Saturday 12 August 2023

Koh Tse Hsien's 1/48 Scale Zero Fighter Quartet

Koh Tse Hsien from Singapore has kindly shared these images and details of his quartet of fine 1/48 scale models of Zero fighters all from IJN units associated with Singapore.

A Zero A6M2 Model 21 'II-131' of the 22nd Air Flotilla HQ attached Fighter Group, Malaya 1942, made from the 2009 1/48 Hasegawa kit # 09875 (Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero Fighter Type 21 '3rd Flying Group') with decals from the Rising Decals set RD48021, with Eduard photo-etch details FE358 and Eduard Mask EX040.

A Zero A6M2 Model 21 'B1-12' of 381 Ku at Tebrau, Singapore made from the 2022 1/48 Eduard kit # 82212 (Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Type 21) with decals from the Berna Decals set BD4858, Eduard Brassin cannon barrels and cowling guns # 648723 and Aber armament and pitot tube set A48106 (Armament for Japanese fighter Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero). This aircraft was later flown and photographed by the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit South-East Asia (ATAIU-SEA). At one time the 'B1' tail codes were believed to be ATAIU-SEA designations but in fact they were the original codes for 381 Ku fighters. The unit also operated a few A6M2-K trainers with 'B2' tail codes, at least one A6M3 Model 22, code unknown, another Zero coded 'B1-21' and two Raiden with 'B1-01' and 'B1-02' tail codes applied on overpainted strips concealing a previous code. Both Raiden were test flown by Japanese pilots under ATAIU-SEA supervision.

A Zero A6M5 Model 52  'B1-05' of 381 Ku at Tebrau, Singapore made from the 2008 1/48 Tamiya kit # 61103 (Mitsubishi A6M5/5a Zero Fighter Zeke) with Eduard Mask (EX258) Eduard (491016) photoetch details Aviaeology Japanese tail codes (AOD48C23m) Dead Design Models Japanese National Insignia (VM48094) Aber armament and pitot tube (A48106), Quickboost exhaust (QB48230) and Kits-World seat belts. Another A6M5 of this unit was coded 'B1-26' and an A6M5 Hei coded 'B1-28'. The cockpit and centre section of 'B1-05' are now displayed in the Imperial War Museum, London, with the engine and cowling at the RAF Cosford museum, whilst sadly in 1956 the wings and tail were spotted in the Warrington scrap yard of the British Aluminium Co. Ltd from the top deck of a bus. Large numbers of other Japanese aircraft, including JAAF aircraft, totalling about 60, were burnt, bulldozed and/or scrapped at Tebrau on the orders of the then supreme allied commander South-East Asia Admiral Mountbatten who cancelled a British Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) and Air Intelligence plan under the auspices of the RAF to send one example of every Japanese aircraft to the UK for testing and posterity on the grounds that shipping should be prioritised for returning POWs and de-mobbed Allied personnel. The rare Ki-100 fortunately survived because it was mistakenly identified as an 'Oscar', the main fighter type encountered by the RAF over Burma, together with the surviving Ki-46-III, both of which were shipped. together with a 381 Ku Kyushu K9W1 'Cypress' coded 'B2-20' which was later damaged by a fire in storage at RAF Wroughton in the 1950s and subsequently scrapped. An Ohka found at Singapore had also previously been shipped to the UK but alas the Ki-44 made airworthy and flown by the RAF CO at Singapore's Kallang airfield was ultimately scrapped. 

A Nakajima-built A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52 '11-22' of the Taiho Fighter Group at Singapore during March-April 1944, made from the 1/48 Hasegawa kit # 07385 (Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52 'Taiho Fighter Group') with Eduard Mask (040), Eduard (FE217) photoetch details, Rex exhausts (48029) and SX-ART Studio Mask (48044).

With special thanks to Tse Hsien for sharing these images and details of a fine Zero quartet. 

Image credit: All photos © 2023 Koh Tse Hsien

Saturday 5 August 2023

Navy Type 13 No.3 carrier-based attack aircraft modified seaplane (Mitsubishi 3MT2) by John Haas Pt.1

Another masterpiece in the making from John Haas, inspired by the Choroszy models range but scratch-built to 1/48 scale, the modified seaplane of Mitsubishi's 3MT2 design as the Navy Type 13 No.3 carrier-based attack aircraft modified seaplane (一三式三号艦上攻撃機改造水上機). The Mitsubishi 3MT2 design was the last production model for the Type 13 carrier attack aircraft and adopted in January 1931. Over to John then:- 

'Dear Modellers,

'I had much pleasure in building my  last model; so after further searching the excellent Choroszy collection I found another interesting model. This time the Navy Type 13 carrier attack aircraft seaplane variant. Fortunately I found some useful photographs and even an 3-view drawing in the 1990 Putnam book 'Japanese Aircraft 1910-1941' by Robert C Mikesh and Shorzoe Abe, and in Volume One (Mitsubishi Aircraft) of the 1981 Shuppan-Kyodo 'Encyclopedia of Japanese Aircraft 1900-1945'.  

'I built this model in the same usual way as my other models. For the fuselage frames I used 2mm plastic sheets and the sides were covered with a thin 0.5mm sheet. That was the easy part, now I had to fabricate the fuselage top with three cockpits. I solved this by carving a piece of wood and using this form with the 'heat and smash' method to fabricate a thin plastic cover. 

'With the fuselage ready I could carve a piece of wood for the engine which fitted the dimensions of the fuselage. The next step was to make the tail structure. Again I used some 2mm sheet and to make it more interesting I fixed the elevators in a lowered position.  

'Now I could turn to build some wings. Well, compared with the fuselage they are really BIG! Again Mr. Harry Woodman* came to rescue me so I made two wings from thin sheet material and paid special attention to get a solid and stable construction of the middle part. I cut the lower wing into two halves and drilled two holes to insert a piece of large paperclip to get a sturdy connection with the fuselage. 

'The next chapter was to fit the upper wing. The first step was to drill some holes for the wing struts, those being cut from 1mm sheet and sanded in profile. Fortunately the wings have no stagger which made things a bit easier. I fixed some struts in strategic places on the lower wing, then turned the model upside down and placed it carefully on the upper wing. I cemented the struts with liquid glue. When everything had dried I cemented the other struts in place. This important step went well, the wings lined up as planned. Now I could make two coolant radiators and fix them to the fuselage. 

'Now I had some forward planning to do; I had to paint the wings before the rigging adventure. This was also a good opportunity to try Revell's Silver Metallic No. 361/90 Aqua Color for the first time. I had used Humbrol enamel for many years, but unfortunately, in my opinion, the present quality is no longer what it used to be (Agreed! Ed.). So the experiment with Revell turned out very well, with two brush painted coats achieving a nice result.

'Now followed some old fashioned woodworking; making the two wooden floats, I was glad that they had flat surfaces, because it is already difficult enough to get them both equal and to the right size. I painted the floats in white primer and glued copper wire on the upper part with AC.'

With very special thanks to John for sharing these fascinating work-in-progress images and details of this challenging scratch-built project. 

* Scale Model Aircraft in Plastic Card by Harry Woodman, (Model & Allied Publications, England, 1975-77)

Image credit: All model construction photos © 2023 John Haas; Aircraft photo © 1981 Shuppan-Kyodo Publishers, Tokyo.

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Pat Donahue's Model 22 Zero in Field Camo

Pat Donahue has waited very patiently for over a year for these images of his Solomons Campaign Model 22 Zero in field applied camouflage to be shown here. Here it is as the first of a series of Zero models long pending. And representing a most unusual scheme too, interpreted from a photograph as shown below. When I first saw the images of this model I presumed it to be 1/48 scale but it is in fact the Tamiya 1/72 scale kit which Pat built to the IPMS/USA new Basic Kit Build rules which replaced the older out of the box rules.

Pat added an antenna wire as it is shown in the instructions. The kit decal seat harness was also used, cut closely off the sheet but not immersed in water just carefully draped over the seat with the edges painted in a tan to match the decal colour.

The amber gray airframe colour is a mix of Sovereign Hobbies Colourcoats paint with the green being Xtracolor from Hannants. All markings were painted on, and the kit stencil decals and aftermarket codes were used.

Pat's model represents a Solomon’s based Zero that had been repainted in the field. There was much conflicting information of the model type and tail codes. Some assert that it was a model 22A but all the photos Pat had of this machine and others like it showed no extended cannon barrels. There are many different ideas of the actual tail codes applied and Pat hopes he got it in the ballpark, as the original markings were censored in the photos. He commented that he would pay some real money to see some correctly exposed photos of those field applied schemes other than "105"! And I suspect he is not alone!

A stunning model which belies the small scale and is testimony to Pat's skill. With special thanks to Pat for sharing the images and details of his model and for his patience in waiting so long  for it to appear here. Pat's previous field camouflaged Zero models can be found here and here

Image credits: All model photos © 2023 Pat Donahue; Photo via Pat Donahue.