Friday 31 January 2020

Alvaro's Illustrated Zeke

Alvaro César who in August 2013 kindly shared images of his superb build of the Tamiya 1/48 A6M3 Model 22 Zero, has now shared his accomplished and evocative pencil illustration of a pair of A6M2 Zeros from the IJN carrier Zuikaku. EII-102 was flown by F1c Tetsuzo Iwamoto on CAP from Zuikaku during the Pearl Harbor strike. At that time Iwamoto was already an ace from the China campaign with 14 claimed victories and was to make further claims as a carrier pilot over Ceylon and during the Battle of the Coral Sea. After a spell instructing in Japan he returned to operations and fought from Rabaul to Okinawa achieving an estimated 80 victories. He survived the war but died from blood poisoning in 1954.

With thanks to Alvaro for kindly sharing this illustration with Aviation of Japan.

Image credit: © 2020 Alvaro César

Thursday 30 January 2020

Zero Interior Colours

Way back in June 2008 a schematic of colours from reported values for  Zero interior colours was blogged here and one of those, a rather unusual brush painted light tan hue seen in the cockpits of two A6M3 aircraft, a Model 32 and 22, had been measured by Robert C Mikesh as Munsell 3.2 Y 7.6/3.5, the closest FS equivalent being 33578. This colour is identified as N38 in his 'Japanese Aircraft Interiors 1940-1945' (Monogram Aviation Publications 2000). Ichiro Hasegawa had also reported a matt yellow, similar to this colour, as being seen in the cockpit of an A6M2 aircraft. 

Now Ryan Toews has very kindly shared valuable additional information and photographs from his own recent observations about this unusual colour to suggest that it is anomalous. Ryan  has commented as follows:-

"Last September 23rd (2019) I spent the day at Legend Flyers in Everett WA. My primary purpose was to check the progress of their reconstruction of A6M3 Model 32 c/n 3148, but I found  in their collection of artifacts what I identified as most likely to be parts of two separate A6M3 Model 22 forward fuselage sections. (Images 01 [heading photo] and 02). Note, though, that these artifacts could also be from late Type 32s or very early Type 52s.

 Image 02
 "What was interesting was the “light tan” coloured cockpit interior paint on both cockpit sidewalls. I thought immediately of your 2008 description of this colour. However, when this paint was buffed down it revealed that the light tan colouration was actually a result of paint oxidation. (Images 03 and 04 – note that both of these images are from components found on the cockpit seen in Image 02) The paint in fact was a mid-green shade. I suspect that in better light and some additional removal of the oxidized paint the colour would fall into the same shade of green found on other Mitsubishi Zero interiors.

 Image 03

 "I suspect Mikesh’s earlier observations on this paint did not include him buffing down the surface. The existence of this light tan shade in at least two different cockpits would seem to indicate the degradation of the original paint is not uncommon, but the original shade was actually consistent with Mitsubishi’s usage of a darker green interior paint."

Image 04

The official IJN cockpit interior colour was the greyish green M0/M1 and it now seems probable that most recorded variations in hue from this colour standard are due to manufacturer batch differences, photo-chemical colour shifts or age-related degredation of the exposed or protected paint strata (and not easy to determine which is which!). A yellowing or browning of the paint binder would shift the hue towards more olive green and paint surfaces protected from exposure to UV light could be expected to darken. The vehicle in the wartime paint was not very stable, but inconsistently so, and although the rate of colour shift cannot be determined Ichiro Hasegawa's observation suggests that it could have been quite rapid, at least in terms of the duration of the war. However, in general terms, the Tamiya XF-71 Cockpit Green colour intended for IJN aircraft is a tad too green compared to the M0/M1 standard which is around Munsell 7.5 GY 5/2 and/or FS 24226 in appearance.  

With special thanks to Ryan for sharing his revelatory observations and photos. The original June 2008 blog will be amended to link to this one.

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Ryan Toews

Monday 27 January 2020

Ki-74 'Patsy' in 1/48 scale by John Haas ~ Part One

It is always a privilege to be able to share here the wonderful 1/48 scale aircraft models hand crafted by John Haas. His latest project to build a Ki-74 follows on from the Flying Review magazine retrospective feature on the type posted her last August. In John's own words then:

 "I always have had an interest in lesser known, exotic aircraft and the Tachikawa Ki-74 is no exception. To build a model you need good drawings. It took a long time before at last I found a rather good 3-view drawing as a starting point. Compaired with photographs, there are some minor differences.

"So I printed the drawings in 1/48 and started carving the fuselage in wood. I planned to make some vacuform sections for the cockpit and nose sections, to install some interior details later. I had some concern about blending the large 'bathtub ' with the fuselage belly but that worked out well.

"It involved a lot of work, to remove wood sections from the fuselage and replace them with the vacuum formed plastic parts, in the same time building the inner cockpit details.

"After this most importent and difficult chapter, I made the tail feathers. For those I also used plastic sheet. I find it easier this way, than to use some solid plastic or wood.

"Next major work, the wing. Fortunately I made quite a lot of them, so this was more or less a routine job. It always is a dusty business, shaving, carving and sanding. 
"I painted the fuselage and the wing in a neutral grey to check for any bad spots." 

To be continued in Part Two. 

Image credits: Heading photo US Army via Wiki; all build photos © 2020 John Haas


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