John Haas very kindly shares these images of his latest 1/48th scale scratch built model of the Mitsubishi K3M3 'Pine' (Navy Type 90 Land-based Crew Training Airplane - 海軍 九〇式 機上作業練習 機), something of a departure from Zekes and Oscars - and there were no 'Pine' Aces that I know of.
At first John thought that building this model would be smooth going the whole way as it resembles a Fokker Universal. How wrong he was! It turned out to be a rather complex model to build with that strange construction of the cockpit floor lined up between the side windows. He was unable to find many clear photographs and hardly any interior drawings.
The most difficult part was how to securely fix the relatively large and heavy wings to the small edge of the fuselage. In this case the wing-struts really act as support for the wings. The 1/72 AZ Models K3M3 kit with all parts provided is far from being a straightforward construction so John's achievement is all the more remarkable for being entirely scratch built.
At the end John was happy with the result, considering it not perfect, but giving a good impression of this special aircraft. I'd be happy with this from a kit - let alone scratch built! John's model is finished in the wartime scheme of deep green black upper surfaces which were gradually applied to aircraft in the overall orange yellow trainer scheme from July 1943.
This aircraft originated in a 1928 Mitsubishi private venture to provide a cohesive multi-crew trainer for navigation, wireless operation, air gunnery, bomb aiming and photo-reconnaissance functions. The idea was that several aircrew trades could learn their skills in a single training flight under the auspices of an instructor. The resultant wooden biplane M-13, designed by the expatriate Sopwith engineer Herbert Smith, attracted no official interest but the concept of a multi-crew trainer was established when the Mitsubishi designer J. Hattori designed the Ka-2 the following year and the Imperial Japanese Navy ordered two prototypes.
The first prototype was constructed with a liquid-cooled engine and despite problems with vibration and stability this type of power plant was persisted with up to the fourth prototype with various airframe improvements designed to alleviate the stability issues. With the installation of a Mitsubishi air-cooled engine the design was officially accepted as the Type 90 Model 1 Crew Trainer with production of 70 examples from 1932 to 1935. In 1938 performance was enhanced to reduce flight training time by the installation of a Nakajima Kotobuki engine and airframe refinements. In this form as the Type 90 Model 2 Land Flight Crew Trainer (later re-designated Type 90 Land Crew Flight Trainer Kai) the design soldiered on until the end of the Pacific war, with 245 examples manufactured by Aichi Kokuki from 1938 to 1939 as the K3M2 and 301 examples manufactured by Watanabe Tekkojo as the K3M3 from 1939 to 1940.
With special thanks to John for sharing these images of his impressive model.
Image credits:- All © 2015 John Haas