Sunday 30 March 2014

Kawasaki Otsu-1 at Kagamigahara Aerospace Museum

Correspondent Luciano Gianfilippi very kindly sent me this photograph of the Kawasaki Otsu-1, a licence-built version of the French Salmson 2A2, on display at the Kagamigahara Aerospace Museum in Japan which displays the history of Army Aviation and some of the interesting experimental aircraft manufactured there. He also made me aware of a very impressive new kit of this aircraft  in 1/48th scale issued by Gas Patch from Greece. Luciano notes that this was one of the first mass produced military aeroplanes in Japan, and was used as a multi-role aircraft: observation, photo-reconnaissance, trainer and light bomber. A truly awe-inspiring build of the Gas Patch kit by Vangelis Vassilopoulos can be found here and is well worth a look not least for the excellent modelling and finishing techniques being demonstrated.

The Gaspatch kit of the Japanese Kawasaki Otsu-1 comes with markings for four different options, all in silver doped finish.

Image credits: Museum photograph © 2014 Luciano Gianfiluppi; Gas Patch kit image © 2013 Gaspatch 

Saturday 29 March 2014

Nakajima Ki-87 to 1/48th scale by John Haas

It has been a privilege to showcase the 1/48th scale scratch built masterpieces of model maker John Haas including his superb Ki-102. Now, as a perfect companion to the Ki-94 here is his 1/48th scale scratch built model of the prototype Nakajima Ki-87.

John built the model from plans published in a japanese magazine by Bunrin-Do, August 1976, carving the main parts from solid wood, with all the smaller parts and empennage made of thick plastic. After taking the photos for Aviation of Japan John considered that the model needed an urgent overhaul. It is an old model and he felt the years had not been too kind to it, the paintwork not being up to his present standards. He plans a complete re-build in due course but in the meantime hopes readers will enjoy seeing his work. I should say!

The Ki-87 was design was developed by Kunihiro Aoki of Nakajima to a specification for an experimental high-altitude fighter that arose from a mid-1942 review of IJAAF capabilities and likely requirements in the face of Allied developments. The original specification was for a 466mph fighter capable of operating effectively at over 42,000ft with a range of over 1800 miles. The revised specification agreed between Army Air HQ (Koku Hombu) and Nakajima reduced the required speed to 435mph and the range to just under 1000 miles with auxiliary tanks but the operating altitude remained 42,000ft. The power plant was a 2,450hp engine with an exhaust driven turbo-supercharger  and armament was to consist of two 20mm Ho-5 and two 30mm Ho-155 (often mis-designated as "Ho-105") wing cannon. The development programme required the construction of three prototype aircraft by the end of 1944 and seven pre-production examples for Army test trials by April 1945. A single prototype was completed in February 1945 and took to the air for the first time in April but the project was abandoned the following month as continuing engine problems and the effect of the B-29 raids became insurmountable.

If John's model of this big, pot-bellied and turbo-supercharged interceptor inspires you to add it to your collection and you don't fancy a scratch build then finding a kit might not be so easy. In 1995 Pavla produced a limited run injection-moulded example of the aircraft in 1/72nd scale which might at some time surface as an improved issue from AZ Models. Before that the Japanese companies Try-Angle (in 1987) and Friendship Scale Models had reportedly issued resin kits in the same scale although I have never seen them. Czechmasters also released a resin 1/72nd scale kit of the Ki-87 but the only 1/48th scale kit was by Racoon Models in Japan and again in resin. Other than that no others are known so any information about any other Ki-87 kits out there would be very welcome.

Image credits: All photographs © 2014 John Haas

Thursday 20 March 2014

Karel Struna's 1/48th scale Raiden Duo

This neat Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden duo from correspondent Karel Struna is fine testimony that build and finish matter more than kit origin. Raiden 352-37 was modelled using the classic 1/48th scale Tamiya kit with everything painted on - lightning flashes, tail number, hinomaru - whilst the captured TAIU S12 was modelled from the Arii (ex-Otaki) kit using Dying Sun Pt.2 decals.

The paints used were Tamiya, Gunze (GSI Creos) and Alclad. The subtle wear and tear was achieved with AK interactive Worn Effect.

Raiden 352-37 was  flown by Lt JG Yoshihiro Aoki of the 352nd Kokutai from Omura, Nagasaki  on Kyushu during the air defence of Japan in March 1945, the lightning flashes being applied to boost morale. The tail markings follow the original Tamiya kit presentation (a colour profile was included).

Raiden S12 was originally c/n 3008  found on Dewey Boulevard, Manila in the Philippines which was in  use as an ad hoc airstrip by the Japanese. The Raiden was moved to Clark Field  for testing by the Technical Air Intelligence Unit (TAIU) South-West Pacific, where it was stripped of paint and finished in US markings with pre-war tail feathers. 

S12 made only two test flights of 3 hours 20 minutes duration before an oil pipe failed causing the engine to seize up. Its ultimate fate is unknown (see photo of wreckage below) but it was not the aircraft now displayed in the Planes of Fame museum which is c/n 3014.  

Image credit: All model photos © 2014 Karel Struna; S12 wreck photo:

Wednesday 19 March 2014

RTAF Museum Ki-55 'More Than' Walkaround Part 2

Continuing the RTAF Museum Ki-55 'more than' walkaround from the first instalment here is the next  instalment of 21 photographs related to the engine. The image above shows the left side of the cowling seen from the rear and of special note is the gap between the cowling edge and the fuselage.

Engine face seen from lower right

Engine data plate

Engine front lower

Huck starter lug on  spinner

Engine upper left - note gun tube and ring in cowling

Engine detail lower right

Engine detail upper right - note air intake between cylinders

Engine detail upper left - note air intake between cylinders

Engine detail upper left

Engine detail lower centre

Exhaust  outlet left side of cowling

Engine starting crank handle aperture left  side of cowling

Auxiliary exhaust lower front centre of cowling

Auxiliary exhaust lower rear centre of cowling - note small intake

Auxiliary exhaust from right - note shielded intake in wing centre section

Cowling lower right side

Exhaust outlet right  side of cowling - note different shape to left side!

View of wing centre section - jack points in red - note flaps

View towards lower  cowling from rear

Rear of cowling from right side

With very special thanks and appreciation to Johan de Wolf, his wife Ms. Sasinee Sornimsart and the following staff of the Royal Thai Air Force Museum - Mr. Paitoon Lailerd, Mr Kiatisak Reunak and Ms Jariyaporn Somsaard. If referring to or re-posting these images online kindly attribute them © 2014 Johan de Wolf via Aviation of Japan and provide a reciprocal courtesy link to thank you!

Image credit: ©  2014 Johan de Wolf

Friday 14 March 2014

Yahu 'JustStick' 1/72 Instrument Panels

If, like me, you are a modeller of a certain vintage whose fingers have inexplicably turned into bananas  but you just can't give up the one true scale, this product, new to me, might be of interest. I admire pre-painted photo-etch but can't get on with it, especially those sandwiched multi-layer instrument panels that require the  glue application precision of a neurosurgeon. 

Yahu, a Polish company, have released a small range of pre-assembled panels for a relatively moderate cost like this Ki-44 'Tojo' example, listed as suitable for the Sword or Hasegawa kits.  Some of their panels are also available for self-assembly and can be obtained in the UK via this eBay store. The Ki-44  is the only Japanese subject so far, although they also make Gloster  Gladiator panels which would be suitable for Chinese operated aircraft. Hopefully more Japanese subjects will be released in future if the idea doesn't bomb.

Image credit: All ©  2014 Yahu Models

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Danilo Renzulli's 1/72nd scale Ki-61-II Kai 'Bubbletops'

This superb 1/72nd scale model of a 56th Sentai 'Tony' bubbletop - Kawasaki's svelte Mustang - is a hybrid - a very skilful combination of two separate Finemolds kits (Ki-61-II and Ki-100) and a Falcon canopy so that you can't see the join by correspondent Danilo Renzulli! It remains something of a puzzle why Finemolds never released their own new Ki-61-II Kai bubbletop using the fuselage pieces from their limited edition 1989 kit (which combined those parts with the old Hasegawa Ki-61-I Tei) together with the new parts from their revised Ki-61-II fastback kit in 2000.

The Hinomaru were airbrushed using masks Danilo cut himself as with most of his Japanese subjects. There is no clear coat on top of the camouflage green, Danilo instead waited for the matt paint to dry to  touch then carefully rubs it with a finger-tip to obtain a semi-gloss finish close to that of a paint job when new or nearly so. The undersurface natural metal finish was achieved by mixing silver paint (of non-modeling type), matt white and vitreous gloss paint (used to finish plasticine). This is a recipe of Danilo's that he uses on many models.

Below is Danilo's model compared to an earlier Ki-61-II Kai 'bubbletop' that he made from the old Revell kit in the 1970s "using the rear section of a Ki-84 canopy (most probably) and by vacuforming the other sections (the toaster had its moment of glory)". Danilo first sprayed the aluminum paint and then the green and the grey paints. Once dry he scratched the paint using a knife tip and tape. The sliding section of the canopy has suffered from some contraction over time, he says, perhaps because he used acetate sheet that was too thick. 

Danilo is no mean artist either. Here is his very evocative painting of a Yokosuka D4Y 'Judy' accomplished with  tempera  on cardboard in the 1990s.

Image credit: All photos and artwork © 2014 Danilo Renzulli