The Ministry of Railways gave an order in 1935 for two survey aircraft to Mitsubishi and Nakajima to be used for geographical surveys of projected railway tracks and to monitor railway construction progress. Mitsubishi modified their Army Type 92 Reconnaissance by adding a closed canopy for the rear observer and wheel covers (although removed in the photo below), named it "Hato-gata" (Pigeon-type) and delivered it in May 1936. It received the civilian register J-AARA, the letter "A" after the J- registration indicating that it belonged to the government. It was also designated "Tetsudosho 1 go" (Ministry of Railways No. 1) and it had a pretty cool paint job.
Note the civilian registration J-AARA in black with white surround repeated above and under the wings and the "Tetsudosho 1go" inscription on the fuselage sides and on the tail. The other marking "エ" repeated on the ends of the wing and on the tail is the marking of the Ministry of Railways (HERE). The colour looks particularly dark for a gray and usually gray or silver aircraft did not have their registration with a white surround. Perhaps it was painted orange-yellow with the area in front of the cockpit in blue.
Choroszy Modelbud is the only company that has released a Type 92 Reconnaissance that could be modified to become a "Hato type". HERE
Data for Mitsubishi "Hato"
Span: 12.7m / Length: 8.515m / Height: 2.975m / Wing area: 26sqm / Weights empty: 1,060kg, fully equipped: 1,770kg / Max speed: 220km/h / Cruising speed: 180km/h / Flight time: 5.30hours
Nakajima delivered a modified Super Universal with a Kotobuki Model 2 engine, which received the civilian registration J-AARB and the designation "Tetsudosho 2 go" (Ministry of Railways No. 2). It could carry one pilot, one flight engineer and six passengers or, if cameras were installed, only a pilot and an observer. This would suggest that there were a number of fixed flight cameras installed on the cabin floor.
It has an extremely unusual for a Super Universal paint job. Although Supers as a rule had blue fuselage (see previous posting), this one seems to be painted in the same colour with the Mitsubishi "Hato" with similar markings.
Note the absence of hinomaru on both aircraft. Unfortunately the photos of Tachikawa KS-1 are not clear enough to show if it has the same paint job with the other two Ministry of Railways aircraft or if it is overall gray as the box art suggests.
There is also an apparent mystery regarding the aircraft designations. Their first aircraft was J-AARA, their second J-AARB and their fifth was J-AARD! We were unable to locate any information about the other aircraft, J-AARC or "Tetsudosho" 3 & 4.