Monday 24 June 2024

50th Sentai Hayabusa Duo in 1/48 by Stéphane Sagols Part 2

The second of Stéphane Sagols 1/48 Ki-43-I Hayabusa models crafted from the Hasegawa kit, this one featuring 'Fubuki' as flown by the controversial ace Sgt Satoshi 'Lucky' Anabuki.

The same details for the previous model apply with regard to the interior and engine details as shown below. 

The models were made from Hasegawa kit 09425 Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Oscar) '50th Flight Regiment' released in 2002 and which included markings options for all three 'Musketeers', Sasaki, Shimokawa and Anabuki.  Stéphane used the kit decals for the Kanji characters on the rudders but painted the lightning flashes, fuselage bands and hinomaru.

Satoshi Anabuki also forged his flying career over the Philippines in the Ki-27 as a 19-year old Corporal in Lt Kanamaru's shotai in the 50th's 3rd Chutai. He continued to fly over Burma in the 50th acquiring the nickname 'Momotaro of Burma' after a popular Japanese folk hero, a boy who battled demons. After flying both the I and II variants of the Hayabusa and claiming more victories he returned to Japan in February 1944. He was to claim further victories flying the Ki-84  and Ki-100 as a Sgt Maj flight instructor at Akeno.

'Fubuki' was an Aikoku-go machine donated by the Saitama Agricultural Society and Anabuki claimed 14 victories flying it until it was lost when being flown by the 3rd Chutai leader Lt Shigeru Nakazaki who failed to return from a sortie on 23 January 1943. The victory markings on the rudder represent Anabuki's first victory over the P-40 and two Hurricanes claimed on 18 January 1943. The remaining nine victory markings represent those claimed in this aircraft by Nakazaki.  Anabuki subsequently flew a second and similar 'Fubuki' in which he had amassed 200 hours by the time it was handed over to 16 Field Air Depot in Singapore on 7 June 1943. Anabuki then flew a mottled Ki-43-II with the name 'Kimikaze' said to reference his fiancee Kimiko whom he later married. This aircraft was ditched on 8 October 1943 by a wounded Anabuki who claimed he had shot down two P-38s and two B-24s then rammed a third B-24. For this Anabuki received a personal citation from the 3rd Air Army commander Lt Gen Hideyoshi Kawabe, unprecedented for a living pilot. There were no witnesses to these claims and they do not tally with any known Allied losses. Several of his previous claims also do not tally with  any reported Allied losses. Pilots of the 64th Sentai were sceptical of the truth of his claims and one of them commented to this author that the 50th Sentai's criteria for allowing claims were not as stringent as those of the 64th which required witnesses as well as evidence of fire or crashes. Anabuki's mottled Ki-43-II 'Kimikaze' has been variously depicted with dark green blotches over natural metal, blue-grey or khaki. 

Anabuki also survived the war to serve in the JASDF, also rising to the rank of Major. 

With special thanks to Stéphane for sharing these images and details of his two Hayabusa models with AoJ. 

Image credits: All model photos © 2024 Stéphane Sagols; Hasegawa box art © 2002 Hasegawa Corporation via Stéphane Sagols.

50th Sentai Hayabusa Duo in 1/48 by Stéphane Sagols Part 1

In addition to continuing colour discussions and more on Babs kits a season of Army fighter models begins with this dynamic duo of Hiko Dai 50 Sentai Ki-43-I Hayabusa superbly realised from the Hasegawa 1/48 scale kits by Stéphane Sagols. Both are aircraft flown by notable pilots, Isamu Sasaki's Tobi (Black Kite) and the controversial Satoshi Anabuki's Fubuki  (Snowstorm). First up is Tobi.

Stéphane built the models from the box but added some AML photo-etched parts for the wheel wells and Eduard seat belts in the cockpits. He also added wiring in the cockpits and ignition wires to the engine.

Minor problems attended to were filling and reinforcing the wing to fuselage joint at the leading edge and filling joins on the aileron as the wing tips on this kit are separate mouldings. He also filled the landing light aperture as the Ki-43-I did not have a landing light in the wing leading edge. Finally he reduced the thickness of the interior canopy frame for a better fit to the fuselage.

The cockpit interiors, wheel wells and landing gear inner doors were painted with Mr Hobby H63 Metallic Blue Green to represent the aotake finish. AK Interactive 2264 (Air Series) Midori iro was applied to the exterior upper surfaces with white added for the fabric control surfaces. 

Under surfaces were finished with AK Interactive Xtreme Metal AK479 Aluminium with AK488 Matte Aluminium for fabric control surfaces. The anti glare panel was applied with AK Interactive AK2066 Anti-Glare Blue-Black. The 50th used a non-standard Chutai colour sequence with red for the 1st, yellow for the 2nd and white for the 3rd. The small hinomaru on the fuselage was part of the unit's lightning flash, applied before the fuselage hinomaru appeared on other Army fighters as a standard marking.

Sgt Isamu 'Skilled' Sasaki was one three aces in the 50th dubbed 'The Three Musketeers' with Anabuki and Yukio Shimakawa. Sasaki flew the Ki-27 and claimed his first victory over the Philippines in December 1941 subsequently serving with the 50th in Burma for more than two years, claiming 32 victories. He returned to Japan and the Army's Flight Test Centre in April 1944 but continued to fly on operational sorties against the B-29s, claiming six shot down and three damaged. He was promoted to Warrant Officer and awarded the Bukosho, surviving the war to serve in the Japanese Self Defence Air Force (JSDAF) and rising to the rank of Major.

Image credit: All photos © 2024 Stéphane Sagols.

Saturday 22 June 2024

Kariki 117 Colour I3 and 8609 Colour 3-3 Tsuchi iro

The colour I3 from the Tsuchi iro (Earth or clay) colour set on Kariki 117 was once mooted as both the Zero colour and the colour of Pearl Harbour era B5N2 'Kates' (97 Shiki Kanjo Kogeki-ki 九七式艦上攻撃機  or 97 KanKo - 九七艦攻). The late David Aiken described the 'Kate' colour as 'Grey Poupon', alluding to the appearance of French mustard, but it was also described as 'khaki'. The degree of grey, green or yellowishness perceived in the colour has varied according to different visual comparisons but the 3-3 swatch from the February 1945 8609 colour standard has been deemed identical to the I3 which it directly succeeded. The Japanese Aeronautic Association measured L*a*b* values of the 3-3 swatch are shown below, unsurprisingly 'brown', together with visual comparisons made previously by Japanese researchers. 

The Ryôichi Watanabe comparison to FS 20318 seems anomalous and he described Kariki 117's I3 somewhat enigmatically in an article in Arawasi magazine (Issue 9, Apr-Jun 2008) as 'used as a second coat on Zero fighters and other aircraft, but there are several people who wrongly believe that I3 is ameiro (a light brown or amber colour)'. Did he mean a second coat as between the red oxide primer and 'grey' topcoat or as the topcoat itself?  The comparison to FS 34201 by Owaki-san takes us into Zero 'olive grey' territory.  

The question of natural metal finish (nmf) under surfaces on some Pearl Harbor 'Kates' has run long and in its 1/48 scale kits Hasegawa has variously depicted grey green or 'silver'. The late Jim Lansdale was of the opinion that the finish varied as the result of production chronology and that he had examined KanKo artefacts where the dark green was painted over nmf and others where it was painted over the 'olive grey' finish. He estimated that the last 200-300 KanKo produced by Nakajima up to August 1941 were probably in a factory applied overall olive grey scheme, implying that older aircraft already in service may have been camouflaged dark green on upper surfaces but retained nmf under surfaces. His extant sample of metal from the so-called 'Hospital Kate' did not have any primer and he had seen no evidence of any primer on the olive grey painted aircraft. Does that imply that they were possibly IJN Depot rather than factory painted after the olive grey paint was adopted for the Zero? In any event the olive grey appears to have been the warmer. more yellowish Nakajima colour. It was possibly patches of that paint showing through the dark green camouflage paint that gave rise to the idea of PH KanKo sporting 'brown' blotches on the green camouflage.  

Fuchida described the Kates as being camouflaged very roughly and hastily in green and brown (茶褐色 chakasshoku) with his own aircraft remaining 'bright' underneath, which is a little ambiguous but might suggest the aircraft was unpainted prior to camouflaging and that the under surface retained a natural metal finish. The problem with Japanese descriptions of 'brown' has been discussed before but chakasshoku appears to cover colours from dark reddish brown to yellowish brown or tawny.  The box art on the Nichimo Kate was based on his description but depicts a very dark brown. FWIW the paint on the 'Hospital' Kate is a slightly variegated Munsell 7.5 Y 5-6/2 which puts it into that familiar slightly lighter than FS 34201/16350 territory. Therefore the difference between I3 and the Zero-type olive grey is probably unimportant. One detail that is easily overlooked is that the amber/olive-grey paint was glossy whilst the dark green camouflage was duller or flat. 

A fabric sample from the 'Southeast Loch Kanko' had a layer of red oxide, a layer of aluminium and a top coating of olive grey. A piece of the rudder fabric had bright red over the olive grey layer. Jim Lansdale noted that according to Bob Mikesh the under surface fabric of a B5N amongst the approximate 50 manufactured by No. 11 Kokusho during 1939-40 was doped a blue-grey colour approximating Munsell 5 PB 6/1. That would be approximate to FS 36320, so possibly not the more neutral, dove grey of J3.  The pigments in 36320 as might be expected for a low saturated 'purple blue'  are rutile (non chalking) titanium dioxide (white), green shade phthalo blue, quinacridone red and blue shade carbon black. But in addition to the manufactured aircraft the No.11 Kokusho may have reconditioned or modified many B5N airframes from 1942 until March 1944 applying an unknown variety of paints. The B5N was also manufactured by Aichi from June 1942 to September 1943 with a run of approximately 200. Probably one of the most common pitfalls for modellers is to assume that extant paint examples from one aircraft represent all the others unvaryingly. Generally speaking Japanese modellers are much more relaxed and pragmatic about this.

The heading photo is from film footage of a Midway-era KanKo taking off and the lighter outer wings are intriguing. Is the lighter colour on this bird olive grey (or 'grey poupon'!) and was the darker green (?) camouflage applied on board the carrier with the wings folded?

Make of it what you will . . . 

Image credit: B5N photo web; Colour schematic © 2024 Aviation of Japan

Friday 21 June 2024

A Bad Attitude of Mind

I've been toying with the idea of making this blog membership and sign-in only to deter abusers. But that would not be fair on those kind souls who share images and details of their builds and, judging by the fate of the private Amair4RAF blog, it would just sink without trace instead of floating along below the surface, the content being more ignored than it is now. Recently, when looking for something else, I came across one of those forum 'celebrity' big scale builds. In one of the posts the builder had included a schematic taken from this site without permission. It was attributed to 'Aviation of Japan' but without a link.  But more importantly it was posted without any context from the original blog article, to the point of being a misleading presentation. The chips were not measured values from actual paint but represented subjective visual comparisons attributed to actual paint seen in the interiors of later variants of the subject aircraft.  I wonder how this person might feel if I showed part of his build here, acknowledging the forum it was taken from but without the courtesy of a link and not bothering to include any context? 'Found this, make of it what you will'. The object, interior colour, elicited the usual gormless opinionation of 'I don't know, but' or 'I once saw . . .' as well as the usual 'paint it how you want, no one can prove . . . ' (curiously missing from discussions of Luftwaffe colours), etc. 

On another forum one chap had lifted information wholesale from this blog and then presented it as if it were the product of his own research and he was coming down from the mountain with tablets of stone. Ok, again he included a link to this blog but that was ignored and he got fawning praise and gratitude from his forumite audience for his 'research'. 

I've come to the conclusion that most extant IJN interior paint represents the applied and variable paints of different manufacturers, plus photo-chemical and other colour shift distortions from thermal and other degradations, to the single colour standard of Kariki 117's M1, as was specified and required. Here care is necessary and the usual caveat that a colour standard and applied paints are not identical beasts. Different paints for different purposes can be manufactured to match a single colour standard, but with different formulae to suit those purposes. And indeed different manufacturers can make paint match a single colour standard using different pigments and constituents. All of which can create and does create variables, especially over time. Paint protected from light and exposure will often become darker and browner, think old decals. A cool green will often become a more olive green in appearance, a bright pale blue become more turquoise in appearance. Too often the consequences are presumed to represent the original. Extant samples of paint from aircraft manufactured over 80 years ago are seductive but should not be presumed to represent a colour standard or be representative of all the aircraft of that type manufactured. In the case of the IJN fitted components were often finished in a darker green than the integral cockpit grey green, so where, exactly did the sample come from? And was it original or re-fitted? 

M1 (the standard) is similar to the RAF's Aircraft Grey Green, still contained in BS381c as # 283 under the same designation . In applied paints it can appear more olive now because the paint binder has become yellowed and darker. Tamiya offer an XF-71 Cockpit Green and assert that 'This shade of green captures the color used in the cockpit of IJN aircraft such as the Zero'.  It is lighter and brighter than the olive green that many choose to paint model Zero cockpits - FS 34151 - Interior green, TT-P-1757 and ANA 611, which is not Japanese. XF-71 is similar to the extant interior paint in the H8K Emily. I once tried their enamel version in the small Pactra-like glass bottle but it proved a greasy thing that preferred to stay wet and re-join itself rather than cover the plastic with a smooth, thin, opaque film applied by brush. That ideal of brush painting was abandoned decades ago and now manufacturers can take advantage of the almost universal use of the airbrush to stint on (expensive) pigments. Golden era Humbrol or Pactra it is not and I got the impression (!) that it was slightly lighter and brighter than the acrylic version.

M1 was succeeded by 1-4 in the Feb 1945 8609 document but remained exactly similar. The Japanese Aeronautic Association Aviation Heritage Archive (JAA AHA) spectrophotometer measured L*a*b* values of the 1-4 swatch (shown below) in the 8609 Standard presents a slightly duller, deeper colour, almost certainly the result of age related degradation. It is a very slightly yellowed grey green and the original should be envisaged as just a little lighter and cooler. It can be the starting point for the cockpit colour of any IJN aircraft. JAA AHA describe it as the IJN anti-glare colour for cockpits and known as 'Pale Green'. Actually Kariki 117 has it designated as 'Hairyokushoku' (ash green colour, e.g, grey green). The late David Aiken always insisted that M1 was the exterior colour of early Zeros. It wasn't, because the Zero camouflage trials which were recorded in early 1942 in the Yoko 0266 report included one Zero (Yo-151) experimentally painted overall in M1. If all Zeros had already been M1 that would not have been necessary and the report would have described the contemporary colour of Zeros as M1 or Hairyokushoku rather than 'J3 Hai iro (ash colour) leaning slightly towards ameiro (candy or amber colour)'. David also liked to present Tamiya XF-76 as M1 based mainly on the appearance of Tamiya's online advertising imagery. It isn't and anyone who has actually applied XF-76 knows it doesn't look like that. If it did Tamiya would not need to sell XF-71. The difference between how Tamiya market the appearance of the paint colour and how it actually looks when applied is a puzzle.

The 8609 swatches sent by the Koku Fan editor Toda-san to US researchers in the 1970s resulted in the 1-4 swatch being compared then to Munsell 7.5 GY 4/2 and FS 34159, which are also shown in comparison to the other colours below.  There is an extant D3A Val ammunition magazine which though variegated across its surfaces, shows the variations of the grey green, including a brighter, paler green. As with many such relics it is difficult to identify the original paint surface from the degraded paint surfaces. A  similar grey green colour is associated with Aichi Jake interiors. And not to forget that paint inside a model cockpit, especially in the smaller scales, will look darker, even with the canopy modelled open.

Make of it what you will! ;-)

Image credit: All © 2024 Aviation of Japan