Thursday, 16 January 2020

Zegeye's 1/72 Kyofu 'Rex' Floatplane-Fighter

These kindly shared images of Zegeye's (Zbyszek Malicki) very impressive 1/72 Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu (強風 - Strong Wind), Allied code name 'Rex', built from the excellent Hasegawa kit of 1995 vintage, are a reminder that the third intended part of the Shiden-kai, Shiden & Kyofu Colours series of articles (from 2010!), concerned with the exterior colours of this floatplane fighter, was never posted. An omission to be rectified. . .

The model was built straight from the box and Zegeye chose Kawanish Green from the now defunct Aeromaster paints range for the upper surface and Gunze IJN Gray from their 'C' range for the under surface. The kit decals were used, representing an 'early type' aircraft of some distinction from the 22nd Special Base Force (特別根拠地隊 - Tokubetsu-konkyo-chitai) at Balikpapan, Borneo in 1945 (although the kit instructions state Surabaya, Java) with its distinctive blue tail code. The 22nd Special Base Force was part of the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet and consisted mainly of sub-chasers and patrol boats with a guard force and port affairs department. Special Base Forces assigned to Guard Districts and Fleets were similar to IJN Base Forces but were primarily tactical rather than administrative in function, usually located at Fleet HQs or in forward areas.  The commander of the 22nd Lt Masaharu Nishiwaki was a floatplane pilot himself and in early January 1945 he arranged to obtain and operate Kyofu aircraft left behind at Surabaya by 934 Ku when it was disbanded in March 1944. 934 Ku originally had nine of the type on strength (in addition to the A6M2-N) and three serviceable examples were collected and used by the 22nd from Balikpapan on patrol and interception duties. 

 The Kyofus engaged Allied bombers on several occasions, claiming damage but without confirmation of any 'kills'. Two of the aircraft were subsequently destroyed by Allied strafing and the survivor 022-121, the subject of Zegeye's model and the Hasegawa kit, was then converted at the Surabaya depot into a two-seater for use on liaison duties between the two locations. After the evacuation of Balikpapan the 22nd air echelon moved to Jakarta and in July 1945 was consolidated with 936 Ku. From there the two seat Kyofu survivor was used to fly medical supplies to beleagured units still in Borneo, Flyer 1/C Tokujo Nakanishi earning an individual citation for successfully completing this sortie in stages, landing on a river in the dark and overcoming engine problems on the return flight.  It is possible that this particular aircraft survived to be photographed post-war at Surabaya (?) in Indonesian markings.

The Hasegawa Kyofu kit was also released in separate 'late type' (Sasebo Ku) with individual exhaust outlets and 'prototype' versions in 1996, with an added 'Aquarama' water display base in 1997 (which is a rare gem), as a 'combo' kit with the Nakajima A6M2-N 'Rufe' in 2012 (Sasebo Ku and prototype), in an 'early/late type' combo in 2013 (Otsu and Sasebo Ku) and as another Rufe combo for 934 Ku in 2015.    

With special thanks to Zbyszek for kindly sharing these images of his model with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: All © 2020 Zbyszek Malicki


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

More on Dr Kimura

This snippet 'A Pair of Swallows' from the Modelling section of the October 1963 issue of Flying Review International magazine (Vol.19 No.2) mentions a visit from Dr Hidemasa Kimura, designer of the Ki-77 and reveals that he was also a keen modeller. Eichiro Sekigawa will be remembered by veteran Japanese aviation enthusiasts in the West for his seminal 'Pictorial History of Japanese Military Aviation' published by Ian Allan Ltd., in 1974. The Nichimo Ki-61-II was indeed a good kit for its time and has been previously featured here in April 2012 (scroll down) with images of a model made by Ken Glass posted here in July 2012. The remarks about the Revell kit (to be featured here in due course) are puzzling as it does not represent a Ki-61-II but rather a hybrid Ki-61-I!

Dr Kimura was also involved in the design of the NAMC (Nihon Kōkūki Seizō 日本航空機製造 - Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation) YS-11 turboprop airliner, the first indigenously designed post-war aircraft to be exported from Japan with two aircraft delivered to Filipinas Orient Airways in 1965. The YS-11 gained FAA certification the same year and domestic operation began with Japan Domestic Airlines Co., Ltd. (Nihon Kokunai Kōkū 日本国内航空) and Japan Transocean Air Co., Ltd. (Nippon Toransuōshan Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha 日本トランスオーシャン航空株式会社). The YS-11 was also operated by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Japan Coast Guard in the electronic warfare, ELINT, training and passenger/freight roles. A total of 182 aircraft were produced from 1962 to 1974.

Despite limited commercial success outside Japan and controversy surrounding its development and design many different kits of the YS-11 have been released since 1965 by Hasegawa and Doyusha to 1/144 scale, Otaki, Paramount and Sanwa to 1/150 scale, Platz to 1/200 scale, and Bandai and Imai to 1/72 scale.  One Man Model released new 1/72 and 1/48 versions in 2017 and 2019 respectively.  When W R Matthews reviewed the Otaki kit (original box art shown above) in the December 1965 issue of Flying Review International (Vol.21 No.4) he described it as 'cleanly pressed but has a good deal of rather heavy rivet detail ' and 'well worth having' for the airliner enthusiast. 

Image credit: Dr Kimura photo web; magazine images © 1963 & 1965 Flying Review International magazine published for Purnell & Sons Ltd., by Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.; Book cover art by George Heiron for Ian Allan Studio © 1974 Ian Allan Ltd.; Box art © 1963 Nichimo and 1965 Otaki