Thursday 23 April 2020

Jim Anderson's 1/72 Willow in Sea Boots

Jim Anderson has kindly shared another collection of images and build notes, this time for his 1/72 LS model of the Yokosuka K5Y2 'Willow' trainer in floatplane configuration. This venerable kit was first released in 1973 in both wheeled and floatplane versions and is still intermittently available from Arii. Over to Jim then:-

"Firstly, let me say 'thank you' to Nick and the Aviation of Japan audience for all of the encouraging comments I’ve received in response to my previous postings.  I started this 1/72 LS Yokosuka K5Y2 ‘Willow’ with floats in August 2010 with the build lasting about 3 weeks.  For a vintage model it was nicely molded, being about to 1970s Airfix or Hasegawa quality.  The box art was very colorful and the surprise was inside as I laid eyes on the shockingly brilliant orange plastic!  

"There were no issues with the kit although some might consider replacing the kit supplied windscreens, which I chose not to  The only scratch building being two simple instrument panels and two pilot seats.  Attaching the upper wing to the ‘N’ struts went well.  I used the kit supplied decals which by that time had to be well over 20 years old but were in remarkably good shape. 

"Painting was as follows: the interior from a 50/50 mix of 'old school' Pactra M-7 Artillery Olive (FS 34088) and Pactra XF-19 Flat Battleship Gray - fine. Now to priming in preparation for the color coat.  I airbrushed everything with a light coat of Testors Flat White but that was not enough.  In hindsight it really needed another coat of opaque light gray as the glaring orange plastic was too much for my casual attempt to hide it.  

"I figured it was  going to be orange anyway – famous last thoughts.   The rudder and vertical stabilizer were painted with Testors 1/4 oz. Red 1103.  The overall color is 60% Model Masters Chrome Yellow FS 13538 with 40% (approximate) Pactra Insignia Orange X-13.  I think that using a regular yellow would have been a better choice than the chromate version I used, as I was never satisfied by the way it looked.  The upper pontoon struts were painted Humbrol HF1 Khaki, the engine cowling was Humbrol Matt Black #33 and the cockpit coaming was Model Master Leather. 

"The decals and rigging were applied next then a diluted coat of Testors Dullcote Lacquer was applied to the model to complete the project.  The combination of pontoons on a biplane can be vexing to a modeler, but with this kit proved not to be the case.  I’d suggest 'Willow' with floats to anyone wanting to 'have a go' at one."

Jim Anderson

'Willow' was the Imperial Japanese Navy's Type 93 Intermediate Trainer, popularly known as 'Akatonbo' (赤蜻蛉 - red dragonfly) from its orange and red plumage, the design originating in 1932 as a joint project to improve on the Type 91 trainer by Kawanishi and the First Naval Air Technical Arsenal at Yokosuka. The wheeled version was designated K5Y1 and the floatplane version K5Y2. The K5Y2 type was produced at five different aircraft factories with production stretching from 1933 at Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. to 1945 at Fuji Hikoki K.K. and Nippon Hikoki K.K. The best English language reference to this long serving and iconic biplane is undoubtedly the superb and highly recommended Arawasi Eagle Eye Series No.2 monograph which includes a wealth of detailed information, plans, photographs, inspiring colour profiles and a translation of the Fuji company's painting specifications.

In addition to the LS kit there have been more recent kits of 'Willow' in 1/72 scale from Valom and AZ Model. There is also a classic 1/48 scale kit of the K5Y1 wheeled version released by Otaki in 1972 and subsequently available under the Arii label. 1/32 scale kits of the K5Y1 and K5Y2 were released by Nitto Kagaku in the same year as the LS kit. The Nitto Kagaku kits were also issued by Entex Industries and from 1991 were issued by Doyusha and are still available under that label.  The 1/32 scale 'Willow' floatplane was featured here in November 2010.  

Image credit: All model photos © 2020 Jim Anderson; LS Box art via Scale Mates


Dan Salamone said...

Love seeing the floatplane version. I also recall feeling surprised upon opening the Nichimo Ki-9 kit and seeing the orange plastic! Thanks for sharing this,


Mark Smith said...

Jim, another one nicely done - and in three weeks! Thanks for hosting the article and showing it off, Nick. I've seen color photos of a well-preserved relic from an Akatombo, Jim, a wheel and tire, and the hub is a deep and bright orange! Google 'images for K5Y Willow' and you'll see that Watanabe's lovely box art painting of the landplane version for the 1/48 Otaki kit supports your bright color as well. And he saw plenty of them.
I wish I knew more about the genesis of LS kits, which were terrific for their time and still build into beautiful models, as this article shows once again. I was looking at their 1/144 Emily, now 45 years old (?); it's still quite fine.

R. Vieira said...

Fantastic article and great build of a classic kit! Thanks Jim and Nick.
I must get Arawasi's reference title on the type.
As for the recent 1/72 czech kits of this beautiful biplane, I think the AZ one is a rebox of an earlier Valom release but I could be wrong.
I have fond memories of the LS kit, having built one as a kid around 1982...


Danilo said...

Lovely model, Jim! Since I own the Willow's Valom, Az and -of course- Ls kits, some times ago I made a comparison between the variuos kits and I can say that almost certainly the most recent kits ALL have been generated by the LS model. If not simply a re-boxing these LS descendant have had the moulds cleaned up, cockpit and exterior details added, a different wings' partition, resin and p/etched parts and better decal sheet -but fuselage and wings clearly show their origins!! Leaving aside any commercial consideration this all means the LS kits were a step ahead of their times and still can hold a candle with more recent productions. We must admit the Japs in the Seventies were already able to offer great models -I remember my surprise when I received my first Mania kits with their very finely engraved panels and the wings' trailing edges as sharp as a knife - something still a rarity among many of today's kits ! It is no coincidence Hasegawa still have those ex-Mania kits in their catalogue.

Ken Glass said...

Nice work, Jim. Thanks for sharing Jim & Nick.