Tuesday 31 October 2023

Navy Type 13 No.3 carrier-based attack aircraft modified seaplane (Mitsubishi 3MT2) by John Haas Pt.2

Here is the second part of this masterful scratch build project by John Haas following on from the first part featured here in August.  This 1/48 scale model was inspired by the 1/72 Choroszy model 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 delay in showing it is mine and not any responsibility of John's. Over to John then:

'Dear readers, firstly I would like to thank you for your kind comments following the first part. Making the propeller was not easy. It is a massive four-blade airscrew made in one piece. I admire the woodworker's skills in those times. Fortunately I have previously made a smaller one and although it is not simple it can be done. I used thick 2.5mm plastic sheet and some careful sawing, filing, sanding and a lot of patience did the trick. I painted it in a light brown as undercoat and then used some felt ink- drawing pencils to create a wood finish. 

Yes, now I had to do some RIGGING :-)! First I took the time to study all the photographs to figure out the rigging plan. To complicate matters, it has dual flying wires. After drilling a lot of holes through the wings, I first glued some stretched sprue between the struts and the upper part of the fuselage. Next followed the fishing line, which I glued with cyanoacrylate (CA - 'super glue').

After that big step I could paint the wings in silver over an undercoat of dark grey with the struts in black. By the way, I am still wondering how the pilot managed to get into the cockpit? I think through the big opening in the upper wing ? 

So I arrived at another complicated chapter; how to fix both floats in the right place. I have done that before and it is plain difficult. I connected the floats together by the struts and after careful outlining and measuring, glued both floats as one piecce to the fuselage.

Well, after this tricky part, life turned more easy in Pt.3'

With very special thanks to John for sharing these images and details of his build here.

Image credits: All photos © 2023 John Haas

Friday 27 October 2023

Donald W Thorpe's Japanese Colours

This unplanned blog article, cutting into the intended season of IJN floatplane models, was prompted by the comment about Donald W Thorpe from Aviation of Japan Texas correspondent Mark Smith on the 8609 blog. In my response to his comment I got the year wrong and in fact Donald Thorpe's letter to the British modelling magazine Plastic Aircraft Models International (PAM News) was in 1980. The letter and accompanying chart appeared in Issue No.36 of that magazine published in January 1980. The only change made to the scanned images shown below has been to blank out Thorpe's residential postal address. Disbelievers or those in denial can check out the magazine for themselves as second hand copies may be sought on eBay and are generally available.

Significantly the chart shows the original Munsell values Thorpe had identified but which had not been included in his books. Those values allowed the late Bill Leyh and I to work together to produce a table (one sample page shown below) with the colours presented in sRGB together with their Munsell values, sRGB values and quantified closest FS colours, not always usefully comparable. The two books had originally included only printed colour charts with limitations as to the fidelity of the colours shown. Because of the source of the Munsell values our 'Thorpe Table' was not a commercial proposition but a work of mutual interest and enthusiasm to be provided on request to those who had the Thorpe books and wished to gain a better idea of the colours as presented in them. It proved to be of limited interest as the 'consensus' had already moved towards a consideration of Thorpe's work as 'out of date' and supplanted by new ideas being driven from both the USA and Japan. But it was used as a tool of reconciliation for the new information becoming available and was updated with various discussion notes. 

Thorpe's contention in his letter to PAM News that the Japanese standards had not survived was incorrect but for decades they had been of limited access in Japan and treated rather secretively. Sporadic references to official IJN colour designations in Japanese aviation magazines seem not to have been picked up in the West.  In neither his letter to PAM New nor in his books did Thorpe refer to the 8609 standard or directly to the facsimile swatches sent by Mr Toda to US researchers. There is also no mention of the Army's Koukaku 39 or Navy's Kariki 117 colour standards. In fact the Army colours book was published in 1968, before those 8609 swatches were made available in 1975. The Navy colours book followed two years later in 1977. The late Jim Lansdale very kindly sent me a copy of the 8609 swatches as sent and the reverse of the working paper laying them out is endorsed as follows and dated November 1975.

'JAAF - JNAF Colors Source M.Toda (Kokufan) via B Mikesh Stated as "Official Color Standards # 8609. Source in Japan unknown - believed standards for one aircraft mfr only -'

It subsequently transpired that Mr Mikesh refuted being the source of the swatches and Jim came to believe that they might have been sent to Al Makiel who at the time was in correspondence with both Mr Toda and Donald Thorpe. Nevertheless the swatches are correct as to their 8609 designations and each swatch is accompanied by a hand written notation with comparable Munsell values, FS values and, except for 2-6, a Thorpe designation in red. The date these notations were added is unknown. Interestingly the red Thorpe notation adjacent to the 2-6 swatch is 'None'! With the L*a*b" values of the 8609 swatches measured and reported in 2023 it is now possible to present them in direct comparison to the 1975 assessments and the Thorpe colours, with the cautionary understanding that 48 years has passed between them.

Following this presentation Pat Donahue has very kindly shared images of a paint chips folder sent to him by Mr Thorpe. It appears that the chips were probably cut from original Munsell swatches as they  seem to match well the rendered chips in our Thorpe Table. When Don published his books Pat wrote to him and asked if he had any hard copies' of the colours. Don said he had made a very few copies, about a dozen, and that really perked his interest.  Pat offered to build him a model of the Zero on the cover of the  IJN book in exchange for one of the sets of colour chips and the deal was struck. The folder has been stored in a climate controlled environment out of sunlight and in the original packing container except when Pat needed it for colour references, as shown above and below. With thanks to Pat for sharing the images and his permission to show them here.

Image credit:- Book covers © 1968 & 1977 Aero Publishers, Inc.; Magazine cover & excerpts © 1980 PAM News International published by Independent Magazines Ltd.; Thorpe Table © 2005 William Leyh & Nick Millman; Thorpe Colour Chips pamphlet images via Pat Donahue.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Jim Anderson's Fujimi 1/72 Aichi E16A1 Zuiun 'Paul' - Not OOB!

This Aichi E16A1 Zuiun 'Paul' heralds a season of impressive IJN floatplane models. The 1998 Fujimi 1/72 kit is not built and shown very often so it is a real delight to feature this exemplary model by Jim Anderson of an early production Zuiun.  The Fujimi kit is light years ahead of the old Aoshima kit of 1964 but not without its own challenges and Jim has tackled those most expertly, significantly enhancing and improving the kit details. 

Over to Jim then:-

'Fujimi’s interesting kit of the unusual 1/72 Aichi E16A1 Zuiun (Allied code name “Paul”) was started in September 2020 and lasted until February 2022.  One can see the resemblance to Aichi’s earlier 'Jake' in the lay-out.  The aircraft was designed to perform attack/strike missions as well as reconnaissance duties.  A centreline mounted 250 kg bomb, two wing mounted 60 kg bombs and two 20mm fixed forward firing cannons comprised its offensive capability. Very thick wing roots were another unique feature of this floatplane. Kit decals included markings for a machine from the CV/BB Ise (伊勢) as portrayed on the attractive box art plus another from her sister ship Hyuga (日向). Each hybrid carrier could accommodate 14 Pauls plus 10 Judys.  That is enough to send out a decent strike force but I’ve never found any information that combat missions were ever launched from the mother ships and that the program was short lived.

'My edition of this kit is a good twenty years old and has been released in multiple offerings (including early and late production variants with different dive flaps Ed.)  Fujimi provided partially perforated dive brakes molded into the forward pontoon pylons.  I opted to drill them out even going so far as to contemplate separating the flaps from the strut in order to display them in the deployed mode, but that would have been cutting it too close.  I was hoping that some kind of aftermarket products were available for purchase in order to make the job easier but I couldn’t find anything.  This is a good example of standing on the shoulders of our predecessors as I expect someone will follow and take the idea to the next level.  There were two (perhaps three) different styles of dive brakes that would operate when the aircraft was pushed over into a descending attack.  I initially pictured that the flaps would open in a clamshell fashion but there was more to it than that.  With welcomed help from the Model Mafia there looks to be other variations depending upon when each aircraft was produced. 

'Fujimi included a nice beaching trolley for the floatplane. Here again was an opportunity to drill out even more holes to depict the lightened steel beams.  I stopped counting holes when I reached 200! 

'This kit provided two sets of decals.  One an all-white set and the other set being red, yellow and black.  The white underlayment did give the yellow markings a bright and solid look.  However, the builder is responsible for accurate placement of the color set over the white set.  The fuselage cockpit decking presented me with a problem early during construction.  The aft section was easily anchored but the forward part was floating in free space.  Some plastic braces solved that problem.  Once the dive brakes were finished I continued on to the next assemblies.  A half engine molded onto the kit firewall was a disappointment.  Also a trench was added to approximate the missing fire break vent where I imagined one would be on the forward fuselage.  The kit supplied exhaust stacks were replaced and the cowling flaps were opened up.  If you are planning to build this kit be sure to include weights in the front of each pontoon otherwise the floatplane will not sit properly on the beaching trolley.

'Now on to painting:  Fuselage port and starboard internal bulkheads were given a coat of Humbrol 50 Metallic Green. Seats, decking and horizontal surfaces were Precision Paints M412 Foliage Green.  The propeller is half Testors 1140 Gloss Brown and half Testors 1166 Flat Brown. Undersurfaces are a 50-50 mix of AeroMaster Mitsubishi Gray and Polly Scale IJA Light Gray. The uppersurfaces are 66% Model Masters IJN Green and 33% Pactra X-5 Leaf Green (a 50 plus year old bottle) that produced a high gloss finish. One other consideration I’d like to add is the boundary between the upper and lower colors on the fuselage sides. All my source photographs show a distinctive serpentine pattern that was unique to the Paul. I used a bead of Elmer’s Tack to mimic this shape and gave the model a nice feathered edge here. Maybe now I can build Aichi’s other attacker, the sleek Seiran.'

Ise was an old battleship laid down in 1915, withdrawn to reserve and then re-commissioned more than once and finally re-built as a hybrid carrier battleship able to carry 14 Zuiun and eight D4Y2 Suisei dive bombers. The first catapult launch exercises of Zuiun floatplanes from Ise were conducted in June 1944. 634 Ku was established in mid-August and although conducting training on the battleship it was considered insufficiently ready to go to sea on the ships. After training in night attack techniques the unit was assigned to the defence of the Philippines, operating from Kanakao (Kawait) on the coast of Manila Bay on Luzon in October 1944. The Zuiun unit in 634 Ku was designated 301 Reconnaissance Hikotai.

With special thanks to Jim for sharing these images and details of his model and for his patience in waiting for them to appear. Zuiun is a purposeful looking floatplane and it is surprising not to see it modelled more often. 

Image credit: All Zuiun model photos © 2023 Jim Anderson; Box art © 1998 Fujimi Mokei Co., Ltd; Ise photo via Wiki Japan      

Saturday 21 October 2023

Update IJN Greens

The IJN Greens PDF has recently been updated. The bad news is that there is a moderate increase in price. The good news is that all previous purchasers are entitled to the updated copy free of charge. Unfortunately they cannot be formatted and sent out automatically so if you would like a copy please email me to request one, thank you.

Also in updating the blog layout the flag counter link stopped working (thanks Google) and re-instating it meant starting from scratch with one visitor so it has been removed. This will no doubt vex a compulsively competitive copycat character checking on Aviation of Japan's popularity. . . Sorry about that. 

Image credit: © 1954 J. Arthur Rank Studio.

Thursday 19 October 2023

Japan Aircraft Standard 8609: Aircraft Paints, Standards by Colour of Feb 1945; Part 1

On 5 February 1945, following a review exercise by the Aviation Industry Association's (AIA) 6th Sub-Committee of the 2nd Chemical Industry Association a new single National Aircraft Standards was issued entitled ‘Japan Aircraft Standard 8609: Aircraft Paints, Standards by Color’. The AIA was a cooperative body of the Ministry of Munitions Air Weapons General Bureau formed in January 1944. This achieved a reduction from the 54 colours in the IJN Kariki 117 (revised) of April 1942 and the more than 40 colours in the Army Aircraft Materials Standard No.39 of 1935 down to 26 colours with some compromise. For example the Army # 27 Ao Midori iro - 青緑色 (Blue Green colour) was succeeded by the similar IJN D2 which was re-designated as 1-2. Colour D1 was not represented in the revised  system and it is apparent that by that time a dark green colour closer to D2 in appearance was being applied as the standard IJN upper surface colour. In the new numbering system the prefix indicated the hue and the suffix the specific colour value within that group, with greens represented by colour swatches 1-1 to 1-5 and greys by colour swatches 2-1 to 2-7. In each case the new colours were designated either as direct successors to the previous colours, and identical to them, or as being similar to them, and presumably acceptable as alternatives. The original colour swatches in the 8609 standard are 14.4 cm x 9.1 cm in size.

The respected Japanese researcher and film director Sunao Katabuchi has asserted (in Scale Aviation magazine, February 2021) that D2 was adopted by the IJN in November 1941 for the camouflage of aircraft flying over the ocean and in the later phase of the war was applied to the upper surfaces of almost all IJN aircraft including Zeros and trainers. However according to Yoshihito Kurosu: 'the 'Hiko-ki Keikaku You-ryou-sho Kaitei-an' (Proposal for the revisions of aircraft planning procedures) issued by Navy Air Command HQ in March 1944 has a table of standard colors and codes under "Kari- kikaku 117 Shiki-betsu Hyojun" (Provisional Standard 117 Color Norms). The table specified the upper-surface color as D1 'an-ryokushoku' (暗緑色 - dark green).

The official name for D1 was 'Deep Green Black' and not 'dark green' but the inconsistency of colour terminology in official Japanese documents, both IJA and IJN , is typical and can present ambiguity. D1 was not included in the 8609 colour standard of Feb 1945 but only D2 (becoming 1-2), which tends to lend credence to Katabuchi-san's assertion.

This year the Japanese Aeronautic Association Aviation Heritage Archive published a most magnificent book on the recent Kawasaki Ki-61-II restoration with amongst its many superlatively documented and presented details of the airframe and engine includes actual spectrophotometer measured L*a*b* values of the 8609 Standard colour swatches reported for the first time, and full size representations of the swatches. They include 1-2 the successor colour to the IJN's D2 and 2-6 the successor colour to their J3 (and reported to be identical). Those important measurements have now been converted to sRGB with the rendered swatches presented below. The swatches have probably become slightly darker and more brownish due to being stored out of light for over 70 years but as shown they are the most authentic and accurate reproductions of the actual 8609 swatches compared to many misleading photo comparisons and facsimiles in magazines, etc. Whether the J3 colour was deliberately made dark to allow for the inevitable chalking* and lightening of the paint surface is moot. But do please note that the 1942 0266 report on camouflage trials conducted at Yokosuka described the then currently applied Zero colour as 'J3 Haiiro (飴色 - ash colour, grey) leaning slightly towards Ameiro' (飴色 - amber, yellowish-brown). Other 8609 colour swatches will be analysed and presented here in due course. A full verification and comparison exercise to other colour standards, including Munsell, has not yet been completed due to personal circumstances.

The current 'go to' fad of using Gunze Mr Color 35 to represent 2-6/J3 is misleading. A better match is to use Mr Color 70 RLM 02, perhaps lightened a little.

One important point to bear in mind is the difference between a colour standard, representing the hue  as authorised, and the actual applied paints which could and did vary for many reasons, both as applied and from subsequent exposure and other conditions in service. Also it is improbable that the swatches, intended simply to show colour, were created with the same pigments and components as the actual paint coatings applied to aircraft by manufacturing companies such as Mitsubishi, where protection and serviceability would be considerations beyond just colour hue. Another point to make is that the subject has long been clouded by an equivalence made between subjective opinion versus objective scientific facts and data. The resistance to the latter by the former, often driven by presumption and preference, is effectively impossible to overcome.  

In ‘chalking’ the polymer of the paint is eroded and a powdery patina appears over the surface. Where the white pigment titanium dioxide is present in the paint (in rutile form) as with the Zero the condition is usually exacerbated. “The photochemically active titanium dioxide is both a UV-activated oxidation catalyst and a UV absorber. Free radicals are formed at the surface of the titanium dioxide and these then oxidise the (paint) binder by photocatalytic degradation. This reduces the gloss and produces a friable layer on the surface of the paint film - the process called ‘chalking’.” - The Chemistry and Physics of Coatings, A J Marrion, Royal Society of Chemistry 2004. The effects of chalking, very prevalent in coatings exposed to persistent high temperatures and humidity as well as sunlight are often confused with the fading of colour pigments, an entirely separate process. 

 Image credit: Schematic © 2023 Aviation of Japan

Wednesday 18 October 2023

3D Japanese Airfield Vehicles in Various Scales

Peter Zanella has very kindly alerted me to a series of Japanese vehicle and armour models being sold at the Etsy website by PlayMoreIT3D from Poland. The models are 3D printed in Polyurethane resin and the detail appears exquisite and crisp. 

The models are available in several scales including 1/72 and 1/48. The range includes an Isuzu TX 40 Airfield Tractor (Dan Salamone kit bashed a wonderful example in 1/48 here to serve as inspiration), a Rikuo Type 97 motorcycle available with or without sidecar, a Komatsu G-40 tracked bulldozer, a Type 88 AA gun and the Japanese steamroller captured on Guadalcanal. These may be of interest to aircraft modellers planning dioramas or just as models in their own right.  The reviews are very positive and the models come in sprue 'cages' requiring cutting out and minimal assembly.

Peter mentioned that he has built a 1/72-scale 3D printed kit of the M37 US light truck from this range and comments that once you learn how to properly remove the parts from the sprue cage, the kits are really not that bad. They are reasonably detailed, simplified kits much like the Trumpeter 1/72 tank kits but in his opinion the result is 'anything but shabby'. And he notes no need for primer, even with acrylics. Let's hope that more Japanese vehicles are added to the range in future. 

With special thanks to Peter for the heads up about this range.

Since blogging about the range Kevin Bade has received some of the vehicles and reports on them as follows:-  'Amongst (those ordered and received) were the Rikuo 97 motorcycle with sidecar and the Guadalcanal airfield roller. Very nice surface texture, unlike some other 3D kits I've purchased where the surface resembles Zimmerit. Very nicely detailed and once you remove the printing runners very easy to assemble. I have bought quite a number of resin 3D vehicles and IMHO these are some of the best I've seen. The Chinese have a few companies making armor and these are really good too. Highly recommended. Btw Profimodeller makes a similar airfield (road) roller in 1/72 resin but I think the 3D printed one is the winner. Have already ordered some more of the Military Scales kits including the Komatsu tractor, etc.'

Image credits: All © 2023 PlayMoreIT3D.

Friday 13 October 2023

Stéphane Sagols Tainan Ku Pair

Continuing the Zero theme it is a delight to share these images of a pair of excellent Tainan Ku Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero models built from the 1/48 Hasegawa kit by Stéphane Sagols and featuring aircraft reputedly flown by the IJN ace Saburo Sakai. Much good effort has been expended in attempting to unravel the identification system and colour sequence of the slanted fuselage bands and horizontal tail stripes used by Tainan Ku but they remain unconfirmed beyond speculation and theory.

V-128 has long been depicted with a white tail stripe according to the profile in 'Reishiki Kanjo Sentouki no subete' (1961) by Yoshiyuki Takani, a personal friend of Sakai, who obtained the information about it from Sakai himself during an overnight stay. More recently it has been depicted with a red tail stripe, as on Stéphane's model, as a result of assertions about the shotai colour sequence which will be examined further in a later article here.

Stéphane achieved remarkable detail in construction of the cockpits, using the kit parts for V-130 and a CMK resin set for V-128 as shown above, and especially in the construction of miniature gunsights for each model which are remarkably detailed. He also improved the appearance of the cowlings and cowling flaps as shown below. 

Stéphane also refined the exhaust outlets for both models, carefully routing and thinning the kit parts.

Both models are depicted in standard factory finish described contemporaneously as 'J3 grey leaning slightly towards ameiro' with fabric control surfaces doped J3 grey. 

With special thanks to Stéphane for sharing these images of his two models and for his patience in waiting for them to appear.

Image credits: All photos © 2023 Stéphane Sagols