Monday 22 March 2021

Jim Anderson's 1/72 Kyofu

Continuing the IJN floatplane season Jim Anderson has very kindly shared these images of his splendid Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu 'Rex' model in 1/72 scale built from the Hasegawa kit. Jim's model neatly compliments Guillermo's Rex (shown here in February) as it represents -134 ('Sa'-134) of the Sasebo Ku, a late production stablemate with individual exhaust stacks (variant and tailcode for each confirmed by photographs). A total of only 89 Kyofu were built before deliveries ended in March 1944. It is apparent that Sasebo Ku operated both variants but how many of each were made seems uncertain.  Jim has described the build as follows:-

'This nicely detailed kit of the Hasegawa Kyofu “Mighty Wind” N1K1 ‘Rex’ Late Type was started in September of 2010 and finished that November.  The fit was excellent as was ease of assembly.  No modifications were made except for replacement of the kit supplied running boards on the beaching trolley with some handy HO scale lumber.  Kudos to Hasegawa for including a nicely executed scale access ladder for the kit.

'Kawanishi’s ‘George’ lineage is apparent in the ‘Rex’.  It makes me wish that the four bladed propeller could have found its way onto one or two of the handsome floatfighters.  As you can see this Late Type model has a smaller spinner and an air intake on the face of the upper cowling.  I’ll move on to painting.

'Interior color is a three-way mix of Testors Flat Green 1171 (50%), Testors Flat Yellow 1169 (35%) and Testors Flat Brown 1166 (15%) of the still common little 1/4 ounce bottles.  Exact measuring?  No, just an idea, but it did produce a nice springtime bamboo green.  And since it is a seaplane, there isn’t any landing gear to mess with (another reason to build floatplanes!).  Topsides are Tamiya XF-11 Japanese Navy Green (70%) with Tamiya X-4 Blue (15%) and the remainder being Tamiya X-2 White and Tamiya XF-3 Flat Yellow equally.  The canopy framework was hand painted with the XF-11 that gaves it a darker look.  Undersurface color is Pactra IV3 Grey (FS 36622) from their long retired US Air Force Vietnam paint set, with Testors Gloss White 1145 (about 10%).  The propeller was painted with Testors 1166 Flat Brown.  Kit supplied decals were used. 

'The instructions didn’t call for the usual yellow IFF strips on the leading wing edges so they were originally skipped.  Having recently learned that there was a much narrower strip of the yellow IFF applied I added that later and took more photos!  So even when we finish a model it sometimes remains a 'work in progress' as new information comes to light.'

With very special thanks to Jim for sharing these images of his model and notes on the build. A popular subject this won't be the last Rex in this themed season.

Image credit: All model photos © 2021 Jim Anderson; Box art © 1996 Hasegawa Corp.


Saturday 20 March 2021

Jake - A Tale of Two Scales ~ Part 3

Continuing the season of IJN floatplanes with a follow up to Part 1 (way back in 2016) which promised a more detailed appraisal of the near 50 year old Hasegawa 1/72 scale kit of the Aichi E13A1 'Jake', also taking the opportunity to note two further releases since then, both in combo form with other kits. In 2018 the Jake was released in combo with the A6M2-N 'Rufe' to represent aircraft of the Kamikawa Maru (shown above), the kit offering optional decals for Z1-23 and ZI-26 based in Indo-China during December 1941, both in overall grey finish. A second  combo kit (shown below) was released in 2020 featuring 'Jake' with less well known markings options for 'Omi-4' (オミ-4) or 'Omi-5' and Kawanishi E7K1 Type 94 Model 1 'Alf' with markings options for 'Omi-3' and 'Omi-6' from the Ominato Ku. Ominato Ku established in 1933 and was based near the city of that name in Japan located in northern Honshu. The IJN's Ōminato Guard District (大湊警備府, Ōminato Keibifu) monitored the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaidō and patrolled the Hokkaidō, Karafuto and Kurile Islands coastlines.  It operated various aircraft types deployed for crew training, reconnaissance, escort duties and air defence . In December 1944 it was disbanded and incorporated into 90 Ku.

In both cases the box art presented a rather more agreeable profile of the aircraft than the assembled kit manages to achieve. At the time of writing it remains the only game in town in this scale, somewhat maligned and one of those kits much said to be in need of a better replacement. However from a cursory glance at eBay it seems to more than hold its own in terms of value on the second hand market. It was a Navy workhorse, used from first to last in many diverse roles, including strategic bombing in its long ranged attacks on the Canton-Hankow railway. 

For such a venerable and singular kit of an arguably significant, ubiquitous as well as iconic type the lack of aftermarket improvements and accessories for this kit is mysterious. There is a replacement vacform canopy by Falcon (which corrects the rake of the windscreen and the depth of the canopy), a set of canopy masks for the kit part by Dead Design, and a trio of Rising Decals sets to provide a replacement cowling with individual exhaust stacks, radar antennae and a 20mm cannon, each with relevant decals. There is also a dedicated decal sheet for the type from Print Scale - 72-206 - which offers no less than 13 markings options in both overall grey and green over grey. But there appears to be nothing to improve or replace the kit's sparse interior, not even a basic Airwaves etched sheet. A pity too that a beaching trolley was not included in the kit. At present therefore the modeller of Jake must resort to the time honoured use of plastic card and other improvised methods to enhance the model. 

Without comparing the kit to plans an impression is immediately given of a too short rear fuselage and a too tall canopy which starts the resultant model on an unfortunate journey towards a Nob caricature, detracting from the more svelte appearance of the original. The overall length of the original aircraft is variously given as 11.265 to 11.3 metres, measuring from the front of the floats to the rear of the tail cone, although the Shuppan-Kyodo Encyclopedia gives a curiously variable measurement of 11.49 to 11.30 metres. The only available 1/72 plans for this appraisal were those in Aviation News Vol.21 No.2 of June 1992 but examination revealed those are also slightly underscale, the length calculating to just 11.1 metres. The kit rear fuselage is the problem appearing too short from the rear of the canopy to the tailfin even when offered up to those plans and calculates as short by 6.25 mm in 1/72 scale to the original fuselage length. It should be feasible to cut the rear fuselage (at the rearmost panel line) and either to insert a laminated plastic card plug or 'girders' and filling to correct the length. The canopy is marginally too tall in profile, which emphasises the fuselage length issue, and the windscreen is not quite raked enough. The appearance can be improved either by judicious reduction of the canopy's lower edges or by replacement with the Falcon vacform canopy. 

The kit is flawed, but arguably not fatally, and there are positives, especially making allowance for its vintage.  Before the invention of fatal flaws and trial by online forum Scale Models magazine (August 1973) described the kit as 'charming' - 'well moulded in pale grey and, as usual, the surface detail is confined to panel lines, not an oversized rivet in sight! The model is straightforward to construct and the usual precision of this manufacturer's tooling leaves only a minimum of filling to be necessary.'

The moulding is on the whole delicate, with fine raised panel lines (which to re-engrave would not be too onerous a task) and fabric covered control surfaces perhaps better represented than in more recent kits from this manufacturer. The engine is a separate six part assembly with optional open or closed cowling flaps with commendably fine edges which can be further thinned with judicious use of wet'n'dry. In the original kit four separate open cowling panels were provided in order to display the engine, with the modeller requested to provide supports from wire or heat stretched sprue. That option has been omitted in more recent releases. Alternative early and later form exhausts are provided as well as the option for radar antennae. Additional struts were included to provide for early and late float configurations.

Engraving defines the centre section bomb-bay doors with their distinctive blisters but there is no provision to model them open and no ordnance is included. Jake could carry two 60kg bombs inclined in the bomb bay (hence the blisters) and a further two 60kg bombs on external racks outboard of the centre section. Alternatively a single 250kg bomb could be carried externally under the centre section on a rack offset to port. All of this lethality can be added by the intrepid modeller and excellent 3D moulded IJN ordnance sets are now available from Ushi (blissfully without the need to bend and fiddle photo-etched fins onto resin bomb casings).

The under fuselage windows are included as transparencies. Maru Mechanic identifies the starboard window for bomb aiming and the port window for photo-reconnaissance. The central navigator/bomb-aimer was equipped with a tubular bombsight which was stored on the port cockpit wall and could be inserted into a gimbal in the bomb-aiming window when required. Cockpit detail in the kit consists of a crude floor tray with three seats and three identical crewmen. In the earlier kits a single instrument panel for the pilot was included but in later kits a second panel for the navigator/bomb-aimer has been added. Further detail is limited to the A-frame behind the pilot's head and an RDF loop, both to be added to the fuselage decking beneath the canopy. Although not much is to be seen there is plenty of scope for improving the cockpit by building on the kit floor, whilst the kit supplied seats are not bad and a definite improvement on the 'armchairs' in the Betty kit. For the more intrepid modeller a folded wing presentation is always possible. So far then, all is not lost and for adding more detail Maru Mechanic is your friend. As Bill Bailey might say:- "Not too bad - all things considered"

Cockpit colour is a grey-green, similar to FS 24226, with a darker green for various components such as radio sets. For the overall grey versions a choice between the greenish grey of J3 (approx FS 16307) or the amber grey (approx FS 16350) of the Aichi D3A1 'Val' is a matter for the modeller. The Hasegawa combo box art chanels Maru Mechanic's unconvincing light grey white but the instructions suggest Mr Color 35 IJN Gray Mitsubishi which is a blueish grey as measured (H61 IJN Gray is closer to J3 and was suggested in some earlier releases).  For the upper surface dark green the slightly more greenish D2 (approx FS 14056) is probably a better bet. The wing walkway lines, often depicted as yellow, should be silver. The diagonal stripes often applied to the tailplanes, and sometimes the inboard wing leading edge, were not as often suggested guidance for the gunner but rather for the navigator to calculate wind drift with the use of smoke floats or dye markers. Some kit releases suggest Gunze H339 for the underside of floats on all grey examples without listing that in the paint colours table. It is Engine Gray FS 16081. 

Update: A listing of additional Hasegawa 'Jake' kits released since this blog article may be found here.

Image credit: Box art and catalogue image © 1978, 2018 & 2020 Hasegawa Corp.; Review kit photo © 1973 P Kirby via Scale Models magazine (Model & Allied Publications Ltd.); Kit part schematics © 2021 Aviation of Japan

Monday 15 March 2021

John Haas' Mitsubishi Type 92 Recce ~ Part Three

John Haas lifts the curtain on the finale of his magic show, the completed model:-

Mitsubishi Type 99, Recce, Scale 1/48, Part Three, On finals

'After studying the photographs I concluded that the metal parts were painted in an aluminium colour and the fabric covered parts were painted in light grey. Before attaching the wing on the small fuselage struts I had painted the front part of the fuselage aluminium and for this colour I used Humbrol Metallic 191 (Chrome Silver) mixed with a little light grey. The wing was painted in the middle section with light grey Revell SM 371 (equivalent to RLM 7035 and FS 36495 Ed).

'The next step was to add some more small parts, on the right wingstrut was attached a pitot tube including the wiring to the fuselage. Next came a pair of tail supports struts and a tailskid. The exhausts were a complicated affair. The upper 3 cylinders had the exhaust pipes connected to a kind of a collecting tube, the other lower cylinders had individual ones. I have seen this construction earlier applied to a Fokker Super Universal. I suppose the purpose of this was to keep the hot exhaust gases away from the pilot's windscreen.

'After adding the navigation lights, I painted the rest of the model in the light grey. The undercarriage and struts were painted in the aluminium mix. Finally the propeller was painted silver with red warning stripes. After searching in the sparebox for decals I only found some hinomaru and numbers for the fuselage. The hinomaru on the wings were quite large, so I had to make them from scratch. I sprayed a piece of white decal paper in red and then I careful cut four roundels by hand.

'Now my model made it to the finishing line. In conclusion the Mitsubishi was fun to build. Getting the front part of the fuselage with both cockpits in the right shape was the most difficult part of the construction. And of course, as always, I would have liked to have some more information, but I managed with what I could find. I hope the readers enjoyed the building and that my my tips and tricks are of some use for modelers :-)

With special thanks to John for sharing this project which resulted in a superb and convincing model of a rare type built entirely from scratch.

Image credit: All photos © 2021 John Haas

Thursday 11 March 2021

John Haas' Mitsubishi Type 92 Recce ~ Part Two

John Haas continues to ply his exceptional skills magic in his build of the Mitsubishi Type 92 Recce:-

 Mitsubishi Type 92 Recce, Scale 1/48, Part Two

'First I would like to thank all the readers for their kind comments! So up to the next stage in progress. After glueing the wing halves I could do some more work on the fuselage. The upper part of the fuselage was a bit low in front of the cockpit, so with putty I corrected the profile to the right height and shape.

'I added some more details, two MG's in front of the windscreen. It is always tricky to add two gun- troughs in the upper decking. Some very carefull filing was called for here. Behind the engine there were some cooling louvres, I made them using a strip of self adhesive aluminium tape. A problem was to place it without denting on the fuselage. I was not happy with the result, so I used two separate pieces and that worked better. The tail pieces were glued with thin pins to the fuselage. After detailing the engine I glued it onto the fuselage. The Japanese version of a Fairey Reed propeller was made up from thin 0.5 mm sheet, bent to the correct angles.

'Now after drying, I had to do more work on the wing. Because of the sweep-back, I cut the wing into three parts. The middle section could remain square but from the large outer parts I removed a v-shaped section and after checking for the correct angle I glued the three parts back together. Again I used some metal pins to ensure a solid bond between them. Finally I made the cut-out in the middle part. And now I arrived at a difficult step - how to fix the wing on thin struts to the fuselage. First I carefully drilled some holes in the wing and fuselage, then with trial and error I first glued the small cabane- struts onto the fuselage. The next step was to check the wing hight and elevation. By experience I find it easier to turn the model upside down and then glue the large struts in place. Fortunately that technique also worked fine this time. Very important is the fact that after some drying time it is still possible to make small adjustments if necessary.

'Now after this important milestone, I could pay attention to the smaller parts and details. For the undercarriage first the struts. I cut them from sheet material and filed them in profile. Some photographs show some planes with a wind-driven dynamo on one of the wing struts, I always like such small details, so I added this to my model. Finally the wheels. As so often, I could not find the right size in the spares box, so I had to turn them with the Dremel and hobby knife. Well the general construction of this model was almost finished and time to do some more painting. Until the next and last chapter.'

With very special thanks to John for sharing these images and details of building this superb and unusual model from scratch.

Image credit: All photos © 2021 John Haas