Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Kugisho E14Y Glen ~ The aircraft that bombed America

Last September this new book on the Kugisho E14Y Glen submarine-borne seaplane was announced and it is now a great pleasure to report that it is available and excellent. The previous work by authors Ryusuke Ishiguro and Tadeusz Januszewski hinted at what might be expected in terms of quality but there is far more here than the title suggests. The large format, softcover book has 128 pages printed on good quality paper and is packed with information and inspiration. The table of contents demonstrates just how comprehensive the coverage is, especially in tracing the fascinating development history of IJN submarine-borne seaplanes and extending well beyond the subject aircraft:-

  • Introduction
  • First experiments with submarine-borne seaplanes
  • Japanese submarine aircraft carrier experiments
  • Submarine-installed aviation equipment
  • Japanese reconnaissance seaplanes on submarines
  • Yokosho 1-Go
  • Yokosho 2-Go (E6Y1)
  • Watanabe E9W1 (Slim)
  • Kugisho E14Y reconnaissance seaplane
  • 12-Shi Sen-tei specification for a submarine-based reconnaissance aircraft
  • Work on the Otsu-3 project at the Kugisho arsenal
  • Competitive Watanabe E14W1 seaplane
  • The first E14Y prototypes, flying trials and problems connected with these
  • Series production
  • The Watanabe Tekkosho company
  • E14Y2 development version
  • E14Y successors
  • Operations
  • Epilogue
  • Markings on submarine-based seaplanes
  • Camouflage and markings of seaplanes E14Y1
  • Kugisho E14Y1 Model 11 reconnaissance seaplane technical description
  • Submarines equipped with reconnaissance seaplanes
  • The E14Y1 "Glen" wrecks of the Akibasan Maru
  • Bibliography

Colour profiles by the very accomplished Zygmunt Szeremeta (no less than 25 side views, 11 top and bottom views, one three-quarter illustration and a submarine!) and plans to 1/48th or 1/72nd scales are provided both for Glen and the other seaplane types covered in the book, together with an excellent selection of rare photographs (reproduced to a useful size), maps, plans, diagrams, official drawings and tables. There is also a superb full-page colour cockpit cutaway by Giuseppe Picarella which will be of immense value to super detailers. Of special note is the photograph and colour profile of the Arado Ar 196 in IJN markings, the "stealth" scheme of the US attacker, together with an example of Glen in Indonesian markings. The final section is a collection of poignant colour photographs of the underwater resting place of Glens that never got delivered. There is just so much to inspire and enjoy here. But perhaps best of all for the many IJN seaplane enthusiasts who have to struggle with impenetrable references, the text is all in English!

I have always held Glen to be a charismatic little chap with his crenellated cowling, big tail and sea boots, much overlooked considering his unique operations and exploits far and wide. If I were to imagine an ideal, dream book on the subject then this would surely be it. Indeed it is so inspiring that whilst for me, a predominantly 1/72nd scale modeller, there is no shortage of raw material upon which to base projects, the absence of 1/48th or even 1/32nd scale kits is a great pity. The diminutive but pugnacious submarine-borne warrior cries out for kits in those scales - think of the diorama possibilities. I understand from the author that there are no plans to release a Japanese language edition of the book. That is very much to the loss of Japanese enthusiasts and modellers. A great book, a delight to own and read, and very highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the subject of IJN seaplanes, submarines and their operations. The book is available direct from MMP or specialist aviation book shops.

Without giving anything away, I also understand that we can look forward to a future project from this duo of authors on another fascinating Japanese aviation subject. 

With thanks, appreciation and congratulations to Ryusuke, Tadeusz and Zygmunt.

Image credits: Book cover © 2012 MMP Books courtesy of Ryusuke Ishiguro

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Miyazawa Resin Kits - Update

The November 2012 blog post on Miyazawa kits has been updated thanks to Ed DeKiep who very kindly provided these images of their Aichi M6A Seiran kit.

Monday, 21 January 2013


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Tabby's Innards

Way back in September 2011 attention was drawn to the release by Amodel of two new kits of the "Japanese Dakota" - the L2D2 and L2D3/4 "Tabby" twin-engined transport 'plane. I still haven't seen these kits in person or come across a review or build, although there is presentation of the kit sprues here. Still, in the spirit of the pioneer and you never know this rambling discourse will offer some information on the interior colours of this type, FWIW and in the hope that someone, somewhere, might find it useful as they sit contemplating the kit parts and a fully scratch-built interior complete with transport load and passengers.

It is a pity that there were not more like Leading Aircraftsman Morton 1/c who, wandering amongst abandoned Japanese aircraft at Meiktila in Burma and at Don Muang in Thailand, not only decided to make notes of the aircraft he encountered but carefully recorded their colours too. He was a keen aeroplane spotter and quite possibly an aeromodeller, so thankfully he consigned these notes to posterity by sending them to be published in the weekly British journal The Aeroplane Spotter at the beginning of 1946. Now there is a considerable amount of rubbish written on various forums about the value of eyewitness accounts but seldom do these often waspish observations differentiate between remembered colours as probed and prodded years afterwards and those colours recorded contemporaneously and objectively for the sole purpose of doing so. The latter, I would argue, are infinitely more valuable than the former, not least because the human mind has no capacity to remember colour accurately and various factors can influence memory to change not just the shade but the complete hue. Contemporaneous written notes on the other hand...

LAC Morton 1/c recorded his colour observations in the BFS era (Before Federal Standards) so his descriptions are by necessity limited to characteristics of hue without precision. This approach happily engaged the majority of modellers well into the late 1960s, perhaps until the appearance of the first "authentic" paints and the re-emergence of the dreaded "Luftwaffe experten", not in the skies over Europe this time but in the hotly contested realms of model clubs and model shows, soon to branch out into the hunting grounds of the internet forum. Bearing in mind the complex, inevitable and infinitely  imponderable realities of applied paint variance and degradation this older, simpler, more pragmatic approach is not as primitive as it might at first seem to a generation of modellers thoroughly spoilt by Mr Tamiya and the even more awe-inspiring Mr Zoukei-Mura. And, as always, one must weigh the value of the data in the balance with what else is available to inform. In a vacuum some information is arguably better than none. Without more ado, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, LAC Morton 1/c (my comments in brackets):-

Meiktila ELG, Burma, July 1945

"Tabby 2-2 - After having seen nothing but Army types it was quite a pleasant change to find one more or less complete example of this Japanese development of the DC-3. Several changes between Tabby 2-2 and its allied counterpart were noticed. Rough notes are as follows:- Spinners ftted to the airscrew hubs of the Kinsei 51, 52 or 53 motors. Passenger door on port side. No hand rails. Interior layour changed a great deal from the Dakota II. Small lavatory on starboard side was much further forward and included a neat folding wash-basin. A drop flap on rear lavatory bulkhead disclosed a further compartment, presumably used for ballast (or perhaps personal baggage?).

"Entire interior colour scheme was fawn (light yellowish tan) and chromium. Walls were soundproofed. Both port and starboard sides deep metal luggage racks with chromium handrails extending the full length of the compartment. Electric lamp sockets were fitted every so often on the sides of the racks. Wooden floor. Pilot and second pilot sit side by side in normal fashion. Wireless operator and navigator behind pilots on port and starboard side respectively. No "solid" partition between pilot and wireless operator. Large hatch immediately above pilot's position. Small hatches above other two crew, both of which have extra side windows also.  Entire cockpit very light. Compartment for luggage behind crew's section was approximately the same size and shape as the Nav, W/OP's on the Dakota C Mk. IV. This extra space, taken up at both ends by these extra compartments, makes passenger accommodation smaller. Seats and half floor had been removed so I could not judge the seating capacity. Small door with circular window immediately in front of radio operator on port side, Half of nose section swings upwards and outwards. Streamlined metal D/F egg with large radio mast behind is fixed on top of fuselage. Seven windows each side. Third up from tail on starboard side incorporated an emergency exit. On port side two similar emergency exits were located second and third up from the tail. Apart from the motors and minor details, the silhouette contained in THE AEROPLANE SPOTTER No.104 is correct for this version.

"Camouflage.- (a) Upper surfaces (including fin and rudder).- Matt light green.
(b) Under surfaces.- Polished metal finish merging into upper surface camouflage.
(c) Markings.- Red roundels with white surround on fuselage sides. Normal red disc above and below wings not overlapping ailerons. White band round rear of fuselage. White stripes on fin and rudder. Two large white Japanese characters on each side of nose. Three bladed metal airscrews were painted matt black with dull red spinners. Yellow leading edge from roots to mid way out on each wing. All interior metal work was painted light yellowish green."

With grateful thanks to LAC Morton 1/c and Charles W Cain, Editor of The Aeroplane Spotter who preserved the record of his valuable observations for future generations. More of these fascinating documents will feature in future blog posts here.

Image credits:- Box art © 2011 Amodel; Photos via Wiki

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Marian Holly's Ki-27

This beautiful 1/72nd scale model of the Nakajima Ki-27 with unusual personal emblem was built from the ICM kit with a little extra work by Marian Holly. The model is painted with GSI Creos (Gunze Sangyo) Mr Color 128 JAAF Grey-green straight from the bottle with all markings masked and airbrushed except the "shouting head" personal emblem which is from the Empire City Decala set ECD7209 'Fighters Over China'. 

Marian observes that the kit has beautiful surface detail such as rivets, control surface ribbing, overlapping panels, etc., but feels that the design and engineering is overly ambitious with much of this nice detail being lost in the inevitable filling and sanding process. The fit of the major components such as fuselage and wing is good but to model the aircraft in clean configuration gaps in multiple part assemblies such as the cowling panels have to be rectified.

The positive aspects of the kit are the detailed cockpit, a fairly thin three-piece canopy and the landing gear attachment fairings being moulded integrally to the wings - a useful feature as it is difficult to eliminate seams in this area on the older Mania/Hasegawa kit.

On the negative side, in addition to the over engineering issue, the highly detailed engine, intended to be displayed with open panels, unfortunately does not match the Gakken or Maru Mechanic drawings. The ailerons and rudder are also separate parts, a feature which Marian personally dislikes. The landing gear assembly and tail skid are also complicated by following the actual design of the real aircraft which is not builder-friendly in this small scale. 

The kit decals with options for four different aircraft are matt finish and inflexible with incorrect colours, especially the Hinomaru red. This seems to be a problem with most ICM decal sheets. In general, unless this kit can be found for a bargain price, Marian still prefers the Mania/Hasegawa kit.

The scheme selected by Marian is for a presentation Ki-27 Otsu #292 of the 2nd Chutai of the 11th Sentai thought to have been flown by the Chutai commander Captain Koji Motomura during the Nomonhan incident on the Manchurian-Mongolian border. Captain Motomura claimed 14 victories in the Nomonhan fighting by the time of his death and was one of the 20 highest scoring Ki-27 aces (those with victories wholly claimed in this aircraft). The identification of this aircraft is based on Russian photographs of a crashed Ki-27 supposedly taken on 22nd August 1939 but there is some doubt about the date of the crash and therefore the identity of the pilot.

Image credits: All © 2013 Marian Holly