Tuesday 31 January 2023

Sally Duo in 1/72 by Gonzalo Guzmán Part 1

No, not the recently released ICM new tool but another Revell classic, this time the first of a pair of Mitsubishi Ki-21 'Sally' bombers in 1/72 scale made from the Takara releases of the 1975 Revell kit, which featured here back in 2012, by Gonzalo Guzmán. Gonzalo has had these kits since 1982 and the announcement of the ICM release was the stimulus for him to build them, and a fine job made of that too.  

The Ki-21-II Ko model represents an aircraft of the 2nd Chutai, 58th Sentai based in Sumatra during 1942. Although classified as a heavy bomber in the JAAF the Ki-21 was comparable to the RAF's Vickers Wellington. 

Hiko Dai 58 Sentai was established at Gongzhuling, Manchuria under Col Dankichi Ogawa with three heavy bomber Chutai from the 2nd Daitai of the 12th Hiko Rentai in July 1938. In June 1939 it moved to Jiamusi and worked up in expectation of operations against Russian forces. In May 1940 Col Noboru Taki assumed command of the unit and from early August to mid September 1940 18 bombers of the unit conducted attacks againt Kweilin and other Chinese targets from Canton. Ground crew were transported to Canton in the Fiat BR20s of its sister unit the 12th Sentai. On 29 August all four Ki-21s which had sortied against Zhaoguan were forced to make emergency landings on the way back from their target due to very heavy cloud conditions. When the weather cleared the four bombers took off from the very short landing ground with only pilots on board, the other crew members returning by boat with the aircraft machine guns under the leadership of Sgt Tsuruo Sakamoto.

In early February 1943 with the situation becoming critical in the SW Pacific the 58th was moved south together with the 60th Sentai and both began conducting Indian Ocean patrols from Sumatra. In late July 1943, in response to concerns that new forward Allied airfields in China would be used for raids against the Japanese mainland, 23 aircraft of the 58th staged to Hankow from Medang, Sumatra via Pingdong and Shanghai from where daylight attacks were conducted against Lingling, Chunking and Hengyang. On 23 July Lingling was attacked by the bombers each carrying two 250 kg and five 100kg bombs, the Sentai commander Lt Col Takenao Tsubouchi, who had assumed command in February of that year, flying on the mission in the Ki-21 of the 3rd Chutai leader Capt Nobuhiko Kuwabara. In a fierce air battle with P-40s on approach to the target four bombers were lost and all the returning aircraft received damage. Lt Kazuoki Odaka's aircraft managed to return on one engine, closely escorted by his former classmate Lt Kyoshi Namai flying a Ki-43 from 33rd Sentai.  The following day 18 bombers went to Hengyang escorted by no less than three fighter sentai but the aircraft of Lt Shigeru Shimizu was shot down. The unit then withdrew to Dachangzhen airfield at Shanghai, conducting three raids at the end of the month against Jianou.

On 23 August the unit bombed Chunking and despite aerial opposition the only loss was the Ki-21-II of 1/Lt Heijo Maeda. Anti-aircraft fire over the target was inaccurate, bursting well below the 58th's bombing altitude of 23,000 ft. The following day Chunking was again the target but an adverse weather report from a recce flight diverted the raid to Wanxian. On 26 August the unit withdrew from China to Saigon and in mid November moved to Medang, Sumatra via Saigon from where it again flew sea searches and convoy patrols with detachments at Singapore. During this period three aircraft and 23 personnel were lost in training accidents or missing on patrols but the losses were not as heavy as in other Ki-21 units. In January 1945 it moved to Kompong Kunang from where it conducted patrols across the South China sea, losing the aircraft of 2Lt Torii to a P-38 on 3 March. One aborted plan was to raid Ceylon and modification began to fit extra fuel tanks in the fuselage and reduce the crews to three in order to extend the range  but the operation was cancelled before being attempted.

On 4 March four aircraft staged to Dong Muang, Thailand for a night attack against the airfield at Schwebo in Burma. The airfield lights were on and the attack was successfully pressed from 1300 ft against a clearly visible line-up of aircraft on the ground.  Sgt Masayoshi's aircraft was attacked by a Beaufighter but the dorsal gunner Sgt Maj Yoshida was able to warn the pilot to break away by a system of cords attached to the pilot's arms. The attack killed the ventral gunner Sgt Maj Shinobu Taki whose head was blown off, set one wing tank on fire and dropped one of the undercarriages. They were able to extinguish the fire and limp away, losing altitude and landing at Moulmein because they would not have been able to cross the mountains. The retracted undercarriage would not lower but Sgt Masayoshi managed to land the aircraft. The veteran Ki-21 c/n 1025 had been on strength with the unit since Manchuria but the Beaufighter attack had left large holes in the airframe. 

In mid-July the 58th moved to Formosa (Taiwan) where it ended the war.

With special thanks to Gonzalo for sharing these images of his excellent and evocative model built from a classic kit. Part 2 will feature his Ki-21-II Otsu also made from the Takara release of Revell's Ki-21. Reference material on 58th Sentai operations from Japanese Army Heavy Bomber Units by Dr Yasuho Izawa.

Image credit: All © 2023 Gonzalo Guzmán; References: Japanese Army Heavy Bomber Units by Dr Yasuho Izawa, translated manuscript courtesy of the author


Sunday 29 January 2023

That Revell Hayate - (Updated)

In response to yesterday's blog post correspondent and contributor Michael Thurow very kindly shared this image of part of a set of German playing cards featuring Revell box art which he and his school friends played with on their 20 minute train ride to school over 50 years ago. The Hayate, at right above, is similar to the Brian Knight box art (which was repeated on various box styles through to the 1970s) but features a mottled camouflage with 11th Sentai insignia. I can't recall a Revell Hayate kit box with that intriguing box art and Scalemates don't record it, but they do show a Revell/Kikoler 1978 re-release of kit H-637 which features a similarly painted built-up model on the box with brown blotches on green, albeit with the 104 Sentai tail insignia. A two-tone mottle also featured on the box art of Revell's 1969 Fighting Deuces kit H222-100 in which Hayate was paired with a P-51 Mustang, but curiously the instructions suggested only a scheme of solid dark green over silver.

The Final Flight?

Revell's classic Hayate last appeared in 1995 as Kit # 04111-0389 with box art (shown above) by Jaroslav Velc, also featuring a two-tone mottle and 2nd Chutai, 102nd Sentai insignia in red and white (identified in the instructions as 52nd Sentai) with a red spinner. For the curious colour scheme Revell paints were suggested with a solid upper surface of 80% Sea green (RAL 6028) + 20% White but a densely blotched mottle of Anthracite (RAL 7021) which is an almost black dark grey. Did the Fighting Deuces kit box art inspire that scheme? Under surfaces were suggested to be 50% Grey (RAL 7000) + 50% White. 

There is a fine build article for the Revell kit by Chris Mikesh at the Modelling Madness website. Features of the kit fondly remembered were the nicely sculptured pilot figure realistically hunched and wearing oxygen mask, the sliding canopy (changed to a single-piece moulding in later re-releases) and the ill-fitting panel that revealed (revelled?) the 'detailed' engine. But we're a long way from Arma Hobby or even Hasegawa. The most obvious issue, apart from the 1960s surface detail is the too tapered cowling. 

It is a delight to see these cards, provoking so many enjoyable memories, and to know that Michael has preserved them. With special thanks to Michael for sharing both the cards and his memories and to Kevin Bade for kindly providing the image of the Fighting Deuces box and instructions.

Image credit: Cards © 2023 Michael Thurow; Box arts © 1969 and 1995 Revell Inc. 

Friday 27 January 2023

The Origin of the Species

Back in October 2022 in a blog post featuring the 1961 Marusan 1/50 scale Hayate reference was made to the 1960s UPC re-issue of this kit with box art by Andrew 'Scottie' Scott Eidson (shown above) featuring an unusual camouflage scheme. The origin of the scheme seems to be an article on Hayate by the well-respected author Richard M Bueschel in the April 1957 issue of the magazine Royal Air Force Flying Review (RAFFR). The article, entitled 'The Hayate - Japan's White Hope' includes a monochrome four-view plan by W Heumann (shown below) featuring a camouflaged Hayate sporting tail insignia attributed to Hiko Dai 102 Sentai, and almost exactly similar to the UPC box art.

In the article an insert box describes the camouflage as follows:-

Upper surfaces: mottled olive green and brown overall. Under surfaces: light grey. Japanese red disc insignia outlined in white appears on upper wing surfaces and fuselage sides and without white outline on under wing surfaces. Unit marking appears in white on the vertical tail surfaces. 

The colour of the spinner which appears in the same tone as the insignia on the plan is not mentioned, but in the UPC box art tail insignia and spinner are both depicted as yellow. The box art also depicts orange yellow wing leading edge IFF strips which are omitted on the RAFFR plan view. Note also on the RAFFR under surface plan view the representation of heavy exhaust stains across the undercarriage covers, incorrectly interpreted as paint in some early illustrations. The stains are shown in a different (and incorrect) position on the RAFFR profile view.

The article (shown above) also includes an annotated cutaway illustration and four photos of the aircraft, one of which shows a 102nd Sentai Hayate which might or might not have a mottled finish but is usually depicted in a weathered and worn solid finish, often brown of various shades. 

The same photo also featured on the 1972 Tamiya 1/48 Hayate kit instructions (shown above), although not one of the decal options offered in the kit. In Tamiya's 1964 'Flight Series' 1/72 Hayate kit the scheme is depicted as dark green mottle over natural metal and the aircraft presented as belonging to the 52nd Sentai. The Revell 1964 1/72 Hayate kit (box art at foot) has a similarly tapered cowling as presented in the RAFVR plan view. Of note is that the photograph appears to show a white border on the underwing hinomaru not picked up in the depictions. 

In an era of sparse references for Japanese aircraft the RAFFR articles and colour profiles had an influence but the 1971 Aircam Aviation Series No.29 on Hayate did not follow suit, the Richard Ward profile F2 depicting the aircraft in a solid green scheme with mottled or weathered rear fuselage only (shown above).  If the dubious RAFFR/UPC scheme takes your fancy then nothing wrong in applying it to a model which would then be simply a 3D representation of those historic interpretations. No harm done if presented as such. 

Image credit: RAFFR pages © 1957 The Royal Air Force Review Ltd; Tamiya kit instruction sheet © 1972 Tamiya Inc; Aircam Profile © 1971 Osprey Publishing Ltd & Richard Ward; Box art © 1964 Revell Inc.