Sunday 21 June 2015

Model Commentary #4b - Choosing your next J. a/c model

After a few rather hectic months we finally found some time to sit down and continue with this J. plane modelling guide. In the first part (HERE) we talked about IJNAF single engine fighters of WWII. Today, as promised, we'll talk about IJNAF seaplane fighters.
First up is the Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" the very first seaplane fighter of the IJNAF.
Few were built, they didn't see as much action as the land-based "Zero" and they all carried the typical IJNAF paint schemes; overall gray or green-top with gray-bottom. For years the rubbish "purple Rufe" has been a modeling favorite as a "different" and "interesting" option. Perhaps the red-brown primer was showing, the gray looked purple in the Aleutians, the US pilot(s) who reported seeing such a plane against the setting sun had moonshine in their canteen instead of water....blah blah blah. There was no such scheme, end of story. Am I allowed to say it loud and clear? STOP BUILDING PURPLE RUFES IF YOU CARE ABOUT ACCURACY! If you don't care and you're just having fun, go all the way and build something like the beautiful model below. A purple Rufe won't be less accurate.
image from here
There is surprisingly (or perhaps not) little material available in print for the Rufe. There are usually a few pages in all the Zero publications, most with exactly the same photos and that's about all. It was not a very photographed aircraft after all. Hasegawa has released excellent Rufe kits in 1/72 and 1/48. In the bigger scale they are a lot better than the old Tamiya kits with the raised panel lines and the poor at places fit. Apart from the gray/green options with different tail markings, there are two aircraft with interesting schemes both released by Hasegawa.
One is the 934-06 with the thunderbolt on the fuselage side.
The other, recently released, belonging to Takuma Ku with what looks like hastily applied camo.  
Trumpeter is releasing a Rufe in 1/24 and Sweet in 1/144. The Sweet kit is excellent for its size but haven't built the Trumpeter. If you have let us know how good it is.
Another interesting option is the Rufe in French markings and there are a couple after-market decal sets available.
The other IJNAF seaplane fighter was the Kawanishi N1K1 "Kyofu" (Rex), one of the most beautiful seaplane fighters in the world.
As with the Rufe, the Rex gets only a brief mention in the "Shiden/Shiden-kai" publications with the same photos repeated again and again. Except for the prototypes there is only the green/gray paint scheme and Hasegawa has released a couple kits in 1/72 and Tamiya has the only "Kyofu" in 1/48. AFAIK there are no kits in 1/144 and in 1/32 it would require a major modification of the ancient Revell N1K1-Ja kit.
The most interesting options are the prototypes especially the one with the SUPER cool contra rotating props. Hasegawa releases both in 1/72 but I have seen very few modelers attempting modifying the Tamiya kit in 1/48. Take a look HERE for an excellent model (on a terrible base).
There is also the interesting option of Indonesian "Kyofu". Fairly easy to make by cutting the hinomaru in half and placing it against a white background.
So, in conclusion, be careful when you purchase a seaplane fighter kit. Be sure you really like the scheme the kit offers because there are not many options. And DO NOT build a purple Rufe if you care about historical accuracy. 


Jacob Terlouw said...

Hi George,
Although few 'real' A6M2-N's were built, quite a few kits were offered.
Iremember the LS, Frog, Revell, Jo-Han(with the purple Rufe box-art).
The Sweet 1/144 kit is indeed very good but there's also a F-Toy one and that one is not so bad at all.
About the N1K1- in the early 8-ties,"Wings" had a 1/48 vacuform Kyofu, long before that Sanwa had a
1/100(1/96) kit and about a year ago F-Toys offered one in 1/144 scale.Not a bad kit! ASU-decal/MYK design offers nice decals for this kit. If you do not have much room for your kits- this is an acceptable option for a modeler.

Derek Cooper said...

Hi George!
On the subject of "Rufe" publications, Kagero did produce a booklet in their brown-covered Famous Aircraft series but I don't know if this is currently available. It contains some intersting photos that I don't recall seeing in any other publications, along with some nice colour profiles.
I must confess to having built a purple "Rufe" in the days of my youth in the 1960s.I recall using a paint that was actually part of Humbrol's Authentic Colours range. I believe the kit itself was from Matchbox, complete with working ailerons!
With best regards,