Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Kawanishi E15K "Shiun" (Norm) in Chukk (Truk) Lagoon - video

Our friend Patrick Justiz sent over a heads-up on a most interesting video he spotted on UTube (HERE). It features the wreck of a Kawanishi E15K "Shiun" (Norm) in Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon.

First of all, there is no doubt that the aircraft is indeed a "Shiun"; the peculiar retractable wing float offers concrete proof.

More stills from the video feature a general view of the aircraft and the cockpit.
Note above the contra-rotating propeller with the twin blades 
Pilot's seat
Pilot's control stick
The instrument panel is missing
Rear deck of the pilot's seat
Observer's seat
Classic Navy Type 92 flexible machine gun, on a ring mount
Unfortunately, no tail marking is visible

Arawasi first featured a "Norm" article by Komine Bunzo in the very first issue of our magazine, in July 2005. It has been many years since that first homemade and home-printed issue, and in the meantime, we have gained enough experience and access to many more sources to write  more thoroughly about this much-overlooked type.
So, before you get in your hands a new special on the "Shiun" in print, let's talk about this wreck in Chuuk Lagoon.

Wikepedia mentions:
"...the E15K1 was ordered into limited production as the Navy Type 2 High-speed Reconnaissance Seaplane Shiun Model 11. Six prototype and service trial E15Ks were built and evaluated from 1941 to 1942. Production finally got underway in 1943, but the first operational E15K1s did not enter service until April 30, 1944, when six were assigned to the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 61st Air Flotilla.
On June 1 the first of its Shiuns arrived at Palau Island in the South Pacific."

The Komine article, based on the combat report of the unit, talks in detail about the "Shiun" unit in the Palaus and makes it clear that none of the aircraft assigned and operated by the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron was lost in or around Chuuk. 
Furthermore, the unit was disbanded on August 12 and two "Shiun" floatplanes were to be returned to the Navy Aviation Arsenal in Yokosuka. Could the Chuuk floatplane be one of these two "Shiun"?
The Google map below with the location of Chuuk Lagoon and Palau Islands, shows that the only way the seaplanes could have returned to Japan starting from Palau and stopping at Chuuk is via Saipan or Guam in the Marianas. But Saipan had fallen to the U.S. forces on July 9, 1944, and Guam on August 10, so this return route was virtually impossible. More probably the seaplanes returned via Davao in the Philippines, the same way they arrived in Chuuk in the first place.   

The other "suspect" that could have operated the aircraft is the Light Cruiser Oyodo.
Wikipedia mentions: 
"Like the Tone-class heavy cruisers, the Ōyodo-class ships were intended to be scouting cruisers and hence the entire deck of the ship aft of the superstructure was devoted to aircraft facilities. The weight saved by not fitting torpedo tubes was invested instead in a hangar that could house four floatplanes, with two more stowed on deck, and a heavy-duty 44-meter (144 ft) catapult that was necessary for the new Kawanishi E15K Shiun floatplane (Allied reporting name "Norm") that was intended to perform reconnaissance for the submarine flotilla in areas where the enemy had air superiority...However, the aircraft performed poorly and only fifteen were completed before it cancelled in February 1944. Ōyodo did carry two or three Aichi E13A "Jake" reconnaissance floatplanes during her career."

Many sources (Japanese and non-Japanese) insist that the ship only experimented with the catapult specifically installed for the "Shiun", never actually received any "Shiun" floatplanes and they were never put into action by the ship.
Nevertheless, an article by Ishikawa Koji published in issue #200 (January 1964) of Maru Magazine  mentions:
"...the 14-shi high-speed reconnaissance seaplane was also officially adopted in 1943 and was named "Shiun", but the retractable float on the wing tip often retracted unexpectedly. For this reason, even after the type was loaded on Oyodo, there were frequent accidents when the seaplanes rolled over during alighting, but it was difficult to completely solve the problems due to limitations such as the thickness of the main wings."
"Frequent accidents" and "rollovers" mean that Oyodo carried more than one "Shiun", but did they see any action and were they ever in Chuuk?
According to combinedfleet (Imperial Cruisers (combinedfleet.com)), Oyodo on "9 July 1943:
Arrives at Shinagawa. Embarks the troops of the South Seas 4th Guard Unit and material. Departs Shinagawa for Truk with CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO, escort carrier CHUYO, seaplane carrier NISSHIN, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, CruDiv 8's TONE and CHIKUMA, light cruiser AGANO, DesRon 2's TAMANAMI, DesDiv 4's ARASHI and HAGIKAZE, DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, DesDiv 61's HATSUZUKI and SUZUTSUKI."
The whole force arrived in Chuuk and on "19 July 1943: Departs Truk on a troop transport run with seaplane tender NISSHIN, CruDiv 8's TONE and CHIKUMA, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, light cruiser AGANO, DesDiv 4's ARASHI and HAGIKAZE , DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, DesDiv 61's HATSUZUKI and SUZUTSUKI.
21 July 1943: Arrives at Rabaul. Disembarks troops, later refuels ISOKAZE.
24 July 1943: Departs Rabaul with TONE, CHIKUMA and MOGAMI, light cruiser AGANO and DesDiv 61's HATSUZUKI and SUZUTSUKI.
26 July 1943: Arrives at Truk.

This is the first mission of Oyodo during which she visits Chuuk Lagoon. 
The ship will stop by Chuuk again in October and early December.
On "30 December 1943: Transport Operation "BO-3": Departs Truk on a transport run to Kavieng, New Ireland with light cruiser NOSHIRO (flagship of Rear Admiral Hayakawa Mikio), DesDiv 10's YAMAGUMO and DesDiv 30's AKIKAZE. OYODO carries 1,000 tons of cargo including several artillery pieces and 500 troops.
1 January 1944: At 0445 (JST), arrives at Kavieng, unloads her cargo with a 2-hour delay as the last vessel of Hayakawa's squadron. After 0842, soon after departure, she and the escorting AKIZUKI are attacked by aircraft from TG 37.2's USS BUNKER HILL (CV-17) and MONTEREY (CV-26). Until 0919 OYODO expends 194 15.5-cm, 240 10-cm and 4640 25-mm rounds. She receives one direct hit (dud) and light damage as a result of near misses, but two men are killed and four wounded. OYODO's floatplane is damaged and cannot carry out the recce flight ordered by RAdm Hayakawa once the attack is over."

Maru Special #5 (March 1976) which has exactly the same information in Japanese, mentions that "Oyodo's high-speed reconnaissance floatplane was damaged and could not carry out...". 
"High-speed reconnaissance floatplane" is a direct reference to "Norm", not of course, to "Jake" or to "Pete".
Furthermore, we read in combinedfleet that on "6 March 1944: Refit. OYODO is converted to a Combined Fleet flagship. OYODO is designed to carry six high-speed Kawanishi E15K1 "Norm" reconnaissance floatplanes, but the aircraft are not as fast as expected and the strategic situation changes before they can be delivered. It is decided to equip OYODO with a shorter catapult and two Aichi E16A1 "Paul" reconnaissance planes, but these are not ready on time either. OYODO receives two standard IJN Type 0 Aichi E13A1 "Jake" three-seat reconnaissance floatplanes."

The above means that Oyodo sailed to missions in Chuuk with the catapult specifically designed for the "Shiun". It definitely carried seaplanes since one or more of them were damaged on January 1st, 1944. And it was after the installation of the short catapult that she received a compliment of "Jake" seaplanes. All this information leads to the natural conclusion that Oyodo at least from July 1943 until March 1944 carried and obviously operated a  number of "Shiun" floatplanes.
Definitive confirmation that the "Shiun" wreck in Chuuk Lagoon was operated by Oyodo will hopefully be included in our forthcoming magazine article. 
Stay tuned!

Saturday, 14 January 2023

A6M3 Mod 32 by Jean Barby

It is a less-known fact that some of the first Mod 32 were assigned to IJN Kido Butai. They lacked the range of the Mod 21 but were faster, and so most were assigned to CAP missions, the doctrine of which had been elaborated after the Midway disaster. The Shokaku and the Zuikaku received some. The experience was not very successful and as we know, most of the Mod 32 were then attached to the Navy fighter groups based on land. They fought hard on the Southern seas front. 
Eduard’s "Hamp" is very good but fiddly to assemble in some parts, mainly the cockpit and the alignment of the undercarriage legs. Nevertheless, it is a nice addition to their Zero range. 
Best regards to Arawasi, cheers!

- Jean Barby - 

Monday, 9 January 2023


Our friend Octávio Mântua asked:
I am currently starting two new projects: 1/72 Mitshubishi Ka-14 from Fine Molds and 1/72 Hasegawa "Shinden" J7W1.

-As to the "Shinden" J7W1 the kit comes with four fuselage machine guns. But analysing photos available on the internet it seems to me that the two prototypes built never had operational guns. In the photo attached there seems to be some patch that resembles the place where the machine gun would be visible.
Do you know if the prototypes had guns?

- As to the Mitsubishi KA-14, the Fine Molds kit depicts the second version, do you know of any photo of this plane? 

I just wanted to check if the cowling of the plane is the same colour of the fuselage or if there is any chance that it might be black.

-As you probably know, there are very few sources for the Kyushu J7W "Shinden" and very limited photographic material. According to the old FAOW l02 (Oct. 178), all available photos feature the first prototype of the aircraft after the end of the war. When the war ended, some of the exterior surfaces of the aircraft were damaged and were subsequently repaired so that it could be delivered to the occupying US forces. All these photos show the "Shinden" without any nose guns.

There are two (maybe three) videos showing the aircraft being test flown. (HERE)
They are very damaged films and quite difficult to discern small details, but, again, it seems the plane had no guns on the nose. 
Taking into account that the aircraft was only test-flown three times and the powerplant installation needed further work, it is unlikely any guns were installed at this stage of the type's development. 
According to Japanese sources the second prototype (of which no photos have ever surfaced AFAIK) was about to be finished when the war ended.

-The Fine Molds kit depicts the modified version of the first KA-14 prototype. The original version of the KA-14 prototype had a smooth cowling. There are three photos in Encyclopedia Vol.1 that confirm the box art of the Fine Molds kit.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023


 An anonymous commentator asked:
"In the BBC series World at War episode 22 at 5 minutes 28 seconds there is an excellent view in the cockpit/bomber position of an aircraft under construction. Looks like a Ki-49. what do you think it is?"

Here's the video:

Let's see...
The twin-engine bomber looks quite small. Could it be a Yokosuka P1Y "Ginga" (Frances)?
Unfortunately, the cockpit canopy of the "Frances" had a different shape and slid to the rear; didn't open sideways. And the landing gear is completely different.

How about a Mitsubishi G3M "Nell"?
On closer inspection, there are a bunch of small windows on the nose of the bomber in the video. "Nell's" nose was quite solid.

A Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" perhaps?
"Betty" had the radio antenna mast on the nose, not behind the cockpit canopy.

Any chance to be a Mitsubishi Ki-67 "Hiryu" (Peggy)? 

Unfortunately "Peggy" had a very "windowy" nose, unlike the bomber in the video. 

Well, the anonymous commentator asked if it's a "Sally" or a "Helen", right? So?
Here are the front views of the two bombers. 

The still below reveals that the bomber in the video has nose windows (indicated by the red arrows) in all the wrong places to be a "Sally". 

My conclusion is that it's a most interesting factory view of a Nakajima Ki-49 "Donryu" (Helen) in the production line.
Thank you anonymous commentator for the interesting question.

All front views by Matsuba Minoru.

Saturday, 31 December 2022


2023, the year of the rabbit

The zodiac sign Rabbit "represents good year and patience in Chinese culture, which means that the Year of the Rabbit 2023 will offer us the tranquility and success we were missing in 2022. The impact of the rabbit will moderate those who are very reckless or have their heads in the clouds. Because of this, you can successfully carry out your ideas if you deliberate before acting."
"As rabbits live peacefully in groups, this symbol represents “well-being of a family”. It also represents “great progress in business” because of the way they leap forward."

So, yet another Covid year is behind us. Japan has currently a daily average of 300 deaths due to Covid but the event of the year in the country was the assassination of the former PM Abe. 
More horribly, this year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is still ongoing with no end in the immediate future. Let's hope the Ukrainian people will show the same strength in 2023 and victory and peace to come quickly with the whole country back under the blue and yellow flag. SLAVA UKRAINI!

Unfortunately, no new Arawasi publications this year, but we manage to put something together for Osprey, due next May.
Don't expect a publication as good as our Eagle Eyes, though. We promise to give the bomber the attention it deserves some time in the future. 
Meanwhile, rest assured we didn't stay idle this year and new releases are forthcoming.

This blog did not do so well in 2023. We had very few contributions and there is a feeling that the interest is wavering. Regardless, we will persevere and hopefully, you will find something you like here in 2023 as well. 
Our FB page is doing great though. So perhaps you prefer this medium? 

As always, a HUGE "thank you" to our good friends:
Sinang Aribowo, James Boyd, Devlin Chouinard, Jan Kaňov, Danilo Renzulli, Zygmunt Szeremeta and Eric Vogel. AND JEAN BARBY!!!!

All the best for the new year to everybody out there.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Heads Up! - Mitsubishi Ki-21 Model 1 Ko from ICM

ICM announced that the Mitsubishi Ki-21-1a or Model 1 Ko in 1/72, is forthcoming!!!
The box cover depicts the very first pre-production aircraft built by Mitsubishi, when it served with the 60th Sentai in the China front. Not in Manchuria, as Thorpe has captioned all the 60 Sentai photos in his book. The 60th Sentai never served in Manchuria. As we first showed in our book, the particular paint scheme was not a "pattern" for the "Sallys" as Thorpe had suggested, but only the first 2-3 pre-production Ki-21s were painted this way by Mitsubishi. Soon after these first few camouflaged examples, Mitsubishi and Nakajima started producing "Sallys" in overall hairyokushoku. These were sometimes, but not always, camouflaged at the unit level. Most remained in overall hairyokushoku.
Photographic evidence we obtained after the publication of our book, confirms that this particular aircraft did not have any fuselage windows whatsoever! There were no windows on the port, starboard, or ventral positions, and therefore no gunners. This changed when the Model 1 Ko went into full production, and windows were added on the starboard side and in the ventral position. No side gunners were included though.
Nine Nakajima-built Model 1 Kos were delivered to the RTAF, so hopefully, this new kit will include appropriate decals with roundels and elephants in red squares. 
I also hope the kit will include decals for civilian M-21 "Sallys".

Monday, 12 December 2022

ICM Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" in 1/72 by George Eleftheriou - W.I.P. pt.1

ICM very kindly presented Arawasi with their wonderful brand new "Sally" kit and I'm going to build it Out-Of-The-Box. Really happy with their present and can't thank them enough.
The box I received included, apart from the kit, a set of ICM paints for it. Great surprise and can't wait to try them out.

The instruction sheet.

Here we go. Very clear instructions and the parts fit quite nicely. 
Some imperfections were quickly fixed with drops of Mr Surfacer 500. 

The side windows must be masked inside and out before any paint is applied. Hmmm...

16/12 Update:
Made quite some progress and finished, give or take, the cockpit and the starboard side of the fuselage.
There are some tinny tiny parts like D5, D45 and D11 I'm not sure I understand the point of having them separately and asking the modeller to handle and glue them. They would make sense in a 1/48 kit but in 1/72 I think they are unnecessarily complicated challenges. Same with the fuselage interior side wall and the tail. What's the point of including these parts separately?
I appreciate the inclusion of the seat pillow for the pilots but the back pillow should also have been included. And it would have been much better to include seatbelts too.  

There are issues if you follow the instruction to the letter and, once done, then paint the whole interior before closing the two halves. Step 2 needs you to attach decals, which means you cannot paint this part afterwards. And there are a bunch of windows in the rear of the fuselage that will need to be masked first if the interior is to be painted.
So, best to paint the interior at this stage and then attach smaller "movable" parts like the windows, the bomber's aim or the machine gun spare magazines.

20/12 Update:
Okay, "short" update today.
I finished the base colour for the fuselage interior. I decided to use the Vallejo paint you recommended. This time I used AK11900, which according to the bottle, is " BRAND NEW FORMULA 3rd GENERATION"...that "beats any other acrylic type paint". 
I've been struggling the past few days with the damn thing and I had to spend quite some time I'll never get back, disassembling and cleaning three different clogged airbrushes about a dozen times. I always got "spider webs" and...yes, I know, maybe it needed more or less thinner, different pressure settings for the compressor or different size needles or maybe I didn't shake the bottle enough or too much or maybe it's because I didn't use a "retarder". OR maybe I should have used my good old MrColor paint instead! How about that!
In the end, it came out not bad at all and I like the colour hue but this is the very last time I'm buying Vallejo paints. I'll try to use what I've already bought but never again. Modelling is supposed to be fun and this exercise definitely wasn't. I know many of you guys love Vallejo, you're used to them and can achieve great results. Good for you but for me, no thank you. For a novice modeller like me, Vallejo is too fastidious and finicky for my tastes with too many parameters that could go wrong. So, I'll stick to Tamiya and MrColor I know and trust. I'll try mixes of MrColor H-54 and Tamiya XF-50 to bring them closer to the Vallejo hue and we'll see about the results.