Friday 21 February 2020

Ida at Kemajoran

In the mid-1970s a letter from former Far East Bomber Command (RAF) Flt Lt A D Douglas was published in Air Enthusiast Quarterly Number Three (undated). The letter was in response to an article on Indonesian aviation which had appeared in Issue Two and included photographs and his contemporaneously recorded notes describing three Tachikawa Ki-55 'Ida'/'Tjukio' aircraft in Indonesian markings which on 23 April 1946 had arrived at Kemajoran airfield, Jakarta (Java) where he was serving as Flying Control Officer. These aircraft brought the first Chief of Staff of AURI (Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia - Air Force of the Indonesian Republic) Komodor Udara Suryardi Suryadarma and a Mayor Jenderal Sudibyo from Maguwo, a landing ground on the eastern outskirts of Yogyakarta, Java, for a meeting with officials of RAPWI (Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees) which was already involved in mercy flights across Java using a mixture of Allied and Japanese aircraft. AURI had been established only two weeks previously from the Air Service Volunteer Corps, part of the Indonesian People's Security Force (Badan Keamanan Rakyat) formed the previous year. The notes are too interesting to remain buried in an almost fifty year old journal and are reproduced here with acknowledgement and in gratitude that officers like Flt Lt Douglas took the time to record such details for posterity.

"Three aircraft of Indonesia Republic Air Force landed at Kemajoran Airfield, Batavia at 1235 hrs on 23 April 1946. Colouring was blue grey mottled with dark blue green, plain blue-grey under-surfaces. 

"T4 swung off the runway on landing and the starboard undercarriage collapsed damaging the wing. Upon examination it proved to be the hollow section oleo leg that was corroded from the inside  almost three-quarters of the thickness of the metal. No one was injured. This plane is now on the scrapheap with other Japanese aircraft. One machine gun was carried with the breech inside the cockpit on the starboard side firing berween the cylinder blocks. No ammunition was carried. The gun proved to be a Vickers 1935 model belt fed 0.303-in (7.7mm).

"T5 made a very poor landing and very nearly crashed on take-off as the pilot tried to 'unstick' too soon. 

"T6 made a 360-deg ground lopp but the pilot just carried on as if nothing had happened. It made a very poor take-off the following day.

"All were piloted by Indonesians. Very poor condition all round. Cowling, wings and even the cockpit cover were covered in oil and no attempt made to clean it off. Dual control fitted. All instruments gathered on port side. Many of the instruments are missing. Bomb rack for 500 lb (227 kg) bomb under the centre of the fuselage and provision for four small incendiaries under each wing. Ring mounting in rear cockpit and no gun."

These intriguing details suggest almost a hybrid Ki-36/Ki-55 with a tactical rather than trainer paint scheme. The aircraft appear to have Indonesian roundels in six positions and a rudder painted in red over white national colours. The individual alpha-numeric aircraft identification number  - 'T' for Tjukio - appears on the fin in relatively small letters in red (?) with no hyphen. Another Indonesian 'Ida' (shown above) has the alpha-numeric designation 'T' -above '08' in white on the fin.  Other photographs of T6 at Kemajoran which appeared in a specialist Indonesian publication from 1986 and film footage of the incident suggest a sparse mottle and a paint finish heavily weathered and 'chalked'. The dark blue green of the mottle, rather than olive green, is noteworthy but consistent with other evidence. The blue-grey description perpetuates uncertainties and blue-green perception complexities regarding the appearance of the standard Army grey green paint, especially as the paint tended to 'chalk' in service towards a more flat or matt, lighter blueish-grey, but bear in mind that, for example, extant paint from one Ki-45 manufactured at the Akashi factory in June 1944 measures as a Munsell 'B' - Blue - close to FS 36320 in appearance. There are similar examples of blueish-grey paint on the Ki-27. Some of this blue-green subtlety may be appreciated from the Gunze paint 128 Gray Green when applied, whereas Tamiya XF-14 J.A. Grey has a stronger and brighter yellowish-green appearance, more towards RAF Sky.

 The better known TK 105 ('TK' for Tjukio)

The aircraft were without spats or spinners but unfortunately the photographs do not reveal the presence or absence of ventral windows. The armament described was probably a Type 89 Kai fixed machine gun, being a license-made Vickers Class E machine gun manufactured at the Kokura and Nagoya Army Arsenals.

Hat tip to Jacob Terlouw for kindly alerting me to some excellent IMW (Imperial War Museum) film footage of the Idas at Kemajoran here.

Image Credit: Flt Lt A D Douglas RAF (1946) via Air Enthusiast Quarterly No.3 (undated); Air Enthusiast Quarterly No.2 (undated).     

Monday 10 February 2020

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

John Haas continues to share the kit-less creation of his prodigious, peachy and pioneering 'Patsy' in 1/48 scale (no less). Part One can be found here.  In his own words then.

"First I would like to thank all the readers for their kind comments ! The fuselage and wing were ready for joining. The first thing to do was to cut the completed single piece wing into two halves. I then drilled four holes in them to fit some lengths of metal pin (large paperclips work fine here) to make a solid connection to the fuselage. Those massive wing halves are quite heavy!

"The next step was to fabricate two engines and their nacelles. Fortunately I had some leftover pieces of very fine grain wood, which is excellent material for making round parts. I have no lathe so everything has to be done by hand with much filing and sanding. It was also a challenge to make the two streamline fairings on the top of the wings. Really a trial and error job to get it right.

"But at this stage we were getting somewhere. The main parts came together and it really started to look like a Patsy. After checking all the connections and puttying with grey paint, it was time for the smaller parts.

"The spinners are made from some drop tanks and luckily this time I a found two main wheels of an old F-111 in the spares box which were just the right size! I even found a Lightning nosewheel which after some modification fitted as the tailwheel. The undercarriage legs had to be sturdy, so they are made out of two sizes of aluminium tubing with some plastic details.

"Then I had to make some more engine parts, two cooling fans, cowling gills, wheel doors and after much studying of the photographs I figured out what the exhausts should look like. And finally followed an exercise in patience, filing and sanding eight propeller blades.

"Up to the next work-in-progress report - part three!"

With special thanks to John for sharing this wonderful example of expert scratch-building. Those two engine cowlings and nacelles in wood - made without a lathe - are masterpieces in their own right!

Image credit: Heading photo US Army via Wiki; All build photos © 2020 John Haas


Saturday 1 February 2020

Kyofus at Surabaya 1945-46

In response to the recent feature on Zegeye's Kyofu Model and discussion of the Kyofus operated by 936 Ku and the 22nd Special Base Force in the East Indies, Jacob Terlouw has kindly shared these interesting photos and useful information.

Photo # 1 Aerial View of Kyofu at Surabaya - note paint wear on wing roots

Photo # 2 - note missing (?) rear transparency and white 'patch' at rear of cockpit. Is this the modified access door?

From Jacob: "No doubt- at least three N1K1's were found at Surabaya at the end of the war, at the end of 1946 one was shipped aboard the carrier Karel Doorman-1 to the Netherlands along with an Aichi E13A1b (Jake). In the spring of 1947 they arrived in Amsterdam. When taken aboard in Surabaya they sported AURI markings - as almost all Japanese planes left at Surabaya, why the planes were re-painted with Hinomarus I can only guess. The fate of these planes is not exactly known- I think the Rex went to the Technical University at Delft but the fate of the Jake was probably serving as a target for shooting practice! Nothing of both planes remains. There is one thing I saw on the few photos of the Rex's - all three of them had the early type exhausts - just like the prototype."

Photo # 3 Carrier Karel Doorman-1 

Photo #  4 Carrier Karel Doorman-1 

 Photo # 5 Jake and Rex on Karel Doorman-1

One of these Kyofu (see Photo # 2 above) has a rectangular white looking 'patch' near the cockpit, and a similarly shaped 'patch' is also seen on the rear fuselage of another Aichi Jake at Surabaya (not shown), positioned by the rear crew position. Is this the access door made to adapt Kyofu # 21 as a two seater?

 Photo # 6 Kyofu A1-105 on Karel Doorman-1

The Kyofu on the deck of the carrier (above) displays the tail code 'A1-105', identifying it as an aircraft of 936 Ku, part of the 13th Air Fleet, 10th (South West) Area Fleet. The alloted aircraft numbers for the East Indies Detached Unit were reportedly 61-100 so this particularly aircraft appears supernumerary to that. The main unit, based at Singapore and Penang, used white for tail codes (1-30) but the detached units (Indo-China, 31-60, and East Indies) used colours at the discretion of the commanding officer.  

  Photo # 7 Kyofu at Penang, 1946

The photo above is marked on the back as being taken at Penang. Malaya in April 1946 and notes that this seaplane was 'supposed to be the fastest in the world'. Pity the tail markings, if any, are not visible!

With special thanks to Jacob for sharing these photos and information.

Image credits: Heading art © 1995 Hasegawa Corporation; Photo 1 Royal Institute for the Tropics & Ethnic Studies, Holland; Photos 3-5 E. Beekman, Stenen Hooft Amsterdam; Photo 2 via Jacob Terlouw; Photos 6-7 Jacob Terlouw