Thursday 30 July 2020

Kevin Bade's Big Liz in 1/72

Kevin Bade has kindly shared more images and memories of rare kits in the shape of the Create 301 1/72 resin kits of the Nakajima G5N1 and G5N2 Shinzan (深山 - Mountain Recess/Deep in the mountains) 'Liz' long-range heavy bomber project of the IJN. Kevin's build of the G5N2 (above) together with images of the unbuilt G5N1 kit components are shown with his own description as follows:- 

'I purchased this kit directly from Create 301 in December 1999 as my kit log shows with the price being $240 US. As you see from the pictures for a big airplane it has surprisingly few parts. Wings, fuselage, tail and cowlings in cast resin with engines, props, landing gear and interior parts in white metal. The clear parts are in clear(ish) resin. Surface scribing on the main parts is excellent. However the relatively low parts count did not translate into an easy build. Firstly it is very heavy due to the solid cast wings and secondly it is a nose sitter. The manufacturer included a white metal brick that provided the nose weight, cockpit floor and nose gear bay.  

'The weight and the heavy wings and hollow fuselage were a challenge I probably didn't think through enough before diving into building it. I detailed the cockpit to the best of my ability using the FAOW Shinzan/Renzan book. For some reason I know not now I chose to paint the interior a light blue gray which is probably completely wrong. I even added a sextant and a map to the large navigators table as an exercise in artistic flair - or folly. The center section of the fuselage where the wings were to be mounted was built up with multiple bulkheads of laminated styrene epoxied in place in anticipation of the need for a strong structure. The wing root attachment points were drilled out and dowelled to join to the fuselage. 

'After assembling the fuselage halves, adding the wings, tail, metal engines, etc., the nose heavy, and I mean really heavy, weight of this growing large model became evident. It became much more difficult just to handle and never failed to remind me of the law of gravity. The resin clear parts had a pebble grain finish so it was out with the polishing cloths down to 12000 grit or something and then two coats of Future inside and out. I had to build a box with cutouts for the fuselage and wings to sit in as fears of breaking it at some point were nagging me every time I moved it. 

'The model was painted with Aeromaster enamel IJN green and grey but I lightened the topside green and shaded some panels to break up the vast expanse. Decals went on perfectly duplicating the G5N2 photographed I think at Atsugi near the end of the war. Dullcote was applied and then the fun began. Adding the white metal gear and wheels whilst trying to get its three point stance perfect knowing the enormous weight they would be supporting, especially the poor little nose gear with that metal brick sitting on it. Well finally I got that done, added aerials, attenna and props and Liz was done. I was fairly pleased with result. I am no master modeler but she looked the part. 

'Upon close inspection of the photos, now 10 years later, one can see the mass of this model has been its undoing. A long split has appeared along the fuselage spine and one main gear oleo has started to collapse. In retrospect I think that this model might have been better realised as a vacuform kit but part of it is no doubt my not anticipating some things. Sort of ironically my G5N2 issues were the same issues that befell the full size Liz, that of being overweight. I dont know if I can, or shall attempt to fix it but still it was an enjoyable if slightly stressful project that I'm glad I undertook.

'I also have the Create 301 G5N1 and the Unicraft kits also but I think I will wait for the forthcoming Hasegawa kit (keep dreaming kiddo) to build another in that brown and green scheme. Meanwhile the Unicraft Ki-91 is on my bench with prep work and engineering planning ongoing using the lessons I learned from Liz. Cosidering it is even heavier and larger it has not passed me by that I am possibly a glutton for punshment, foolhardy or just overreaching my skillset. But for me that is what makes modelling fun.'

The Type 13 Large Attack Plane project had begun in 1938 with the clandestine purchase of the second Douglas DC-4 by the Mitsui Trading Co. Ltd., on behalf of Japan Airways as the basis for designing a land-based, four-engined bomber with a range of 3,000 to 3,500 nautical miles (3,450-4,025 miles). Nakajima already held manufacturing rights for Douglas aircraft and was instructed to design a bomber version of the imported aircraft. The DC-4 was requisitioned by the IJN and dismantled for study after a single flight at Haneda airport. The resulting Nakajima prototype increased the weight of an already underpowered (and ultimately failed) design by 20% as a result of major modifications to the fuselage and wing structure of the DC-4. The Type 13 flew for the first time on 10 April 1941 but performance was disappointing and there were problems with the oil system. After the completion of a fourth G5N1 airframe the original plan to build 500 was cancelled. Two more airframes were continued to completion as the G5N2 with replacement Mitsubishi Kasei engines of even lower power and all six aircraft were then relegated to transport duty with 1021 Ku, the unit which the tail number '21-05' on Kevin's model represents.     

With special thanks to Kevin for sharing these images and his build report.

Image credit:- All photos © 2020 Kevin Bade


Jim Anderson said...

Very nice Kevin, it's really a pleasure to look at knowing what was involved in the construction. I looked at the "clear" kit provided parts and you did a masterful job in salvaging them for use. Curious if it fits on a regular model shelf?

Thanks for sharing it with us and Nick for featuring it.

Alex said...

No words.
Great rare thing.

Mark Smith said...

Bravo, Kevin! Sounds like this beast requires more of everything: cash, determination, balls, and imagination. It looks great! Thanks for showing it to us, Nick. I should have known I would see one here. The kit itself is legendary - everyone's heard about it,but never seen one. This is the first I've seen built. I'm with Jim on the transparencies, the really make the model.

Maybe Stephen King should write a horror novel about it. "Priced so it couldn't sell, too heavy to support itself, it never *wanted* to be built; and at night, Kevin's eyes played tricks on him, as the petulant model, which had been nothing but trouble to build, seemed closer to the shelf's edge
with each sleepy glance. 'Just resin,' he whispered. 'It's only resin...'

Michael Thurow said...

What a beautiful monster - two of them would eat up all my shelf space, and perhaps break through the very shelf...? I can't but admire such once-in-a-lifetime projects.
What next - same one in 1/48?

Dan Salamone said...

Wonderful work on a challenging kit. I had never seen one, either. Thanks for sharing!


Baronvonrob said...

Absolutely Brillant !

As all of the other gentlemen have previously noted so accurately and eloquently

Thanks for sharing your epic success :)

Kevin bade said...

Thanks for all the kind comments. First, no I don't have a shelf big enough for it. I had to build a box to store it in. Liz is a high maintainence gal. Secondly, thanks for the praise on the clear parts. Another reason I thought it might have been better as a vacuform is even though they were Futured you can see that clear resin yellows with age. Still glad I built it. No sense in buying these kits if you can't build them. Fun to look at in the box....but better assembled.

Ronnie Olsthoorn said...

Blimey what a monstrous kit! The end result looks mighty impressive and will no doubt be a centre piece in your collection. Blood sweat and tears, no doubt, but it paid off. Very cool!

Ken Glass said...

Very nice work, Kevin. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kyle hart said...

I have the very very awful �� unicraft kit of the nakajima g5n shinzan! Unbuilt! There is alot that the kit doesn’t give you that has to be scratch built and some of the parts from the kit must be reshaped and redesigned! I will take parts from the new hasegawa kawanishi h8k1 kit and make resin copies of some of parts for example the cockpit stirring wheels and the 4 bladed propeller spinners and some of the engine parts engine shells and engine motors are the same design as the g5n shinzan! I have the 1/144 Anigrand kit of the nakajima g5n shinzan built I don’t know why hasegawa won’t make a 1/72 g5n shinzan?!

Anonymous said...

Well Done Kevin! You built my holy grail kit! I lost the bidding on a Create 301 Liz two years ago when it went for well over $800 USD. OH well one day I may come across another one and have to bid higher!

Terry Jones
Ottawa Canada