Saturday 6 June 2020

Dan Salamone's Fine Molds 1/48 Ki-15-II

Dan Salamone has kindly shared these images and build report of his superlative 1/48 Mitsubishi Ki-15-II project from the Fine Molds kit. Known in Japanese Army service as '97 Shi-tei' (九七司偵 for 97 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki  - 九七式司令部偵察機 - Type 97 Headquarters Reconnaissance Aeroplane). Over to Dan then:-

"Hi all, here is my recently completed 1/48 Ki-15II Babs from Fine Molds, kit # FB 25. The kit has some really beautifully detailed cockpit and engine parts, and generally good overall fit. The main exception to that were the side observation windows, which needed a fair amount of putty and sanding to fair into the fuselage correctly.

"The kit features a single piece for the greenhouse style canopy, so I replaced it with a vacform canopy and canopy mask from Dead Design in the Czech Republic.

Both of these items were of exceptional quality, and highly recommended. The Ki-15 featured side opening pilot and observer sections, hinged at the center line. In addition, the pilot's canopy sat on rails (port side) both front and rear, whereas the observer's canopy lacked that feature on the port side. Finally, there was a distinctive 'sill' that bridged the fixed portions of the canopy, so if you wish to model the open parts, this will also need to be added. As an aside, the C5M2 version of the Babs used by the IJN featured a pilot's canopy that slid backwards, rather than being hinged on the starboard side.

"For painting the model I used the new AK Interactive 'Real Colors' thinned with Gunze lacquer thinner and retarder. Colors used were # 329 (Hairanshoku) for the cockpit blue-grey, # 328 (Hairyokushoku) mixed with # 303 (IJN J3) for the overall base grey-green, and # 331 (Midori iro) for the dark green camouflage. I based the finish on an 8th Sentai example seen on a YouTube video. The kit decals were used, and may have been the best decals I've ever used, reacting perfectly to Micro Sol and Micro Set solutions. Based in Burma in early 1942, the aircraft had very subtle weathering which was achieved using MiG 'Oilbrushers', as well as the recent AK weathering pencils. Both of these products are very highly recommended.

"Other than using the aftermarket vacform canopy, I added crew steps on the port side and under the left wing trailing edge. Recent kits from Fine Molds feature some really subtle and exceptional detail, for example the gap between the rudder and tailplane, and bulb detail in the under fuselage navigation light. Opening the canopy was well worth the added work and time, as the beautifully molded details can now be seen, together with the photo etched seat belts from Eduard also used. The radio antenna is a product called invisible thread.

"And in full disclosure, the reason why I added the dirty tarp near the rear canopy was due to getting a drop of Tamiya liquid cement on the rear canopy section. Since it wasn't feasible to fix that mistake, I opted to cover it instead.

"The kit, and Dead Design products for it, are highly recommended. I am somewhat on the fence regarding the AK Real Colors, they look nice, but I still prefer the way that Gunze lacquers airbrush." (AK recommend using their own brand thinner but I don't know if that makes a difference?  Ed.)

Dan's model represents an aircraft of Hiko Dai 8 Sentai operating over Burma during 1942. The 8th Sentai was formed in August 1938 from Hiko Dai 8 Rentai (8th Flying Regiment) and three years later its 1st Chutai became a reconnaissance unit whilst the 2nd to 4th Chutai operated Ki-48 light bombers. In practice the reconnaissance Chutai operated as detached elements assigned to each bomber Chutai for navigational support as well as pre and post-mission reconnaissance sorties. The distinctive unit marking, referred to as 'Takohachi' ('octopus-eight'), was devised within the unit as a combination of '8' and reportedly the phonetic characters 'hei' (へい) for Heito in Taiwan (now Pingtung or Pingdong in Takao Prefecture, south Taiwan) where the unit was originally based, although the same pronunciation for 'hei' (of a different character) can also mean army or warfare. 

The Ki-15 was introduced to operations in 1937 when on 17 July the second additional prototype was flown In Tianjin by Maj Yuzo Fujita and WO Sadao Eguchi of the 15th Flying Regiment. On 24 July the first additional prototype was flown from Fussa to Chengde, China by Capt Takeo Aoki and 1Lt Takeshi Ohmuro. The former Asahi aircraft 'Kamikaze' had been flown to Tianjin on 14 July for evaluation flights by the 15th Flying Regiment. The first additional prototype and second additional prototype flown by Capt Heigo Matsuzaki and 1Lt Fuhito Ishizu of the 15th Flying Regiment subsequently formed the Aoki unit under the direct command of the HQ Temporary (or Provisional) Air Corps (Rinji Koukuu Heidan - 臨時航空兵団) which had been established to conduct Army air operations over China. The first operational sortie of the Ki-15 was flown over Luoyang on 22 July 1937 by Capt Matsuzaki and 1Lt Ishizu of the 15th Flying Rentai, whilst the first sortie of the Aoki unit was a reconnaissance of Jinan airfield on 26 July by 1Lt Ohmuro with Capt Aoki as observer. Production of the improved Ki-15-II variant began from September 1939. By the outbreak of the Pacific War the Ki-15-I type was known to RAF Intelligence in Air HQ (India) as the Mitsubishi Type 97 'Kamikaze' or 'Army 97' light bomber/recce aircraft with relatively comprehensive details of its characteristics and performance, although its supposed bombing capability had been confused with the unidentified Ki-36 Chokkyo Army co-op aircraft 'Ida'. 

Identification page for Type 97 Model I from Japanese Service Aircraft, Air HQ (India) December 1941 

Reference and acknowledgement: 'Fighting Records of Japanese Bombers and Reconnaissance Planes 1914-1941' by Dr Yasuho Izawa M.D., Ph.D.
'Japanese Army Air Force Unit Insignia' by Minoru Akimoto, Koku Fan magazine, 1977 (courtesy of Ken Glass)
'Japanese Service Aircraft', Air HQ (India), December 1941 

Image credit: All model photos © 2020 Dan Salamone; Type 97 identification page author's collection.


blitzkrieg_bop said...

amazing Babs!!! Superb camo, congrats.

Francesco Borraccino

Dan Salamone said...

Thanks for the kind words, Francesco!

In reference to the choice of Gunze lacquer thinner with the AK Real Colors paints: AK advertised heavily that this new line of paint could be thinned with their "high compatibility" thinner, Gunze or Tamiya lacquer or acrylic thinners, etc. I did indeed do some spray tests with all these products, and felt that the Gunze product offered the best results. It gave the smoothest, and most durable finish after my tests.

I have also found that, after airbrushing paints when using Gunze lacquer thinner, if you spray thin coats of straight Gunze thinner (with retarder added, or the "leveling" thinner already pre-mixed), it will result in a very smooth, blended and durable finish.

Finally, the newer 1XX series of Gunze clear coats have been reformulated, and are truly superior products. I used the older super clear products on this Babs, but tried the brand new super smooth flat (GX 114) on my Eduard P-51 and find it to be the best dull coat available to date.


Michael Thurow said...

I like this type of camouflage on the Babs. She is not one of my favourite Japanese planes and the usual all-grey doesn't help my reservation. So, here we have an alternative, very nicely performed. Superior detailing as well!
Why not replace the damaged window with a piece of transparent plastic foil? No dirty rag anymore on this clean piece of art...

Dan Salamone said...

Thanks for the kind words, Michael! When the glue spill happened, the opened vacform canopies had already been installed, and they are rather fragile, so instead of drilling the window out (was molded integral to the rear fuselage) and replace, decided to cover instead. :-)


Unknown said...

Beautiful build, and thanks for the information on the AK paints and the Gunze products as well.


Jim Anderson said...

Really nice Dan. Enjoy the not often seen camouflage, complex and not the easy choice. The interior built up well with its coloration. I'm inspired to tackle the 1/72 Hasegawa "Hamp". Thanks Nick for blogging.


Mark Smith said...

I loved this post. Dan, that's a brilliant model. Your builds always feature excellent techniques and craft, but each has a one-off quality fired by your imagination and careful photo study, even when such photos are few. As to the canopy, nice save; I would leave it - I like it, as particularly with the base it lends a candid feel. Thanks for the comments about the different paints as well, as I want to try something different next time around. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

Nick, your comments cover something I always wondered about, which is how soon (and how) 'Kamikaze' and its brother prototypes were pressed into military service, after the blizzard of publicity following the record flight. I've always been fascinated by this particular airframe but its record after the flight is poorly recorded for non-Japanese readers. If it has appeared in English before I managed to miss it. Thanks for this, and thanks to Dr. Izawa for being willing to share such with us.

Dan Salamone said...

Thanks, Warren and Jim! It's funny, when I was done airbrushing the dark green, I actually thought it looked a bit like the field applied scheme on the Hamp.

The one thing I really did like with the AK Real Color paint was how the tip of my airbrush never dried out (was using extra Gunze paint retarder). When I build ground vehicles, I tend to paint them using Vallejo acrylics, and tip drying is simply part and parcel for those paints.


Dan Salamone said...

Thanks so much, Mark. Your comments mean a lot to me, as I really enjoy seeing your builds as well! I'm also wanting to try and decant the Tamiya spray paints, to be able to airbrush them as well. My LHS does carry the Gunze line, and when it comes to J-subjects, it's simply hard to beat a known quality item.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Hi Jim and Mark

Thank you both very much for kindly acknowledging my small part and 'add-on' to this feature.


Dan Salamone said...

Hi Nick, it is difficult to read a blog of yours and not come away with some sort of new knowledge or insight, be it on models, the colors, the machines, or the people who crewed them. It's what makes this blog so invaluable to so many of us. I had no idea that the Allies initially thought the Ki-15 could carry bombs, seems a safe assumption in hindsight as most if not all of the similar designs and types had offensive capability. It's also interesting after seeing scale plans of the Ki-51 and i-36/55, how similar in size and design these types were to one another.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Hi Dan

Thank you for those very kind words. It is a privilege to be able to showcase so many very fine models here and I hope that any 'add-ons' of mine are recognised as enthusiasm for the subject and not an attempt to 'hi-jack' other peoples work!


Dan Salamone said...

Hi Nick, more knowledge is always a good thing!


Ken Glass said...

Very nice work & write-up Dan. Thanks for the historical follow up, Nick.

Dan Salamone said...

Thank you, Ken. Appreciate it!