Wednesday 25 March 2015

Recent Rising Decals Releases

An interesting collection of releases from the prolific Rising Decals recently. First up is set RD48020, a sheet of 1/48th scale markings for two foreign service subjects. Firstly an ex-582nd Kokutai A6M3 Model 22, painted white with green surrender crosses and the partially visible original unit code 2-152 as flown briefly by the RNZAF and now surviving at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand. Secondly an A6M2-N 'Rufe' float fighter evaluated by ATAIU-SEA (Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit - South-East Asia) and flown briefly and fatally in Indo-China by the French in September 1946. 

Captured Japanese aircraft subjects seem to be perennial favourites with modellers and both these will present engaging finishing and weathering challenges in order to produce unusual models.  

The next 1/48th scale set is RD48021 Zero Pt II offering a second set of decals for seven examples of the ever-popular Mitsubishi A6M.

  • A6M2 Model 21 of 331st Ku at Balikpapan, Borneo in October 1944 with the tail code 31-130. This aircraft in standard deep green black over grey scheme except for grey painted tail fin and wing tips applied for air defence recognition purposes. 
  • A6M2 Model 32 of Tainan Ku at Buna, New Guinea in August 1942. In standard early factory scheme with tail code V-177, blue fuselage band with unusual red fin and rudder tip.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Konoike Ku at Konoike, Japan during 1944. This aircraft carries the tail code コウ-176 (KoU-176) and appears to be in a camouflage scheme of dark green mottle over the original standard early factory finish.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Kanoya Ku at Rabaul, New Britain in November 1942. In standard early factory finish with tail code K-108, presentation legend on fuselage and diagonal red tail band.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of 22nd Ku in Indo-China during the offensive into Malaya in the winter of 1941-42. In standard early factory finish with tail code II-131, red fuselage and tail bands with six 'bird' victory markings applied to the fuselage. The aircraft number '131' is speculative as the tail is out of view in the reference photograph.
  • A6M3 Model 22 of the 331st Ku at Magwe, Burma in December 1943. In deep green black over grey with tail code 31-161. This aircraft has the grey painted tail fin and starboard wing tip used as recognition markings during a joint IJAAF and IJNAF raid against Calcutta but sources differ as to whether just one or both wing tips were painted for the operation.
  • A6M2 Model 21 of Atsugi Ku at Atsugi, Japan in the Spring of 1943. This aircraft carries the tail code R3-116 on an overpainted band and the appearance suggests that it is an ex-carriet aircraft. The tatty looking scheme appears to be either a very heavily weathered deep green black over grey or the standard early factory scheme worn down to reveal the red oxide primer coat.

This set provides for some of the more unusual Zero schemes in a popular scale but provides plain and bordered Hinomaru for only one aircraft.

In 1/72nd scale set RD72068 presents markings for two unusual Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate:-

  • Ki-84 Hayate from first batch of prototypes in the probable markings of the Rikugun Kokugijutsu (Army Flying Test Centre) at Fussa (Yokota), Japan in August 1945. This aircraft appears to be in a heavily weathered depot-applied scheme of dark green over natural metal with Homeland Defence 'bandages'.
  • Ki-84 Hayate of the 2nd Yuso HikotaiRikugun Koku Yuso (Army Air Ferry Command) as flown by Lt Shuho Yamana on a reinforcement ferry flight from Ota, Japan to Saigon, Indo-China during 1944. This aircraft sports an unusual for type 'giraffe-pattern' depot scheme of dark green over natural metal and the personal marking of a white tiger painted on the tail fin. More on this scheme in the final part of the blog series Hayate Thoughts - to come.

Two most interesting Ki-84 subjects for the Sword and/or Hasegawa kits, although Lt Yamana's Hayate already features as a subject on the Lifelike Decals sheet for Hayate Pt.2  72-027.

Finally and also to 1/72nd scale, no less than five resin/vacform accessory and decal sets for the Tachikawa Ki-9 trainer (RS Models) featuring blind flying hoods, different undercarriage configurations and markings for different flying schools.

RD Acr-010 (above) includes alternative markings for the Utsonomiya Army Flying School and Army Air Academy together with a resin blind flying hood of the soft top type.

RD Acr-011 has civil registration markings for J-AJTI of the Matsudo Local Advanced Pilot Training Centre at the Ministry of Communications Air Crew Training School together with the resin soft top blind flying hood.

RD Acr-012 has markings for a Ki-9 of the Kumagaya Army Flying School with a vacform solid type blind flying hood. Alternative red or black flying school insignia are included. This aircraft also has an unusual white star marking on the cowling.

RD Acr-013 has resin parts to represent the early undercarriage style with spats and the markings of a trainer at an unidentified Civil Flying School with the fuselage number 2032.

RD Acr-014 combines the early resin undercarriage and vacform solid type blind flying hood with markings for a trainer at  an unidentified Army Flying School with aikoku presentation markings for # 133. All these sets offer plenty of alternative and colourful options for finishing the very nice RS Models Ki-9 kit.

With thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for kindly providing all the review samples detailed above.

Image credits: All © 2015 Rising Decals

Sunday 22 March 2015

Ki-64 'Rob' in Progress ~ John Haas

John is making faster progress on his scratchbuilt Ki-64 'Rob' than I am in updating this blog! Here is the concurrent second part of his progress to date.

The building of the model proceeded well after some difficulties with the canopy. Even the prop went together without the usual difficulties. Now that the undercarriage is installed all is coming John is pleased with the results and yet there is still a lot to do. The next stage will be Rub 'n Buff treatment to make the metal finish more realistic, then the addition of the Hinomaru insignia and giving the panel detail more depth with some drawing and colour pencils. 

John was curious about the overall dimensions of 'Rob', so photographed the model in situ with an old Ki-61 Hien model built from the 1/48th scale Otaki (now Arii) kit.

Image credits: All photos © 2015 John Haas

Ki-64 'Rob' in Progress ~ John Haas

John Haas' scratchbuilt Ki-64 'Rob' in 1/48th scale continues to take shape in the first of two concurrent instalments.

Deciding that the wing steam condenser panels were flush on their top surface and without protrusions, John applied several layers of Humbrol 27001 Matt Aluminium and 191 Metallic Gloss Chrome Silver to the model with an airbrush. When the paint was dry he applied the panel lines. He experimented on  a proof piece with rivets  applied with a home made tool but it was not a succes. A single row rivets was not a problem, but in lining up more rows there were irregularities. Avoiding the danger of overdoing, John kept the surface detail modest with panel lines and some inspection panels.

At this stage John is ready for a lot of the detail work. The undercarriage has been fabricated and is  ready to install - legs, doors and wheels - and he has to fabricate 6 propeller blades, the distinctively old-fashioned rudder horns for the the elevators, aerial mast, tailwheel, etc. 

Image credits: All photos © 2015 John Haas

Thursday 19 March 2015

Republican Pilots of the Sino-Japanese War

This excellent 1/32nd scale custom-made resin figure of a Chinese pilot suitable for Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) fighters of the 1937-42 period such as the I-16 is now available on eBay from General Weylin in a very limited edition. The exceptionally well-proportioned and posed figure wears a winter flying suit with characteristic fur collar and is complete with a very realistically modelled seat pack  parachute.

A 1/32nd scale kit of the I-16 Type 10/17 was issued with Chinese (and Japanese!) decals by Special Hobby (below). 

There are also 1/32 scale decals for the RoCAF Boeing 281 (P-26) available from Bestfong. If 1/32nd scale is not your thing you could still photograph the figure in a forced perspective scene with a 1/48th or 1/72nd scale aircraft in the background -  or  even a row of them! With special thanks to General Weylin for kind permission to show the figure images here.

The unsung but heroic Republican flyers of the Sino-Japanese and Civil wars will receive further long overdue attention in the form of Osprey's Aces of the Republic of China Air Force by Raymond Cheung which is due for publication in May.

Image credits: Figure photos all © 2015 General Weylin with permission; Box art © 2012 Special Hobby; Book cover © 2015 Osprey Publishing.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Chinese Ginga

Further to my blog in March 2008 showing a Yokosuka P1Y 'Ginga' (銀河 - Milky Way or Galaxy) and a Zero in Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) markings as photographed post war in Taiwan, two correspondents have recently alerted me to another colour photograph apparently taken at the same location in 1948. Bertrand Brown kindly referred me to his article in the CAF French Wing Newsletter, Volume 20, No.1 of January 2015 where the photo (above) is identified as being taken by Lt Col Atlee Manthos and was reproduced in that journal with the permission of Don Manthos. Subsequently Gary Lai advised that the same photo was reproduced on a Facebook page here together with photos of Chinese P-47s from the same article and confirmed the 1948 date.

Of note is the chalked and dull appearance of the paint, un-maintained, and the very dark brown colour of the propeller blades, easily mistaken for black. Also of note is the apparent absence of the yellow wing leading edge strips - faded to nothing or worn away? 

With thanks to both those commentators for the information and links.

Image credit: Lt Col Atlee Manthos via Don Manthos and Betrand Brown

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Hasegawa A6M5c in 1/72nd scale

Maxim Gorbatyuk from Odessa in Ukraine kindly sent these photographs of a Hasegawa 1/72nd scale Mitsubishi A6M5c built from the box and finished as one of kit options as an aircraft formerly of the 203rd Kokutai at Omura, Japan in August 1945.

The remarkable thing about this model is that apart from Maxim's assistance with the canopy masking and attaching the aerial wire this excellent model was built and painted entirely by his 11-year old daughter Katherine. I look at the model and think ruefully about the sort of models I built when I was 11, even casting a few suspicious glances at models made more recently too! Katherine deservedly won the 1/72nd scale Junior Class with her Zero at Lviv Scale Model Fest, the local Ukrainian scale model show. Well done! 

GSI Creos ('Gunze') Mr Color paints were used throughout with an AK Interactive wash and some oil dots technique. The rear decking under the canopy was painted in the interior colour in accordance with the Hasegawa kit instructions, also suggested in the recent Tamiya kits, but Maxim was aware that it should really have been the blue-black anti-glare colour. The build report for the model is here. With special thanks to Maxim and Katherine for the model pictures.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Fujimi 1/144th Nakajima G10N Fugaku

The Fujimi 1/144th scale Nakajima G10N 'Fugaku' (超重爆撃機 '富嶽' - Super or Ultra Heavy Bomber 'Mount Fuji') was one I missed last year and am re-blogging for those interested in experimentals, what-ifs and 1/144th scale kits who might also have missed it. A super-sized Japanese B-29 with six engines and contra-rotating props! Well, twelve really because as first envisaged each nacelle was to contain two 18-cylinder, twin row 2,500 hp Ha-44 engines in tandem to make a 36-cylinder, four row power plant developing 5,000 hp, designated Ha-54 but known as D.BH. Unusually and despite the designation it was a joint Army-Navy project for a long distance bomber with a range of 10,000 miles and a 400+mph speed intended to attack the United States from the West with over 44,000 lbs of ordnance and then fly on to Germany. There were differences of opinion over operational ceiling and defensive armament but eventually the IJN requirement for 15,000 m (49,200 ft) prevailed with light armament in view of the low interception risks.

The tandem engine idea was dropped during development due to insurmountable cooling problems and the design reverted to a 2,500 hp engine that halved the power available and compromised the design's potential.  With the fall of Saipan the project was terminated, the specially planned but uncompleted assembly plant abandoned and all the documentation supposedly burned, although artist Shigeo Koike includes some tantalising 'Z Plan' studies with his painting of Fugaku.  

Fujimi clearly resolved the engine cooling problems for their design of the giant bomber. Their kit differs in some details from the Kikuo Hashimoto 3-view drawing of the type in the 1956 Kantô-Sha Aireview book 'General View of Japanese Military Aircraft in the Pacific War', which drew on data from Nakajima designers Tei Koyama and Katsuji Nakamura, as well as ex-Navy personnel, and also from the slightly different T. Ogawa 3-view in the Nakajima volume of Shuppan-Kyodo's 1963 Encyclopedia of Japanese Aircraft 1900-1945. Hong Kong manufacturer Anigrand Craftswork also offer a resin kit of Fugaku to the same 1/144th scale (below) for about $88/£58 and the type certainly fires the imagination of Japanese aero-enthusiasts with various speculative books and modelling interpretations of how it might have looked and fared.

The Fujimi Fugaku is a March re-stock at HLJ for around $18/£12. 

Image credits: Box art and model photos © 2014 Fujimi Mokei Co., Ltd.; Box art & parts image © 2015 Anigrand Craftswork

Colour Police, Rivet Counters and JMNs

So, where are these mythical 'colour police'? They might wander, anorak clad and under cover, around the model shows but I've seldom seen anyone savage a model for colour inaccuracies online. Usually it is the opposite - "that look's great, here is mine" (some people simply have to hi-jack other peoples threads with pictures of their own models - it never seems to occur to them to start their own). I've witnessed and participated in plenty of arguments about colour, usually involving colour photos, and seen umpteen statements of the "I use xyz (paint) and it looks great" kind (a pattern emerges) but seldom if ever the stark statement "that colour is wrong". Maybe it is whispered elsewhere, in the far corners of the display halls, or in exchanges of poisonous emails bent on character assassination, but that is life rather than modelling. 

Colour policemen on their way to check a model

There are plenty of wrong and unconvincing colours on models though and it would be easy to be rude about them but there's a big difference between thinking it and saying it. Well, what about constructive criticism? - help the guy out. The trouble with that, and I have seen it on a well known American modelling hyper-site, is that the helpful critic is not just spurned by the model owner but likely to receive a barrage of booing from those ever-vigilant flash mobs who gather to proclaim that modelling is meant to be fun (let's state the obvious) and any attempt to pursue historical accuracy "sucks the life out of modelling". Joyless Modelling Nazi - JMN - joins "colour police" and "rivet counter" in the lexicon of contrived resistance to the pursuit of excellence and historical veracity. No, sorry, don't buy it. In my humble opinion those who bring angst to the forums are the very ones who carp snarkily about "colour police", "rivet counters" and JMNs, an exercise in reassuring themselves that their own models are not so bad and that their difficulty in appreciating colour let alone applying it to a model doesn't matter because they once knew a crew chief, blah, blah, blah. 

Rivet counters at work

They can be counted on to intervene in any serious attempt to discuss aircraft, whether it is about colour or the shape and size of an oil cooler with their "two cents worth", usually a combination of sly innuendo against those who make them feel inadequate and a desperate plea for reassurance that their own approach to modelling is mainstream. The "Paint It Any Colour You Like" Brigade are far more likely to push their way into any serious discussion than anyone who might be described as a 'colour policeman', badge or no stinking badge. Oh, how tired they are of those long-winded discussions about the minutiae of colour, how scornful of such attention to detail - walk on by then, no-one forces you to read through those long-winded discussions or to make them even longer by insisting on adding your own statements of the obvious. Here's news (not really), I'm interested in the minutiae, technology and pedantry of colour, ready and willing to discuss those with anyone, but absolutely relaxed about what colours people might choose to paint their own models. An interpretative art form is just that. One can seek to inform it without dogma and observe it without judgement. And one can walk on by when the subject under discussion is of no interest to you personally. There are those who agonise over the precise shade of paint and those who don't. All are welcome - let's leave identity group labelling and condemnations to politics.

The long-winded discussion about RLM 83 soon descended into fisticuffs 

Well, yes, but this polemic is judgmental, I hear you say. Yes, but think of it as gently pushing back. If one attempts to do that on a forum the moderators will probably step in, their radar apparently more finely tuned to reciprocations than to the indirectly snarky interventions that provoke them. So, what exactly are the pejorative opposites of 'colour police', 'rivet counter' and 'JMN'? The absence of those antonyms speaks volumes about the true nature of judgmentalism in modelling.

"You really thought you could get away with that colour on a 109? Come quietly son, you're nicked!"

Image Credits: from 'The Complete History of Colour Policing' by I.M Joshing (1907)

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Ki-64 'Rob' in Progress ~ John Haas

John Haas has kindly sent these in progress images of his 1/48th solid model of the Kawasaki Ki-64 'Rob'. He spent a whole week sanding and priming and puttying then applied four layers of white primer and a layer of Humbrol Gloss Grey for checking that the smoothness of the surface is satisfactory. John's favoured Tamiya Putty is no longer available so he is obliged to use a different putty with less satisfactory results and requiring more work. 

The next step in the building process will be the construction of the prop and undercarriage. Then a difficult challenge - all the detailing! To create panel line details John plans to use the same method as he did for his Ki-77. Firstly to spray on several layers of Humbrol silver. Then after allowing that to thoroughly dry for several days, he will scribe the lines into the paint layer using a scalpel and ruler. Usually that is just sufficient to see the lines and John then uses different colour pencils to apply some accents for example the fasteners of the engine coverings.

With thanks to John for keeping Aviation of Japan posted with this in-progress update and images.

Image credits: All photos © 2015 John Haas