Saturday 23 January 2016

That Other Shoki ~ Update

Further to the February 2015 blog article on the Fujimi 1/70th scale Ki-44 kit, correspondent Ken Glass has kindly sent this image of another early issue of the kit in the 'Metallic Series' with the same No.5 catalogue number, presumably pre-dating the 'One Hundred Series' issue? Box art is intriguing, perhaps just a poor attempt at representing natural metal but nevertheless reminiscent of the blue-grey dappled 'cloud camouflage' associated with early operations over China, of which more in due course. No unit tail marking in view and no yellow wing leading edge IFF strips shown!

Image credit: Yahoo Japan via Ken Glass

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Jack Geratic's 1/72nd scale resin Type 95 Trainer

By a happy coincidence Canadian modeller Jack Geratic has also given permission to share here his excellent 1/72nd scale model of the Choroszy Modelbud resin Type 95 (Ki-9)  Trainer kit.

In contrast to Zbyszek's special attacker, Jack's model is finished in the standard orange-yellow trainer scheme and represents an aircraft of the Kumagaya (Bear Valley) Army Flying School (Rikugun Hikô Gakkô) in Saitama Prefecture. 

The Kumagaya Flying School began flying training courses in 1936 for potential NCO pilots and cadet officers from the reserve but once war began in 1937 it gradually expanded, eventually establishing 12 additional branches with multiple satellite fields in Japan. Kumagaya fell within the Kanto Air Defence Sector and later in the war its flying instructors would be organised into Tô Ni Go Butai - secondary provisional units - to fly Ki-43 fighter air defence sorties under the operational control of the 10th Air Division during emergency situations.

The Kumagaya tail marking has usually been depicted as black and white but more recent references have begun showing it as red and white. However it appears to be an adaptation of the mon (crest) of the Minamoto Ashikaga clan which was black and white, Kumagaya city being named after the famous Minamoto samurai Kumagai Naozane. The convincing orange yellow finish was made with a 50/50 mix of Gunze H24 Orange Yellow and Akan BS356 Golden Yellow. 

With special thanks to Jack for sharing these images of his superb model.

Image credits: All © 2015 Jack Geratic

Monday 4 January 2016

Zbyszek Malicki's Special Attack Type 95 Trainer in 1/72nd scale

Zbyszek Malicki from Poland very kindly shares these images of his special attacker Tachikawa Type 95 Chûren (an abbreviation for intermediate trainer) built from the RS Models kit in 1/72nd scale. 

The model was built straight from the box with two exceptions. The windscreens were scratch built to replace the incorrectly rounded kit parts and the barrel in the rear cockpit was taken from the Hasegawa Isuzu Fuel Truck kit as this item is not provided in the RS Models kit.  The decals are from the kit and represent aircraft # 9 of the 96th Shinbu-tai photographed at a civil flying school - the Kumamoto Local Pilot Training Centre - in 1945. This flying school was established in 1941 at a specially built airfield in the Kikukuchi district of Kumamoto Prefecture about 12 miles from Kumamoto City. It was also close to the Tachiarai Flying School branch airfield at Kuroishibaru on Kyushu. The Japanese characters beneath the five petal cherry blossom insignia on the tail appear to  mean balmy (or summer) breeze (風薫 - kun fu - literally 'fragrant wind').

This aircraft's unit has sometimes been mis-identified in photo captions as the 21st Hikoshidan Shireibu Hikodan (sic). The 21st Hikoshidan (Air Brigade) was the parent formation for this and other units. Shireibu Hikohan (not Hikodan which means Air Division) was the Brigade headquarters flight, usually consisting of multi-engined transport aircraft although HQ staff officers sometimes flew fighter hacks and liaison aircraft like the Ki-51. The 21st Air Brigade had a number of units under command including two Ki-84 units - the 72nd and 73rd Sentai - and after Okinawa presided over the formation of special attack units such as this one in preparation for repelling expected Allied landing attempts on the Japanese mainland. For the paint scheme  Zbyszek pre-shaded the model with black then applied an overall orange before the dark green camouflage. That was then skilfully 'weathered' to reveal glimpses of the underlying orange. Rigging was made using the fine nylon filament from pantyhose attached with superglue but Zbyszek  notes this unusual technique requires a tricky combination of being gentle and fast!  

The gasoline drum in the rear cockpit is presumed to be a makeshift explosive device and it is probable that the aircraft had been prepared for localised defence against Allied landing ships in anticipation of an invasion attempt on the mainland.

The Tachikawa Type 95-1 (九五式一 型練習機 - Kyu Go Shiki Ichi Gata Renshûki - literally 'nine-five type one form practice aircraft) was designed to a 1934 request from Army Air HQ after they had tested - and found too small - that company's private venture R-5 primary flying trainer. It existed in two versions - the Type 95-1 and Type 95-1 Kai, more commonly referred to as Ko and Otsu, the latter an improved version with a strengthened undercarriage, identifiable by the teardrop shared fairing at the intersection of the wheel struts. The Type 95 was operated throughout the war in the Renshū Hikōtai

With special thanks to Zbyszek for sharing these images of his excellent model with Aviation of Japan.

Image credits: Model photographs © 2015 Zbyszek Malicki; Box art © 2009 RS Models