Saturday, 13 January 2018

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 006 - ALEXANDER NAM TRAN WIP#1

1/72 AZ Model Kawasaki Ki-78
Name: Alexander Nam Tran
Country: Australia, Sydney
Model Scale: 1/72
Kit Maker: AZ Model

Greetings again everyone,
I’m Alex Tran from Sydney Australia and here I present my 13th legitimate and completed build and second Imperial Japanese Army aircraft ever since my entry in Arawasi’s Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 004, Tateo Kato’s Ki-43-I (HERE). This build was started in December after my intense work schedule started to ease up for the year.
I had purchased this kit around mid-2016, the time when I started to take this hobby seriously, seeing it as an unusual, unique and quick addition to my collection. However, I was very wrong about the “quick” part, realising that there were several issues present with this kit as you will see. Feeling daunted and not knowing how to fix these problems nicely at the time, the kit was left alone in the stash ever since until now.
After looking at whatever reference material that I could get my hands on, I’ve realised that this aircraft appeared to have gone through a few different configurations and have decided to loosely base my build on the following for overall look:
References for the Ki-78 is limited and hence leaves some generous room for my imagination in this build. In advance, because my background is in science, I couldn’t help but write this WIP in detail along the way so that others can replicate or learn from this work. Although it’s comprehensive,  hope you will enjoy the story of my build!
Work in Progress:
Figure 1. (30/11/2017) The kit by AZ model. This edition included 2 kits with the options of building "what if" aircraft despite being completely unarmed in reality. The kit was preowned at half the retail price, containing 1 out of the 2 aircraft.
Figure 2. (30/11/2017) The kit's contents and surprisingly, it’s a tiny aircraft. Upon many inspections, overall in my opinion, it's a poorly sculpted kit with several inaccuracies in detail and poor precision parts that needs improvements and hence was left alone in my stash. However, I think it's time to give it a go now that I've become more experienced in this hobby.
Figure 3. (02/12/2017) The original cockpit was minimal in detail. Because barely anything is known about the aircraft other than a few photos, I've decided to make a cockpit with more detail and sense than what's provided. The cockpit floor of a Ki-61 by RS Models was copied using Blue Stuff/Oyumaru thermopolymer and resin. The lower part of a landing gear was also copied to replace the second which was not moulded properly. The small tail wheel was also copied from the RS Models Ki-61 to replace the ugly original.
Figure 4. (02/12/2017) And so, my journey into styrene scratch building begins. Styrene sheets for this build were purchased from my local hobby store RC Crew Hobbies, many thanks for all your help and advice!
No propeller back plate was supplied so one was scratch built using with a 0.4 mm styrene sheet. The nose cone was lightly superglued onto a cut piece of 0.4 mm styrene before cutting and sanding excess away until it is in shape.
Figure 5. (02/12/2017) The completed backplate and nose. Any dimples present on the surface was filled with superglue before being sanded down. The nose cone was also polished uniformly by using drilling a hole at the back, attaching it to a dowel and into a handheld electric grinder where it was run over a piece of wet and worn piece of sandpaper.
Figure 6. (02/12/2017) The completed propeller ready for painting. A dowel made from a cut paper clip and superglued into place. All blades were also sanded smooth and polished.
Figure 7. (03/12/2017) Although there is some moulded cockpit sidewall detail, it is still quite lacking overall. Because there are no photos available of the cockpit, I will be improvising with what I believe to make sense as well as look good. Therefore, majority of this will be cut off and replaced with by a resin sidewall copies from a 1/72 J2M Raiden kit from Sword Models.
Figure 8. (03/12/2017) A small bulkhead was made using 0.4 mm styrene sheets. Based on a photo of the plane, there appeared to be a cushion-like headrest in front of this above the pilot's seat, hence one was also made from 0.4 mm styrene once again and sanded into shape.
Figure 9. (03/12/2017) Fortunately, the walls fit perfectly with minimal effort in this kit. All that was required was to reduce the fuselage sidewalls by approximately 1 mm as well as the throttle on the left wall and a small radio-like box at the base of the right wall. A few extra details were also added to the left wall, originating from spare copies I made of Hawkeye Resin's 1/72 A6M cockpit upgrade set. The sides of the cockpit base had to also be reduced along with the removal of unnoticeable detail for it to fit into the fuselage. The small pedals were also replaced with scratch built ones made from styrene and stretched sprue. Finally, the sides of the original moulded seats were also sanded back to both make it look sharper and for it to fit inside.
Figure 10. (04/12/2017) Dry-fitting of all cockpit components and so far, it looks great in my own eyes. All that's left is to add a styrene dashboard and a scratch built instrument panel to replace the kit's seemingly inaccurate one.
Figure 11. (09/12/2017) A dashboard made from a piece of 0.25 mm styrene sheet was installed partially. The instrument panel was also made from 0.25 mm styrene. A spare instrument panel waterslide decal from a 1/72 Hasegawa A6M Zero kit will be applied after painting. From here, the interior is ready to be painted before sealing the fuselage halves together.
Figure 12. (06/12/2017) The wheel wells of this kit are very shallow and lacked detail and sharpness with its rounded edges both internally and externally. In addition, holes are also present in them. At this point, I thought that I may as well bore through them and construct my own.
Figure 13. (06-10/12/2017) The wheel wells were cut out and cleared using an 18V hand drill, Daiso diamond files and a hobby knife. Mistakes or over cuts were easily repaired with sprue shavings cemented into place before applying layers of superglue. Only now do I realise the greatness of strength, structural integrity, non-solvent properties and sandability of superglue for gap filling or similar purposes like this, with the main disadvantage being unable to visualise it properly due to its clarity. Similarly, superglue was also applied around the edges of the wells and sanded afterwards for sharpness. Afterwards, the inside will be lined with 0.25 mm styrene strips.
Figure 14. (10/12/2017) The shape of the wheel wells was scribed onto 0.25mm styrene pieces with my mechanical pencil scriber before giving it the panel line treatment for easier visualisation. The wheel wells are ready for construction...Or so I thought.
Upon closer inspection, they were asymmetrical and I didn't know despite trying to shape it. After some measurements and comparisons to a set of detailed blueprints by Minoru Matsuda, it turns out that the whole wing was asymmetrical with the outer right-wing details being off and pushed inward by 1 mm to scale. This ultimately resulted in the right wheel well being 1 mm shorter as well as the flaps. At this point, I can say that this kit is very poor overall. However, that shouldn't be able stop any modeller for in this hobby, anything can be fixed with time, patience and effort.
Figure 15. (20/12/2017) Because major work was being done to the wings already, I thought that I might as well take it further while I'm at it. Aside from the minor recess in wing's leading edge, the air intakes for this plane were virtually non-existent. Therefore, I attempted to reconstruct my own briefly which will have an illusion of depth and hence look more real. Plastic was first filed out before cementing a cut 0.25 mm styrene sheet to one side. This was followed with the thin vertical struts, made from cut pieces of flash from another model kit and cementing a second piece of cut 0.25 mm styrene on top. Finally, gaps were filled with careful applications of superglue before sanding the area down, levelling it to the contours of the wing.
Figure 16. (20/12/2017) The horizontal stabilisers of this kit have an error where the elevator panels stretched towards the leading edge. Hence, this was filled in with superglue once again before scribing the elevator's proper edge. From photos the few photos of the plane, the control surfaces were bent whilst on landed. Hence to copy the photo, the elevator's lines were scored lightly with a knife before bending them downwards lightly. Work was also done to the tail area. As noted by the Aviation of Japan Blogspot (HERE), the AZ Model Ki-78 kits are short of approximately 4 mm to scale, with mine around 3 mm when measured. The fuselage will have to be elongated for a more aerodynamic and less stubbier appearance which could be done easily towards the tail by cutting it off at the rearmost panel line, slotting in styrene and sanding it and the fuselage to shape. Hence, the tail was cut off for preparation. It was also interesting to note the presence of panel lines of this area inside the fuselage as well. Did the manufacturers know about this error? The rear wheel well was hollowed out and the rudder was cut off fixed up with styrene to block gaps and to help with final presentation like the elevators. All leading edges of tail control surfaces were sanding for a curved effect, hence improving the illusion of realism.
Figure 17. (21-22/12/2017) After many hours, the basic shape of the wheel wells are finally complete. Next is to detail them however I see appropriate. The right aileron was also extended by 1 mm with styrene.
Figure 18. (21-22/12/2017) The upper surface of the wing. The large gaps, wing joints and surface will be filled and shaped with regular Milliput before it and excess styrene from the wheel well back plate down to the wing's contour.
Figure 19. (23/12/2017) Thirteen pairs of seatbelts prepared quickly within 15 minutes. These were made from cut strips of masking tape and cut pieces of aluminium baking tray that were superglued on to represent the buckle, unlike bent pieces of copper wire for my previous sets. All that's left is to apply a brown wash over them for some wear which will be done whenever I weather cockpits. Hopefully these should last me for a short while unless they get lost.
Figure 20. (25/12/2017) Merry Christmas! Work continues after a feast, a few glasses of wine and a good nap. After losing the resin casted landing gear replacement part and not being bothered pulling out the reagents for it, the missing part was built up with cemented styrene and superglue before sanding it down to shape, which is also much easier! A section of the landing gear piece was replaced with my own parts made from 0.25 mm cut styrene while the original pieces of the wheel sections was sanded down to similar a similar thickness. These parts were also made from cut pieces of aluminium baking tray, thinking it would be similar to photoetch but their downside was their malleability which would cause trouble when masking. The replacement pieces were lost a few times and were reprepared. Scatterbrained me… The original wheels are a poor representation of the real thing from photos. Hence, these were replaced with a spare pair of A6M wheels from a Hasegawa A6M2-N kit. Pieces on the left are the originals for comparison with the replacements. All pieces here are ready for painting.
Figure 21. (26/12/2017) The propellers were primed with Alclad II black base before spraying the propeller tips with Tamiya Red acrylic and masking the propeller markings. Alclad II Polished Aluminium was then sprayed on next before polishing the nose with a glass lens cloth to bring out the reflective metal finish.
Figure 22. (26/12/2017) To show how reflective the nose's metal finish is, a message was written on a piece of Tamiya masking tape and held above it. Can you read it without cheating?
Figure 23. (26/12/2017) The cockpit interior was painted with a Hai-Ai-Iro mix based on the recommendations Aviation of Japan's recommendations in their Ki-78 kit blog post (HERE). This mixture was made with a 1:1 ratio Tamiya Light Grey and Tamiya Royal Blue acrylics. Smaller details were hand painted before applying a matte brown wash over it, lazily made with a very thin mix of Tamiya Red, Yellow and Flat Black acrylics. All non-metallic acrylics up to this point were thinned with my homebrewed acrylic thinner.


Anonymous said...

Good on you mate. I would not have the patience to work on a kit with so many shortcomings. I look forward to the finished work.

Wind Swords

Atra SevenSevenSix said...

Thank you Wind Swords.
Trust me, there were several times where I questioned the worth of my time investment in this build, especially whenever I started discovering more flaws as I progressed. But in the end, I have to say it was very worth it!