie but Hickory! Ki-54 Revealed in the Depths.

Courtesy of a regular correspondent, some interesting film of a very well-preserved Ki-54 discovered 320m down at the bottom of a freshwater lake in Japan, here, here and here.

Tail emblem appears to be from the 3rd Chutai of 38th Sentai/Dokuritsu Hikotai. Note white senchi hiyoshiki  (戦地標識 - war front sign) fuselage band and plain Hinomaru.  Upper wing and tail surfaces seem to be coated with silt (?).

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Restored Zero Film

Nice film footage of the restored Dakota Blayde Zero A1-1-129. This aircraft, a Nakajima-built A6M2 s/n 1498, was restored from a wreck discovered in the Ballale Island jungles in the Solomons in 1965. The airplane's restoration has been praised by Japanese aeronautical engineers and other world experts. Everything is original on the aeroplane except the engine, a Pratt & Whitney R-1830. The restoration took several decades to complete. Note the colour and the presence of yellow IFF strips on wings and white-outline fuselage Hinomaru.

Hat tip to Ronnie.

Since blogging this Ryan Toews has commented. His comment is so interesting and informative (and corrects the information above) that it deserved to be included with the blog post (I hope Ryan doesn't mind):-

"Please allow me to provide you with some background on the Zero in the linked YouTube video. In 1968 Bob Diemert of Carman, Manitoba, recovered several wrecked Japanese aircraft. The recovered pieces bore the serial numbers 6345, 5355, 4362, 5459, 3471, 7830, 2985 (Nakajima A6M2 21); 3285 (A6M3 32); 3753 (A6M3 22) - 3753. Of the tail codes only three are known: W1-106, W1-187 overpainted with 6-136, and 5-136 overpainted with 3-174. Diemert also mentioned that none of the recovered tails came from any of the fuselage sections that he took from Ballale Island. Diemert completed two Zeros from the wreckage he brought back to Canada. Frustratingly, he kept no records of what parts were used for each rebuilt aircraft. 

His first Zero was sold to the USMC Museum in Virginia and is now part of the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The second Zero was built for the Confederate Air Force and has since been sold to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii. In the mid-90s Diemert sold all of his remaining Japanese material to John and Earl Calverley, the owners of Blayd Corporation, also located in Carman. The new Blayd Zero was constructed as a Nakajima built A6M2 by duplicating about 14,000 components using the original parts as templates. Thus the plane has only about 5% original parts. I was fortunate to become involved and was asked to come up with a paint scheme. Initially I hoped to duplicate the one of the Ballale wrecks but it proved impossible to establish any link between the known serial numbers and tail codes. Attention then turned to one of the few Nakajima A6M2s for which, at the time, both the tail code and serial number were known. This was A6M2, s/n 6544, tail code A1-1-129, downed over Russell Island on 4 February, 1943. This Zero was photographed by the Americans when they occupied Russell Island. Some artifacts which confirmed the serial number were also collected. The tail code identified this aircraft as being from the Zuikaku. The serial number 6544 also provided a date of manufacture in late December, 1942. Given the markings and date of the loss of A1-1-129 it must have been flown by one of the two Zuikaku pilots lost on February 4, 1943. Circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that the pilot was CPO Soji CHIBA. 

The overall paint colour was based on existing artifacts in the Blayd collection and mixed using modern aircraft paint. The final colour was slightly lighter than FS 16350, which is very close to the paint colour Nick has arrived at in his research. The completed airframe the Zero was transported to Tri-State Aviation in Wahpeton, North Dakota for installation of the engine and instruments. As stated, the Zero had been given a serial number that bore no relationship to any of the Diemert/Blayd artifacts. However, for export purposes it was necessary to assign an “official” serial number to the plane. Therefore a sub-assembly plate with the serial number 1498 was used. This plate was not an actual A6M2 identification plate, but was in fact a manufacturer’s plate for an A6M2 flap (Part number 4611). Fortunately, customs showed no interest in the actual provenance of this serial number. The Zero was completed in Wahpeton and was kept initially at the Fargo Air Museum in Fargo, ND, after its purchase by several Minnesota and North Dakota warbird collectors. After the tragic death of Gerry Beck, the owner of Tri-State Aviation, the plane was moved to the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot, ND. It has recently again been resold to the Texas Flying Legends Museum in Houston. The YouTube video is from a DVD that was shot by a Japanese film crew in the autumn of 2010 in Minot ND. I was able to go out to see at least part of the video shoot. Unfortunately, while on the previous day the crew completed several hours of aerial photography, on the day I was out heavy thunderstorms prevented any flying time. This was particularly disappointing as I was assured that there was an extra seat available for me in the Beechcraft chase plane."

Thanks Ryan!

Image credits:-© http://www.web-wac.co.jp/