Saturday 10 August 2019

Francesco Borraccino's 1/48 Hasegawa Raiden

Francesco Borraccino has kindly shared these images of his masterful build of the Hasegawa 1/48 scale Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Type 21 kit which he completed painting recently after it had languished, almost built but unpainted, for nearly ten years.  Raiden was designated 海軍 局地 戦闘機 which is usually translated as 'Navy Interceptor Fighter (Aircraft)' but 局地 (kyokuchi) literally means limited or local area. Raiden 雷電 is 'Thunder and Lightning' usually translated as 'Thunderbolt'. Some aircraft seem to look better on the ground than in the air - and vice versa. The Spitfire is an example of the latter, with that knock kneed, narrow gauge undercarriage detracting from the aerodynamic excellence of its lines. But the Raiden is of the former with its powerful 'just about to leap' appearance captured perfectly in Francesco's presentation of an aircraft he describes as a 'true beast'. 

Francesco applied AK Real Colors D1 Deep Green Black to the upper surface and on the under surface a mix of Gunze H-61 and khaki to represent aircraft ケ(Ke)-1105 of the Genzan Ku in Spring, 1945, one of four Raiden subjects offered in the 2009 'Genzan Flying Group' edition of the kit.  The others being stable mate ケ-1103 of Genzan Ku, タイ(Tai)-101 of Tainan Ku in August 1944 and ヤ (Ya)-1195 of Yatabe Ku in December 1944.

With special thanks to Francesco for sharing these images of his fine looking Raiden model and also to Keishiro Nagao of Lifelike Decals for kindly explaining the aircraft designation in correspondence during 2015.

Image credit: All © 2019 Francesco Borracino

Friday 9 August 2019

Higher and Further ~ Patsy's Ambitious Endeavours

The RAF Flying Review magazine series 'These Were The Enemy' included a number of well known and lesser known Japanese types. No.70 in the series, published in Vol.XV, No.10 in June 1960 featured the Ki-74. The Tachikawa Ki-74 Long-range Reconnaissance Attacker (立川 キ-74 遠距離偵察撃機) is quite well documented on the internet and elsewhere and despite the small number built was assigned the Allied code name 'Patsy'. Its genesis was in a design intended to keep tabs on the Soviets by long-range photo-reconnaissance incursions to the west of Lake Baikal in Siberia. The project was suspended when priority was assigned to the Ki-77 (of which more anon, also courtesy of RAF Flying Review), but resurrected by the Army in a design proposal completed in September 1942. Aspiration was for long range attacks against the United States mainland but the war situation eventually relegated that to an attack against Saipan, although ultimately no operational sorties were conducted as actual production fell far behind that planned.

As usual the Flying Review article eschews any chauvinism with the recognition that Japanese aircraft designers "had proven themselves ingenious, ambitious and progressive, frequently creating exceptionally fine warplanes under conditions that would have appalled their western contemporaries". Operationally the Ki-74 should have been finished in the late-war No.7 olive drab colour but a colour photograph (heading image) suggests perhaps a more blueish dark green, similar to # 27 Ao midori iro or the IJN D2 and also to that seen in a colour photograph of a Tachikawa-built Ki-43-III Ko. That might just be due to an overall blue cast and degradation in the slide film or to non-factory painting by the Army. Photographs also suggest only partial painting of the under surfaces.

By December 1944 only three pre-production examples had been built against a planned production of 26. By August 1945 a further 12 had been completed against a planned production of 109. Tooling up for two line series production of the Ki-74 was in progress at the Sunegawa section of the Tachikawa plant but a B-29 raid on 17 February 1945 destroyed 40% of the wing and fuselage assembly building causing 30-80% damage to the jigs. On 4 April 1945 a second raid destroyed 20% of the Ki-74 final assembly building. In May 1945 a decision was made to transfer production to a new plant near Kumagaya, but it was never completed. Production was also delayed by a shortage of skilled labour as the Army had prioritised Ki-43-III Ko manufacture for Tachikawa as well as problems in the supply of oleos, oil coolers and electrical parts.

The Ki-74 is an impressive and intriguing aircraft with its B-17 like tail but has not yet attracted the attention of mainstream plastic injection kit manufacturers. A 1/72 resin kit of the type was released by A & V Models in the 1980s and it is a privilege to be able to share images (above and below) of a splendid build of that kit by Gunther Arnold, whose modelling blog is well worth visiting and contains a host of other beautifully built Japanese aircraft models, including a number of experimental types. A complete walkaround of Walther's Ki-74 model may be found at his blog here.  More recently A & W Models has released a resin kit of the Ki-74 in 1/144 scale.  

A&V Models Ki-74 resin kit in 1/72 scale

A&W Models Ki-74 resin kit  in 1/144 scale 

With special thanks to Gunther Arnold for his kind permission to share his model photos here.

Image credit:- Article scan © 1959 Royal Air Force Review Ltd.; Ki-74 model images © 2017 Gunther Arnold &; Photographs via web

Saturday 3 August 2019

Rising Decals Part 2 ~ Hayate in 1/72 & 1/48

The Rising Decals Hayate sheet - RD72085 - shown above, is a more modest offering than for Hien with only six subjects, but they are well chosen and interesting, as follows:-
  • Ki-84 Ko of 9 Sentai at Nanking, China in 1945 - olive drab over grey-green. A welcome subject, this unit operated a mixture of Ki-44 and Ki-84 at the end of the war
  • Ki-84 Ko of 22 Sentai in Korea, 1945 - depicted in a dense mottle of dark green over natural metal. A good photograph of the aircraft may be found in the Maru Special # 8 on Hayate 
  • Ki-84 s/n 84059 of 11 Sentai in 1944 - one of 59 first batch additional experimental airframes with single exhaust configuration constructed between August 1943 and March 1944. As depicted in Gakken # 46 in worn green over natural metal. The green probably the 'Nakajima Green' of # 21 and one thing to note is that the undercarriage covers were camouflaged green too
  • Ki-84 Ko s/n 2508 of 185-194 Shinbu Tai at Shomodate, Japan in 1945 - overall natural metal. Manufactured at Ohta in July 1945 and unpainted this aircraft was reportedly used for special attack training with water filled drop tanks, shown grey-green. This aircraft had a larger Toyota-made oil cooler and older style wheel hubs with cooling slots
  • Ki-84 of 1 Rensei Hikotai at Nakatsu, Japan in 1945 - described as one of the second batch of additional experimental airframes. The number '142' suggests one of 1,113 production aircraft manufactured between April and October 1944 but the cowling seems to reveal an original single exhaust type pattern re-configured to multiple exhausts. Aircraft is in a worn or densely mottled green over natural metal
  • Ki-84 of unknown unit in the Philippines, 1945 - possibly from a special attack unit or 200 Sentai,  in olive drab over grey-green

This is a good sheet for Hayate buffs with suggested kits from Sword or Hasegawa. A 1/48 sheet - RD48026 offers seven subjects but duplicates only four from the 1/72 sheet, with three new subjects as shown and described below. 

The three new subjects on this sheet are as follows:-

  • Ki-84 probably of Rikugun Koku Gijutsu Kenkyu sho (Army Air Technology Research Establishment) at Fussa (Yokota) in 1945 - one of 59 first batch additional experimental airframes with single exhaust constructed between August 1943 and March 1944. Green over natural metal with the camouflage worn away by exhaust heat and gas 
  • Ki-84 Ko of 1st Special Shinbu Tai, 101 Sentai at Miyokonojo, Japan in 1945 - aircraft flown by S/Sgt Nobuo Saito. Depicted as badly worn olive drab over grey-green (or possibly natural metal) with darker outer rings to the white borders on wing Hinomaru suggesting pre-painting (thus also the unusual combination of olive drab over natural metal, although other upper surface colours are possible
  •  Ki-84 Ko of 197th Shinbu Tai at Kita ise, Japan in 1945 - olive drab over grey-green

Another well chosen sheet with interesting subjects for the recommended Hasegawa kit.

Image credits:- All © 2019 Rising Decals 

Rising Swallows & Strong Winds Part 1 ~ New Decals in 1/72 & 1/48

The prolific Rising Decals have recently released sets of markings for Japanese Army fighters Hien and Hayate in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales.

Set RD72-083 provides markings for no less than 15 colourful Ki-61 and Ki-100 aircraft as shown above. Subjects are as follows:-
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of 56 Sentai at Itami, Japan in 1944 - aircraft # 751 flown by the Sentai CO Maj Haruyoshi Furukawa, olive drab over natural metal with white Homeland Defence bands
  • Ki-61-1 Ko of 68 Sentai, New Guinea theatre, 1944 - aircraft flown by Sgt Susumu Kajinami, dark green 'snake weave' over natural metal 
  • Ki-61-1 Otsu of 59 Sentai at Ashiya, Japan in 1944 - overall natural metal with dragon design on wheel covers. Unfortunately the spanwise Chutai-coloured stripes on the tailplanes, always part of the Sentai insignia, are not included on the sheet
  • Ki-61-1 Otsu of 39 Rensei Hikotai, Yokoshiba, Japan, 1945 - aircraft flown by Sgt Shuichi Kaiho, dark green mottle over natural metal. The unit insignia is printed with a white border whereas it should be natural metal, the result of masking the insignia before the camouflage was applied. This aircraft should also have the number '22' in white at the top of the rudder and in black on the wheel covers
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of 18 Rensei Hikotai, Maran, Java in 1944 - aircraft flown by 1Lt Naoto Fukunaga, olive drab over natural metal
  • Ki-61-1 Hei of 6 Shinten Seikutai, 18 Sentai at Kashiwa, Japan in 1945 - aircraft flown by Lt Mitsuo Oyake, overall natural metal with red and white tail feathers (red to be painted) and red victory silhouettes on fuselage
  • Ki-61-1 Otsu of 18 Rensei Hikotai at Maran, Java in 1944 - aircraft depicted in an unusual scheme of solid dark green on the upper surfaces with blotches of a darker green and natural metal under surfaces
  • Ki-61-1 Otsu of 8 Rensei Hikotai at Heito, Taiwan in 1944 - aircraft flown by WO Takeo Tagata, depicted in dark green mottle over natural metal. This aircraft was incorrectly depicted as a Tei in Osprey 137 prior to a photograph examined after publication. 
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of of 105 Sentai at Giran, Taiwan in 1945 - olive drab over natural metal. Giran and Giran South were landing grounds used by special attack units
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of 55 Sentai at Komaki, Japan in 1944 - aircraft flown by 1st Chutai leader Capt Takefumi Yano, olive drab over natural metal
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of 55 Sentai at Komaki, Japan in 1944 - aircraft flown by 2Lt Takeo Adachi, overall natural metal. A good case has been made by Lifelike Decals for the tail insignia being red as on an earlier Hayabusa flown by Adachi and it has also been pointed out that white seems unlikely on a natural metal aircraft although it was the 1st Chutai colour. However Adachi was a member of the Homeland Defence cadre which remained in Japan when the rest of the Sentai departed for the Philippines and the colour of the insignia, not seen in the only photograph, is unconfirmed
  • Ki-100-1 Ko of 18 Sentai at Matsudo, Japan in 1944 - aircraft flown by 3rd Chutai leader Capt Haruo Kawamura, depicted dark green over natural metal. Kawamura flew this aircraft on night sorties so there is a possibility that it was finished in the darker black(ish)-brown colour associated with night fighters and the Ki-100
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of an unknown unit in the Philippines in 1944 - depicted in dark green over natural metal. Aircraft has an unusual combination of mottled cowling but solid colour from the cockpit rearwards
  • Ki-100-1 Otsu of 5 Sentai at Kiyosi, Japan in 1945 - aircraft flown by Capt Totaro Ito - depicted in dark green over natural metal
  • Ki-61-1 Tei of 11 Rensei Hikotai at Chofu, Japan in 1945 - olive drab over natural metal

This is a colourful sheet offering a wonderful variety of schemes and markings for Hien buffs, with plenty of opportunity for personal intepretation and expression. Recommended kits are Tamiya, Aoshima, Fine Molds and RS Models.  A 1/48 scale sheet RD48027 duplicates eight of the schemes as shown below. Recommended kits are Tamiya and Hasegawa.  

Image credits: All © 2019 Rising Decals