Thursday, 12 October 2017

Rising Conversion Sets ~ Pete and Jake

Two recent 1/72 accessory sets from Rising Decals, really mini-conversion resin sets with decal sheets for a single aircraft, focus on IJN floatplanes. 

Set RD Acr-036 provides an early style cowling and two bladed propeller to build the Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete' prototype from the Fujimi kit and finish it in overall grey with the tail code コ-M25. The resin parts consist of a sharply moulded replacement cowling, together with a propeller boss and two separate propeller blades. These will require careful cutting from the resin moulding plugs they are attached to. The decal sheet consists of six plain Hinomaru and the requisite tail codes in black. 

Set RD Acr-038 provides beefed-up rear armament for the Hasegawa Aichi E13A1 'Jake' in the form of a Type 99 Mk 1 20mm flexible cannon. The resin parts in this set consist of the exquisitely moulded cannon, separate magazine and gun mount which will require modification of the canopy and rear fuselage for display. The subject of the decal sheet is in standard finish of dark green over grey with the white tail code 58-081 to represent an aircraft of 958 Ku at Rabaul in June 1943. Note that the wing stencil lines shown in the schematic should be silver - aluminium painted - and not yellow as shown. 

Rising Decals continues to produce interesting accessory and decal sets for lesser known Japanese variants and these should appeal to IJN enthusiasts as well as floatplane enthusiasts in general.  

With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for the samples.

Image credits:- All © 2017 Rising Decals

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More Rising Stars ~ K9W1 & Ki-86

More recent sets from Rising Decals include a small but colourful 1/72 sheet for the diminutive Bücker 131 in Japanese Service (Rd72076) with markings for eight different Army and Navy aircraft. This type was called Kouyou or Momiji (Maple) in Japanese service and code-named Cypress by the Allies. 
  • Watanabe (Kyushu) K9W1 B2-20 of 381 Ku at Tebrau, Malaya in 1945 in dark green over orange yellow. 'B2' was the designator for a fighter trainer of this unit although the K9W1 was considered to be a primary trainer. Another Cypress of this unit had the tail code B2-21 and at least one of them was test flown by the RAF, brought back to the UK and held at RAF Wroughton until scrapped in 1957 following damage in a fire. 
  • Bücker KXBü1 XI-17 one of the original 20 imported aircraft and in either overall IJN grey or RLM 63 delivery colour.
  • Kokusai Ki-86 of Tachiarai Army Flying School in overall orange yellow with Tachiarai's kanji character 'Tai' insignia on the tail and the Hiragana character い ('i') on the cowling. The plain finish is relieved by a red rudder top. The Ki-86 was the Army version of the Bücker design manufacturerd by Nippon Kokusai Koku Kogyo K.K. as the Type 4 Primary Trainer.
  • Kokusai Ki-86 of Tachiarai Army Flying School. Another example with the Hiragana character ろ ('ro') on brown-painted cowling. 
  • Kokusai Ki-86 of an unknown Army Flying School reportedly in overall dark blue. This colour scheme, the white senchi hiyoshiki fuselage band, cherry blossom marking and inscription つばめ (Tsubame - swallow or martin) on the tail suggests an aircraft intended for special attack or perhaps to train pilots for that role.   
  • Kokusai Ki-86 of the Army Air Academy in a two-tone camouflage pattern over orange yellow. Dark green and either light green or brown are the speculative camouflage colours. This aircraft has a yellow fuselage band and number '3' on the tailfin (which seem odd) and also displays the inscription みたて (Mitate -?) on the rudder. 
  • Kokusai Ki-86 of an unknown Army Flying School in speculative overall dark green with white '6' on tail fin and yellow and white fuselage striping.
  • Watanabe (Kyushu) K9W1 or Bücker KXBü1 コ-K-7 in overall IJN grey or RLM 63 delivery colour. The tail code is provided in optional yellow, red or black colours.

This is a colourful sheet which usefully includes photographs and drawings showing the Hitachi Ha-47 Model 11 and GK4A Hatsukaze Model 11 engined cowlings to adapt the suggested RS Models kit (availably in several versions - a Japanese subject is included in kit # 92206). There was a Huma kit of this type (which included an anonymous Japanese subject) as well as a more obscure kit by a Czech producer MGA and a resin kit from CMR (hat tip to Zbyszek Malicki for  advising about those two). Yahu offer pre-painted instrument panels in RLM 02 and RLM 66 for the type (YMA7276 and YMA7286 respectively). Speculative colours give the modeller plenty of choice for personal interpretation.

With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for the sample set.

Image credits:- Decal instructions and sheet © 2017 Rising Decals; Box art © 2017 RS Models & © date unknown Huma Modell: © date unknown MGA and CMR box art via Zbyszek Malicki

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Early Birds Rising ~ Part II

The latest decal sets from Rising Decals include Japanese Early Birds Pt.II (RD72077) offering a fascinating and eclectic selection of no less that ten colourful civil and military types, with biplanes, floatplanes and a monoplane from the WWI and Interwar periods.

  • Sopwith Pup c/n 534 J-TALO is a Loire et Olivier built machine flown in Japan during the mid-1920s. It sports quasi-military style markings on the wings and fuselage of red stars on white roundels. The colouring suggested by Rising is speculative but colourful.
  • Sopwith Pup c/n 536 J-TITY is another Loire et Olivier built machine registered to T Aiba at the Nippon Flying School in April 1924.  This aircraft retains its military colouring of PC10 or PC12 and has the civil registration on white rectangles together with legends on the fuselage and tail in kanji characters. 
  • Sopwith Pup 'II' was flown off the battleship Yamashiro duting the early 1920s and is in plain clear doped linen finish with black or dark blue cowling. There are no national markings and just the 'II' marked on the fuselage sides.
  • Nakajima Ko 2 -Nieuport 83 E.2 c/n 504 J-TIZE, a trainer version of the Nieuport 10 registered to J Aoshima in June 1924 and displaying Hinomaru on its silver doped finish. 
  • Avro 504L c/n 424 J-TOWC registered to E Munesato of First Aeroplane School in September 1924 and sporting an unusual and striking scheme of black diagonal stripes on a yellow finish, the colours being speculative.
  • Avro 504S floatplane R-613 of IJN of Kasumigaura Ku during the mid-1920s in clear or silver doped finish and displaying Hinomaru in six positions.  
  • Hansa Type W.29 floatplane J-BAFI registered to Nihon Koku Yuso Kaisha (Japan Air Transport Research Association) in July 1928. This registration was later re-allocated to a Nihon Hikoki NH-1 Hibari in June 1936. This aircraft is finished overall in aluminium dope with Hinomaru-type roundels on the wings displaying a white plan view of a Hansa.
  • Hansa Type W.29 floatplane Ka-189 of Kasumigaura Ku during the late 1920s in overall alumnium doped finish with Hinomaru in six positions.  
  • Nieuport IV monoplane '3' used as a taxi trainer with clipped wings. National markings on this aircraft consist only of a Hinomaru on the white painted rudder. 
  • Nieuport NG monoplane flown during the Japanese siege of Tsingtao, China, October-November 1914, in clear doped linen finish with Rising Sun insignia on rudder.
This is a brilliant set and the inclusion of the historically important Nieuport NG monoplane with that tricky to paint Rising Sun on the tail is especially welcome. The Imperial Japanese Army Flying Corps detachment at Tsingtao under the command of Lt Col Yoichi Arikawa deployed four Maurice Farman biplanes and a single Nieuport NG 2 monoplane from Lungkou airfield. These aircraft together with the IJN Maurice Farman seaplanes (one Type Ro-Otsu equipped with two-way wireless and three Type Fu) flown during the siege achieved a number of aerial records, including the first use of a seaplane carrier during war (Wakamiya Maru), the first dropping of bombs with fins (converted artillery shells 14lbs up to 45lbs) against ships, the first night bombing (on 28 October 1914) and the first air-to-air combat (disputed by the French). Hotchkiss-type machine guns were fitted to the Maurice Farman and possibly the Nieuport. The Army contingent flew 86 sorties achieving 89 hours of flight time and dropping 44 bombs in 25 sorties. The IJN contingent flew 49 sorties achieving 71 hours of flight time and dropped 199 bombs. The German aviator Lt Gunter Pluschow flying the single Etrich Taube monoplane opposing the Japanese claimed to have shot down one of the Farmans using a 9mm Mauser pistol, possibly killing a Lt Shigematsu.

Recommended kits are HR Model for the Pups and Nieuport 83, A-Model for the Avro 504s and Nieuport monoplanes and MPM or Toko for the Hansa floatplanes. The older Airfix Pup and Avro 504 could also be used.

With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for providing the review sample.      

Image credits: All © 2017 Rising Decals

Monday, 9 October 2017

Stewart Nunn's Tiger-Tailed Dinahmic-Duo in 1/72

Stewart Nunn  has very kindly shared these images of his completed 1/72 Hasegawa 'Tiger Unit' limited edition combo from 2014 featuring the Mitsubishi Ki-46-II and Ki-46-III. The models represent aircraft of Dokuritsu Hiko No.18 Chutai (18 Independent Air Squadron) at different times, the Ki-46-II from 1943 and the Ki-46-III from 1944. The unit served in China from August 1942 until the end of the war.

Stewart built the models straight from the box using only Eduard canopy masks. The Ki-46-II overall paint finish is Sovereign Hobbies Colourcoats ACJ12 Hairyokushoku (grey green). 

The national markings were masked and sprayed with Colourcoats ACJ20 Hinomaru Red, whilst the yellow leading edge IFF strips were ACJ19 - ID Yellow. The kit decals were used for the tail marking and according to Stewart were very nicely produced and worked perfectly.

The Ki-46-III was finished on the upper surfaces with ACJ22 IJA Ohryoku nana go shoku (the late war olive drab colour) and for the under surfaces Stewart mixed that paint with white to approximate the tonal contrast seen in photographs. 

Again the Hinomaru and IFF strips were painted on, with the tiger insignia from the kit decal sheet. Stewart reports that both kits went together really well resulting in a very pleasant build and that he was very happy with the finished result. 

With special thanks to Stewart for sharing these images of his two excellent models of the elegant and aerodynamic Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane (Hyaku Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki - 百式司令部偵察機) known to the men who flew her as 'New Command Recce' (Shin Shi-tei - 新司偵), to the Allies as 'Dinah' ("with the finah linah") and to generations of modellers as the Ki-46. 

Image credits: All model photos © 2017 Stewart Nunn; box art © 2014 Hasegawa Corporation via Hobby Search

Friday, 6 October 2017

1/48 D4Y3 Suisei by Michael Thurow ~ Part 1

Michael Thurow has very kindly contributed this report on his build of the Fine Molds 1/48 Kugisho D4Y3 Suisei 

The Bonsai Dive Bomber
Late-war IJNAF combat aircraft seem to be less popular among enthusiasts than the colourful heroes of the Pearl Harbor attack. The Kugisho (Yokosuka) Suisei, however, is a fascinating subject for many modellers. That might stem from its versatility as bomber, fighter and recce plane, or from the alternative appearances of in-line versus radial engine, or simply from the way it looks when airborne, fast and aggressive, especially with that radial engine.

I was surprised at how diminutive this aircraft is when compared to its precursor, the Aichi D3A. There is a strong contrast in philosophy to US Navy dive bomber development which developed from the fragile Vought SB2U to the monstrous SB2C Helldiver. Even with an internal bomb bay the Suisei is no larger than the SB2U! Folding wings were not needed for handling this little aircraft on carrier elevators. Altogether it is a fine exponent of Japanese WWII aviation technology - compact, beautifully streamlined and pleasant to look at.

A kit with flaws
I first encountered this Fine Molds kit some time in the mid-nineties at my local model shop. The launch of this product has certainly contributed to modellers' interest in the subject. Fine Molds was new to the market and allegedly the top 1/48 brand, a Hasegawa de luxe and very expensive. Attracted by the dramatic monochrome box art, I was curious and paid the unreasonable price.

Twenty years passed before I started the project. It was a good decision to wait because the latest publications and aftermarket accessories, my improved skills and knowledge of the matter enabled me to build a better model.

I had read a number of build reports before I started the kit, and many authors praised it highly. Sorry that I don't agree, guys, but I'm underwhelmed (as my American friends would say) by its particulars. My earlier modelling reports reveal that I like to renovate and upgrade 1/48 models of the 1970s era from Otaki, Fujimi and even Monogram. Therefore I'm not very critical of the raw material - an appealing model can be built from any kit. However in this case I had expected more from such an exclusive and expensive product.

Let's begin with the positive aspects: the overall shape and dimensions seem correct, the plastic is easy to cut and sand, it has a nice surface with fine panel lines and most of the white metal parts add valuable detail. On the other hand the Fine Molds strategy of offering a base kit that allows them to delineate all D4Y variants creates a fundamental problem. Understandable from an economic point of view, it leads to an awkward cut of main components (see picture) which to make matters worse are a poor fit.

I acquired the separate and optional Fine Molds accessory set to further improve the model but felt that at the prohibitive price of the kit it should have been included! Unfortunately the instructions for the set are enigmatic and the bending lines of the photo-etch parts are so thin that they break. There are a few other weak areas that will be highlighted during progress. Finally, criticism aside, I concede that this is a very solid kit for creating a respectable model as I have seen other modellers achieve.

The Samurai command post

The interior consists of the kit plastic parts, the included white-metal parts and the additional photo-etch accessories, some of which replace the plastic. Whilst the rear cockpit detail is quite gratifying the pilot's compartment is more imaginative than accurate, particularly the side consoles which I removed and replaced with pieces from the scrap box. There are some beautiful parts like the telescopic sight, the drift meter and the 7.92 mm Type 1 machine gun, which nonetheless I exchanged for an Eduard Brassin MG 15 because the moulded-on magazine didn't fit under the canopy. Two of the photo-etch parts are also worth mentioning, the rear gun tray and the frame for the cockpit separation window - very realistic and easy to handle.

Less convincing are the seats, from which I scraped away the crude moulded belts), the ring mount for the gun (got deformed when I drilled the holes) and the photo-etched instrument panel and front gun arrangement from which I used only the panel and discarded the rest because it demanded a complicated bending procedure that ended with all the elements breaking apart. The instruments, by the way, are too small but there is not enough space for larger decals. For the canopy I used the respective parts from the Falcon IJNAF set in combination with the original kit transparencies.

Once I was happy with the cockpit I decided to invest some extra time in crafting a crew from the excellent Modelkasten "Rabaul Zero Fighter" aircrew figures.

Pimping the powerplant
The D4Y3 was equipped with a Mitsubishi Kinsei 62 14-cylinder radial. I replaced the kit's one-piece engine block with a Vector Kinsei model which has more depth. Oil cooler and supercharger air ducts were cut open, and the oil cooler inlet enhanced with a piece of mesh. A firewall was needed to fix the new engine. I also produced open cooling flaps with internal actuators. Fine Molds could have done a better job representing the exhausts which are too small. I enhanced them with jackets of thin paper which also gave them hollow nozzles thus avoiding difficult drilling.

In parallel I had completed the propeller. As I couldn't attach it at this stage I overlooked a problem that haunted me when the model was all but finished. Not only are the holes for the prop blades too wide, the spinner with back plate is a little longer overall than the original. That doesn't sound too dramatic but can destroy the good looks of the nose profile. I'll come back to this later.

After joining the fuselage halves I connected the front section which by exception fitted perfectly. (Some other builders seem to have had problems there). My happiness didn't last long, however, because fixing the separate oil cooler took one hour of cutting, filling and sanding. Even worse was the process of matching the rear fuselage underside which is molded as an extra part to alternate it with the booster rockets for the D4Y4 model. Thank you Fine Molds for having me spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with putty and sanding paper!

To get to this point had required more effort and attention than I had expected but the harder the task the more fun we modellers have, right? My adventure will continue with the second part of the Suisei story. In the meantime a glimpse into the future to show that we do eventually arrive!

Additional items used for this model
Eduard Brassin 648085 MG 15 gun
Falcon No.33 IJNAF Clear-Vax set
Fine Molds AC47 IJN Pitot Tube Set
Fine Molds HD48-02 accessory set
Modelkasten F-5 2300 JNAF 'Rabaul Zero Fighter' aircrew box
Revi 48002 Japanese 'Schrägemusik' Fighter decals
Drop tanks from Tamiya 61084 Nakajima Night Fighter Gekko Type 11 Early Production
True Details 48035 Raiden wheels
Vector 48-017 MK4 Kinsei engine

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Alexander Sibirev's 1/144 G10N Fugaku

Alexander Sibirev's splendid and impressive build of the Fujimi 1/144 Nakajima G10N Fugaku (Mount Fuji) kit, photographed by Pavel Bruk, has been kindly shared with Aviation of Japan via Dmitry Korolkov. Thanks to all of them for this visual feast but those with an aversion to "what if" splendour should look away now or hide behind the sofa.  

The model is painted and finished to represent an aircraft of 752 Kokutai at Kanoya airfield in 1945, using acrylic paints from the Vallejo Model Air standard range:-

Top surfaces - 71.022 Camouflage Green
Bottom surfaces - 71.050 Light Grey             
Propellers - 71.080 Rust                      
Undercarriage - 71.063 Silver                       

The clear parts were improved with a coating of Future. The size of the model - and projected aircraft - is indicated by the 1/144 I-16 model in the image above. The kit is larger than some 1/72 bombers.

Fujimi's model appears to be based on a Shorzoe Abe illustration (above) reproduced in Richard  M Bueschel's seminal 1959 series of articles on Japanese Navy Aircraft 1940-45, which credited an impressive list of Japanese contributors, including those from the wartime aviation industries and services. The aircraft was described as being based on a Nakajima private venture for a joint Army-Navy "Project Z" long range bomber. According to the article the design was extensively tested in wind tunnels and accepted for production, with scale model testing completed and production jigs under construction when the war ended.

With special thanks to Alexander, Pavel and Dmitry for these images of the model. 

Image credits: Model photos © 2017 Alexander Sibirev and Pavel Bruk; Monochrome illustration © 1959 Shorzoe Abe via Richard M Bueschel and Rolls House Publishing Co.Ltd.: Box art © 2014 Fujimi Mokei Co., Ltd.; 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

David Walker's 1/48 Hayate

David Walker has very kindly shared these images of his splendid 1/48 Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate 'Frank' model, made from the Hasegawa kit with some additional details and modifications.  David wanted to find an unconventional scheme and after searching online chose a subject featured on SuperScale Decal Sheet 48-526 for an aircraft attributed to the HQ Flight of 47 Hiko Sentai at Narimasu airfield, north-east of Tokyo, Japan during early 1945. SuperScale presented an unusual mottled scheme with explicit colour call-outs of dark green blotches over grey-green which David followed directly, changing only the under surface colour to a medium grey.  

David used the basic Hasegawa kit JT 67 (09067) but added 2 colour photo-etch and flap details from Eduard sets and a Fukuya brass pitot tube. He found the Eduard pilot seat a great improvement on the kit part K5 and found that it folded easily into place. He also followed his usual practice of replacing the kit engine - part B1 - with a Vector resin replacement, in this case the Homare Ha 45. This was not a perfect fit and required some minor alterations to the cowling but David felt it well worth it in improving the appearance of the model.  

David also wanted to replace the cannon parts N8 with brass items but was unable to find anything suitable so settled for drilling out the barrels of the kit parts. He also drilled out the kit's stub exhausts and both air scoops in the upper cowling part B6. The upper surface base colour was painted with a mix of FS 34432 and 34082 with an over spray of dark green blotches according to the SuperScale instructions, then some light wear and tear was represented with a silver pencil. After completing the model David displayed it on a landscaped base.  

David highly recommends the Hasegawa model to anyone but advises reinforcing the landing gear during the build as the poly caps are a "menace"! With special thanks to David for sharing the images and description of his model with Aviation of Japan.

Hiko No.47 Sentai

In February 1945 47 Hiko Sentai were in the process of re-equipping with Hayate from Shoki as part of the 10th Air Division at Narimasu  which was staffed by the 43rd Airfield Battalion. Their use of Hayate in the air defence role against the B-29 was brief. After the US carrier attack on the 16th of that month they were immediately exempted from further air defence duties together with 244 Hiko Sentai and re-assigned under direct 6th Air Army command to escort a planned bomber attack against the enemy task force the next day. The bomber attack was cancelled but the urgent re-assignment had the effect of removing two fighter regiments from the 10th Air Division defence capability when USN fighter sweeps came in again on the 17th. In April 1945 the 47th were transferred to become part of the 30th Fighter Group together with 244 Hiko Sentai and 17 Independent Air Squadron. The 30th Fighter Group came directly under the General Defence Command as part of the Mobile Air Defence Forces with responsibility for escorting Special Attack units (18, 19, 25, 45 and 47 Shimbu Tai) tasked with annihilating enemy carrier task forces threatening the Kanto area. The unit was then moved to Sano airfield, south-west of Osaka. At the end of May it was moved further south to Miyakonojo west airfield on Kyushu to participate in the escort role for the Okinawa campaign, suffering such attrition that by mid-July when it was incorporated into the newly formed 12th Air Division it was officially described as "newly organised" and under strength. The unit ended the war at Ozuki under 12th Air Division command with about 23 Hayate on strength. 

The 47th are one of the Army fighter units with 'moving' unit insignia colours with differing assertions of colour sequence and interpretation over the years. In his 1978 Koku Fan series Minoru Akimoto recorded the colour sequence in January 1944 when the unit was re-organised into Hikotai composition as blue for 1st (Asahi), red for 2nd (Fuji) and yellow for 3rd (Sakura), the same sequence recorded in the table in 'The Japanese Army Wings of the Second World War' (Bunrin-Do, 1972) and also as described in the more recent 2005 Gakken book on Hayate. However 'Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and their Aces 1931-1945' (Grub Street, 2002) shows a more conventional sequence of white, red and yellow for the three Hayate Chutai. There is the possibility that the colour sequence was changed when the unit re-equipped from the natural metal finish Ki-44 to the camouflaged Ki-84 but with photographs identifying the aircraft of Chutai/Hikotai leaders showing tonally unexpected insignia colours mystery abounds!   

Image credits: All © 2017 David Walker

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Revell's Classic Toryu Part Two

Examples of the first release of the classic Revell Toryu kit H-104 are copyright dated in the instructions for 1972 and 1973. Burns* lists it as being first released by Revell Japan (marketed then by the paint manufacturer Gunze Sangyo) in 1972 and it was reviewed in the October 1972 issue of Scale Models magazine. In the UK it was marketed in a rather flimsy top-opening box with art by Kihachiro Ueda as shown above. The Revell kit stood the test of time as the only game in town for a 1/72 model of the Ki-45 for over 20 years until the release of the new mould Hasegawa family of Toryu kits in 1995 Although production and retail availability ceased at some point in the early 1980s, reportedly as a result of the mould being lost at sea, the kit has been fairly easy to obtain on the second hand market and is not considered to be particularly rare. The first release Revell kit, moulded in silver plastic, represents an early production Ki-45 Kai Tei with oblique armament, incorrectly identified in the instructions as a "Ki-45 KAIc" (Hei). The modest decal sheet provided markings for just one aircraft subject, ‘25’ of 3 Hikotai, 53 Hiko Sentai as depicted on the box art, and possibly represents the aircraft flown by the Hikotai Leader, Capt. Masayoshi Fujimori. This particular aircraft had featured as a fold-out colour profile by Kikuo Hashimoto in the December 1968 issue of the  Koku Fan magazine (and was reproduced again on the early blue cover FAOW No.26 of June 1972) which also included three photographs of the aircraft on the ground and in flight.

The kit contains alternative parts to build an approximation of the KAI Hei as produced by the First Army Air Arsenal, identified in the instructions as the "Army fighter version of the Toryu". The extra parts (shown above) consist of a representation of the Ho-203 machine cannon complete with solid ammunition drum, the two cannon mounting ‘Y’ frames, the bulkhead behind the weapon, a transparent fairing to replace the dorsal oblique fitting and a new nose cone. To make this version the existing nose had to be cut from the standard fuselage halves along moulded lines and the additional parts fitted to the new bulkhead. It was presumably intended that the nose cone could be left off to display the Ho-203, but the instructions are not very clear about that. To represent a late-production Hei the original nose can be left as is, the dorsal oblique armament omitted and the transparent fairing without apertures fitted. Two detail errors to catch the unwary were the painting schematic (shown below) suggesting silver as the main airframe colour (!) and the lack of a muzzle opening for the 37mm Ho-203 in the standard production nose.

 RAF Flying Review August 1962

The subject of the Revell kit featured in the colour artwork shown above and created by artist Peter Endsleigh Castle (1918-2008) for an article on the type in the August 1962  issue of RAF Flying Review - 'Dragon Killer - Japan's first twin-engined fighter scored many "kills"'.  This was the second time the Ki-45 had been featured in the magazine as it had earlier appeared in 'Kawasaki's Dragon Killer - Japan's Toryu long-range fighter held some surprises for the Allies' in the December 1959 issue as No.64 in the 'These Were The Enemy' series. Although the upper wing camouflage pattern in the illustration was somewhat fanciful and there was the usual contextual confusion over the designations and armament of the variants the narrative treatment of the type was typical for that magazine, being technically interested and enthused about the subject matter, objective and entirely without national bias. Aircraft '25' of 53 Hiko Sentai was a popular subject as it appeared again in a five-view colour illustration by artist James Goulding (1923-2010) in Profile Publications No.105 (shown below - sadly undated). From those illustrations it is easy to see how an impression of a natural metal finish could arise.

Profile Publications No. 105 (undated)

Revell model as reviewed in Scale Models Oct 1972, painted with Humbrol Authentics

The Scale Models (UK) magazine review in 1972 referred to a decal sheet with additional markings for 45 (sic) and 5 Hiko Sentai, subjects which are included in the 1974 dated kit and 1980 Revell-Takara kits described below. It also refers to the instructions being in Japanese language only. That suggests that the kit was perhaps available in Japan from 1972 in a different format - but any additional information about kit release dates and formats is welcome! 

The Scale Models review is reproduced above in its entirety in (hopefully) readable format for its historic and contextual interest - but don't accept the colour, variant or unit data as gospel! In the UK 'Battledec' released a decal sheet No.54 for the Revell kit (the incomplete example shown below was found in a second hand kit) with optional unit markings referencing Donald W Thorpe's 'Japanese Army Air Force Camouflage & Markings WWII' which had been published in 1968. 

1974 Box Art

An original (or second?) release of the kit, an example examined copyright dated 1974, is presented in a more robust and glossy box, typical of the Revell kits marketed in Japan, with different box art by Kihachiro Ueda depicting aircraft '62' of 2 Hikotai, 53 Hiko Sentai with striking red nose flash (shown above). All examples of this release seen have the instruction sheets printed exclusively in Japanese language throughout but if anyone has an example with a different copyright date and/or instructions in English please send in scans, thanks. The kit itself is identical, moulded in silver plastic, but includes a more comprehensive decal sheet offering markings for three mottled aircraft, one of them a late production Tei air-to-air rammer, aircraft '40' of 53 Hiko Sentai with a large representation of a Karimata arrow painted on the fuselage side. This has frequently been described as a Kaburaya or signal arrow but in fact represents the bifurcated or twin pointed arrow used for hunting big game as well as in war so the connotations for the twin-engined Toryu striking a B-29 are evident. Karimata arrows often had a whistling or shrieking bulb attached to them behind the tip as shown on the 53rd's marking but were not the 'turnip head' signal arrows per se. 

1974 Decal Subjects

The third decal option is for a First Army Air Arsenal Hei of 2 Chutai, 4 Hiko Sentai (misidentified as 45 Hiko Sentai), providing a subject for the kit's alternative parts for that variant. All three subjects are described as being overall light grey white colour with deep green colour blotches on the upper surfaces.The instructions show the modifications needed for the individual exhaust outlets and the faired in rear canopy of this aircraft with the drawings and markings profiles (shown above) created by Kikuo Hashimoto, well known for his plans and profile artwork in the Koku Fan magazine and early FAOW series of books by Bunrin-do.

1980 Box Art

The final release of the Toryu kit that I'm aware of was marketed by Revell-Takara and is copyright dated 1980. The box art (shown above) is a lovely painting of a pair of 5 Hiko Sentai Toryu against a dramatic cloudscape with an early production Hei in the foreground. The artist is unidentified but the work is suggestive of early Shigeo Koike, especially the unusual background colouring.  Examples of this kit are moulded in a very dark green plastic. The decal sheet offers no less than seven subjects, including two early production Hei incorrectly identified as Otsu (the box art subject and a mottled aircraft attributed to 25 Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai with the 'winged eight' insignia*), four early production Tei all with oblique armament and incorrectly identified as Hei (aircraft '59' of 53 Hiko Sentai in overall dark green, an aircraft of 1 Chutai, 27 Hiko Sentai in overall dark red-brown, the well-known partially paint-stripped harlequin Toryu of 5 Hiko Sentai and a mottled 5 Hiko Sentai example from New Guinea with the individual aircraft name Mount Haku on the rudder) and lastly a late production Tei air-to-air rammer of 53 Hiko Sentai, aircraft '99' with Karimata arrow marking. As the instruction sheet schematic below shows the colouring of the 5 Hiko Sentai partially stripped aircraft is ambiguous, with the upper surfaces described as シルバー shirubaa (silver) and the under surface as フラットブラック furattoburakku (flat black), although depicted with a partially natural metal belly. The rudder is described as レッド reddo (red) and the spinners as レッドブラウン  reddoburaun (red brown). Whilst that is a colourful interpretation it is probable that all the unstripped, painted parts of this aircraft simply remained in the factory applied olive drab. More on Toryu colours in due course. . .

1980 Decal Subjects

The Revell Toryu is a classic 1/72 kit, excellent and cutting edge when first released and still, in my opinion, worth building and enjoying for its own sake, as Carlo Reita has so ably demonstrated.

* The 'winged eight' insignia was attributed to 25 DHC by Minoru Akimoto in his series of articles on Japanese Army Air Force Unit Insignia which appeared in Koku Fan magazine. More recently, for example in the latest FAOW on the type, a different insignia for this unit has been presented, consisting of a stylised '2' and '5' combined as a white 'flash' adorned with a yellow arrow. This unit was first recorded in September 1943 as a 'composite twin-seat Fighter Squadron' attached to the 15th Air Brigade Headquarters for the air defence of Anshan in Manchuria but was subsequently activated as the 25th Independent Air Squadron in August 1944. Assertions in various publications that it was first equipped with Ki-44 fighters appear to be in error and probably the result of confusion over the  'Type 2' fighter designation.  By the end of 1944 it was based at Liaoyang and at the end of the war was reported to have 25 combat serviceable Toryu on strength. It was active during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria being involved in attacks against enemy transport columns and troop concentrations at Linhsi on 12 and 14 August and at Taonan on 15 August when it sortied nine aircraft.  

Image credits:- All box art and instructions © 1973 Revell; © 1974 Revell Japan; © 1980 Revell Takara; P Endsleigh Castle profile art © 1962 Royal Air Force Review Ltd; James Goulding artwork © date unknown Profile Publications Ltd; Scale Models magazine cover illustration and review article © 1972 Model & Allied Publications Ltd.