Tuesday 28 February 2012

244 Sentai - Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony) #5 - Model by Rodney Williams

An excellent "Hien" model expertly photographed and presented by Mr. Williams.
Thank you very much for your contribution to our blog.

Click HERE to download the article in PDF form.

Monday 27 February 2012

IJNAF trainer color

The main article on issue #10 of our magazine was on the Yokosuka K5Y "Akatonbo" (Willow) and included the very precise painting instructions by Fuji Aircraft Co. Ltd., dated January 10, 1942. According to the document the color for the fabric surfaces of the fuselage, tail and wings of the Akatonbo was ORANGE (daidai-iro). Repeat, ORANGE. NOT yellow.
Also, according to the document, the paint to be used for these surfaces was to be 94kg of orange-yellow (to-oshoku). 
The document (the official painting instructions for the main trainer of the IJNAF) makes no distinction between the two colors.

Color researchers unfortunately seem to ignore the very precise painting process the aircraft underwent. For the Akatonbo the instructions for example call for: 

"The temperature inside the paint workshop needs to be within the 20-30 degrees C range, with 45% to 70% humidity. Be sure to allow the measurement and recording of paint workshop temperature and humidity three times a day."

Until now, personally, I have never seen any research examining the effects the paint application process had on how the original paint looked. In other words, what was the difference, if any, between how the paint looked in the can and how the paint looked when applied on the aircraft.

Numerous Navy veterans I've interviewed call the color either yellow (kiiro) OR orange (orenji-iro). NEVER orange-yellow (to-oshoku) which in the Japanese language is more of a technical term that nobody would immediately use, and stress the fact that the color depends on how freshly painted each aircraft was. A Navy veteran who was a training instructor and regularly flew Akatonbo, even described the color as pink!
In any case all veterans agree that the Navy Akatonbo were always a lot dirtier than modern scale models or modern artwork they have seen.

My personal conclusions are:
1. the color descriptions are attempts to describe what color the aircraft should be painted, not attempts to describe factory paints. In the Japanese language the perception of the colors "yellow" and "orange" are close and it's really subjective whether a color is simply yellow or dark-yellow, light-orange or yellow-orange. Another factor that should be kept in mind is the reluctance of the Japanese Army/Navy to use "western" terms, therefore instead of describing a color as "orenji" (orange) it is very possible they opted for the Japanese word "kiiro" (yellow).
2. The paint application process is an extremely important factor to consider when drawing conclusions and making suggestions about what color a particular aircraft type was. The Willow was mostly a fabric covered aircraft. The paint instructions mentioned above call for 3 hands clear primer, one hand red-brown intermediate coat and on top of them two hands of orange paint, plus a clear coat for waterproof parts. Even if the original paint, straight from the can, was orange-yellow, two coats over red-brown would certainly make the color look darker; more orange than yellow.
3. Yes. The Willow wasn't just orange. Light orange or orange-yellow are fairly close enough. But it was certainly not yellow as some recently have been suggesting.
4. When talking about prototypes a very important factor is whether the overall color was properly applied with red-brown primer underneath or whether the overall color was applied directly on the metal. In the first case the result might be a darker orange-yellow, in the second a brighter color.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Mitsubishi F1M "Pete"

Another photo from a vintage December 1942 magazine this time showing a "Pete" on the beach of a Southern Pacific island with its crew walking away after coming back from a mission. Note that the floatplane is resting on its trestle in front of a scaffold usually used for propeller or engine changes.

Jean Barby from France added:

"This island is nothing but the shore opposite of Lakunai airfield in Rabaul. In the middle the "brothers" can be seen, they appeared during the volcano eruption in the early 30's. A long time ago I did a couple of dives there, and there are many wrecked barges at the bottom of the two rocks. There are about 40 ship wrecks in Simpson harbor, the bridge of the closest is 120 feet from the surface, the others are further down. Keep in mind that I was there in 1979, and that there were no decompression chamber in case of bends or decompression troubles. Only single tanks were available thus limiting the length and stay at such a depth. Nevertheless one Pete is accessible from the shore and is in fairly good condition (probably less now!) Some pretty good wrecks were still in the bush around Lakunai. A Ki-21, remnants of some Ki-43 and of a twin engine which could be anything from a Ki-46 or a J1N1, and even an in line engine from a Ki-61 or a D3Y2; all those treasures are now buried under heavy ashes as Rabaul was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano close to lakunai, the Mother, in 1994. The new capital is now Vopopo; I also went to Tobera and Vanukanau but had little time to investigate."

Merci beaucoup for the excellent first hand information. If there are underwater photos from dives, we would be most interested to see.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Vintage magazine cover

Hiko Shonen, June 1943 

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar) & drop tank

A vintage photo from the September 1944 issue of "Asahi Graph" magazine.
The 200l drop tank is prominent in the foreground but what could the other object under the starboard wing be? A 250kg bomb with the fins retouched by the war time sensor, a quite unusual for a "Hayabusa" "Ta-dan" air-to-air cluster bomb or a type 90 small-size flare?

Monday 20 February 2012

Mitsubishi Ki-46-III "Dinah" - Photo mission over Okinawa

In this series of photos from a May 15, 1945 vintage magazine a Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" is on a photographic mission over the recently US occupied Okinawa.

The rear observer in a photo taking position. He's holding a Type 100 hand-held aerial camera, standard equipment for the "Dinah".

A rare view of the observer's position showing the Army type 99 Hi Mk 1 radio. The transmitter is on the top and the receiver on the bottom.

According to the caption, the photo above was taken after the crew had returned from their mission over Okinawa. Note that the observer is wearing a life-vest, only natural for missions over water.

The pilot is explaining the enemy positions to the unit commander. Note the Ki-46-III in the background.

The caption of the photo above mentions that the films are being developed...

...while in this one the crew are going through the details seen in the developed film.

Finally, a photo of Yontan or Yomitan or Kita airfield of Okinawa showing the various improvements the US forces have done on the original strip. 

Friday 17 February 2012

VIPs - Lockheed Super Electra Type LO - China Aviation Company

The aircraft featured in this set of photos from vintage publications are Lockheed Super Electra Model 14-38, 14-passenger transports of which 30 were exported to Japan. A first batch of 20 started to be imported from March 1938 by the Army and another ten were imported by Nippon Koku starting from June of the same year. The type was also produced under license by Tachikawa but there were problems with unpaved airfields and complains about the limited cargo. Kawasaki undertook to fixing these problems with famous aircraft designer Doi Takeo as leader of the team. Design work started in September 1939 under the designation Army Type 1 Freight Transport Ki-56 and the first aircraft was completed in the middle of November 1940.

In the above photo featured in the September 1, 1940 issue of magazine "Kokusai Shashin Joho", Wang Yitang, Minister of the Examination Yuan for the Nanking (Nanjing) collaborationist government led by Wang Jingwei, is flying to various cities around China in a Super Electra since the establishment of the new government in March 1940. Note the guy behind him on the left something between a Japanese yakuza and a Chinese Triad member. The plane probably belongs to the China Aviation Company. The cropped guy on the far right of the photo is wearing a cup with what looks like the emblem of the airline.

Japanese flight attendants, called "Air Girls" back then, of the China Aviation Company are posing for this photo commemorating the first time they flew in the Dalian-Shanghai service of the airline on August 17, 1940. To me they look more like school-girls if it wasn't for the pin with the company emblem and I'm certain I would prefer to be serviced by them instead of the uptight flight attendants with the plastic smile I occasionally encounter.

In the photo above passengers and China Aviation Company personnel celebrate the inauguration of the new Peking-Shanghai route on March 14, 1939. A company pilot wearing a leather jacket with a fur collar and a pilot's cup can be seen in the foreground. Note the Douglas DC-2 in the background next to the Super Electra   

Thursday 16 February 2012

Carrier "Junyo", Zero A6M5 by Saito Hisao

A brilliantly realistic diorama by master modeller Saito Hisao depicting the deck of aircraft carrier "Junyo" during the battle for the Mariana Islands in June 1944.
For the carrier deck he used modified Edward parts while the figures come from various companies. The Zero is a Hasegawa in 1/48, with all the markings handmade using numerous maskings. 

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Japanese Experimental Trasport Aircraft of the Pacific War, by Giuseppe Picarella

Title: "Japanese Experimental Transport Aircraft of the Pacific War"
Author & Illustrator: Giuseppe "Joe" Picarella
Published by: Mushroom Model Publications, ISBN 978-83-61421-41-2, h/b,
 Pages: 248, Size: A-4, Photos: 312 (17 in color), 62 drawing and illustration sets most in color. 

Received last weekend a copy of this new publication and I like it!
I was originally taken aback by the title...I mean, how many "experimental" Japanese transports were out there and what kind of book would someone write about them, but once I started going through the pages I got to like the book a lot.
So, basically, forget the title. This book is the best effort so far on the much overlooked subject of J. Navy and Army transports in any language. The first two chapters offer excellent overviews of the organisation of the transport units of IJAAF and IJNAF with plenty of details on the Navy transport kokutai
Chapter 3, 20 pages, is specifically about the operations of paratroops and special forces.
Chapter 4, 25 pages, is about the experimental transports of the Army. It covers types like Tachikawa Ki-77 & Ki-74, the best ever coverage and photographic material on the Tachikawa Ki-92 as well as the Mitsubishi Ki-97, Kokusai Ki-105 "Otori", Tachikawa Ki-110, Kokusai Ki-111, Tachikawa Ki-114 and Ki-120.
Chapter 5 deals with the navy experimental transports, specifically the Nippi L7P1, Kawanishi H11K1-L "Soku", Kawanishi K-60, K-120, K-200 and Showa L2D5. Finally a rather "what-if" Dewoitine/Mitsubishi D.350.
Chapter 6 & 7 deal with the IJAAF & IJNAF experimental gliders and their units with good photographic coverage and plenty of information.
Chapter 8 is a photo coverage of the transport planes that carried the surrender delegation while chapter 9 features a very interesting photo collection of captured transports at the end of the war.
Chapter 10 is entitled "Post-war Japanese Transport Operations" and examines how the Allies used a number of Japanese transports immediately after the end of the war and in chapter 11 how they evaluated them. The short but with excellent photos, 13 of them in color, chapter 12 is about the "Surviving Transport Aircraft of Imperial Japan".
The final chapter 13 is a photo album of Japanese transports with 42 photos of exceptional quality.
Appendixes 1 & 2 cover in short most if not all the J. Navy and Army transports of WWII. Appendix 3 includes a document entitled "Service manual for L2D2" while appendix 4 presents a list with the civilian registrations of transports while appendix 5 explains the Japanese Aircraft Designations and Allied Code Names.      

Overall: Don't hesitate to buy this book due to the title. It's a highly recommended publication, of interest to J. aviation fans as well as modellers who will find in it a treasure trove of information and modelling ideas. Some of the photos can be found in past publications but in this book they are bigger and of better quality. There is a good number of brilliant new photos, especially the Ki-92 set, and "Joe" Picarella has made the book really beautiful with his detailed illustrations. 

(Special thank yous to the author and publisher for the copy.
No thanks to Osprey who haven't sent me copies of the books I contributed material in.)

VIPs - Nakajima-Douglas DC-2

In this photo from a vintage publication second from right War Minister General Sugiyama Gen (Hajime)  is arriving at Ming Ku Kung (Daiko) airfield of Nanking (Nanjing) on April 14, 1938. He is flying with a Nakajima built DC-2 during his China front inspection from April 12 to 21. In December of the same year he was assigned as commanding general of the North China Area Army.

The DC-2 is one of the five Nakajima built under licence from Douglas from February 1936 to 1937. They were pressed into military service in 1938 and received military camouflage as can be seen in the photo.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Mitsubishi G3M "Nell"

Another photo from a vintage publication showing a "Nell" getting maintained somewhere in the South Pacific. 
Of interest is the entrance hatch in the nose. There was nothing really inside this area but offered access to the back side of the instrument panel and the auto pilot. 
Note also the crew entrance hatch and the ladder behind the radio antenna under the fuselage. 
The ground crew wear an assortment of clothes, light green trousers, white shirts while the guy on the wing behind the prop wears pilot boots.

Friday 10 February 2012

Kawanishi E5K1 - Hokoku #1

The Kawanishi E5K1 is not a very well known Japanese type. 
The story starts with an IJNAF order in 1927 to Aichi, Kawanishi and Nakajima for a 3-seat reconnaissance seaplane. Design engineer LCDR Saha Jiro started building Yokosho's (Yokosuka Koku Kosho - Yokosuka Naval Arsenal) own version based on an imported Heinkel 28.
It started as a modification of the Yokoso Type 14 Reconnaisance Seaplane but with welded steel-tube fuselage and redesigned wings. Yokosho completed their first prototype in August 1928 followed by one equipped with a Jupiter Model 8 engine and another with a Jupiter Model F9 engine. 
While Yokosho were building their own prototypes on January 16, 1931 Kawanishi received a direct order by the Navy to build two pre-production aircraft which they did on October 25, 1931 in cooperation with Yokosho.
The E5K1 with Jupiter engines were called early type by Kawanishi and when they installed liquid cooled 500hp, 12cylinder Type 91 engines these were called later types. The later types were faster by four knots and even though they could climb to 3,000 meters in 25minutes, they could climb to that altitude faster than the early types by 13 minutes and 20 seconds. 
In total Yokosho built three prototypes and Kawanishi two pre-production and 15 production planes.

On March 3, 1932 the ceremony for the first presentation aircraft for the Navy (Hokoku) took place at the Naruo factory of Kawanishi. The photo below from a vintage publication is from that ceremony. The E5K1 received the name "Nikke" from the donor Nippon Keori KK (Nippon Woolen Co Ltd), a member of the Kawanishi zaibatsu.

  Another photo of the aircraft from the Arawasi collection.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun in Manchukuo service - 満航のタイフーン

A vintage colorized postcard from the Arawasi collection showing a Bf108 in the colors of national airline of Manchukuo (here); Manshu Koku Kabushiki Kaisha or MKKK.
The roundel of yellow, black, white and blue rings and red circle in the middle was based on the national flag of Manchukuo. The colors had various meanings at different times but basically represented the five races (red-Japanese, blue-Han Chinese, white-Mongol, black-Korean and yellow-Manchu) of the "country" where they were supposedly living in harmony.

The Bf108 was used by the MKKK mainly to transport the company executives and high ranking officers of the Kwantung Army.

For more on the history of the type in MKKK service, check our "The Eagles of Manchukuo, 1932-1945". We did not include the postcard in our book because the colors and the registration were highly suspect.
A question for the Luftwaffe color experts: what could the overall color be?

Monday 6 February 2012

Kokusai Ki-86 "Cypress" by Bill Cronk

I wanted to build something different and in my area of interest, Japanese aircraft. There is lots of info on this little plane out there. I wanted to build it in 1/48th scale so I bought the MPM kit and started right away. This kit is basic but accurate and the fit is good. I thinned the sides and scratch built a complete interior out of evergreen plastic and Mike Grant instrument decals.

The engine block was built from plastic and scrap bits and pieces from the parts box.

The kit prop was modified and painted to look like wood. I had to build up the landing gear using steel wire coated with the black insulation stripped from copper wire. I used some tires from the parts box and added the fenders made from plastic. The hardest part of this build to say the least was the placement of the top wing. There are no locator marks on the wings, I had to measure and dry fit the wing using a wing jig. I made all the struts and added .04 steel wire as rigging. The turn buckles were made out of twisted copper wire and coated with super glue. 
I used Tamiya paints mixed and toned down because this color scheme could get too bright in a hurry. All the markings are hand painted and if my Japanese is right it should say Ki-86 on the tail. I used a thin oil wash and finished it off with a dull coat of Testors. - Bill Cronk

Saturday 4 February 2012

Yokosuka K4Y1

A photo from a vintage magazine with young Navy pilots waiting their turn to take off. The K4Y1s in the background belong to the Tsuchiura Kokutai indicated by the katakana  (tsu) and (chi) on the tail.
The Tsuchiura Kokutai split from the Kasumigaura Kokutai on 15 November, 1940 to focus exclusively on the training of yokaren (flight reserve enlistee training program or naval preparatory flight training program) pilots. It was located in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, at exactly the same place where the present JIETAI (JSDF) Ordnance School of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force currently is. The Yokaren Museum is appropriately inside the JIETAI base.  

Friday 3 February 2012

Nakajima A2N - Hokoku 38, 45, 46, 47, 48, 50

A photo from a vintage magazine taken on October 21, 1933, in Haneda airport during the presentation ceremony of six IJNAF aircraft. 
These were: 
Nakajima A2N 
Hokoku 38 - Kawamura-go. Donated by Kawamura Tokutaro, owner of a geisha company, head of the geisha workers' union and also donator of the funds for a famous kabuki theatre in Shinbashi/Tokyo. 

Hokoku 45, 46, 47 - Dai1, dai2, dai3 Seito-go. Donated by 16 sugar manufacturing companies including one from Taiwan (a Japanese colony at the time). 

Hokoku 48 - Dai2 Rodo-go. Donated by industrial workers from all over Japan. 

Nakajima E4N3 (on the far right) 
Hokoku 50 - Dai2 Zenkoku Kokumin-go. Donated by citizens from all over Japan. 

Of interest is the mix of western and traditional clothes the crowd is wearing.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Nakajima E4N2

The Navy Type 90-2-2 Reconnaissance Seaplane (E4N2) was a modified version of the Vought O2U Corsair; a type Japan had acquired the manufacturing rights of. 
In this cover of the January 27, 1937 issue of "Asahi Graph" E4N2s belonging to the Kasumigaura Kokutai are flying in formation during the first massive flight of the year. More than one hundred seaplanes and carrier aircraft took to the skies and flew once around lake Kasumigaura, very close to Mt Tsukuba. The photo was taken by Asahi cameraman Shigeta from a Puss Moth flown by pilot Komata on January 9.