'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.
'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