Tuesday 29 January 2019

Rising's Donated Birds I and II in 1/72

Two more Japanese subject 1/72 decal sets from the prolific Rising Decals in their Donated Birds series - III for Houkoku emblazoned Navy aircraft and IV for Aikoku emblazoned Army types. Set Rd72079 (shown above) contains decals for four Mitsubishi A5M4 'Claude' for the Fujimi kit, two Kawanishi E7K1 'Alf' for the Hasegawa kit and two Nakajima B5N1 'Kate' for the Hasegawa or Airfix kits as follows:-

  • A5M4 of Chitose Ku - Houkoku # 367 in overall natural metal with red tail at Chitose, Japan from December 1940 to May 1941. This aircraft has a suggested but unconfirmed broad yellow fuselage band.  
  • A5M4 of Chitose Ku - Houkoku # 373 in overall natural metal with red tail at Chitose, Japan from December 1940 to May 1941. This aircraft has a suggested but unconfirmed broad blue fuselage band.  
  • A5M4 - Houkoku # 278 in overall natural metal with red tail and white red-bordered fuselage band. This aircraft has the Houkoku legend repeated diagonally across the fin and rudder.
  • A5M4 - Houkoku # 278 ditto but with tail code '9-158' at Haikou, Hainan Island, China in January 1940. 
  • E7K1 - Houkoku # 83 in silver dope with red tail from the light cruiser Kinu (鬼怒) during 1937
  • E7K1 - Houkoku # 213 in green and brown camouflage over grey from the heavy cruiser Ashigara (足柄). This aircraft also has the Houkoku legend repeated across the fin and rudder. 
  • B5N1 - Houkoku # 268 in natural metal with red tail and red bordered white fuselage band. This is the same 12 Ku aircraft which featured in the 1/48 scale set RD48026 reviewed here
  • B5N1 - Houkoku # 268 ditto but in green and brown field applied camouflage retaining red tail during 1939.

A well chosen selection of colourful IJN aircraft with enough plain Hinomaru for one model of each type. The B5N1 options should appeal to builders of the Airfix kit especially as the camouflaged option on that kit's decal sheet is for a 14 Ku example without the red tail.

Set Rd72080 (above) contains decals for two Nakajima Ki-27 'Nate' for the Hasegawa, ICM or RS Models kits, two Mitsubishi Ki-51 'Sonia' for the Hasegawa kit, two Type 91 for the AZ Models kit, and three Nakajima Ki-43 'Oscar' for the Fujimi (or forthcoming Fine Molds), Rising Models and Special Hobby kits as follows:-

  • Ki-27 of Akeno Army Flying School - Aikoku # 697 in overall grey-green. This aircraft has a white bordered blue or yellow stripe on the tailfin - both supplied as decal options.
  • Ki-27 of Akeno Army Flying School - Aikoku # 645 in overall grey-green. This aircraft has a white cowling front, three white fuselage bands (provided as decals) and a white rudder.
  • Ki-51 of 44th Sentai - Aikoku # 569 in a two-tone green camouflage scheme over grey. This aircraft was the subject of the original Hasegawa box art from the 1970s, is well known from a photograph and is an attractive scheme well served by new decals.
  • Ki-51 of Hokota Army Flying School - Aikoku # 727 in a green 'snake weave' camouflage over grey. This aircraft has the fuselage Hinomaru on white squares, provided as decals.  
  • Type 91 of 5th Hiko Rentai - Aikoku # 84 in overal silver dope with twin red stripes on the fin rudder and elevators, provided as decals and red wheel hubs which must be painted. 
  • Type 91 of 1st Hiko Rentai - Aikoku # 3 in overal silver dope with blue rudder, elevators and wheel hubs all to be painted.
  • Ki-43-I of Akeno Army Flying School - Aikoku # 388 in overall natural metal. A rather plain but well known subject which nevertheless displays the beauty of the aircraft to good advantage.
  • Ki-43-II possibly of 1st Sentai - Aikoku # 2068 in green mottle over natural metal. This is an early production II with the longer wing of the I, provided for by the Rising Models kit. It is also possible to create this variant by combining the Hasegawa II with Fujimi I wings, requiring a little easy cutting and modification to fit. The presence of the tail stripes, if this is a 1st Sentai aircraft, suggest that the rudder and elevators might be painted in the chutai colour in accordance with their usual practice, possible white or yellow. 
  • Ki-43-II of 77th Sentai - Aikoku # 3948 in brown and green camouflage over natural metal. This is a late production Nakajima-built aircraft of the variant often referred to as Ki-43-II Kai. 

Another set of well chosen and welcome decals for Army fighter types, especially welcome because the small Army Aikoku legends are otherwise difficult to reproduce.  The colours and fidelity of printing are very good. Sufficient Hinomaru decals are provided to complete one model of each subject, including one Ki-43-I and one Ki-43-II. Highly recommended to Army aircraft aficionados.

With special thanks to Mirek for providing the review samples. 

Image credit: All © 2019 Rising Decals


Sunday 27 January 2019

The Unknown and the Less Known from Rising in 1/72

Rising Decals have recently created two 1/72 decal sets in a new series for Unknown and Less Known Units of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. An excellent idea and one that will hopefully stimulate research as well as offer something unusual for better known models. 

Set RD72081 offers decals for a choice between two Mitsubishi Ki-51 'Sonia' (Type 99 Assault/Army Reconnaissance Plane - Nana Nana shiki Shuugeki-ki 九九式襲撃機/Nana Nana shiki Gun Teisatsu-ki - 九九式軍偵察機 usually abbreviated as 99 Gun-tei 九九軍偵) of unidentified Army units and is designed for the Hasegawa kit. The first subject is depicted in an overall grey scheme for which Gunze 35 IJN Gray is surprisingly suggested. This aircraft has an interesting red, white and black tail insignia and matching fuselage bands. This consists of a propeller design of three oak leaves or hawk's feathers juxtaposed with three arrowheads on a central boss. Both the fuselage bands and insignia have separate white backing for perfect register.  

The second aircraft is depicted in a loose green mottle over grey, reconstructed from a partial photograph and has a device of interconnecting circles in white on the fin and rudder with white senchi hiyoshiki band on the rear fuselage. The two oblique interlocking rings which appear to be superimposed over a previous marking (?) form a mon associated in Japanese heraldry with Wakisaki Yasumoto (1584-1653), the Provincial Governor of Awaji. A set of plain Hinomaru is provided for the first aircraft together with upper wing and fuselage white discs to enable the second aircraft with white bordered Hinomaru to be modelled.   

Set RD72082 provides decals for a choice of two Ki-36 'Ida' and states it has been designed for the Hasegawa kit, which should read the Fujimi kit unless . . . ! The first option is for a camouflaged aircraft of the 206th Dokuritsu Hikotai (Independant Air Unit) engaged in anti-partisan operations in support of ground troops from Taiyuan airfield, Shanxi province, North China during November 1942. This aircraft has camouflaged upper surfaces which are presented as either green over the overall grey or brown and green over grey. There is a brief history* of this interesting unit in Arawasi's Eagle Eye Series No.1 on Sonia and Ida as well as an excellent article, colour profile and five photographs pertaining to an accident report on this specific aircraft in Arawasi magazine Issue 12. A diorama depicting the force landed Ida would be challenging but all the information is there to achieve it - and now the decals! 

The second option is for an Ida from the same unknown unit featured in the Sonia set, in overall grey (again Gunze IJN Gray is suggested)  with a black fuselage band and unusual cowling markings, presented as silver but more probably, perhaps, yellow. Again plain Hinomaru for one aircraft are provided with white discs to enable the the option with white-bordered Hinomaru to be completed. Models of the Sonia and Ida from this unit would make a nice duo.  This new series is a welcome innovation which offers the opportunity to create models with unusual insignia that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible.   

But it doesn't end there! Rising have also released three new combined 1/72 decal and accessory sets for the Ki-48 'Lily' and Mitsubishi 'Pete'. Set RD Acc-019 (above) provides decals for a choice of two Ki-48-I aircraft of Hiko Dai 3 Sentai during 'Cold Weather Operations' at Karafuto (South Sakhalin) in 1943, one from the 3rd Chutai's 2nd Shotai in overall grey-green (Gunze 128 IJA Grey Green suggested this time) and a second camouflaged example from the 3rd Chutai's 1st Shotai. The colour of the band on the tail fin and forward spinner identified the Chutai whilst the colour of the stripes on the rudder indicated the Shotai. The number of those stripes from one to three identified individual aircraft within each Shotai, but the order of the stripes is disputed with some asserting that three stripes, for example, indicates the first, or Shotai leader's aircraft, and others that that aircraft carried a single stripe. As with other sets enough Hinomaru are provided for one aircraft with or without white borders.   Also included with this set is a small brass photo etch sheet with two cold weather covers to be inserted within the cowlings to protect the engines. A neat and attractive set to enhance Hasegawa's venerable but admirable Ki-48 which always looks smart in overall grey-green. Add a diorama base with snow and even better!   

Set RD Acr-037 (above) contains decals, including Hinomaru, and a crisply moulded resin replacement cowling for an overall grey  Mitsubish F1M2 early production type with white tail code ZII-56 from the seaplane tender Sanyo Maru at Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo China in 1942. It is designed for the Fujimi kit. 

Set RD Acr-044 (above) is similar with decals and cowling for a dark green over grey aircraft with white tail code YII-3 of the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru at Rekata Bay, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands in September 1943. This aircraft has two white fuselage bands and an all-grey central pontoon float.  Although the instruction sheet depicts a yellow IFF strip on the leading edge of the upper wing photographs of this aircraft do not seem to show one. Some contradictory opinion about the markings of this and other Kamikawa Maru Pete may be found here and an ATIS drawing, reproduced too small to be much use, here. Pundits fill yer boots!

The decals in all these sets are sharply printed and with good colour saturation. The new series theme is most welcome whilst the small sets of photo-etch or resin accessories, attractively packaged and presented with decals for a single aircraft, are a great idea for ringing the changes from a standard kit. With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for these review examples.  

* Not mentioned in that history is that when the Air General Army was formed from 5-8 April 1945 206 Independent Air Unit was placed under direct 6th Air Army command and consisted of 206 Independent Air Unit HQ in turn commanding two component independent air squadrons:- the 1st engaged on anti-submarine operations and the 66th engaged on direct support operations. From July 1945 these two units came under direct 5th Air Army command in Korea, with the 1st at Kaiundai and the 66th at Pusan East.   

Image credits: All © 2019 Rising Decals

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Rising's 1/48th Trio for Kate and Two Twins

Amongst a plethora of interesting new releases from Rising Decals, a trio of welcome 1/48 scale decal sheets for famous wartime Japanese twins, two for Navy and one for Army subjects (with a Navy intruder). 

Set RD48022 (above) is for the IJN Type 1 Rikko   (1 Shiki Rikujoh Kohgeki-ki  一式陸上攻撃機), the Mitsubishi G4M1 'Betty' and presumably designed for the well respected Tamiya kit. It contains decals for a choice of five subjects with plain or white bordered Hinomaru for two aircraft plus two fuselage Hinomaru on white squares.  The options are as follows:-

  •  G4M1 Model 11 of 705 Ku - '379' of 4 Hiko Chutai with Houkoku legend # 1006 operating over the Solomon Islands in 1943 and depicted in dark green over light grey with the fuselage Hinomaru on white squares.  
  • G4M1 Model 11 of Takao Ku - 'T-351' operating in the South-West Pacific during 1942 and depicted in dark green over light grey with the fuselage Hinomaru on white squares. This aircraft has an open rear gun position.
  • G4M1 Model 11 late production of 702 Ku - '321' of 2 Hiko Chutai operating from Rabaul, New Britain during 1943 and depicted in dark green over light grey with white-bordered Hinomaru. A distinguished aircraft successfully flown back to base by Ltjg Hidezumi Maruyama after a nocturnal anti-shipping raid with extensive AA damage of 380 hits, somewhat belying the aircraft's reputation for vulnerability. 
  •  G4M1 Model 11 of 4 Ku - 'F-348' of 3 Hikotai flown from Rabaul, New Britain in February 1942 and depicted in green and brown camouflage over light grey with plain Hinomaru. This aircraft was fatally damaged by Lt Edward H 'Butch' O'Hare whilst being flown against the USS Lexington by Lt Cdr Takuzo Ito. Ito then attempted to crash into the carrier but was shot down into the sea  by its AA fire.
  •   G4M1 Model 11 of 753 Ku - 'XI-331' operating from Rabaul, New Britain during July 1943 and depicted in dark green over light grey with a conjectural tail code presentation. Another distinguished aircraft flown successfully back to base by the navigator FPO Torao Maruoka after being damaged by RAAF fighters during a raid against Australia on 6 July 1943. 

The question of Betty under surface colours is thorny. This author has a piece from the upper surface of a G4M1 shot down over the Solomons which is a very dark, rich and lustrous green, almost a black-green, and not at all like the bright 'garden shed' greens so often applied to models. The paint is of good quality and proficiently applied, with an almost ceramic surface. The few deep scratches reveal the same red-brown primer beneath as on the Zero which creates doubt that the under surfaces would not have been as carefully primed and painted as well. 

Set RD48023 (above) is for the Army Type 100 Shitei (100 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki - 百式司令部偵察機), the svelte Mitsubishi Ki-46-III 'Dinah' in both recce and air defence fighter guise, again designed presumably for the Tamiya kits. It contains decals for a choice of five subjects, four recce and one fighter version with Hinomaru for one model and a choice of plain or white-bordered fuselage Hinomaru.  The options are as follows:-  

  • Ki-46-III of 106th Sentai - operating over Luzon in the Philippines during 1944 and depicted in olive drab over grey green. The instructions suggest that this aircraft can be equipped with Ta-Dan bombs using Rising's resin accessory set Acr-032 but that appears to be for 1/72 scale.  
  • Ki-46-III of 141 Ku - '141-103' of Teisatsu Hikotai T.102, a Navy operated Dinah in the Philippines and found abandoned at Bamban airfield, Luzon in January 1945. The scheme depicted is olive drab over grey green with a yellow tail code. Interesting and unusual.
  • Ki-46-III Kai interceptor of 83rd Independent Flying Squadron - operated from Ashiya, Japan in July 1945 and depicted in dark green over grey green. A colourful example with red, yellow and white unit insignia and double yellow and white fuselage bands.
  • Ki-46-III of 19th Independent Flying Squadron - '38' operating from Kanoya, Japan during May 1945 and depicted in olive drab over grey green. 
  • Ki-46-III of 18th Independent Flying Squadron - with the 'tiger on the tail' and depicted in olive drab over grey green. In Japanese lore of Chinese origin the tiger could run and hunt for 1,000 Ri (approx. 3,927 km or 2,240 miles) and then return to its lair.

The colourful 83rd DHC interceptor was the subject of a previous 1/72 accessory set from Rising, RD Acr-032 reviewed here. Although Ki-46-III Kai is a popularly used short designation for the interceptor version of the Ki-46 the official designation was Type 100 Model 3 Headquarters Reconnaissance Plane Modified Air Defense Fighter  -  Hyaku shiki San gata Shireibu Teisatsuki Kaizoh Bohkuh Sentohki. The subject aircraft on the Rising sheet is the Ki-46-III Kai Otsu, the subsequent Otsu + Hei variant having the 70 ° oblique firing Ho-204 37mm cannon positioned in the fuselage between pilot and observer positions. Other shortened designations in use include Type 100 Model 3 Air Defence Fighter -  Hyaku shiki San gata Bohkuh Sentohki and Type 100 Model 3 Modified Air Defense Fighter - Hyaku shiki San gata Kai Bohkuh Sentohki. A Key Data Guide on the Ki-46 interceptors is in preparation. 

Finally the third set is RD48026 for Japanese Naval Carrier Bombers Part II (above). This features both the Nakajima B5N1/2 'Kate' and B6N2 'Jill' with no less than six subjects for the former and two for the latter as follows:-
  • B5N1 of Yokosuka Ku - '整練(SeiRen)-372', '-377' or '-386' (three choices) all in silver (natural metal) and red finish with yellow tail codes. 'SeiRen' (seibi renshuu 整備練習 -maintenance practice) aircraft were used for groundcrew instruction as noted in the instructions.
  • B5N2 of Zuikaku - 'EII-301' flown by Lt Cdr Shigekazu Shimazaki during the Pearl Harbor strike depicted in dark green over grey-green. Aircraft armed with 800kg armour-piercing bomb.
  • B5N1 of 12 Ku - '3-356' flown over China during 1939 and depicted both in original natural metal with Houkoku legend # 268 (Tokyo Machinery Works) and in green and brown field-applied camouflage over natural metal with red tail surfaces retained. Aircraft armed with six 60kg bombs.  
  • B6N2 of Zuikaku - '653-33' of 653 Ku, 263 Hikotai during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 depicted in dark green over grey-green with training kanji on the fuselage Hinomaru.
  • B6N2 of 551 Ku - '51-301' of 251 Hikotai flown by Capt Masayuki Hida  at Truk during June 1944 and depicted in dark green over grey-green with morale-boosting characters 'Kamikaze' painted on fuselage and command markings of three diagonal yellow stripes on the fin and rudder with diagonal yellow bands on the upper surfaces of the wings. 

Some very interesting and well chosen subjects on all three sheets which will be appreciated by 1/48 modellers looking for something different. With special thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for the notification and review samples. 
Image credits: All decal sheets & instructions © 2019 Rising Decals; Heading box art © 1996 Tamiya Inc., via Hobby Search

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Japanese 'Taifun' in 1/72

Zbyszek Malicki ('Zegeye') built this neat Messerchmitt Bf 108 'Taifun' in Japanese markings from the 2013 Fly kit in 1/72 scale and has kindly shared these 'walk around' images of his model with Aviation of Japan which it is a pleasure to present as the first blog of 2019. In 2017 the Fly kit was re-issued in two versions by Kovozávody Prostějov  (KP) with the resin parts replaced with plastic. The KP kit # KPM0081 contains markings for the Japanese civil Taifun J-BACC registered in August 1936 and as operated in China by Yomiuri Shimbun in a camouflage scheme. 

Zbyszek built the Fly model from the box, judging it a truly short-run kit with its soft grey plastic hard to work with. Earlier editions in brown plastic were of better quality. He found that the fit was poor, requiring a lot of filler.

The exclamation mark decals in the kit were not used as Zbyszek considered them unlikely and possibly only dirt (or the remains of previous paint?). This Bf 108 had the Aikoku dedication # 258 reportedly from the Kyowakai organisation, formally the Manchu Teikoku Kyowakai (Manchuria Imperial Concordia Society), a political organisation avoiding the character of a political party and without aspiration to securing political power but functioning as a background organization to complement the activities of government, striving toward the achievement of an ideal of “nation building” (kenkoku).  Two other Kyowakai-dedicated Taifuns are known - # 259 and # 260.

15 Bf 108 Taifuns of 21 sent to Japan were reportedly purchased by and registered to Manshû Kôkû Kabushiki Kaisha (MKKK - Manchukuo Aviation Co., Ltd), with 12 company registrations known (M-51 to M-62).  The remainder were operated by the IJAAF but the details of acquisition are obscure. The subject of Zbyszek's model has been presumed to be a civil aircraft because of the dark bordered white senchi hiyoshiki (戦地標識 - lit. 'war front sign') band on the rear fuselage, interpreted as being black. Civil aircraft were supposed to have red bordered bands but the black borders have been associated with civilian flying schools where in photographs they appear significantly darker than the national hinomaru insignia. However, officially the red of the hinomaru was supposed to be distinct from the red used for all other markings, being brighter and more towards an orange-red.       

The model was painted with a mix of Humbrol radome tan and white to represent Zbyszek's interpretation of a sun faded RLM 05 Elfenbein (ivory) paint.     

 Fly Box Art 2013

KP Box Art 2017

Image credit: All model photos © 2019 Zbyszek Malicki;; Photograph via web; Fly box art © 2013 Fly; KP box art © 2017 Kovozávody Prostějov