Thursday 27 December 2018

Tamiya 1/48 Ki-61-1 Tei Hien by Miroslav Koukal

Miroslav Koukal of the Czech Republic has very kindly shared these images of his superlative build of the Tamiya Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien 'Tony' (Type 3 Fighter - San-Shiki Sentoh-ki - 三式戦闘機) in 1/48 scale. In February 2017 Aviation of Japan hosted an in-box review of this kit by Dan Salamone here.

Miroslav judged this kit fantastic with incredible details and a perfect fit. He recommends it to everyone who loves Japanese 'war birds' from WWII. The kit was released in December 2016 and fortunately for 1/72 modellers Tamiya released an equally fine kit in the smaller scale in March this year.

Miroslav enhanced his model by using Eduard Brassin wheels and exhaust stacks, and Hauler photo-etch parts. With rivets noticeable in photographs of the real aircraft he added them to the model using Petre Dousek's 'Rosie the Riveteer' 0.65mm tool.

Masks from Dead Design and Miroslav's friend Jakub N were used and decals from HGW.

Miroslav chose as his subject the uncamouflaged aircraft of Captain Teruhiko Kobayashi of Hiko Dai 244 Sentai as presented by Tamiya with red fuselage stripe and victory symbols.

Miroslav expressed many thanks to his friend Jan Hajíček of Dead Design for consultation and the masks for inspection covers.

With special thanks to Miroslav for sharing these images of his superbly finished, ultra-realistic model with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All © 2018 Miroslav Koukal.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Season's Greetings

With Very Best Wishes to all Aviation of Japan contributors and readers for the Christmas Season and the New Year. 

Image credit: Snow at Hie Shrine, 1931, (Kawase Hasui 1893-1957)

Saturday 22 December 2018

Early Japanese Flyers ~ Harry O'Hara

Whilst at least nine Japanese pilots served in the Aéronautique Militaire of the French Army during the First World War, Fusao Ohara, known as Harry O'Hara, served in the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Air Force (RAF). Ohara was born in Tokyo in 1891 but is recorded as running away from home in 1910. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he enlisted in the 34th Sikh Pioneers of the Indian Army, which he reportedly joined when working as a newspaper correspondent in India. On 2 December 1914 he was wounded by shellfire in France whilst serving as a cook, the unit Doctor recording that he was "very plucky and made no complaint though riddled everywhere".  He subsequently joined the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army, arriving back in France with that unit on 24 December 1915.

He was again badly wounded in action in August 1916 during an attack at Guillemot and awarded the Military Medal in January 1917. On leaving the Edmonton Military Hospital and transferring into the RFC he was recorded as having scars from almost 70 shrapnel wounds on his chest, left shoulder and arm, right arm and right thigh. Enlisted as a 2nd Class Air Mechanic he underwent flying training, receiving his wings on 21 July 1917 and promotion to Sergeant. In September 1917 he married Muriel McDonald from Norfolk in a ceremony at Lewisham and in March 1918 he was posted to the School of Military Aeronautics at Reading. 

Harry Ohara was then posted to No.1 Sqn RFC in France but in June 1918 he was again wounded, this time requiring facial reconstruction surgery at the Queen's Hospital in Sidcup after initial medical treatment at Boulogne.  After his discharge in April 1919 he was awarded a pension and lived with Muriel in Islington, London. He worked at St Dunstan's school for the blind finishing the furniture made there with lacquer work and he also taught Japanese at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS). His daughter Geraldine recorded that he loved and admired England, serving as a fire watcher during the Second World War. He was remembered for his kindness and courtesy, despite being greatly troubled in later years by his war wounds and eventually becoming bed ridden. He died in Hampstead in 1951. 

It is an honour to be able to record his service here, albeit so briefly. 

Image and information credit: Great War London         

Thursday 20 December 2018

Enhancing Jack ~ CMK Resin Detail Sets for the 1/72 Hasegawa Kit

The venerable Hasegawa 1/72 Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden 'Jack' kit of 1977 featured in Part Two of the 2011 Aviation of Japan blog A Gaggle of Old Jacks and Random Thoughts. A nice kit then and still now 41 years later, but falling behind the trend for super detailed interiors. Fred Boucher of Aeroscale has very kindly alerted me to his comprehensive reviews of four resin detailing sets designed for the Hasegawa Raiden by CMK (Czech Master's Kits). Click the set titles below for a link to each Aeroscale review.

J2M3 Raiden Cockpit Set # 7392

Resin floor, sidewalls, bulkheads, seat and other details, together with an instrument panel film.

J2M3 Raiden Armament Set # 7393

Resin gun bays and associated resin parts to reveal the wing armament.

J2M3 Raiden Control Surfaces  # 7394

Separate resin ailerons, replacement tailplanes, elevators and rudder.

 J2M3 Wheel Wells and Covers # 7396

Resin wheel bays and undercarriage parts.

CMK also do a wing flap set as # 7395 and offer the pilot's seat with belts as a separate item # Q72305 for a quick upgrade of the kit parts. A vacform canopy is probably needed to get the best from the cockpit set but I was surprised to find one apparently absent from the excellent  Rob Taurus range. However a Pavla canopy for the Hasegawa kit appears to be still available. Brass cannon barrels and pitot for Raiden are also available from Fine Molds

Image credits: Box art © 1977 Hasegawa Corp.; CMK Schematics via Aeroscale © 2018 CMK


Wednesday 19 December 2018

Dave & Lily

Hat tip to Iskender Mailibayev for alerting me to the new RS Models Nakajima E8N1 and E8N2 'Dave' floatplane kits in 1/72. Other than the Hasegawa 1/48 kit the last plastic kit of Dave was from Aviation Usk in 1/72 subsequently re-released under the Xotic-72 label. There may have been some resin kits but a resin biplane with floats in that scale is a thing to strike terror.

RS Models kit 92224 presents the E8N1 (heading pic) and features markings (above) for Dave as operated in the silver and red scheme from the Myōkō class cruiser Nachi in 1936, a 1942 Aleutians-based bord in the later dark green over grey scheme, another cruiser-based bird from Ashigara  in green and brown camo and finally, a nice touch, the bogus British floatplane from the German commerce raider Orion in 1941, the latter a subject of great delight for pontificating pundits of the naval persuasion. From the box schematic it seems that RS Models would have us believe that the IJN was applying RAF Sky to their aircraft at about the same time that Sidney Cotton was devising Camotint.    

RS Models kit # 92225 presents the E8N2 (above) and features markings (below) for green and brown camo birds from the Hakata Ku and battleships Kongo and Mutsu, as well as another nice touch - a Royal Thai Navy floatplane in overall silver dope.  Dave was not just used for scouting but was belligerent over Shanghai and Canton during the early months of the Sino-Japanese war dropping ordnance, strafing ground targets and dogfighting when necessary.

Will Hasegawa now scale down their Dave kit to 1/72? Probably not!

Back in 2013 this author wallowed in a review of the Hasegawa back catalogue of Ki-48 kits, that venerable but photogenic twin of Mania origin which is a favourite of his. The kit was subsequently re-released again as a Limited Edition in October 2014 with new box art (shown below) and decal options for two 8th Hiko Sentai aircraft operating over Burma. Then in September 2016 the kit was re-released once more in combo with the Ki-51 of similar antecedence to depict aircraft of the Hokota Army Flying School. The latest iteration released in September is a Limited Edition special attack Lily of the Banda unit (万朶隊 - 'ten thousand branches') with nose-mounted fuse extensions for an 800 kg bomb (box art shown above). The Banda-tai was operational in the Philippines during October/November 1944 and was one of the early Army special attack units. An in-box review by Aviation of Japan reveals the disappointing fact that the 'special equipment' consists of nothing more than a single length of brass wire to be cut and sharpened by the modeller to represent a triple or single mounted fuse extension and attached through holes in the nose transparency to be drilled by the modeller too (yikes!). No insight as to the internal arrangements of the fuse extensions is provided, no bomb and no guidance for the rigging wires shown on the excellent box art. The disappointment is compounded by options for two very plain late war schemes for the Banda unit, without any unit insignia. It's a nice kit which has stood the test of time and will be welcomed back in any guise, but perhaps just a little more might have been expected from a 'Limited Edition' with 'Special Equipment'! 

October 2014 Limited Edition Re-issue

Image credits: E8N box art and schemes © 2018 RS Models; Ki-48 box art © 2014 & 2018 Hasegawa Corp. 

Monday 17 December 2018

Jim Anderson's Hasegawa G8N1 Renzan 'Rita' in 1/72

The Hasegawa Rita (Nakajima N-10 Experimental 18-Shi Attack Bomber 'Renzan' - 試作十八試陸上攻撃機 '連峰') was an unusual and innovative kit when first released in the late 1960s. A Japanese Navy four-engined bomber prototype of which only four were ever built and which was never deployed operationally, only one surviving to be taken to the USA and test flown there post-war  The other Japanese 'heavies' in the Hasegawa 'King Size Series' were the more mainstream H8K2 Emily, H6K5 Mavis and G4M1 Betty.  'Emily' was replaced by a completely new tool in 2017 and a new tool G4M2 version of Betty was released in 1997, although the old tool G4M1 was still being re-released with new box art and decals as recently as 2015. All four Hasegawa 'heavies' have been re-released continuously over the decades with new box art and new decals, Rita most recently in 2009 as a what-if combination kit carrying an I-go type guided bomb with a jet-powered Shindenkai as escort!

Rita's potential stand-off capability was described by Richard M Bueschel with Shorzoe Abe in his ground breaking multi-part series on Japanese Navy Aircraft 1940-1945 in Air Pictorial magazine (Part IV, Vol 21 No 3, March 1959), describing it as the planned parent aircraft for the Ohka 43. However the most comprehensive English language coverage of the development of the bomber and what it was like to fly came with the second part of Robert C Mikesh's excellent two part article on The Japanese Giants in the July 1981 issue of Airpower magazine (Vol 11 No 4). 

Rita at Newark Airport prior to first US flight (Howard Levy photo)

The specification for the bomber was issued on 14 September 1943 and the first prototype was completed by September the following year, designed by a team led by Ken-ichi Matsumura of Nakajima. The first flight was made on 23 October 1944 with Nakajima test pilot Haruo Suematsu at the controls. This was completely successful until after landing the brakes failed and the aircraft ran into a fence-enclosed fire sump, sustaining damage to its nose and landing gear. The accident delayed flight testing for a month as repairs were made but by January 1945 the IJN had accepted the bomber, designating it G8N as Renzan. However, time was running out for the IJN and the planned 16 prototype and service test aircraft were never completed, let alone the 32 production models originally planned for September 1945. After completion of the fourth Renzan in June 1945 the project was cancelled due to a changing strategic situation and increasing shortage of aluminium.      

All four 'King Size' kits were first released in Hasegawa's characteristic (at that time) chunky and rather brittle dark green plastic with copious raised rivet detail (somewhat ironic as the original Rita had only 2,000 more rivets than the smaller P1Y Frances). The Hasegawa 'Rita' kit travelled far, being released in the UK under the Frog label from 1968 to 1972 as F274 with a total of 25,000 kits being produced. That was a relatively short run for Frog but the Hasegawa kits were not moulded in the UK, being sent there from Japan plastic bagged, as part of a reciprocal deal; Frog then provided the boxes, decals and instructions for retail in the UK. There was a similar arrangement with AMT in the USA. Frog also planned to release the Hasegawa Betty in 1969 as kit F284 but never did.   

Jim Anderson has very kindly submitted these images and description of his own enhanced model of Hasegawa's Rita which he first bought and began working on in 1971. In his own words then:-

"I acquired my Renzan back in 1971 as a second hand kit from a neighborhood friend who wanted to sell it.  I immediately started working on the model then suddenly stopped and put it away for many years.  Since this build is quite old, I really didn’t document much in those days, so forgive me as the details will be light.   

"The kit is nicely molded in heavy, brittle, dark green plastic.  The clear parts were equally thick but well done with the canopy framing lightly scribed.  There were lots of tiny rivets too.  The control surfaces were positionable and looked good enough for use as is.  I originally only put together the fuselage with the turrets, canopy and internal details gluing everything in sight with lots of cement.  

"15 years later I wanted to resume building it and had to deal with separating that fuselage.  It was a salvage job and the goal was to free up the clear parts for reuse.  By this time I could make better turret replacements with a ‘plug-molding’ technique using clear butyrate sheet plastic.  The kit supplied turret interiors were a just peg meant to hold the machine guns.  But now with the new thin and clear replacements, I had to build something inside, so I added some structure and bits of scrap plastic to make it look interesting.  This is somewhat funny as none of the prototypes ever carried any weapons!  

"The bomb bay doors were built up with strip styrene in an attempt to make them look somewhat “engineered” to the casual observer.  There were a few windows in the forward fuselage that were omitted from the kit.  These were located from some line drawings and drilled out and filed smooth.  I altered the main canopy by cutting out a rectangle shape over the pilots position to allow for a little hatch to be placed in the open position to give the model some character.  

"The kit was a big tail sitter and needed lead weights mounted in the forward fuselage.  It didn’t quite do the trick, so I flattened the tires pretty good and that solved the balance issue.

"Painting was as follows:  The interior crew spaces were a medium gray-green color which I mixed up from Pactra Green IE86 and Pactra Light Gray IU89.  The bomb bay doors and parts of the bay interior were Pactra IJ17 Silver with Humbrol NJ1 (a dark gray green) used on the upper section over the bomb bay itself.  The engine cowlings were painted with Steel Metalizer and buffed.  The anti-glare portion was flat black then touched up with some silver Rub n Buff.  

"The rest of the model was primed with Model Masters Light Sea Gray including the canopy framing.  There were two options for painting according to the kit instructions; one being  IJN green over white gray and the other being overall IJN prototype orange.  I went with the orange version since my limited reference material didn’t convince me that any aircraft were painted in the green pattern.  The color coat was Pactra Orange Oxide M9 straight from the bottle.  Markings were simple being just the six position Hinomaru.  

"This build lasted from April to August 1985.  I noticed when taking the photos for this article and giving the model a good cleaning, that the Orange Oxide had faded a little on the top over the years.   If you want a 1/72 Rita, this old kit is still the only game in town and can be made into a nice addition to your Japanese Navy/ Japanese Army prototypes collection."

With special thanks to Jim for sharing these images and details of his splendid model with Aviation  of Japan.

Image credits: All model photos © 2018 Jim Anderson; Box art © 196? Hasegawa Corp.; Airpower Cover image © 1981 Sentry Books Inc.


Sunday 2 December 2018

Wingsy 1/48 Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia

With special thanks to Dan Salamone and Chad Akins for their kind heads up about the forthcoming Wingsy 1/48 scale Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia, announced for January 2019 release. Sample sprue shots are shown below and pre-production CAD renders can be viewed here.

Splendid box art by Sergey Zoshchenko depicts a 1st Chutai Ki-51 of  Hiko Dai 27 Sentai with a very small pilot and an unusually complex camouflage scheme coming under fire from an AVG P-40.  This light bomber unit gradually converted to the Ki-51 from the Ki-32 in March 1941 and was active in the assault on Malaya, the Dutch East Indies and Burma.  The unit insignia on the fin and rudder combined the Japanese 'ni'  (二) for '2' in black with '7', the diagonal bar being painted in the Chutai colour. In addition to the tail insignia the 1st Chutai applied the representation of a swallow to the fuselage side, whilst the 2nd Chutai applied a stylised representation of the 'matoi' (纏), a battle standard or fireman's standard from the Edo period (as shown below), consisting of variously shaped heads, often with characters painted on them, and hanging strips.

The price is not revealed but Hannants have the Wingsy A5M kits at £36.99 (about US$47) so start saving or be prepared to wait for your Christmas present. The new Wingsy kit should eclipse the veteran and long-cherished Nichimo kit of currently uncertain availability. Japanese birds with spats seem to be the currently favoured flavour so let's hope someone, somewhere, is planning a 1/48 Ki-36/55 (but please let it not be a well known purveyor of limited run vinyl).  

Image credits: Box art and kit parts © 2018 Wingsy Kits; Matoi image via web