Monday 27 October 2014

Rising Reisen, Lily Again and HR Koinu

Rising Decals homage to the ever popular Reisen continues with set 72-064 Zero Part III which provides decals for ten interesting subjects. Previous sets are reviewed here and here. There are now good kits of the Zero in 1/72nd scale from the 1990s second generation Hasegawa, still very respectable, through the superlative Fine Molds and Tamiya, to the accessible and easy on the pocket Airfix. All of them benefit from after market decal alternatives and there are plenty to choose from the selection of variants here.  

  • A6M2 'V-138' of Tainan Ku, Rabaul, 1942 - in standard factory finish as flown by 27-victory ace Lt Jun-ichi Sasai and sporting double blue command stripes on fuselage and tail
  • A6M5c '352-177' of 352 Ku, Japan 1945 - in standard factory finish as flown by Lt Sugisaki
  • A6M3 'V-177' of Tainan Ku's Buna Detachment, 1942 - in standard factory finish with blue fuselage stripe and striking red fin and rudder tip
  • A6M3 'T2-112' of 204 Ku, Rabaul, 1943 - in field applied camouflage as flown by 13-victory ace Lt Matsuo Hagiri
  • A6M2 'Kou-176' of Konoike Ku, 1944 - in a worn or mottle scheme (I haven't checked!) 
  • A6M2 'V-117' of Tainan Ku, Bali, 1942 - in standard factory finish as  flown by Lt Masuzo Seto, sporting red fuselage and blue tail command stripes with white tail code outlined in red
  • A6M2 'K-108' of Kanoya Ku, Rabaul, 1942 - in standard factory finish with diagonal red tail stripe and Houkoku fuselage presentation markings 
  • A6M2 '352-102' of 352 Ku, Japan 1945 - in standard factory finish with a pair of diagonal red fuselage stripes
  • A6M5c '601-27' of 601 Ku, Japan, 1945 - in standard factory finish
  • A6M2 'R3-116' of Atsugi Ku, Japan 1943 - in an interesting worn finish. My take on this one is that it is a 'hand-me-down' ex-carrier aircraft and as suggested in original factory finish so worn and abraded that the red oxide primer is grinning through, with a band of fresh paint covering the old tail code. Badly worn Zero models seem to be something of a current fad but most of them owe more to modelling mythology than historical reality so here is an opportunity to represent one without huge patches of salt-glazed bare metal!
An excellent and inspiring set as usual from Rising Decals - highly recommended.

Back in April 2013 I ran through the various issues of the Hasegawa (ex-Mania) Ki-48 kit. The 41-year old veteran was recently back again and for completeness is included here. It is a Limited Edition re-issue with attractive new box art offering two options from the 8th Sentai, pertinent to the previous blog article. Not obvious from the box but the kit includes a photo-etch set of dive-brakes for the II. Good value for less than £12 if ordered from Japan but hurry! In addition to the "moonlight dive bomber" on the box art the kit includes decals for a 3rd Chutai machine in 1942, the same one that featured on the 1995 issue box art, colour call outs identical. Moulding quality looks very good given its age, with crisp engraved detail and negligible flash. A good opportunity to get one if you have missed it and an essential subject for a IJAAF or CBI collection.

HR Model of the Czech Republic have issued a family of 1/72nd kits of the Sopwith Pup including a Japanese Army version as P72041. The kit is neatly moulded in grey plastic with optional engines and cowlings, together with decals for three subjects, including two consecutive loop record breakers flown by Capt. Ozeki and Lt Kawaida who must have been somewhat green about the gills by that 456th loop!  The third option is for a machine operating at Vladivostok in 1919. The rudder markings are difficult  if not impossible to improvise so anyone buying this kit will have two spares with which the old but still respectable Airfix kit could be dressed up. I have a little doubt that the fin and rudder were really painted red. If they were then it was different shade of red to the Hinomaru. The decals include the red to match the Hinomaru so there is no opportunity for an alternative representation without some tricky painting. Plain white characters and numbers would have been preferred. 

In Japanese Army service the Pup was designated 'So-shiki 3 type ' (ソ式三型 - So-shiki 1 and 2 types were British and French supplied variants of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter). The characters on the tail displayed that designation together with the aircraft serial number (D4165 in this case) and sometimes the year - Taisho-8 nen (大正八年 - 1919) - that it was taken into service.

Build it with a pilot and display it pylon mounted and inverted at the top of a loop for something a little different.That's all folks! I hope to get back to more regular blogging from now on as the backlog of topics is growing!

Image credits: © 2014 Rising Decals; © 2014 Hasegawa Corporation; © 2014 HR Model

Saturday 25 October 2014

25th October 2014

Tonight in the UK the clocks go back an hour from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time and the nights which have been drawing in will now signal the approach of winter. Today is also the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Here is an Edison wax cylinder recording of Trumpeter Martin Lanfried of the 17th Lancers sounding the charge on the same bugle that he used during the battle and which had also been used during the Battle of Waterloo. The recording was made in 1890. As the clocks go back one hour that live sound is crossing 124 years, and 160 years, and 199 years.

Today is also the 599th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt which was fought on St Crispin's Day, 1415. Very few in the UK remember those battles now or the husbands, sons, brothers and fathers who fought in them but I choose to and to mark their memory here.

Image credits: Surviving officers and men of the 13th Light Dragoons photographed by Roger Fenton (1854); "The Thanksgiving Service on the Field of Agincourt" by Edmund Blair Leighton (1909) 

Wednesday 15 October 2014


Updated the original April 2008 blog about the veteran Airfix Zero with some additional images.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

More on John's Reppu!

John Haas very kindly sent these comparison images of his 1/48th scale hand crafted Reppu together with Raiden, Shiden-kai and Hayabusa to illustrate just what a large aircraft it was.

The Raiden and Hayabusa were made from Otaki kits whilst the Shiden-kai is from Hasegawa.

Image credit: All photos © 2014 John Haas

Sunday 5 October 2014

1/48th scale Mitsubishi A7M2 Reppu 'Sam' by John Haas

This splendid Reppu (烈風 - violent or furious wind) from the John Haas collection is entirely scratch built and really conveys the brute power and pugnacious look of the fighter. Inspiring.

John carved the fuselage, engine  and wings from solid wood using 3-view drawings in a Koku Fan magazine of May 1985. The tail feathers were made from thick plastic card. 

The undercarriage, prop, cockpit interior and all the smaller details were made from plastic scrap materials. Of special note is the excellent representation of the clustered exhaust outlets and corresponding indented airframe panels. And the prop is especially beautifully and accurately coloured in sharp and pleasing contrast to the horrible matt brick-red so many modellers seem to favour. Shortly after finishing this model John happened upon the excellent Fine Molds kit - typical! - but he was philosophical about it, appreciating how building Reppu had exercised and improved his woodworking skills! 

Reppu was originally intended as the successor to the vaunted Zero and first conceived in late 1940, but relegated to the back burner in favour of more pressing needs. Formal specifications for its resurrection were issued in July 1942 but development was protracted and the first example did not fly as A7M1 until May 1944, proving to be an underpowered disappointment offering little advantage over the A6M5. The original engine was the 2,000 hp Nakajima NK9K Homare but the design team and the IJN disputed whether the disappointing performance of the design was due to the power plant or the airframe. At that point the IJN was prepared to can the project, eventually formally cancelling it in August 1944, but Mitsubishi were able to persevere at their own expense, developing the design as A7M2 using the 2,200 hp 18-cylinder Mitsubishi MK9A (Ha(43)11) engine which flew for the first time in October 1944. This resulted in sparkling performance with agility provided by automatic combat flaps. The formidable promise of the A7M2 was beset first by an earthquake in December 1944 and then by a sequence of B-29 bombing raids which destroyed plans, jigs and tooling. By the war's end only eight examples had been constructed and Reppu was fated never to fly in combat. The IJN ordered everything about it to be destroyed.

Allied intelligence were aware of the fighter and expecting to eventually meet it in the air assigned it the code name 'Sam'. According to Koku Fan's 1982 three-volume tome on Japanese Military Aircraft the tail code on John's model - Ko-A7-3 - represents the fourth prototype and the only intact example photographed at the end of the war but Gakken ('Reppu to Reppu-kai', Vol.40 of 2003) records it as the third A7M2 re-manufactured from the second A7M1. Either way it was the third aircraft to be officially accepted by the Navy Air Technical Arsenal (海軍航空技術廠 Kaigun Kōkū Gijutsu-shō) at Yokosuka, hence the number '3'.

For modellers it represents a quintessential comparison piece to the Zero, Raiden and Shiden, as well as offering much potential for 'what if' and 1946 scenarios. More commonly seen depicted in its actual prototype markings, as here, the precise colours of which are still disputed, mainly concerning whether the under surfaces were painted in the yellow-orange for experimentals or the standard 2-6 grey for fighters. Reppu has been well known to Western modellers since the very basic 1/72nd scale Aoshima (or Aosima) kit of 1964 but there are now good kits available from Fine Molds in both 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.  Dedicated rather than general references to the type are mainly Japanese and in Japanese language and the best English language coverage of the type is to be found in Arawasi magazine # 3 of January 2006.

Image credit: All photos © 2014 John Haas