Friday 22 March 2019

Narrow Escape for Mavis

IJN 'Mavis' (Kawanishi Type 97 Flying Boat - 97 Shiki Hikoutei 九七式飛行挺 or '97 Taitei' 九七大挺) pilot Ensign Daita Kitaide's account of his flight from Surabaya, Java to Japan in May 1945 and narrow escape from marauding P-38s at Hong Kong, as told to Shorzoe Abe, was published in the August 1960 issue of the Royal Air Force Flying Review magazine. It is reproduced here in full for its historical interest (click on and then download the pages for a readable size).  

The 'Kiuling' seaplane base mentioned in the account is Kowloon. There were Allied fighter-bomber sorties across East and South China on the 28 May 1945 but the P-38 crash described by Kitaide cannot be confirmed (perhaps a bomb explosion instead?).  RAF Flying Review frequently published features on wartime Japanese aviation experiences such as this one, as well as articles on specific Japanese aircraft types, notable for their generosity towards Japanese aircraft design accomplishments, objectivity and lack of chauvinism, often within a decade of the war.

The venerable Hasegawa Kawanishi Type 97 Flying Boat H6K5 'Mavis' in 1/72 scale has been regularly re-released since 1969 in various guises, most recently (below) as a torpedo armed aircraft of the Yokohama Ku in overall grey with tail code Y-99 and the option of a Toko Ku aircraft with tailcode O-21. Whether it will eventually be re-moulded like their Emily kit remains to be seen. In 2003 the type was also kitted by Monochrome in 1/144 scale in both naval and civil variants and subsequently re-issued by Trumpeter. Pit Road issued a double kit of Emily and Mavis in 1/700 scale in 2016 whilst Combrig (Russia) released a 1/350 resin kit of Mavis. There was also a 1/700 plastic kit of Mavis released by Y.M.C. in 1961 which can be seen here.

Image Credits: Heading photo still from wartime film; Article pages © 1960 Royal Air Force Review Ltd; Box art © 2018 Hasegawa Corp. via HobbySearch 

Saturday 16 March 2019

Jan Hajicek's Hitachi Hien in 1/72

Jan Hajicek has very kindly shared these images and report of his excellent build of the Tamiya 1/72 Ki-61-I Tei kit, to represent an aircraft of the Hitachi Kyodo Hikoshidan at Mito airfield, Ibaragi Prefecture, Japan, in the autumn of 1944. A plain natural metal finish always seems to accentuate the Kawasaki fighter's fine lines and Jan's model is no exception.  In his own words then :-

"This is a kit which I built to demonstrate my Inspection Covers Mask (Dead Design Models Set HC72001). Since I was pressed for time to complete it ready for a big model convention in May 2018 I managed to build it within 14 days. So far it is my lifetime record and I hope to continue in that manner since my 'Shelf of Doom' is full of kits I want to build.

"Hien is one of my favourite IJA aircraft and this time I wanted to build one of the lesser known machines in a natural metal finish. At first I toyed with the idea of building an Akeno Kyodo Hikoshidan aircraft as at least two Tei variants served at Akeno as well as other versions. Eventually, I chose a Hitachi Koyodo Hikoshidan aircraft, this unit being a rival to Akeno and, for me, sporting a more attractive unit marking. As I had selected a machine from a training unit, possibly used for maintenance training, perhaps it had lasted long enough to show a faded aluminium appearance and that was exactly what I wanted - natural metal finish, interesting unit marking and faded appearance. 

"The kit was built out of the box with just the addition of a photo etched seat harness. The antenna wire is Uschi VDR and the wing racks and external fuel tanks from my own production. I usually do not take work-in-progress photos but this time my cell phone to do so:-

"The only problem I experienced during an easy and pleasant construction exercise was the mating of the dorsal spine to the fuselage. As with their 1/48 scale kit Tamiya used a similar construction but that was easier to install but in 1/72 scale construction is much trickier, with precision cleaning up and subsequent mating needed. Though I understand why they used this method – to preserve the longitudinal dorsal panel that is usually sanded off on other Hien kits – I’m not a fan of it for 1/72 scale.

To distinguish the natural metal finish panels I used my own Inspection Covers Mask set and also masked off individual panels.

"All six Hinomaru insignia, the anti glare panel, wing walkways, ID bands, propeller warning stripes and  manufacturer plates were sprayed on using either masks included in the Inspection Covers set or masked off individually.

"Stencils and unit marking were applied using wet transfers.

"Paints used were several shades of Alclad Aluminium colours, Gunze for the cockpit and Vallejo for the rest. Weathering was added with MiG, Windsor & Newton acrylics and Artist chalks. So this is my idea of a faded natural metal appearance (I already realized that on subsequent natural metal finish machines I will use different methods). Hope that you like it."

With very special thanks to Jan for sharing these images of his splendid model and his report of the build. 

Image credit: All © 2019 Jan Hajicek