Saturday 30 June 2018

Moson Model Show ~ Japanese Subjects

Correspondent and contributor Marion Holly from USA has very kindly shared this report and his photographs of Japanese aircraft models displayed at the Moson Model Show held in April at Mosonmagyarovar in Hungary. In his own words then. . .

"The Moson Model Show (MMS) began 20 years ago as a scale model contest organized by the local club in the small Hungarian town of Mosonmagyarovar. Over time it has developed into one of the largest European scale modeling events. This year it was held during the weekend of April 20th through 22nd. 

"There were 2315 models entered in 66 contest categories (1749 models in 2017) by 881 modelers from 35 countries. I’ve always wanted to attend this show. Mosonmagyarovar is only 16 km from the border of my native Slovakia, but in 1996 I had settled in the USA so attending the show became slightly more “challenging”. 

"This year, about 3 weeks before the show I asked myself why wait any longer? It seemed a bit crazy to fly over the pond just for a weekend and the availability of flights was also of concern. But it all worked out and on the Friday morning of April 20th I landed in Vienna.

"Fast forward. It was all just amazing - beautiful summer weather, friendly, English-speaking town folks, peaceful spa town environment, great food, beer. And models of course. I’ve attended several big shows in the US, including Nationals, and abroad (UK, Mexico, Czech Republic) but the quality of the entries seen here was the best so far. As just one example of this, admiring some stunning detail work I accidentally discovered that I was in the junior section! 

"Having been interested in Japanese aviation all my modeling “career” I naturally focused on Japanese subjects and wanted to share pictures of them. There were not too many (relative to the total number of models on display), type selection was not too wide, whilst quality and presentation varied. 

"Artur Domanski’s 1/32 A6M3 Zero (posted at this blog on April 20th) was really nice. I just don’t think that a Zero with cowling removed looks that good. Also I’d debate the camouflage representation - field applied green flaking off as opposed to hasty overspray (in my opinion). 

"The weathering fad is alive and well with Japanese aircraft on top of the list with totally off colour shades and paint chipping to death, for example the 1/48 Seiran and Kyofu dioramas. 

"In two days of intense viewing I was only able to find one JASDF model, the F-104J (but lovely -ed.)! Lack of interest in this “theme” surprises me and I’m planning to return to it soon on this blog (Good! - ed). 

"Do visit the MMS website to see pictures of all the other models. My personal favourites are the 1/72 SM-79 Sparviero from the Italeri kit and a P2V-7 Neptune from the Hasegawa kit - just amazing detail work and finish."  

There appear to be approximately double the number of IJN subjects to IJA subjects. Most subjects being of well-known types except for the Army Type Otsu 1. With special thanks to Mario for sharing these photographs and his report from the show.

Image credits: All photos © 2018 Marion Holly


Tuesday 26 June 2018

Colour Considerations ~ 9-shi Single-Seat Fighter (Mitsubishi Ka-14)

Some considerations pursuant to several queries about the colour of the Mitsubishi Ka-14 - 9-shi experimental single seat fighter (九試作単座戦闘機). Hitherto commonly depicted as natural metal (as in the first Fine Molds 'magazine issue' kit released with Model Graphix Issue # 350 in January 2014) but recently revised to become grey-green. Jiro Horikoshi described the Ka-14 prototype as being painted 'ash green' (grey-green):-

" . . . the skin had a quilted appearance caused by the unskillful application of the flush rivets. These dimples were especially noticeable in contrast to the rest of the shiny alumin surface. We solved the problem by filling the depressions with putty and painting the airframe with a thick coat of Navy specification ash green paint. Then the airframe was polished." *

Photographs of the aircraft do suggest a smooth finish but are somewhat ambiguous as to its very light looking colour. Japanese aviation researcher Mr Fumio Komine suggests from Mitsubishi records that the first and second machines were treated with polishing powder (磨き粉) to smooth the surface and then probably finished with grey-green paint, perhaps to J3 standard or similar (see discussion below). The original prototype had a black or blue-black painted cowling whereas the improved type had the new cowling painted in the airframe colour. Both had red painted tails. The tailfin fillet in the revised Fine Molds kit appears larger than in some representations depicting a much shallower and more subtle addition.

 Note dark painted wingtips

These details give rise to a number of questions. If at that time (1935) there existed an IJN specification ash green paint then why were subsequent production A5M delivered in natural metal finish? Up to about that time IJN biplane fighters (A2N) were reportedly finished in aluminium dope or camouflaged and most photographic images bear that out. However, a photograph** of a Saeki Ku A3N1 サヘ-191 (SaHe-191), manufactured by Nakajima in May 1936 is ambiguous. The wing, strut mounting and aileron connection rod of the aircraft in the foreground do not appear to be painted aluminium but rather in a pale, glossy paint and dope. With that in mind the two aircraft flying alongside could easily be envisaged to be finished in the same colour, a light non-metallic paint or dope rather than aluminium dope.

The first iteration of the IJN Provisional Standard (仮規格 - Kari Kikaku - abbr. Kariki) 117 for aircraft paint colours was dated 26 November 1938, three years after the Ka-14 was painted, which makes Horikoshi's reference to an 'IJN specification' paint puzzling. The most well known and publicised version of this document is the Air HQ (航空本部 Kôkû Honbu - abbr. KuHon) # 2943 Revision of 10 April 1942. It is possible that the IJN was already experimenting with or trialling grey paints before 1938 but the Army had standardised its own # 1 Hairyokushoku colour in 1922 with a revision in its application method from 1936 for aircraft such as the Ki-15. That is just after the testing of the Ka-14, but Mitsubishi were already applying paint to Army aircraft such as the Type 92 Reconnaissance aircraft (Mitsubishi 2MR8), presumably to the Army's # 1 specification, but again appearing very pale and 'bright' in photographs.  

Many Japanese reference sources and kits refer to the IJN paint colour as mei-kaishoku, mei-kai hakushoku or mei-hai-hakusho meaning light ash or light ash-white and one researcher*** has suggested that the colour was "IJA J1". It is unclear whether that was intended to mean the Army # 1 colour hairyokushoku (ash green colour) or the IJN Kariki 117 'J1' which was in a series simply called ash colour. The conflation of Army and Navy colours is long standing and even today some kit instructions suggest the Army # 1 colour for painting the A6M2. The colour J1 seems far too dark for the description light ash white, at least as it appears now, being similar to Munsell N4 (close to FS 26132) with a slight greenish undertone. The Kariki 117 J3 is close to FS 36307 in appearance.

 IJN J3 vs Army # 1

The Army colour seems much lighter and brighter on examples of the same vintage as the Ka-14, for example the experimental Ki-18 fighter (completed by Mitsubishi for the Army in August 1935), than on later Pacific War era aircraft. The Army Kôkaku 39 colour standard for # 1 is approximate to FS 26496 but a little darker, more greenish and saturated. It is also a little darker and more greenish than RAL 7032 Kieselgrau (Pebble grey). Confusion over this colour is also long standing as it has often been described on aircraft as blueish or blue-grey as well as greenish-grey. Those well-known colour photographic images of Toryu can easily be visualised as showing a blueish-grey but when the colour is closely analysed it proves to be close to the standard for # 1. Likewise the A6M has often been described and depicted as a distinctly light blue-grey colour.

FS 26496 

FS 26496 is a Munsell GY - Green Yellow and designated as Green Gray. Official pigments are Rutile Titanium Dioxide (white), Phthalocyanine Blue (Red Shade), Natural Raw Umber and Phthalocyanine Green (Yellow Shade). 

FS 36307

Interestingly the chip of this colour in a 1989 FS 565B fan deck now appears a slightly more blueish or neutral grey whereas the current appearance of the colour, now called Bulkhead Gray, is a definite Munsell GY - Green Yellow - a grey with a greenish-brown undertone. I have verified the colour values of FS 36307 across a number of sources, including the CIELAB D65/10 L*a*b* values reported in Aerospace Material Specification AMS-STD-595 of 02/17 and the spectrophotometer based colour measurements reported in Technical Report ARWSE-TR-17001 of the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Center of 10/17, all of which are consistent with the Munsell GY value. The official colour pigments for FS 36307 are Rutile Titanium Oxide (white), Phthalocyanine Green (Blue Shade), Natural Raw Umber and Carbon Black (Blue Shade). There is an odd optical effect at work here because when that old 1989 chip is visually compared to Methuen colours it still compares to the green rather than blue range of greys on the 1-2 scale. It has a very low and subtle colour saturation between blue and green.  

J3 and # 1 

The proximity of J3 and # 1 is borne out by the fact that when the Army and Navy colour standards were reconciled in the Aircraft Manufacturers 8609 document of February 1945 colour # 2-6 became the direct successor colour to J3 and was deemed similar to # 1. A swatch of 2-6 examined in 1975 was compared to Munsell 5 GY 6/1 and FS 36307. The closest FS value to 5 GY 6/1 is FS 16307 @ 2.07 (where < 2.0 = a close match). FS 16307 measures as Munsell 4 GY 6/0.8. 
* Eagles of Mitsubishi - The Story of the Zero Fighter' by Jiro Horikoshi (Orbis Publishing, 1982), p.21-22
** The Imperial Japanese Navy Fighter Group Photograph Collection (Kaiga Co. 2011), p.25
*** Out of Ameiro Cloud Into Hai-ryokushoku Sky by Yoshihito Kurosu (    

Image Credits: Ka-14 box art © 2018 Fine Molds Corp.; Ka-14 photos via web; Colour chips © 2018 Aviation of Japan

Monday 25 June 2018

Dead Design's Ki-61-1 Tei Aftermarket Accessories

One of the odd aspects of the otherwise excellent Tamiya 1/72 Ki-61-1 Tei kit is that it lacks the wing racks and drop tanks commonly seen on the type and associated with many of the popular modelling subjects. That was a strange and regressive ommission but Jan Hajicek of Dead Design Models has come to the rescue with a set of resin drop tanks and racks, as well as a set of resin control surfaces and a vacform canopy with mask to pep up your Tamiya Tony model and save you raiding other kits. The drop tank set RM72001 contains 2 wing racks and 2 external drop tanks (Type II Wooden). The set retails for €5.81 (about £5.11).

The set of resin flight control surfaces RM 72002 consists of separate ailerons, horizontal and vertical stabilizers including aerodynamic hinge covers, and also retails for €5.81.

The canopy set RM72003 consists of a crystal clear and sharply molded vacform canopy in three sections together with masks for the canopy but also masks for  the landing light cover and wheel hubs. This set retails for €5.42 (about £4.76).

With thanks to Jan of Dead Design Models for alerting me to the availability of these aftermarket sets for the Tamiya 1/72 Ki-61-I Tei kit.

Sunday 10 June 2018

Art McNitt's Ki-27 in 1/32 Scale

Art McNitt and Ken Glass have kindly shared these images of Art's lovely Ki-27 model made from the 1/32 scale Special Hobby kit and expertly photographed by Ken. When finished in the overall grey-green colour the Special Hobby model shows off the lovely lines of the Ki-27 very well and has great 'presence'.

Art, like Ken, has been modelling since the 1950s, with his main focus on military modelling. He retired recently from SRP after a long career in that operation's production facility. His late father was on the St Lo when it was sunk by a kamikaze in the Surigao Strait off Leyte in the Philippines on 25 October 1944. The St Lo, an escort carrier (CVE 63), was part of 'Taffy 3' in Task Force 77.4 under Rear Admiral Clifton A F Sprague. A bomb-laden Zero from the Shikishima unit, one of five under the command of Lt Yukio Seki, crashed into the St Lo's flight deck at 1052 hrs and its bomb set off the torpedo and bomb magazine. The crew began abandoning the St Lo at 1104 hrs and the carrier sank at 1121 hrs with the loss of 114 of her crew and many wounded. The Shikishima unit, composed of volunteers from 201 Ku, was one of four groups making up the 1st Shimpu Special Attack Corps at Mabalcat, the others being the Asahi, Yamato and Yamazakura Units.

Art's model represents the Ki-27 Ko  c/n 91 flown with the sliding portion of the canopy removed by Sgt Maj Isamu Kashiide in the 2nd Chutai of Hiko Dai 59 Sentai during the fighting at Nomonhan in September 1939. The rudder displays the katakana character 'ka'. The 59th arrived late to the Nomonhan campaign and Kashiide claimed only two victories on 15 September, the last day of fighting. He subsequently graduated from the Army Air Academy with the rank of Lieutenant  and went on to become a noted ace against the B-29 during the air defence of Japan, claiming seven of the bombers shot down whilst flying the Ki-45 Toryu with Hiko 4 Dai Sentai. According to early references the red lightning flash represented the 1st Chutai of the unit with the 2nd Chutai using black or blue-black and the Sentai Hombu using green for the insignia, but recent kits, including Hasegawa and Special Hobby, have depicted it as red.

The 59th was formed under Lt Col Issaku Imagawa with two Chutai at Kagamigahara in July 1938 from the 1st Hiko Rentai with the Ki-27 or Type 97 fighter* (Kyu-Nana Shiki Sentoh-ki - 九七式戦闘機, abbreviated as Kyu-Nana-sen - 九七戦) as original equipment and was only increased to three Chutai strength in September 1942. The 15 September 1939 engagement was its only battle honour for Nomonhan in which it claimed 11 enemy aircraft shot down for the loss of six pilots from the 1st Chutai, including the Chutai leader Capt Mitsugo Yamamoto, when it was 'bounced' by fresh Soviet fighters as they pursued the survivors from the first encounter. Three other 59th pilots who also claimed two victories each went on to distinguish themselves as aces - Yasuhiko Kuroe with 30 victories, Katsutaro Takashi with 13 and Takeomi Hayashi with nine. The unit was one of the first to re-equip with the Ki-43 in 1941 and is well known for reportedly displaying the prominent lightning flash insignia on the natural metal fuselage of that aircraft. By the time of the Pacific War its camouflaged Oscars were displaying less ostentatious unit insignia of a single diagonal band in Chutai colour on the fin and rudder with similar spanwise bands on the upper surfaces of each tailplane, a form of marking which continued to be used by this unit until the end of the war. 

Art used Testors ModelMaster IJA Grey-Green for the overall finish with dirty thinner applied to the panel lines and some silver paint to represent chipping. The prop and engine face are crisply molded and look good on the finished model, enhanced by photo-etched framing supports inside the cowling. Exhaust stacks are appropriately deep as molded. The kit decals were used which were thin and settled down well into the very fine recessed panel lines, with many tiny stencils on the airframe. The open cockpit showcases interior details. Art applied a pre-painted photo-etched seat belt to the seat pan and did a good job mixing a representation of IJA # 3 grey-indigo colour for the cockpit interior.  Ken first photographed this model in 2014 but these images were taken recently, luckily he thought as Art usually gifts his completed models to his grandchildren.

With special thanks and very best wishes to Art, and special thanks to Ken for sharing these images. Art is going through a rough time at the moment but is steadfastly and admirably determined to continue his modelling in the face of it. Aviation of Japan is pleased and privileged to be able to share his enthusiasm and expertise. 

* In the Japanese Army the protocol was to articulate the type designation as 'nine-seven' rather than 'ninety-seven', and for all other Types.

Image credits:- All model photos © 2018 Art McNitt & Ken Glass via Ken Glass; Special Hobby box art © 2010 Special Hobby s.r.o.