Tuesday 29 November 2016

Jake - A Tale of Two Scales ~ Part 2

Responding to Aviation of Japan's Nichimo retrospective in October 2013, tempestfan got in touch regarding the origin of the Nichimo Jake kit. He was asking for confirmation that the Nichimo 1/48 scale kit was in fact a re-pop of the Marusan 1/50 kit. Unfortunately I don't have an example of the Marusan kit to confirm it absolutely but as tempestfan pointed out the first UPC issue of the Nichimo kit used the same Marusan artwork on the box. A review of Japanese auction sites strongly suggests that it is the same plastic or a very close copy. Burns notes that several Nichmo kits "were copied from other companies" and that the Jake, released in the late 1960s as S-4803, was originally issued as kit # 428 by Marusan.

Marusan Shoten Ltd  was a pioneering plastic kit company, the first in Japan, operating from the early 1950s until 1969, its kits were issued in an eclectic diversity of scales and are now highly collectable. Their Jake was released in 1964 with the box art shown above and UPC re-issued it in 1968 as # 6071 with the box art presented as shown below. 

In his '20th Century Airplane Plastic Model Encyclopedia' ('20世紀 飛行機 プラモデル 大全' Bunshun Nesco Ltd 2004), Katsumi Hirano shows a variant presentation of the Marusan box (below), but without details of the date of issue. The art on this box is closer in presentation to the UPC box art.

There are at least two other box arts associated with the Marusan kit. The monochrome cutaway art by K Hashimoto, shown above, is unusual because the interior details provided in the kit are sparse. Was this the same or a different set of plastic? Another box art style for the Marusan kit is shown below, with the logo 'Plamodel Marusan', again with no further details known.

The more familiar UPC Jake box art is that by Andrew Scott Eidson (b.1908), shown above. As far as I know the box art for the Nichimo kit by Mr. R Nakanishi (b.1934) was never altered and like the Hasegawa kit it has been the only game in town in its scale. I'm not aware of any vacform or resin examples in either scale. Following Part 1 of this article Aviation of Japan's Texas correspondent Mark Smith kindly sent me this link to a splendid build of the Nichimo kit by Matt Swan. The Nichimo kit seems to have had more aftermarket for it than the Hasegawa kit, of which more anon, and Mark recounts that Mike West of Lone Star Models has told him that Jake items have been some of his best selling stuff. With the Hasegawa release of Pete and Dave surely Jake must be on the cards for re-visiting state of the art at some point? 

Further details or memories about any of these kits will be very welcome, thanks.

Image credits:- Nichimo box art author collection; second Marusan box art variant © 2004 Katsumi Hirano & Bunshun Nesco Ltd; all others various via web.   

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Jake - A Tale of Two Scales ~ Part 1

In 1/72 scale the Hasegawa kit of the Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane E13A 'Jake' (Rei Shiki Suijoh Teisatsu-ki 零式水上偵察機, commonly abbreviated  as Rei-Sui 零水), now long in the tooth at nearly 50 years old, is still the only game in town. Hasegawa will re-release their kit in January, the new guise being an aircraft of the `Kashima Air Squadron` (above) complete with catapult. Two tailcode options are included for カシ-95 (Kashi-95) and カシ-98. This presumably represents aircraft from the Kashima Kokutai and not the light/training cruiser Kashima, which also carried an E13A and reportedly used the tail codes 'R' and then 'L', although the inclusion of the catapult makes it a bit mysterious.

 Kit # B20 ~ probably 1977 rather than 1971

Hasegawa catalogue image 1978 

According to Burns* Hasegawa first issued their Jake kit in 1971 as B20 with a second release in 1981 as D10. The box art and box style were identical but B20 had a blue flash (above) and D10 a green flash (below). B20 appeared in the 1978 Hasegawa catalogue with the subsidiary kit designation JS-056. The B-20 box has the designation JS-056:400 on one end of the box but not on D10 which has D010:500 instead. The A and B kit designations do not appear to have been in sequence with the JS numbers as A1, for example, the Ki-44, is listed as JS-090. The box art was by Kihachiro Ueda who illustrated many LS boxtops as well as the 1/48th scale Fujimi and the Revell (Japan) 1/32nd scale box art. Both kits were moulded in dark green plastic and offered markings on the decal sheet for three aircraft - a radar equipped dark green Jake of the Saeki Ku with the tail code サヘ-20 (Sahe-20), another dark green example on the heavy cruiser Maya with the tail code EII-2, and a light grey finished floatplane of the 7th Ku with the tail code I-VII-05. The Hasegawa kit was listed as a "recent new release" in the August 1973 issue of Scale Models magazine, being imported by A A Hales Ltd of Hinckley, Leics. 

 Kit # D10 ~ 1981?

 Kit # JS-056 ~ probably 1973

But here is the rub. The magazine review describes the kit as being moulded in pale grey plastic and in the May 1973 issue a full page Hales advert listed their Hasegawa kits (although not the Jake) only with JS kit numbers. According to Burns the Jake was first issued as JS-056 in 1980 but the Scalemates website shows JS-056 as the first issue. The JS-056 box with the Hales logo is shown above. The logo also appeared on each end of the box and on one side.  The first advert for the Hasegawa Jake in Airfix magazine was in the June 1973 issue by Modeltoys of Portsmouth.  And in the September 1973 issue there was a revealing piece about the importer A A Hales Ltd:-

"Although Frog will no longer be the source of Hasegawa's superb moulding, the Japanese kits will still be available. Another importer A.A. Hales Ltd of Hinckley, Leicestershire, have taken over the licence and now the kits are available in their original Japanese home-market boxes with a Hales trade mark added."

So it appears that the JS-056 was indeed the first issue, appearing in the UK circa mid-1973 and then followed by the B20 and D10 issues circa 1977 and 1981 respectively. The artwork on the JS-056 box  is similar to early Shigeo Koike illustrations for Hasegawa but the signature does not appear to be his. Similar boxes were sold in the USA with the Minicraft logo added (below). 

 Kit # JS-056 US Minicraft import

 Kit # JS-056 Japanese domestic box?

The same style of box was also issued with Japanese characters in the lower left portion (above), perhaps for the domestic or Far East markets as suggested by the Airfix magazine statement. Scalemates show the B20 box as being the second release issued in 1977 which accords with my memory of first buying the kit in that box circa 1978.  Hales also sold the B20 kit in a flimsier cardboard, end-opening box with the art on both sides, moulded in dark green plastic. The JS-056 kit offered more decal options with tail codes for six aircraft - X-5 on the seaplane tender Kimikawa Maru, 531-03 aboard the armed merchantman Akagisan Maru for the Aleutians, 52-031 of the 452nd Ku (as shown on the box art), ZI-21 on Kimikawa Maru, I-VII-05 of the 7th Ku and YII-20 on the seaplane carrier Mizuho.

 JS-056 Instruction Sheet

In 1973 Hales sold the Jake kit for 45p and the Scale Models review was generally positive about the kit, commenting on the absence of overscale rivets and a straightforward construction requiring only minimal filler. The instruction sheet (above) had a good description of the type and drawings showing the three main versions. Although more recent appraisals of the kit are sometimes less than complimentary the weakest aspect was the lack of interior detail which consisted only of a floor, three rather crude seats and a simple instrument panel for the pilot. Three identical crewmen were also included and appeared to be based on the contemporary Airfix jet pilot modified to represent IJN flying kit. When installed the crewmen sitting in tandem, all with their heads turned slightly to the left, presented rather a comical appearance. 

Kit # C9/JS-117 ~ 1977 or 1980?

Burns records the kit also being issued as C9 from 1970-80 with a Kure Mk 2 Model 5 catapult and again as JS-117 with the catapult from 1980. The box art is shown above and the box in my collection is marked on the end as C9 and JS-117 with a price tag of HK$8.60 (less than £1). The kit was listed in the 1978 catalogue as C9 with the susidiary designation JS-117 although the catalogue image shows JS-116! The Jake is the basic B20/D10 kit moulded in dark green with the same decal options whilst the catapult is moulded in dark grey plastic. Scalemates record this kit as being issued in 1977 and another which appears to be exactly similar as E9 in 1981. The Encyclopedia of Military Models** records that the catapult was originally made by Ross Abare and sold seperately for $3 by Unique Scale Accessories of Springfield, Mass., with Hasegawa subsequently purchasing the mould for inclusion in their kits.  

Kit # 717 of 1990

Hasegawa's Jake was re-issued again in 1990 as # 717 in a new box with art by Tetsuo Makita (above). Moulded in pale grey plastic this kit offered decal options for a radar equipped E13A1 of the Yokosuka Ku in 1944 with the tail code ヨ-19 (Yo-19) as depicted in the box art, an E13A1b of the 452nd Ku at Shimushu in August 1944 with the tail code 52-026 and an E13A1 on the heavy cruiser Atago off the Philippines in January 1942 with the tail code DII-3. The first two examples were dark green over grey and the latter an overall grey aircraft. This issue included instrument panels for the pilot and navigator with decals for both.  

Kit # 51530 of 1995

In 1995 the Jake and catapult were re-issued in a new style box with modified art as # 51530 and NP10 (above). In 2001 the Jake by itself was re-issued as kit # 00277 Aichi E13A1 Type Zero (Jake) Model 11 'Battleship Yamato' with new box art and decal options for various tailcodes of aircraft carried on the battleship from 1942 to 1945 (below).

Kit # 00277 of 2001

  Kit # 01996 of 2012

In 2012 a limited edition of the Jake and catapult was released as kit # 01996 Aichi E13A1 Type Zero (Jake) Model 11 'Midway' w/Catapult (above). This kit included decal options for two overall grey aircraft from the heavy cruiser Tone and Chikuma with tail codes MI-4 and MII-6 respectively and a dark green over grey example from the heavy cruiser Myoko with the tailcode FI-I.  

Kit # 012154 of 2015

In 2015 the Jake and catapult were released again as as another limited edition kit # 02154 Aichi E13A1 Type Zero (Jake) Model 11 `Light Cruiser Yahagi` (above) with decal options for two aircraft with tail codes 220-21 and 220-22 involved in the Yamato Okinawa operation. 

Part 2 of this series will consider the larger Nichimo kit and Part 3 will focus on the details of the actual Hasegawa kit itself in relation to the real aircraft.  Please comment with any additional information about the kit or corrections, thanks.  

* 'In Plastic WW2 Aircraft Kits' by J W Burns, Kit Collectors Clearinghouse, 1993
** 'Encyclopedia of Military Models' by Claude Boileau, Huynh-Dinh Khuong and Thomas A Young, Airlife, 1988 (translation from first French edition of 1986)

Image credits: All box art © Hasegawa  Corporation circa 1971-2016 via Scalemates, Hobby Search and personal collection

Friday 11 November 2016

Clipped Wing Claude

A short piece of interesting contemporary animation showing how 24 year old  PO3c Kan-ichi Kashimura lost half the port wing of his 13th Ku A5M1 in a dogfight with Chinese fighters on 9 December 1937 during a raid against Nanking. Kashimura collided with a Chinese fighter, reportedly in a head on attack after shooting down at least one other but the animation suggests perhaps a mistimed hineri-komi manouevre? Despite the damage and an uncontrolled fall that took him close to hitting the ground Kashimura was able to regain control of the aircraft and return to his base at Shanghai. After four attempts to land he managed to get the aircraft down. It turned over but he escaped unhurt. The film also includes brief footage of the damaged Claude in flight and on the ground. The incident attracted considerable press and public interest in Japan and the damaged aircraft was later put on display. The Japanese Navy Minister Mitsumasa Yonai presented Kashimura with an inscribed photograph of his damaged aircraft in flight.

Kashimura's camouflaged Claude '4-115' featured on the monochrome box art of the original Fine Molds A5M1 kit. After service with the Yokosuka Ku Kashimura joined the 12th Kokutai when it absorbed the 13th Ku at the end of 1939 and later returned to the Yokosuka Ku. In December 1942 he was transferred to the 582nd Ku but was posted as MIA (Missing in Action) during combat over the Russell Islands on 6 March 1943.  At the time of his loss he was credited with 12 victories, 10 of which had been claimed over China.

The unit's Claudes were  field camouflaged on the upper surfaces in a pattern of dark green and brown with the Army's white senchi-hiyoshiki fuselage band but retained their black cowlings and natural metal under surfaces.

Image credits: Film footage via YouTube; All photos via web

Thursday 10 November 2016

New Tamiya 1/48 Hien Tei

All things Hien must be flavour of the month in Japan. Following on from the Aoshima foray into the Kawasaki Hien family in 1/72 (of which more anon), the Kawasaki unveiling of the restored Ki-61-II (of which more anon) and the expectation of new Ki-61 decals from Lifelike (of which more anon), Tamiya have now announced a 1/48 Ki-61-I Tei kit for release on Christmas Eve. This is expected to retail for about £23 if bought direct from Japan. 244th Hiko Sentai commander Kobayashi's well-known # 24 appears to be at least one projected kit subject, with blue command stripes, and the kit includes a Ha-40 engine, the Kawasaki licence-built version of the German DB 601A.  

The Tamiya cachet and reputation for detail and fit will no doubt make this a popular kit despite the existence of a well respected Hien family in this scale from Hasegawa, albeit now 22 years old. The last Tamiya Hien was a 1/50 scale Ki-61-II released in 1964 and the type was never included in their original 1/72 series. This release is therefore more significant than it might at first appear. 

The Tei variant was the penultimate Tony, in production from January 1944 with a lengthened nose to accommodate the installation of the Ho-5 20mm cannon, providing the heaviest homegrown Hien armament. A total of 1.358 of this version were manufactured until January 1945 and it featured prominently in the air defence of Japan, often with armour and armament reduced to improve high altitude performance (check your references when choosing subjects). 

Hat tip to Dan Salamone and Aviation of Japan's Texas correspondent Mark Smith who both alerted me to this forthcoming kit, thank you both.

Image credits: All © 2016 Tamiya Inc.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Miscellaneous Updates

Courtesy of Guillermo I have now been able to include a photo of Japanese aviation modelling pioneer, the late Horatio Hernández (above) to the feature on Friendship Scale Models, in his memory.

In response to the RAPWI Ki-54 Nose Over link correspondent 'VG' submitted a very interesting personal story of a POW, Walter 'Dinger' Bell of the Royal Navy, saved by RAPWI intervention, which I have added there in his memory.

And a polite reminder that anonymous comments will not be published, however meritorious.

Image credits: Photo of Horatio Hernández via Guillermo; RN Surface Fleet insignia © 2016 Ministry of Defence