Thursday 16 May 2019

Yokosuka R2Y Keiun

Another 'lost and found' RAF Flying Review article in this occasional series, this time from the March 1959 (Vol.XIV No.7) issue and featuring an interesting account of the Yokosuka (Kugisho) R2Y Keiun (景雲 - 'Auspicious Cloud') experimental reconnaissance aircraft by Mr Ichiro Naito, translated by Mr Takeshi Hattori and published therein by courtesy of the Japanese magazine Aireview

English language data on Keiun is sparse so Mr Naito's first person account is especially welcome for its details even if 60 years old! A Model 2 (R2Y2) variant of the type was planned to be powered by a Mitsubishi Ne-330 turbo-jet engine fitted to each wing (as shown above in the article's side-view plan).

 Fine Molds Keiun 1995

Fine Molds Keiun 2001

Fortunately for those modellers interested in Japanese experimental types there is a decent 1/72 kit of the fascinating Keiun by Fine Molds. First released in 1995 it was re-released in 2001 with new box art depicting orange-yellow under surfaces. The kit is currently in stock at HLJ for a very reasonable £11.91 (US$15.91) and there is a photo-etch details accessory set AA-17 available separately at £7.74 (US$9.92). A 1/72 resin model of the turbo-jet powered R2Y2 was announced for release this month by International Resin Modelers but comes with a hefty price tag of US$100 for non-members.  

A splendid model of Keiun built from the Fine Molds kit is shown here (above and below) courtesy of the builder Mr Hiroyuki Kato via Mr Hiromichi Taguchi, the editor of the excellent Japanese monthly web magazine Web-modelers. Mr Taguchi's web magazine should be of special interest to those who enjoy seeing older kits as well as recent releases carefully built and painted. The magazine also features nostalgic articles about Japanese aviation and modelling history, including past times Japanese model shops and  modelling magazines. All the back issues of the magazine can be browsed at the website.

With special thanks to Mr Hiroyuki Kato and Mr Hiromichi Taguchi for their kind permission to share the images of Mr Kato's Keiun model with Aviation of Japan. The RAF Flying Review article is from the author's own collection of the magazine. Please credit and link to Aviation of Japan if referencing this article or its contents, including Wiki updates, thank you.

Image credits: Heading image via web; Magazine pages © 1959 The RAF Review Ltd; Box art © 1995 & 2001 Fine Molds Corp.; Keiun model images © 2019 Hiroyuki Kato via Hiromichi Taguchi & Web-modelers

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Jan Hajicek's 9-Shi Improved Prototype in 1/72

Jan Hajicek has very kindly shared these images and his build report of the Fine Molds 1/72 IJN 9-shi Experimental Fighter (Mitsubishi Ka-14 Improved Prototype) at Kagamigahara airfield, Japan in the Spring of 1935. In Jan's own words then:

"The Type 96 kansen is one of my favourite IJN types where I’d like to build the whole genealogy. I have already built a 1/72 scale A5M4 and 1/48 scale A5M2b Early and since Fine Molds released the 9-shi Experimental Fighter (Mitsubishi Ka-14 Improved Prototype) last year I was happy to get it because the first prototype released as a Model Graphics magazine issue was hard to obtain (although I do already have one). The kit is much better that even expected revealing finely recessed panel lines with excellent cockpit and engine details.

"The kit was built almost straight form the box. I  added some wiring to the cockpit and engine and a seat harness from photo-etch. That was my idea to finish the kit quickly. It was an enhanced prototype and should look like new – shiny and almost clean.

"During the process I found that the exhaust stacks protruding from the cowling would be evident and I could not live with the fact they were not hollow. As the exhausts are in the form of tubes that were diagonally cut off I wondered how I should recreate them without spending too much time. This is a common catch that usually stops my progress. But this time an idea quickly came. I used thin aluminium foil from which I formed tubes over an Evergreen plastic rod, glued the mating line and then cut the desired angle. Then I slipped them off the plastic rod and attached them to the already adjusted, shortened kit part.  The result looks much better than solid plastic.

"The construction of this kit was easy and delightful. Every part mated with the other as it should and the only trouble I encountered was in mating the cowling assembly to the fuselage. That was mostly due to the thick colour coat I had sprayed since I painted the cowling assembly and fuselage separately and assembled them afterwards. 

"When Hasegawa released the 1/48 E8N Dave in 2015 featuring overdone fabric and ports I wondered how this could be revised. At that time an idea arose of a mask that after spraying would create an optical illusion. It took time to realise that idea (in the meantime a fellow modeller from CZ had started to produce such masks for 1/72 scale kits) and I first used it on this kit, even though I used a similar method on my Fujimi 1/72 scale Type 96 Model 4 Kansen. I must admit I have not mastered this method yet but the result is good for a 1/72 scale kit. Unfortunately the oil wash almost ruined my work as it absorbed into the clear coat making the overall appearance faded.

"Mask used – canopy both sides, all markings and control surfaces Optical Illusion Mask. Colours - Gunze overall, Vallejo for the small parts. Weathering – MiG and Artist chalks."

With special thanks to Jan for sharing these photos of his excellent model and the details about his build. If anyone is interested in the masks for this kit please email Jan.

Image credits: All kit photos © 2019 Jan Hajicek; Box art © 2018 Fine Molds Corp.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Canopied Claude and Silver Tony in 1/72

The new 1/72 A5M2b 'Canopied' Claude from Clear Prop! due to be released is rather pricey at about £23 (and over £43 at HLJ which might be something to do with exchange rates or customs duties). Even with a photo-etch sheet and decal options for a camouflaged bird and three natural metal machines it seems expensive, but perhaps that is just an outdated perception of prices on my part. There appear to be a large number of small detail parts for cockpit and engine which is consistent with the previous Gloster E28/39 Pioneer kit from this company and an innovative method of sprue attachments which reduces the possibility of damage to the external airframe parts. Hat tip to Clear Prop! for the Hemp (sic) under surface colour ;-), although natural metal might be more appropriate for this one. More to follow on this as the 'canopied' Claude is a favourite. 

Tamiya have recently released a silver-plated version of their superb 1/72 Ki-61-1 Tei Hien 'Tony' kit. This seems to have attracted some sniffy reviews which seems a little unfair. Many modelers find it difficult to achieve convincing natural metal finishes and the silver-plating in this case is about on a par but a little brighter and shinier than an airbrushed Humbrol Metalcote Polished Aluminium rather than the excessively 'chromed' finish on early silver-plated kits. The upside is a smooth and consistent shiny aluminium finish ready for the mottle camouflage decals which are included in the kit (approximately # 21 green) or for painting in other camouflage finishes such as the # 27 blue green mottle, or # 7 solid with wear and tear - or leaving as is. I guess also that the finish could be lightly scoured with graphite dust to represent a more weathered and oxidised aluminium appearance.  The downside is that the plating covers every single kit part and will have to be carefully removed from mating edges by scraping to facilitate gluing. Tamiya cite their X-11 Chrome Silver paint for touch ups but I reckon you could get away with the aforementioned Humbrol Metalcote too.  In addition to the mottle camouflage decals the kit comes with the same three decal options as the original kit with the blue or red fuselage stripes to suit preference or prejudice. There is a comprehensive history of the type in English, the usual very clear instructions (from the original kit) and a nice touch - a sheet of 'Tech Tips' for modelling tools, how to use them and for painting - English included (Fine Molds take note!). Box art is new and more inspiring than the original ground-bound image. The kit retails for about £14 at HLJ which seems reasonable. In conclusion, nice one Tamiya!

Image credits:- A5M2b box art and contents © 2019 Clear Prop!; Ki-61 box art © 2019 Tamiya, Inc. via HLJ

Thursday 9 May 2019

Jim Anderson's Rufe and Seahawk


Jim Anderson has very kindly shared these images of his 1/72 Hasegawa Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe juxtaposed with his Antares Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk from 1995 in the same scale.  The Seahawk was not a floatplane fighter as such, despite armament of two wing-mounted .5 machine guns, but a multi-role floatplane used for scouting, plotting naval gunfire, anti-submarine warfare and air sea rescue work. It was a larger aircraft than online images of models suggest and as these comparison images with Rufe reveal.

Unusually and unlike previous USN scout floatplanes it was a sprightly single seater with provision to carry a rescued person in the rear fuselage and also the options of carrying an external radar pod or a 500lb bomb or rescue pod under each wing. In addition the main float originally had two internal bomb bays for bombs, depth charges or additional fuel tankage. Curtiss built the Seahawks with a fixed undercarriage and they were then flown to Naval Air Stations for the fitting of the Edo floats.  556 SC-1s were manufactured and from October 1944 22 saw wartime service on seven ships, mainly battle cruisers and battleships. They continued in operation post-war until 1949 but the last catapult launch from a ship, the USS Missouri, was in February 1948.  

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) concept of a float-equipped fighter to support operations in the absence of carriers or airfields originated in 1940 in the planning for the expected offensive across the islands of the East Indies and South-West Pacific area (SWPA). The Kawanishi N1K Kyofu (Strong Wind) was the outcome of the intended design but delays in that project required an interim solution and it was decided that the A6M2 would be modified to fulfill the urgently needed role. The requirement specification for conversion as the Mk.1 Fighter Seaplane was given to Nakajima who were preparing to commence A6M2 production. Between December 1941 and July 1943 Nakajima produced a total of 254 A6M2-N floatplane fighters which were deployed predominantly in the East Indies, SWPA and Aleutians islands campaigns.

In terms of performance comparisons (always fraught with danger!) Seahawk maximum speed is reported as 210 knots at sea level (approx. 242 mph) compared to 235 knots (approx. 270 mph) for Rufe at 5,000 ft. Seahawk rate of climb 2,500 fpm compared to 2,440 fpm for Rufe. And operating range 645 miles for Seahawk and 1,107 miles for Rufe.  

The Antares kit was reissued by Smer from 2006. Jim found that the original Antares kit was decent except for a horribly thick canopy which he had to take a grinder bit to "and sand, sand, sand away on"! The Smer canopy although still rather thick seems to be an improvement in terms of clarity. Jim gave his Seahawk some personal nose art and a 'kill' flag as a neat touch, although there is no apparent evidence of a Seahawk claiming an air-to-air victory.  

With special thanks to Jim for sharing these pictures of a dogfight double that never was (?) and highlighting one of the lesser known floatplanes of the Pacific War. 

Image credits:- All © 2019 Jim Anderson


Monday 6 May 2019

Tetsuya Inoue's Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop' Project in 1/48

Following on from the last Aviation of Japan update on his project Tetsuya Inoue has shared these photos of his continuing superlative model engineering work. Tetsuya calls this a work-in-regression rather than a work-in-progress thanks to new information in the KHI book 'The Resoration Records of Ki-61' which required him remake some parts to make them more precise. 

The full progress report can be found at Tetsuya's blog here. Please follow it to enjoy all the painstaking work and astonishing detail that Tetsuya has put into this project. Previous Aviation of Japan progress updates may be found at this blog for October 2018, March 2018 and June 2017.

With special thanks to Tetsuya for this update and for sharing these photos of his remarkable model engineering project. In 1/24 or 1/32 scale this work would be impressive but in 1/48 scale it is nothing short of absolutely outstanding. 

Image credit: All photos © 2019 Tetsuya Inoue