Saturday 27 February 2021

John Haas' Mitsubishi Type 92 Recce ~ Part One

John Haas has been working his scratch-built magic again, this time building the Army Type 92 Reconnaissance aircraft, (Rikugun 92 Shiki Teisatsu-ki - 陸軍九二式偵察機), a two-seat parasol monoplane design for short-range close support reconnaissance of which 230 were manufactured between 1930 and 1934 by Mitsubishi and the Army Arsenal. The type was operated in Manchuria and North China but proved to be not as nimble as the Army required. The prototype designated 2MR8 was retained by Mitsubishi but differed slightly from the military production version shown above and in the plan below.  A further development saw the construction of a single version as the Mitsubishi Hato (Dove) Survey Aircraft registered J-AARA for the Ministry of Railways in May 1936 and distinguished by an enclosed rear canopy. Over to John then:

'As you have noticed from my earlier postings, I have a soft spot for lesser known aircraft. So last year, by strolling around the Internet, I found this site:

'There I found some interesting models of Japanese aircraft, which were completely new to me. I was surprised by the number of experimental and prototypes which were built in the 1930s.  These were 1/72 scale kits, but after some Googling I found some useful 3 -view drawings and photographs. So I was in business . . . :-)

'I chose the Mitsubishi 2MR8, (actually the Type 92 Ed.) because it resembles the old Fokkers from the same epoch. And I have built quite a number those lovely crates. So I should like to show you, the steps of my works in progress, which is quite different from my usual solid wood carving. First I made the basic fuselage structure from 2,5 mm plastic sheet. Next step was constructing the interior, but that was the first hurdle to tackle as I could not find any useful information about it. So I used my own interpretation from a model of the Kawasaki Ki-10 Perry from Fine Molds. I covered the fuselage sides with thin 0.5 mm plastic sheet. The rounded upper parts were more complicated, especially the humped shape in front of the cockpit. Fortunately some carved wood parts saved the day. I finished the fuselage by glueing some copper wires along the fuselage as outside stringers.

'After completing the fuselage I could start to build the wing. I had already built some wings following Harry Woodman's book* by using 0.5 mm plastic sheet, scribing the ribs from the inside, using thin strips as ribs and adding a piece of thick plastic in the middle for strength. The wings have a slight sweepback, so I glued the rib- strips with a slight angel. After that I glued the upper and lower wing with super- glue between two pieces of wood to get a thin straight edge.

'After the wing building I made the tail pieces again using thick plastic sheet, which I filed into profile. For the engine I used an old one from the spares box -  I think it was an old Aurora Boeing F4B4 from ancient times. . . :-) but it had just the right diameter. I made the cowl out of two strips of plastic sheet glued together on a round piece of wood. And so far Part One!'

With very special thanks to John for sharing more of his brilliant techniques and masterpieces.  

* 'Scale Model Aircraft in Plastic Card' by Harry Woodman (Model & Allied Publications, 1975/1977) - Highly recommended!

Image credit: Heading photo via 'net; All construction photos © 2021 John Haas

Monday 22 February 2021

Detailing the D3A1

Ryan Toews has recently completed and shared a very fine analysis illustrating a number of details of the Aichi D3A1 'Val', Type 99 Carrier Bomber (99 Shiki Kanjoh Bakugeki-ki - 九九式艦上爆撃機) known as 99 Kanbaku (九九艦爆) with an important goal being to compile a list of modifications and/or additions applicable to the 1/48 Hasegawa kit. The 19-page PDF 'Detailing the D3A1' presents full text with photos, schematics and colour data (sample page thumbnail below) and is available from Ryan on request. A direct link for requesting this PDF has now been added to the sidebar below the blog archive. 

With special thanks to Ryan for sharing this excellent and valuable study and very kindly offering it to others via Aviation of Japan. 

Image credit: Profile © 2013 Hasegawa Corp; Sample Page © 2021 Ryan Toews

Thursday 18 February 2021

Revell Ki-49 Donryu Postscript

Following the November 2020 blog about Revell's classic Ki-49 Donryu several superb models of the type built from the more recent Hasegawa kit were kindly shared here. It is therefore a delight to be able to show, with his kind permission via Mr Hiromichi Taguchi of the excellent Webmodelers web magazine, these images of a very fine Donryu model recently built from the classic 1973 Revell kit by Mr Hiroyuki Kato.  

The kit went together well but Mr Kato added plastic card spacers of approximately one cm to the wing upper and lower surfaces to prevent sagging at the wing root. He painted the model with a diluted mixture of aluminium, black and a matting agent, allowing it to flow freely to create the slightly variegated appearance of the metal, repeated the application, then used diluted aluminium to emphasise the panel lines and rivets. The original kit decals were used but Mr Kato doubled up on the hinomaru as a white backing layer was misaligned giving the impression of a partial white border. 

With very special thanks to Mr Hiroyuki Kato and Mr Hiromichi Taguchi of Webmodelers for permission to show the images of this classic model here.

Image credit: All © 2021 Mr Hiroyuki Kato via Mr Hiromichi Taguchi and Webmodelers.        

Friday 12 February 2021

Japanese Submarine Aircraft

Topical to yesterday's blog and current series of IJN floatplane models a new book on Japanese Submarine Aircraft by Ryusuke Ishiguro and Tadeusz Januszewski is due to be published this autumn by MMP Books. Details of contents have not yet been revealed but doubtless will cover 'Glen' as well as Seiran which so splendidly adorns the cover. A quality publication is assured by the previous books from this duo which have been reviewed by AoJ and for those floatplane enthusiasts who missed out on the 'Glen' monograph mentioned yesterday this new book will be an essentail addition to the library.

With special thanks to Ryusuke for kindly alerting me to this forthcoming and eagerly awaited publication.   

Image credit: © 2021 MMP Books  

Thursday 11 February 2021

Jim Anderson's 1/72 'Glen'

Jim Anderson has very kindly shared these images and build summary of his Kugisho E14Y 'Glen' Type 0 Small Size Reconnaissance Seaplane (Rei Shiki Shou Gata Suijoh Teisatsu-ki - 零式小型水上偵察機) model built from the very neat 1/72 Fujimi kit first released in 1997.  Over to Jim then:-

'This interesting reconnaissance floatplane was designed and developed by the Japanese Navy for submarine service during WW2.  Although not a combat aircraft the Glen could carry two small bombs on under wing hard points. The Fujimi kit also included a nice representation of a submarine launching catapult as a stand for the model. And speaking of which, I'd like to see the rail mounted trolleys the seaplanes were wheeled around on aboard IJN cruisers and battleships as separate kits for display purposes.  (Agreed! Ed)

'The building of this particular kit lasted from August to November 2000 during Seaplane Summer IV and was completed out of the box.   The fit was excellent throughout and although the one piece canopy is slightly thick it manages to look the part. 

'On to painting and finishing.  The top color is a mix of 2/3 Aero Master Nakajima Army Green and 1/3 Tamiya XF-11 Japanese Navy Green.  Undersurface is Aero Master 9091 Japanese Navy Gray.  The topside green looks well enough for 1/72 but on a larger scale model I'd go with something a little darker.  The kit supplied decals were used as I like the blue over white tail markings for this machine.  The hinomaru insignia were also used (as you can tell) from the same sheet.  They were right on the cusp of entering into the 'danger zone' of the dreaded orange-pink variety.  I would choose replacement decals now but they don't look too garish and maybe only a few hawk eyes in the audience would notice.'

The E14Y is significant not just for its submarine deployment but also for its far reaching clandestine reconnaissance missions over Allied territory and the bombing of a forest in Oregon, USA, on 9 September 1942 by WO Nobuo Fujita and CPO Shoji Okuda in a 'Glen' flown from submarine I-25. The blue and white '671' code on Jim's model identifies the 6th Submarine Fleet and the individual aircraft number was repeated on the fuselage aft of the hinomaru in white or yellow paint.  More on 'Glen' models and kits here and here. The best English language reference resource on 'Glen' so far is Ryusuke Ishiguru's excellent monograph on the type (below) published by MMP books in 2012 and reviewed on AoJ here, but now sadly out of print. However . . . 
With special thanks to Jim Anderson for sharing these images and the summary of his build.   
Image credit: All photos © 2021 Jim Anderson; Book cover © 2012 Ryusuke Ishiguru & MMP Books

Wednesday 10 February 2021

A 1/32 scale Aichi D3A1 'Val' from Infinity Models

I'm very grateful to several correspondents for alerting me to news of this kit at around the same time and apologise for the time it has taken to mention it here. My thanks to all of you who very kindly sent me emails about it or mentioned it in other emails. The kit has not been released yet but details and progress may be found on the Infinity Models webpage. That suggests that there will be at least two markings options, for the well-known and colourful B1-231 of Lt Cdr Takashige Egusa (although uncoded in the website profile) from Soryu and the overall grey houkoku-adorned AII-256 of Flyers 4/c Shinsaku Yamakawa and Katuzô Nakata from Kaga. The aircraft depicted on the box art is another grey or perhaps slightly greyish-green (!) E1-231 from Shôkaku - all being Pearl Harbor attackers.

Regarding the colour of 'Val', over the years the late and sadly missed Jim Lansdale shared a wealth of valuable paint colour data at and via email from various actual D3A1 relics. Broadly speaking those all fall within a category of a warm to distinctly brownish amber grey, with somewhat fugitive greenish undertone, the wartime appearance of which was probably not that far from the box art depiction of EII-233 from Zuikaku for the 1970s Bandai 1/50 scale D3A1 kit (shown below). More precise colour presentations for 'Val' closer to release.

The Infinity Models kit will build into an impressive model of 'Val' with a wingspan of just over 17.5 inches and a length of just over 12.5 inches, but it doesn't appear to have an option for folding wing tips!   

Also being re-released in the autumn is the venerable 1/72 D3A1 kit from Airfix, (original box art by Roy Cross above), unfortunately not (it seems) a new tool to accompany their more recent A6M2 and B5N2 for the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. What a pity because none of the currently available 1/72 kits of 'Val' are without issues. The three box arts shown here usefully present the three main and competing perceptions of D3A1 colour.

Image credit: Infinity Models box art © 2021; Bandai box art © 1970s; Airfix box art © 2021

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Gianluca Manissero's 1/48 Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete'

Gianluca Manissero of Italy has very kindly shared these images of his immaculately finished Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete' Type 0 Scouting/Reconnaissance Seaplane (Rei Shiki Suijoh Kansoku-ki 零式水上偵察機 and popularly referred to as Rei-Kan零観) built from the 2009 Hasegawa kit in 1/48 scale and representing an aircraft from the seaplane carrier Chitose flown by Flyer 4/c Kiyomi Katsuki and Flyer 2/c Michiho Takarada in the Solomons during October 1942.  

Gianluca built the model from the box but added the accessory Hasegawa photo-etch set for the kit, Quickboost exhausts and Eduard seat belts. Additional coverage of the build can be found here

The model was painted with AK Real Color paints; RC306 Mitsubishi Interior Green for the cockpit, RC 305 IJN D2 Green Black for the upper surfaces and RC302 IJN J3 Hai-iro for the under surfaces, with those colours lightened with some drops of white for the fabric covered flying surfaces. The wing leading edge IFF strip was painted with a mix of Tamiya Yellow and Mr Color C385 red whilst the prop assembly was painted with AK Xtreme Metal Polshed Aluminium, Mr Color C385 for the blade tip warning stripes and Tamiya Black for the back of the blades.

On 4 October 1942 Katsuki and Takarada flying 'Y1-23' rammed or collided with B-17 41-9118 of 72nd BS, 5th BG flown by Lt David C Everitt Jr which was one of five Fortresses (the other four were from 26th BS, 11th BG) reportedly attempting to bomb the seaplane carrier Nisshin. The Pete, identified as a 'Zero', first struck the Fortress' wing tip and then went on to smash into and rip off part of its fin and rudder. The Fortress immediately fell out of control in a fatal spin, last seen entering the overcast at 11,000 ft. None of the crew appear to have survived. However both Katsuki and Takarada were able to parachute from their equally fatally damaged Pete, being misidentified from the other bombers as two crew members bailing out of the spiralling Fortress, and were rescued by the destroyer Akisuki. In fact the B-17s had set out from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal with full loads of 20 100lb bombs each to attack the Japanese airstrip at Buka but bad weather and heavy cloud intervened to prevent them completing the mission. The bombers unexpectedly encountered Japanese ships off the coast of New Georgia as they were returning to Guadalcanal. Over the ships they reported being attacked by six floatplanes and six Zeros. For his action in downing the B-17 Katsuki, 23, received a commendation from his unit commander and the special award of a gold chevron. He was a seaplane 'ace' who would survive the war with 16 claimed victories, seven of them claimed whilst flying the F1M2 and later the floatplane fighters Rufe and Rex. 
Image credit: All photos © 2021 Gianluca Manissero

Monday 8 February 2021

The Model Bunker's IJN Type 91 Torpedo with trolley

I'm very grateful to Dr Marcus Zabel for alerting me to and kindly providing this review of a 1/48 scale resin kit of the IJN Type 91 torpedo by The Model Bunker, also usefully available in 1/72, 1/32 and 1/24 scales:-

Set no.: SKU 3D-011
 Scale: 1/48
Contents: 10 resin parts
Review Type: First Look
Price: € 20.50
Pros: Beautiful and very detailed casting
Cons: None

The kit provides ten highly detailed and delicate resin parts consisting of:

4 x Trolley wheels
1 x Trolley main frame
2 x Handwheels
1 x Steering axle
1 x Tiller
2 x Locking belts
2 x Torpedo halves
1 x Torpedo plywood fin frame

First Look

The Model Bunker seems to be a new kit maker based in Ireland and offering on demand 3D-printed resin kits of so far neglected Japanese/German/Italian subjects such as torpedoes, bombs, bomb bays, etc. You have the choice to order this kit in scale 1/72, 1/48, 1/32 and 1/24 (


This appears to be the only kit of a Type 91 Torpedo with trolley on the market and is the perfect addition to a diorama setting of any Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo bomber. Review kit courtsey of me and my wallet.

With special thanks to Dr Zabel for this review. He has a 1/48 Betty project planned and wishes to purchase the Teknics TK4862 G4M1 Betty Cockpit multimedia kit from anyone willing to sell one to him.  If anyone should have this set to sell please contact Dr Zabel via Aviation of Japan, thank you. 

Image credit: Kit photo © 2021 Dr Marcus Zabel; Kit instruction sheet © 2021 The Model Bunker via Dr Zabel

Saturday 6 February 2021

Edgar's War-Worn Rufe

Guillermo's pal Edgar built this 1/48 scale Nakajima A6M2-N 'Rufe' from the Hasegawa kit and for the same South American challenge, replicating a very heavily worn sea-booted and bomb-armed warrior. The model was fully riveted but other details of the striking finish are unknown at this stage. 

Edgar's model represents a weather and sea battered Rufe of 5 Ku operating from Kiska island in the Aleutians during 1942-43 and was one of the four subjects offered in the 2006 'Aleutian Islands' release of the Hasegawa kit. 
5 Ku was formed from the floatplane fighter unit of Toko Ku (already in the Aleutians) with 12 Rufes under the command of Lt Kishichiro Yamada in August 1942. The unit was heavily engaged in operations there and also had three E13A 'Jake' seaplanes attached for reconnaissance purposes.  By the beginning of Ocrober 1942 and despite reinforcement all aircraft had been lost and in November the unit was re-designated as 452 Ku. With further reinforcements of floatplane fighters that month the unit continued to fight in the Aleutians until the end of March 1943 when the surviving pilots were evacuated by submarine. CPO Gi-ichi Sasaki was the single ace of the unit, claiming four aircraft shot down, five shared shot down and one shared probable. Having survived a forced landing in a damaged Rufe which overturned on 15 September 1942, CPO Sasaki failed to return from a reconnaissance sortie over Amchitka island on 19 February 1943.   
Toko Ku had been formed at the seaplane station of the same name on the southern tip of Taiwan in November 1940 as a Kawanishi H6K4 and H8K flying boat training and development unit. In July 1942, after operational service during the invasion of the East Indies, a detachment was sent to the Aleutians for survey purposes accompanied by six Rufe floatplane fighters under Lt Yamada. That floatplane fighter detachment was the cadre for the later established 5 Ku. Total A6M2-N production of 254 machines went far in terms of theatres of service with monthly production peaking at only 24 in April 1944 and ending in July of that year. At the time of 5 Ku's formation in August 1942 only 13 A6M2-N were produced by Nakajima that month. As a floatplane fighter and given these production numbers the type's operational service record is uniquely distinguished if not heroic. Fortunately the type is well represented by kits in the popular scales of 1/72 and 1/48 and there is a conversion set from Model Design Construction for 1/32 A6M2 kits.  
With special thanks to Guillermo for sharing these images of Edgar's excellent and dramatically presented war-worn Rufe. 
Image credit: All photos © 2021 Edgar via Guillermo

Monday 1 February 2021

Guillermo's Rex

Beginning a short season of Japanese Navy floatplanes with this magnificent model of the Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu Type 11 built from the 1/48 scale Tamiya kit by Guillermo as part of a 60 day modelling challenge 'War of Nation' held in Latin America.

Guillermo built the model almost from the box with only the addition of Eduard seat belt and Moskit metal exhausts. The interior was painted with Ronin Xpectrue enamel Pale Green FS 34227.

The exterior of the model was first painted with Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium then Vallejo's Liquid mask was used to depict areas of wear before Model Master 2116 IJN Green was applied to the upper surfaces and Vallejo M-495 Light Gray FS 36357 to the under surfaces. The trolley and ladder were airbrushed with a mix of Tamiya X-18 and XF-63 (in the ratio 2:1) to obtain a very dark grey finish and weathered effect for salty water. The kit decals were used to represent aircraft -132 ('Sa'-132) of the Sasebo Ku in September 1944.

Sasebo Ku was a mainly seaplane and flying boat unit engaged in reconnaissance and convoy escort duties equipped with a variety of such aircraft including the A6M2-N 'Rufe' floatplane fighter for air defence. The Kyofu was operated by Sasebo Ku alongside the Rufe from August 1944.

With special thanks to Guillermo for sharing these images of an excellent Kyofu model and also for introducing other forthcoming models made by his friends for the challenge.

Image credit: All © 2021 Guillermo