Monday 31 August 2020

Roberto Zambon's IJN Floatplane Trio in 1/48 Scale ~ # 1 Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete'

Roberto Zambon of Italy has very kindly shared images and details of a trio of 1/48 scale floatplane models built during the pandemic lockdown after his many years absence from modelling. The models were all built mostly out of the box except for seat harnesses - partly scratch built and partly using Eduard photo-etch. Roberto also added some wiring and rocker arms to the engines of the F1M2.  The insignia and markings were painted using masks he made himself. 

Roberto's Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete' was built from the Hasegawa Model 11 'Early Version' kit and is finished in an overall pale grey mixed from Humbrol white and black paints to the ratio 95%/5%. The model represents an aircraft from the seaplane tender Sanyo Maru in 1941. The Sanyo Maru was originally launched as a passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) K. K. Line in 1930 but requisitioned by the IJN in August 1941 and converted to an auxiliary seaplane tender with a complement of six F1M2, two Aichi E13A1 'Jake' and two Nakajima E8N2 'Dave' floatplanes. In July 1943 the ship was converted to a transport vessel and in May 1944 was sunk by the submarine USS Cabrilla off Mendao, Celebes. 

With special thanks to Roberto for sharing the images and details.  His other two floatplane models will be featured in consecutive blogs. 

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Roberto Zambon 

Saturday 29 August 2020

RS Models 1/48 Mansyu Ki-79

Dan Salamone has very kindly shared this in-box review of the recently released 1/48 scale Ki-79 (Type 2 Advanced Trainer) kit by RS Models, together with sprue shots. The kit is priced at €44 direct from the manufacturer, retailing for around £39.99 in the UK. Over to Dan then.

'I recently purchased the new 1/48 Ki-79 from RS Models, kit # 48005. This is a limited run kit, the basic outlines appear to be very accurate, while some of the details and smaller parts suffer from soft molding detail. The kit comes in a sturdy box, with basic instructions, and a full color painting and markings guide for three single-seater aircraft. These are from the 26th and 39th Kyoiku Hikotai (Training [Development] Air Unit), as well as a post war aircraft in Indonesian Air Force service. 

'Note that this version of the kit contains markings for the single-seater variant, whilst kit # 48006 contains the two-seater variant with appropriate markings (and at the same price Ed.).  In reality, this version has all you need for the two-seater, save for the second instrument panel and seat pan. In kit # 48006, these are supplied as PUR (resin) parts. The instructions for each kit are identical, with separate notes for each version. As molded, the fuselage is for the two-seater. To build the single seater you need to add a blanking plate, included in the kit (and then putty and sand the seams). 

'The panel lines are rather well represented. As you can see in the images, there are some areas that will need sanding and possibly some scribing of the recessed panel lines. In my opinion cockpit sidewall and engine detail are adequate, although the kit would benefit from harness straps for the seats.

'One of the strangest aspects of this kit is how the propeller is molded and attached to the sprue. This will take a lot of cleaning up, and there are areas of flash on the wing trailing edges.'

With special thanks to Dan for sharing this in-box review and images. In Indonesian service the Ki-79 was known as Nishikoren or Banteng. The Indonesian roundels included on the kit decal sheet are those in use from 1945 to 1948, after which the white and red colours were displayed as a rectangular flag marking (as depicted in the two-seater kit). The 26th Koikyu Hikotai was a training unit for officer pilots established in Manchuria in March 1944 as part of the 101st Air Training Brigade, ending the war at Fengchipu under the command of Maj Hayasi Yuichiro after participating in resistance to the Soviet invasion. Its strength at surrender was reported as 46 Type 1 fighter (Ki-43) and Type 2 Advanced Trainer (Ki-79) aircraft with over 300 personnel including 17 pilots, 96 maintenance and 188 support personnel persuaded to remain in China to train the first pilots and ground crew for the nascent Red Army of China Air Force (later the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force) at the North-East Aviation School. Many of those airmen did not return to Japan until 1956.   The 39th Kyoiku Hikotai was a training unit for Ki-61 fighter pilots established at Yokoshiba, Japan in July 1944 which also operated the Ki-27 and Ki-61. The unit is memorable for engaging Hellcats with its Ki-79 trainers over Yokoshiba on 16 February 1945, claiming two Hellcats destroyed and one probable (a total of seven Hellcats with known serials and identified pilots were reported to have crashed in Chiba-ken or in the sea off Chiba-ken on that day), but with the loss of five pilots killed and six aircraft destroyed.

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Dan Salamone;

Monday 17 August 2020

That Brown 109!

Fine Molds recent re-release of the Tamiya Messerchmitt Bf 109 E-7 kit includes two schemes for the aircraft imported and tested by the IJAAF. Aircraft '2' is depicted in its original Luftwaffe scheme and colours but aircraft '1' is depicted in an unusual if not astonishing scheme where the Luftwaffe camoufage has been applied in two brown colours. The instructions suggest two Gunze tank colours # 526 Japanese Army Brown and # 527 Japanese Army Khaki.  The under surface of the aircraft and upper surface of the flaps are suggested to be Gunze 128 Gray Green. The two tank colour paints have not been analysed or measured but appear similar, if somewhat lighter, to the Gunze IJA tank set colours which have been - TC17 Brown and TC18 Khaki - shown below. The khaki appearing on the model appears lighter and more yellowish than TC18 which was observed as being reminiscent of the colour referred to as “Japanese Artillery (or Gun) Brown”, applied to ordinance including tank guns which might have been a type of service primer paint. Both the TC colours are Munsell YR - Yellow Reds and present a lower contrast than on the 109 model shown above.

TC17 Brown & TC18 Khaki

This revision of IJAAF 109 colours seems to arise from a caption in the recent Bunrindo FAOW Special Edition Vol. 8 a 'Pictorial History of Japanese Army 47th Flying-Sentai' by Yoji Watanabe. A caption to a photograph in the book (page 15) of one of the 109s taken at Fussa (Tama airfield now Yokota) suggests that the entire upper surface was a yellowish brown colour (the description used is 黄士色一茶色) applied at the German factory. That seems improbable as the yellowish brown is also attributed as the same colour applied to the Ki-44 aircraft of the Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 47 Chutai (47th Independent Flying Squadron) formed at Tachikawa with pilots from the Fussa test centre. The two airfields were closely related and adjacent to the Nakajima Musashino plant. The book includes a colour profile of a 47th Ki-44 by Shigeki Ninomiya presumably intended to represent the yellowish-brown colour, the appearance of which is approximately between Munsell 2.5 Y 4/4 and 2.5 Y 5/8. Unfortunately there is no close FS to this colour and the closest RAL 8000 Grünbraun (Green brown) is @ 6.00 (where < 2.0 = a close match) with insufficient yellowishness or ochre hue. Therefore the chip below rendered in sRGB must suffice to give an impression of the colour for those who do not have the book. The general appearance is similar to the mustard brown characteristic of Japanese Army khaki

 Yellowish Brown vs RAL 8000 Grünbraun 

One of the best photographs of aircraft '1' does appear to show the Luftwaffe scheme diffused or subdued and it is possible to interpret that as a thinly sprayed application of a mid-toned brown colour over the original Luftwaffe segmented camouflage such that the latter still shows through underneath, in similar fashion to the variegated or dense mottle appearance of the 47th's Ki-44s. Replicating that on a model would be labour intensive, requiring the application of a complete Luftwaffe scheme before the addition of the brown, but rather interesting to pursue.         

Which Brown?

The brown colour of the 47th's Ki-44s has been variously depicted and described over the years but the degree of yellowish versus reddish undertone as represented is problematic. A colour profile in Model Art magazine # 18 of September 1969 depicts a solid and distinctly reddish brown colour similar to FS 20100 with light blue under surfaces. The profile in the 1978 Maru Mechanic book on the Ki-44 depicts a solid brown colour approximately similar to Munsell 10 YR 4/3 or FS 30145. The colour fold out painting by Ichiro Hasegawa in the Koku Fan magazine of April 1979 depicts a more reddish undertoned and variegated brown colour, the lighter tone being similar to Munsell 5 YR 4/4 or FS 20117 and the darker tone to FS 30111. In Koku Fan Illustrated # 42 of 1988 'Japanese Imperial Army & Navy Aircraft Color, Marking' the colour is described as 茶色 (cha iro - light brown or tawny, often referred to as 'tea colour') but I was unable to match the colour depicted in the colour profile to a FS colour. About the closest comparison in hue is RAL 8008 Olivbrun (Olive brown - Munsell 8.0 YR 3.6/4.8) but that is darker.

In Model Art # 329 of 1989 'Camouflage & Markings of Imperial Japanese Army Fighters' the colour is described both as 茶色 and as 土色 ( tsuchi iro - earth or soil colour). The latter does not correspond to the paint chips in the book but the paint chip designated as 茶色 is just a little lighter than Munsell 7.5 YR 4/4, between FS 30215 and 31090, and described as somewhat brown and close to a 'dry colour'. The writer asserts that the aircraft were painted grey green at the factory but that the 'earth colour' was applied after arrival in Indo-China, giving rise to the possibility that French Air Force paint was used.      

Model Art # 779 of 2009, Profile # 5 on the Ki-44 settled on the description 'earth colour' and suggested that the paint was applied to match the predominant soil colour in Indo-China and Malaya. That is generally a more distinctly reddish brown than the soil colour at Tachikawa and Yokota.  The printed colour chip in the book is compared to FS 30117 (Munsell 3.8 YR 4.1/3.5, a little lighter than RAL 8025 Blassbraun - pale brown) although the colour as shown and the profiles do not closely represent the FS colour being rather too purplish.  

Finally the Hasegawa 1/32 scale Ki-44 kit instructions of 2012 suggest Gunze 43/H37 Wood Brown which I have not analysed or measured but which has been compared to Humbrol 9 Gloss Tan. That is Munsell 3.6 YR 4.7/7.8 and a little lighter than FS 10115. Data for the Gunze paint colour will be welcome.

Generally speaking the representations up to the time of the FAOW Special Edition and FM kit have been of a less yellowish and more reddish undertone, akin to a slightly lighter version of the IJAAF colour standard # 31 茶褐色 (chakasshoku - dark reddish brown or liver colour). The revision positions the colour closer to standard IJA Khaki, a mustard or yellowish brown colour not included in the IJAAF standard but travelling more towards parched or dried grass. Unfortunately there are no easy answers here and the subject is confused by different perceptions of what constitutes a yellowish or reddish brown, as Googling the Japanese terms in images will demonstrate. The various FS and RAL colours mentioned above can be viewed on the relevant colour charts at the following website which has verified measurement data for the colours as shown and can also be used to cross reference to other commercial colour standards:-

With special thanks to Ken Glass and Hisao Satoh for facilitating a discussion on this subject and providing insight to the FM presentation. 

Image credit: Model photo and instruction excerpt © 2020 Fine Molds; Colour chips © 2020 Author


Tuesday 11 August 2020

Large Scale Ki-44 Shoki by Ernest Pazmany

The third modelling project completed during quarantine by Ernest Pazmany is this splendid 1/32 scale Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki from the Hasegawa kit. The model represents the aircraft of Captain. Susumu Jinbo, leader of the 2nd Hentai (編隊 - formation) of Dokuritsu Hiko Dai 47 Chutai (47th Independent Flying Squadron), based at Saigon, Indo-China in January 1942. This experimental unit, the so-called Kawasemi Butai (川蝉部隊 - 'Kingfisher Force') and also informally referred to as Shinsengumi (新選組 - 'new selected band' or 'chosen ones', after the Shoganate era enforcers in Edo), pioneered pre-production versions of the Shoki in combat over Malaya and Burma from the beginning of the Pacific War.

Ernest decided on a 'spotty' finish from preference (a preference fully warranted by recently published and very clear photographs whereas the Hasegawa kit instructions, if not their box art, depict a 'solid' finish suggesting Gunze 43/H37 Wood Brown) with a partially camouflaged spinner as shown in the photo of another aircraft from this unit. The overall base colour is Colourcoats IJAAF grey-green and the dense brown mottle Floquil French Air Force chestnut from his dwindling Floquil paint stash. The paint was originally produced by Floquil in their military colors line more than 20 years ago and Ernest notes that unopened they seem to last forever! He applied the brown color unevenly to depict a field applied  patchwork appearance.The ommission of antenna wire on all three models at this stage is deliberate in the interests of making sure everything is in scale.

Ernest observes that the Hasegawa Shoki prototype kit had a generally good fit, especially in the cockpit area, the tailplanes, and the fuselage to wing attachments. However the cowling and engine placement was less than ideal with quite a bit of trimming required. He deployed the butterfly flaps extended as a personal preference only.  

With special thanks to Ernest for kindly sharing these images and details with Aviation of Japan. More on the topic of experimental brown to follow . . . !

Image credit:- All photographs © 2020 Ernest Pazmany

Monday 10 August 2020

1/72 Zeke Duo by Ernest Pazmany

Ernest Pazmany has recently completed a trio of modelling projects whilst quarantining at home in Arizona and has kindly shared these images and details of the first two, a pair of 1/72 A6M5 models made from the Fine Molds (Model Graphix magazine issue) and Tamiya kits.

The Fine Molds (FM) kit was finished as '320-85', a 652 Ku Nakajima-built A6M5 as flown from the carrier Junyo during the Mariana Sea battle in June 1944. Ernest used the decals from the Tamiya kit as he found the FM supplied decals just 'ok'. The Tamiya kit represents '9-151', a Mutsubishi-built A6M5 from the Rabaul Air Group on New Britain, circa 1943-44. 

Both models were painted with Colourcoats enamels which Ernest rates as the best (together with Xtracolor) but with the plea "let’s get to a point where they can be freely sent to us here in the North American market. They are indispensable, providing the best, durable finish!" Petty postal restrictions on tiny tins of enamel hobby paint, imposed as a result of the usual over-staffed political meddling and risk averse overkill are indeed a scandal. The paint was thinned with a 50/50 mix of mineral spirits and xylene, to  provide a fast drying and smooth finish.

The decals were applied over several coats of Floquil Pollyscale water based gloss. Panel line details were picked out with MIG dark and brown pigments. The final flat coat on the models is Testors flat lacquer with a few drops of gloss lacquer added to create a slight sheen. Ernest gives a note of reassurance to fellow modelers who might be concerned about sprayed applications of acrylic/water based paints, enamels, and lacquers over one type or another - it’s safe to do so, provided plenty of drying time is allowed, as in days or a week.... or more.

Ernest's impressions of his 1/72 Zekes are that the FM/ModelGraphix magazine kit is fine, actually quite nice. But he found that the Tamiya version has a beefier, more aesthetically pleasing look with a better parts fit than the FM. 

With special thanks to Ernest for kindly sharing these images of two very neat looking Model 52 Zekes together with details about their completion. Ernest's third completed project, to a larger scale, will follow . . .

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Ernest Pazmany

Saturday 1 August 2020

Tetsuya Inoue's Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop' Project in 1/48

Following on from the last Aviation of Japan update on his project Tetsuya Inoue kindly shares these latest photos of his superlative model engineering work in constructing his Kawasaki Ki-61-II 'Bubbletop'. The painstaking detail Tetsuya has incorporated would be more than impressive on a 1/32 or 1/24 model but this one is 1/48 scale! A quick look at the Tamiya Ki-61 kit in your stash in comparison to these photos will bring home the extent of Tetsuya's dedication and skill.   

The full progress report can be found at Tetsuya's blog here. Please follow it to enjoy all the astonishing work that Tetsuya has put into this amazing project. Previous Aviation of Japan progress updates may be found at this blog for October 2018, March 2018 and June 2017.
With special thanks to Tetsuya for this latest update and for sharing these photos of his remarkable model engineering project.  

Image credit: All photos © 2020 Tetsuya Inoue