Monday 14 May 2018

Jim Anderson's 1/72 RS Models 'Norm'

Through the good offices of Aviation of Japan's Texas correspondent Mark Smith, fellow Texas modeler Jim Anderson has very kindly shared images and his build notes for this splendid model made from the RS Models Kawanishi E15K1 'Shiun' kit  # 92075 from 2010 in 1/72 scale:-

Building RS Models E15K1 Shiun in 1/72 Scale
by Jim Anderson

"RS Models are short run injection plastic models of lesser known aircraft types.  This kit was started in early August 2015 and was completed in two months.  It was the first RS Models kit that I’ve built and is easily the best offering to date of this unusual and complex seaplane which was code named “Norm” by the Allies during WW2.  RS Models also offers the later production version of the Norm as a separate kit (# 92076).  

The 'Shiun' (紫雲 - Violet Cloud; Ed.: "the purple clouds on which Amida Buddha rides to welcome the spirits of the dead") was built by Kawanishi Kokuki K. K. and was large for a single engine floatplane with a wingspan of 46 feet and a length of just over 38 feet.  

Only 15 of the type were produced including prototypes and the project was terminated during 1944 due to recurring problems with the contra-rotating propellers and pair of troublesome retractable/inflatable outrigger floats.  All these lead to difficulties in handling, performance and maintenance.  Six aircraft were sent to Palau island in the combat theatre but all were shot down by Allied fighters.  One, or possibly two, aircraft were assigned to the IJN light cruiser Ôyodo for evaluation but I don't know their fate.

The box art depicts an illustration of the orange prototype.  The reverse side shows two colour schemes and their respective markings.  Decals were provided for both versions and went on well.  The orange version is the first Kawanishi prototype circa 1942 and the second version, which I chose, is from the Kawanishi Air Technical Arsenal circa 1943 and depicts an attractive overall light gray machine with a black cowling. (Ed.: Good choice as the prototype was probably painted alumnium rather than orange!

There were about 35 injected molded parts in the kit including a decent clear one piece injection canopy and a beaching trolley.  Parts were crisp with adequate detail overall and a good fit.  I don’t recall there being any photo etch parts.  Recessed panel lines, nice ailerons and control surfaces with well executed taper and thinness on all of the trailing edges of the wings and rudder were first class.  Although not as high quality as the more mainstream manufactures, the RS Models kit is well within the capability of the average modeler.  

I chose to make two modifications to the kit during the build.  As I recall, the first was to add a 3/32” brass shaft to replace the plastic shaft for the propeller assembly.  I wanted to try and make the propellers counter rotate as on the real aircraft.  I had hoped that they would spin in different directions with a puff of wind and look really Neat-O! Didn’t work!  But they can still be positioned easily with a touch.  

The other modification was to remove the excess plastic from the interior side of the engine cowling where the engraved cooling flaps were located.  I used a Dremel tool with a cone sander followed by some sandpaper to achieve a scale thinness.  Each flap was then in turn cut from one another with a razor saw being sure to leave each one attached to the cowling base.  When this was finished, I used needle-nosed pliers with masking tape added to the tips in order to slightly bend each flap outwards.  It’s the nose of this beast with its big spinner and large cowling that gives it a distinctive and powerful look. 

I also added a piece of lead about 1” long by 1/4" wide to the forward interior of the main float when it was glued together having a concern that it would be too tail heavy even for the trolley.  The kit supplied just the basic outline of the area where the outrigger pontoons were stowed in flight with a shallow rectangular shaped opening void of detail.  I added a few pieces of bracing and a round access hatch made of plastic.  There were a couple of photo etch vents from the spares box that made their way into the construction and it was then painted. The rest of the build followed the instructions.

For painting, I take notes on what colours I use and mixing ratios.  Enamels are my standard choice of paint, but I will occasionally use an acrylic or two.  The interior color is 75% Floquil RR44 Depot Olive and 25% Floquil RR87 Depot Buff.  This color was also used under the wing  where the outrigger pontoons fold back into their recess.  The spinner is Testors 1/4 oz. bottle of Gloss Brown #1140 with a few drops of white and yellow added to the color cup.  

The beaching trolley was AeroMaster RLM 81 Braunviolett #9028.  Overall color was a 50/50 mix of AeroMaster RLM 02 Grau #9020 with Pactra Gray 1I34 from their Authentic International Colors Italian AF set from way back in the 1970s (it basically looks like US Gull Gray).  A few drops of lacquer thinner were added to this paint as it was a little thick in the bottle.  The cowling was Testors Gloss Black with about 20% Humbrol HU15 (a medium purplish blue) added to the black portion. 

After painting the model and sealing it with Future floor care, each outrigger pontoon received a rough brushing of thinned Model Masters US Army Helo Drab FS 34031 on their upper surfaces to replicate the collapsible material they were made of.  I like to build seaplanes during the hot months here as a form of mental projection allowing me to visualize something cooler than the beat down of the 100 degree plus heat of a Texas summer.  I call these builds “Seaplane Summer”; and let’s just face it, seaplanes are already cool by themselves!" 

 Norm's size makes an interesting comparison with Jim's equally splendid Rufe

Cool indeed - and inspiring! With a very special thank you to Jim for sharing all this delight and to Mark for facilitating it.  More please!

Image credits: All model pics © 2018 Jim Anderson; Box art © 2010 RS Models; E15K1 photo via Wiki


Anonymous said...


I'd seen the model, but just saw the kit on the sprues this weekend. It made me appreciate the job done here even more. True, it's better than the old Aoshima kit from decades ago, but these take lots of care. I like the touch with the cowl flaps, and want to try the same on a current project. Thanks Nick, another great posting.

Michael Thurow said...

Fantastic model, very neatly and accurately built! For 1/72 it even performs well in the close-up pictures. I like Jim's idea of seasonal modeling. So, what for winter - multi-engined bombers?
I just have a few doubts regarding the authenticity of the RS colour instructions, namely the brownish prop spinner in combination with grey camouflage and the grey instead of silver float undersides. What would Nick's expertise tell us?
Thanks to all of you for showing this fine model.

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

A photo of this aircraft does reveal a dark spinner but it is possibly the same colour as the cowling. The wing leading edge IFF strips which also appear dark in the same photo might have been red as the Naval General Staff Order No.162 of 21 August 1942 issued by Admiral Osami Nagano allowed for the wing recognition markings to be red or yellow for uncamouflaged machines.


Ken Glass said...

Very good work, Jim. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ken Glass