Friday, 29 June 2012

New Meng Models 1/72 Mansyu Ki-98

This forthcoming new kit was mentioned in an earlier blog about "What If" models. There is now an advance in box review herea build review here and the finished model here. Apart from the somewhat unlikely (but colourful) decals and suspect colour call-outs it looks very nice! Most likely production scheme would have been olive brown (1-1) over beige-grey (2-6) or natural metal - or overall natural metal.

Image credit: Box art © 2012 Meng Models; Rendered colour schematic © 2012 Straggler

Thursday, 28 June 2012

RAF Bomber Command Memorial

67 years after the end of the Second World War a memorial to the 55,573 men of RAF Bomber Command who lost their lives was unveiled by Her Majesty The Queen in London today. In the spirit of reconciliation the memorial, which stands in Green Park, also commemorates the civilians who lost their lives to RAF bombing. The centrepiece of the Palladian style Memorial, funded through the Bomber Command Memorial Appeal, is in the classic form of a group of seven bronze figures representing an RAF bomber crew returning from a raid.  Above them the design of the roof is inspired by a Vickers Wellington aircraft and incorporates sections of aluminium recovered from a Handley Page Halifax III bomber shot down over Belgium on May 12 1944, with the loss of its eight crew.

Following the unveiling an Avro Lancaster of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over Green Park and scattered poppies. 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Image credits: As credited

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Flying Heritage Collection A6M3 Model 22

Courtesy of Jim Bates come these splendid views of the Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 22 Zero. The scheme has attracted controversy. This is not because of the overall amber-tinted grey base colour which is held to be close to the original but because of the representation of the field-applied camouflage green - 'tiger stripe', 'snake weave', 'palm frond' etc., scheme. This has been commented on as too contrived and unrealistic. Not having seen a real A6M3 in this camouflage but going only by (some) distant, grainy, monochrome wartime shots I wouldn't want to judge. From these photos, especially the taxiing away shot, I think it doesn't look so bad and perhaps it will mellow with use. For me the most illusion destroying aspect is the pilot's ridiculous headgear - yeah, I know, health & safety etc., etc. But if I was privileged to fly this warbird I think I might want to emulate the anti-sartorial rakishness of a real IJN pilot, white silk scarf a-billowing and furry ear flaps flapping in the slipstream!

The aircraft also features briefly in the latest edition of Aeroplane magazine (August 2012) where it is being touted as representing a 'field-modified two seater' but also, interestingly, the base colour is referred to as 'caramel-grey-green'. Maybe the Zero colour tide is slowly turning. Another interesting aspect is how different the colour appears in various photographs and, one suspects, in real life under different forms of illumination.

Image credits:- © 2012 Jim Bates, with thanks.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ex-IJAAF Aircraft in AURI Service

Further to the blog post about the Kecay book on Japanese Aircraft in Foreign Service here, correspondent Jacob Terlouw provided some corrections about the AURI (Indonesian) aircraft and very kindly sent these images to illustrate them. His remarks are as follows:-

"Indonesia had a lot more planes painted in AURI colors than airworthy condition, and the AURI had no pilots that could fly floatplanes. At Surabaya there were at least 10-12 floatplanes painted in AURI colors. The 3-view of the Lily (Ki-48) on page 103 seems not correct. It looks as if must be the P.D.II (Pangeran = Prince Diponegoro 2) A Helen (Ki-49) was the P.D.1

The Dutch used in fact more planes than mentioned in the book At least three Topsy's (Ki-57), three Hickory's (Ki-54) one Willow (K5Y1), one Sally (Ki-21), and occasionally a Tabby (L2D3) and an Oscar (Ki-43). The Mavis found at Surabaja never flew for the Kon Marine and I was pretty surprised to read about an Ohka."

Image credits: All 'Cockpit' magazine via Jacob Terlouw

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Something About Mary (and the 45th Sentai) ~ Update

An email brought news with which to update an older blog on the Kawasaki Ki-32.  I had written there that there did not seem to be any 1/48th kits of "Mary".  Well, Ned kindly sent me the image above of a Try Angle 1/48th resin kit of the Ki-32 from 1988. It's probably quite hard to find now as production wound up in 1991 but I have a 1/72 Try Angle resin kit of the Ki-60 and it is a little gem. Other kits produced in 1/72nd scale include the Ki-4, Ki-115 Tsurugi, Ki-64 "Rob"and Ki-87 and in 1/48th scale a Ki-102 and Ki-115.

I had also pontificated about the use of the Ki-32 by the 45th Sentai during the attack on Hong Kong. Since then I have confirmed that the 45th did indeed employ the Ki-32 for the attack and only re-equipped with the Ki-48 afterwards. They returned to Tokorozawa in Japan on 13th January 1942 in order to convert to the Ki-48 and then moved to Nenjiang in Manchuria on 11th March 1942. In late November 1942, they moved to Gifu Hakuziyousi (Baicheng) and prepared for combat operations in the same area.  The regiment was then moved to Yokosuka from 5th December to the 7th December, to be shipped south in two aircraft carriers.  Chuyo was to carry 23 Ki-48 aircraft and about 203 men whilst Ryuho was to carry 22 Ki-48 and 133 airmen, including the staff of an Air Brigade HQ.  Both aircraft carriers were scheduled to depart Yokosuka on 11th December 1942 but Chuyo suffered a mechanical breakdown.  Ryuho therefore departed alone with a single destroyer escort.  

The following day the submarine USS Drum hit Ryuho with a single torpedo and she was forced to return to Yokosuka for repairs. More than 100 men were killed and wounded in the torpedo strike, including 45 from the 45th Sentai. Chuyo departed Yokosuka on 12th December and arrived at Truk on the 17th December, the 45th moving onto Harushima airfield. The Ryuho aircraft were re-loaded onto Zuikaku, and she arrived at Truk on 4th January.  

The 45th operated with 27 Ki-48 aircraft in three Chutai of 9 each. In addition a further 9 aircraft were held as unit spares and 9 more retained at a rear air supply depot as a reserve. More on the Ki-48 in due course.

And now for something completely different - a nice walkaround set for restored A6M3 Zero N712Z.

Image credits: Try Angle Ki-32 kit box image via Ned; A6M3 photo © nuuumannn via

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Whiffery Over 1946 Japan

Those AZ Models alternative Kikka boxings got me thinking about "What-if" Japanese aircraft modelling. I do get that, even indulge in it, but I think the most interesting explorations are those rooted in plausible but alternative developments. At the risk of sounding like the Bald Eagle from the Muppet Show I just don't get the fantastic 1946 creations that sport 1942 colours and markings - or the Navy jets that whizz around in Army markings applied to another aircraft type in another era. That seems illogical even for a Whif. The Army re-introduced factory painting in the second half of 1944 with a standard paint colour of drab olive brown - a historical fact that precedes any subsequent whiffery. Any projected development really ought to represent that. So I'm afraid AZ Models Kikka dressed up as one of Major Kobayashi's Hiens just looks silly to me, especially since the later Ki-100 were factory painted in the olive drab.

Ok, so the Kikka might have ended up in Army use, the Karyu not proceeded with, and it might have been delivered hastily in natural metal finish, perhaps with a few pre-painted panels like a late-war Focke-Wulf 190 Dora, and it might have then been painted in a mottle or blotch scheme - but might it really have ended up looking exactly like one of Kobayashi's Ki-61s? I suppose the answer, hypothetical as this is, must be yes. But does it really convince as a hypothetical possibility? - probably not. But for me, because of all this - and it is just a personal observation rather than a whine, Mr B - it just looks odd as a modelling subject. And for me it detracts both from the image of an original Kobayashi Hien in all its splendour and the image of a hypothetical IJAAF use of Kikka in 1946.

But further I think that if you are going to go full-tilt at such whiffery then displaying a hypothetical type in anachronistic colours and markings is just unimaginative. Why not, instead, envisage an entirely new makeshift scheme for that Army Kikka? And display it as if assigned to a newly formed unit with a wholly imagined emblem? If I were Mr AZ my What-if Kikka presentation might have encompassed the 620th Special Interception Unit, whose hastily painted nibi iro (鈍色) machines carry a striking unit emblem conveying the digits '6', '2' and '0' and whose fuselages show a variety of patriotic and inspiring personal markings. I have shown the spectacular Ronnie Olsthoorn Ki-98 cover art here before - it is a perfect example of combining whiffery in camouflage and markings with both logic and a plausible continuity. Meng Model (of China) have announced a new 1/72nd kit of the Mansyu Ki-98 to follow on from their diminutive Kayaba Type 4 "Katsuodori" ram-jet fighter, (reviewed nicely here and also strikingly imagined by Ronnie here). Comparing the box art to Ronnie's images I think they might just have missed a few tricks! There is a brief article on Japanese Flying Wings by E T Wooldridge here.

Pegasus, who made short run injection moulded kits with some cast pewter detail parts, had announced a kit of the Mansyu Ki-98 shortly before their demise. After the company's stock was bought by Freightdog Models the new owner could not confirm whether the Ki-98 project had progressed beyond research. Personally I'd rather see a mainstream injection molded kit of the Mansyu Ki-79 with options for single and two-seater versions and a multi-option decal sheet!

Image credits: Cover art © Ronnie Olsthoorn/skyraider3D; Box art © AZ Models & Meng Model; Karyu 3-view author collection