Saturday 30 November 2019

Horatio Hernández and Friendship Scale Models ~ The Ki-59

Back in December 2014, thanks to the insight and assistance of correspondent Guillermo, Aviation of Japan paid tribute to the late  Horatio Hernández of Mexico (shown above as a young man in characteristic Japanese dress), pioneer Japanese aircraft enthusiast, and his own line of resin kits marketed as Friendship Scale Models (FSM). Since then Guillermo has updated that information from a 366 mile visit to Horatio's home with images of a model made by Horatio himself from the first FSM resin kit of the Kokusai Ki-59 kindly shared here. Horatio's study and showcase with other 1/72 Japanese aircraft models have been touchingly preserved by Horatio's wife under lock and key, demonstrating the supreme legacy in life of Hazrat Inayat Khan's to have loved and to have been loved. Images of those will be shown in a separate blog.

 The FSM Ki-59 resin model as built by the late Horatio Hernández

The Kokusai Ki-59 Army Type 1 Transport plane originated in a 1937 design by Japan Air Industries of Osaka for an 8-10 seat medium range commercial transport aircraft developed for local services in response to a requirement by the Air Division of the Japanese Communications Ministry. In 1941 Japan Air Industries merged with the International Aircraft Company of Tokyo to become Nippon Kokusai Kogyo K.K. The design started life as the Teradakoken TK-3, first flying in June 1938 and powered by two Nakajima NAH Kotobuki (壽 -congratulations/long life) III radials of 550 hp (Army designation Ha-1a). A disappointing performance resulted in extensive re-working of the design and a 'second' prototype was subsequently registered as J-BBFG in early 1939. By that time the Army had shown interest in the type and an additional military prototype was developed as the Ki-59 with various airframe modifications to meet military requirements. The powerplants were changed to Gasuden Ha 13a 450 hp Army Type 98 radials* and after successful flight testing the aircraft went into production by the newly merged firm at their Hiratsuka factory in 1941, subsequently being designated by the Allies with the code name 'Theresa'. However, despite finding favour with pilots and operators, only 59 of the type were manufactured before being superceded by the Tachikawa Ki-54. The design then had a further lease of life with engines removed as the basis for the Army Experimental Glider Ku-8-1 and subsequent development into the Ku-8-II Army Type 4 Large Transport Glider.**

Horatio's model is finished in an overall grey-green colour scheme with markings suggested by two different photographs of the aircraft, the unknown tail insignia resembling that of Mito Army Flying School. Guillermo notes that the Ki-59 model had unfortunately suffered some damage to the left wing on the long journey which he repaired by simple glueing to preserve and respect Horatio's original work.

With very special thanks to Guillermo for his quest into this near lost but fascinating avenue of Japanese aircraft kit history and for sharing these fine images of Horatio's own and rare Ki-59 model.

* After company merger known as Hitachi Amakaze (雨風 - driving rain, rain and wind) engines with the same model number; an Army version of the Navy Tempû (Heavenly Wind) 21. All engine data in this article is drawn from 'Japanese Aero Engines 1910-1945' by Mike Goodwin and Peter Starkings (MMP Books/Stratus s.c., Poland 2017)  

** Please refer to 'Japanese Experimental Transport Aircraft of the Pacific War' by Giuseppe Picarella (MMP Books/Stratus s.c., Poland, 2011) for additional details of these gliders and other Japanese military and naval transport aircraft.

Image credit: All photos © 2019 Guillermo

Thursday 28 November 2019

Jim Anderson's 1/72 Shusui

Correspondent Jim Anderson has very kindly shared these images and write-up for his very neat 1/72 prototype Mitsubishi J8M1 Shusui (秋水 - Clear Autumn Water, a poetic term relating to the sound made by a particularly sharp sword as it moves through the air) model. The kit was released by Hasegawa in 1995 with a joint logo for 'NC Models', the latter an enigmatic company apparently responsible for designing the molds. It was subsequently re-released twice by Pit-Road; in 1999 and again in 2004 to represent the restored example in the Mitsubishi museum at their Nagoya factory, with additional white metal parts to represent the blisters over the guns and pilot armour. Now over to Jim:-    

"The kit was built in October of 2006 right out of the box and completed that month.  It was an enjoyable model to assemble being quite simple and small (wingspan 5 inches) with excellent detail.  Box art was worthy of note in that it depicted an abandoned gray green Shusui sitting in some grass.  The package came with a neat rotatable plastic turntable for desktop display.  There were no modifications made, although I should have filled in the two openings in the leading edge of the wing near the fuselage as these are locations for the proposed cannon armed version and not the prototype.

"In terms of painting the interior color was Humbrol Topside Green HT1 (Ed: a Russian Air Force colour in their Authentics range) with about 20% Testors Yellow # 1169 in an attempt to match Mitsubishi interior green.  The kit offers two paint schemes: one a green production version and the other the yellow orange prototype.  Decals for both having the standard six position Hinomaru plus two stencils.  Once assembled the plane received an overall coat of Model Masters Light Gray FS 36495 plus some Testors Gloss White # 1145 in the little 1/4 oz. bottle.  The natural metal area around the exhaust nozzle is Testors Silver # 1146, 1/4 oz.,  thinned with a 50/50 mix of paint thinner and lacquer thinner to prepare it for airbrushing.  

"For reasons still unknown, I wanted to create my own color for this build – something resembling the pumpkin which was in the house for Halloween.  I painted the nosecone with Gunze Semi Gloss Middle Stone H71.  masked off together with the canopy and the exhaust nozzle area in preparation for the overall color coat.  OK, that color ended up being 50% Tamiya Orange X-6, 30% Gunze Gloss Yellow H329 and 20% of the same Gunze Middle Stone H71 all mixed together and airbrushed on, allowing it to dry for a day.  I removed the masking, painted the canopy framework and applied the decals.  The Middle Stone on the nose cone should have been painted over, but I was curious as to how it would compare with the overall color and left it alone.  I don’t think this particular kit is still around but Pit Road offered one that might be the same Hasegawa moulds."

The story of the development of this rocket fighter design is remarkable, with its origin in tail-less glider experiments in Germany in the 1920s. And the development of the Japanese version even more remarkable given the circumstances. Japanese officials had witnessed the Meserchmitt Me163B 'Komet' in flight at Bad Zwischenahn and Rechlin, recognising it as a potential fast-climbing point defence fighter against the B-29. As a consequence negotiations were successfully completed for Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. to have the right to manufacture both the aircraft and the Helmut Walther Kiel Kommandogesellschaft HWK 109-509A bi-fuel rocket engine in Japan (as the Toku Ro.2) in collaboration with the IJN Yokosuka aeronautical engineering arsenal. In addition an example of the rocket engine and a complete Me163 were to be provided in return for 20 million Reichsmarks and critical raw materials of tin, copper, molybdenum and rubber required in Germany.

Unfortunately for Japanese plans the various Yanagi submarines carrying these items to Japan were all sunk en route, although it is reported that two sets of blueprints (and possibly other documents relating to the rocket engine and fuel) were successfully delivered.* The Japanese decided to proceed on that basis with a 19-shi specification drafted for both Navy and Army procurement, the latter as the Ki-200. The project was headed by Otsujiro Takahashi of Mitsubishi. A mock-up was completed by September 1944 and with official approval given for production full scale wooden glider versions of Shusui for training pilots were to be manufactured as the MXY8 Akigusa (秋草 - Autumn Grass).  In December 1944 the first MXY8 successfully took to the air in the hands of test pilot Lt Cdr Toyohiko Inusuka from Hyakurigahara airfeld, towed aloft by a Kyushu K10W1 of 312 Ku.  A heavier version of the glider was then constructed with water ballast tanks to better replicate the handling chracteristics of the operational aircraft. Construction of this version was by Maeda Koku K.K for the Navy and Yokoi Koku K.K. for the Army as the Ku 13 Shusui Training Glider.

Mitsubishi had completed two J8M1 airframes by the end of the year, fitted with ballast in lieu of the rocket engine and fuel, and these were tested in flight at Hyakurigahara from 8 January 1945, towed aloft by a B6N1 Tenzan.  The rocket engine for the J8M1 was not ready until June 1945 but by July the first full prototype Shusui was ready to fly at Yokosuka under its own power.  On 7 July 1945 Inusuka took the rocket fighter into the air, but at 1,300 feet the engine flamed out and the aircraft crashed with the pilot dying from his injuries the following day. The cause was thought to be the steep climb causing a shift of the hydrogen peroxide fuel to the rear of the fuel tank, cutting of the fuel supply and causing air in the fuel lines.  By the time this was being rectified for the 6th and 7th prototypes Japan had surrendered.

In addition to the Hasegawa/NC Models and Pit Road kits, a 1/72 Shusui kit was also released by MPM in 1995 with an updated follow-up release. Fine Molds have also released 1/48 scale kits of the aircraft. With special thanks to Jim for kindly sharing these images and his write-up with Aviation of Japan.

* Ro-501 Satsuki No.2 (ex-U-511) reportedly carrying one set of Me 163 blueprints had arrived safely at Kure, Japan on 7 August 1943. Ro-500 Satsuki No.1 (ex-U-1224) reportedly carrying one set of blueprints was sunk in the Atlantic Narrows on 13 May 1944;  I-29 Matsu (松 - Pine Tree) reportedly carrying the HWK rocket engine and one set of blueprints was sunk on 26 July 1944 in the Luzon Strait, although passengers Cdr Iwaya Eiichi and Capt Matsui had already disembarked at Singapore and proceeded to Japan by air in possession of the blueprints and other related documents.

Image credit: All model photos © 2019 Jim Anderson; Hasegawa-NCModels Box art © 1995 Hasegawa Corporation

Saturday 23 November 2019

Wingsy Kits 1/48 Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia (IJA Type 99 Assault/Recce Aircraft)

The world of modelling seems to have been treated to a mini-age of spats with a plethora of recent kits of spatted Japanese aircraft such as Claude, Babs and now Sonia. Correspondent Dan Salamone has very kindly provided this write-up and in-box images of the recently released and impressive looking Wingsy Kits 1/48 Ki-51 kit:-   

'I received my copy of the new Wingsy 1/48 Ki-51 this week, bought directly from the Ukraine. This is the second release of their Sonia, main difference being that you can model the landing gear with either the full spats, or with the spats removed. There are also more weapons options included with this version of the type.

This kit is world class, there isn't an ejector pin mark to be found. I am assuming this means that Wingsy used slide mold technology. Fine riveting is found on the airframe parts, and in my opinion this will look very realistic once the model is painted.

The box contains the sprues shown here with the clear parts including options for an open or closed canopy. There are also three different prop spinners and markings options for four different aircraft (Ed: 44th Hiko Sentai, China 1942 per box art; 83rd Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai, Borneo 1945; 74th Shimbu-tai, Japan 1945 and 6th Sekicho-tai, Philippines 1945). There is a small yet comprehensive photo etched fret, vinyl canopy masks, full color paint and markings sheet (double sided) providing Gunze color call outs, together with well printed and laid out instructions.

Due to the size of the cockpit opening, and the option of an open canopy, the beautiful detail of the component parts will be very easy to view and appreciate once completed. Highly recommended!'

With special thanks to Dan for kindly sharing this write-up and the images with Aviation of Japan. 

Image credit: All photos © 2019 Dan Salamone; kit box art and contents © 2019 Wingsy Kits