Sunday 30 June 2013

Gasuden Koken-ki #1

The Gasuden Koken-ki (full name was Koku Kenkyujo Chokyori-ki. Koku=aviation, Kenkyujyo=research institute, Chokyori=long range, ki=short for hikoki=aircraft) was a long-range research aircraft of the 1930s. It was built by Gasuden (Tokyo Gasu Denki Kogyo - Tokyo Gas Electric Engineering Co., Ltd.), setting a closed circuit world record of 11,651 km (7,240 mi) in March 1938.
For basic info on the history and development of the plane please check Wikipedia.

Below are five photos from a vintage May 1937 publication showing the plane under construction at the Gasuden factory in Omori, Tokyo.

Visitors - The German Connection (take #3)

"Wolfgang von Gronau was convinced that the Dornier Wals could be used to establish a commercial air route between Germany and the United States.  The German government was not convinced of von Gronau's ideas even after he had made two successful round trip Atlantic crossings. To prove his case, von Gronau decided to make a third crossing. Once started, he decided to extend his 3rd trip to a round-the world flight.  He hoped for world-wide recognition to get the attention of the German government for his air route ideas. 
 On July 22, 1932 in a Donier seaplane called the "Gronland-Wal" (Greenland Whale) he took off from List, Island of Sylt (northern most part of Germany) for his Atlantic crossing flight which he changed to a round-the-world flight.  He was accompanied by his co-pilot, Gerth von Roth and mechanic, Franzl Hack and radio operator, Frtiz Albrecht." (extract from THIS site).

On September 4, 1932 at 10:52 von Gronau's Wal registered D-2050 reached Nemuro in Hokkaido and then finally Kasumigaura on the same day at 15:35. At 19:33 the train took him to Ueno Station for a short but warm welcoming party at the German embassy while on the 5th they all attended a proper party held at the roof garden restaurant of the Imperial Hotel. The crew stayed in Tokyo for about two weeks visiting famous tourist sites in Niko and Kamakura.
Their plan was to start their journey around the world again on the 16th but due to bad weather conditions they took-off from Kasumigaura at 9:35 the next day flying towards Nagoya. Due to heavy rain they had to make an emergency landing at Hiratsuka finally reaching Nagoya at 15:20 where they stayed for four days. On the 21st left Nagoya at 08:40 reaching Kagoshima the same day at 13:00 and leaving on the 23rd at 8:50 and landing in Shanghai at 13:10.

Photo below from a vintage publication probably taken on September 17 in Kasumigaura. Interestingly on-line artwork shows the plane in overall "orange" colour.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Aichi E13A "Jake" by Verena Wirnig

Verena Wirnig from Vienna, Austria sent us photos of his very nice "Jake" and commented:
"I'm sending some photos of my Jake E13A1. The Japanese kit is the only one in the world in scale 1/48. It is Nichimo. I found out, that Lone Star Models has a resin cockpit for it. My cockpit is closed, that means it is under cleaning after battle damage."

Thank you very much Verena for your contribution to our blog.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

BREAKING NEWS - "Hayabusa" found in Thailand!

Bob Alford sent us the following heads-up:
"Ki-43 found in Pathum Thani close to where a USAAF P-51 was located a couple of years ago - close to Don Muang airport which was used during WWII.

A quick search on the net revealed photos from the Thai Armed Force site

And the following from Thai Aviation History (site here)
"The wreck of a Ki-43 has been found in Moo 6, Tambon Rahaeng, Lat Lum Kaeo
district, Pathum Thani, about 25km northwest of Don Mueang Airport. The wreck was found in May 2013 during excavations for a new housing development.
Details not yet known, but reports suggest a mid-air collision between two aircraft, with both pilots bailing out. At least one of the pilots is reported not to have been a Thai speaker, which may suggest that the Ki-43 was Japanese, not Thai.
The parts recovered by RTAFM include the prop, engine, wing centre section, and
cockpit area, along with one main gear with tyre and tube."
Check the two links for more photos.
Thanks a lot Bob!

Tuesday 25 June 2013


A photo from a May 1940 magazine featuring railway minister of the time Matsuno Tsuruhei (1883-1962) visiting the troops at the North China front.
A rather obscure politician who served as railway minister for only seven months with the government of admiral Yonai Mitsumasa.
In the photo he is seen leaving Haneda with a DC-3 bearing the registration J-BDOK belonging to the Dai Nippon Koku. This particular plane was named "Katsura". Cercidiphyllum is the scientific name of the Japanese plants commonly known as "katsura" (nothing to do with laurel).

Monday 24 June 2013

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar) - 64th Sentai

A photo from a vintage publication, "Koku Shonen" magazine, August 1943 issue.

As you can see from the tail marking this Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" belongs to the famous 64th Sentai but the vintage caption doesn't offer any useful information. The dark arrow suggests that it belongs to the 2nd Chutai with red tail marking and white surround. The lack of white surround in the photo though suggests that it might belong to the 3rd Chutai with yellow arrow and a red or yellow surround, just that in the photo the yellow looks dark under the shade. I'm leaning towards the 2nd Chutai.
The unit participated in the defence of Rangoon in April and May 1943. On May 21-22 attacked Chittagong and Cox's Bazar. An Australian newspaper of the time (Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser) reported:
"Japanese planes have raided the Indian port of Chittagong, near the Burma border, which Rome radio claims the British are evacuating. The Japanese used 20 bombers escorted by fighters. British shot down four bombers and three fighters, and damaged six other planes."
Due to the rainy season the 64th withdrew for training and recuperation. From June 1943 the 1st Chutai was in Mingaladon airport of Rangoon/Burma, the 2nd Chutai was in Palembang and the 3rd Chutai in Sungai Petani. Therefore the above photo was taken either in Palembang or in Sungai Petani.
I hope you find the photo inspirational for a diorama

Saturday 22 June 2013

Akagi Zero-sen diorama WIP#1 by Panagiotis Koubetsos

Hi all! This is the finished A6M2 Mitsubishi Zero flown by Hirano Takashi during the Pearl Harbor attack. This Hasegawa 1/48 model will be part of a bigger diorama which will be depicting the Akagi carrier island and part of its deck.
Kind regards,
-Panagiotis Koubetsos-


Thursday 20 June 2013

Misawa - The Colours

We are greatly in debt to the museum staff especially Oyanagi Shigezo-san and Hikichi Katsuhiro-san for giving us special permission to see the plane from very close and try to take colour samples.
The "Hickory" doesn't have any primer as was to be expected from an IJAAF aircraft , the overall gray paint is applied directly on the surfaces. The exterior has been gently cleaned by the restoration team and as a result inevitably a proportion of the original paint has been lost. There are nonetheless plenty of intact panels and the pilot seats from where good colour samples can be taken.
The hinomaru and the tail markings are in fairly good condition and they all seem to have been painted by hand. A fact confirmed by a visitor to the museum who happened to actually build this particular type some 70 years ago at the Tachikawa factories.
There is a debate among the restoration team whether to repaint the a/c or keep it in the present condition. I guess we will have to see where the restoration effort will go.

We used the Federal Standard 595 deck (check HERE for the on-line version) and the JPMA Standard Paint Colors (2005). The light conditions were brightly dim, with no direct sunlight and we took many photos with or without camera flashlight. We tested colour suggestions from various Internet sites and blogs and tried to find matches as close as possible with the decks at hand. As you will see there are no perfect matches but the colour chips in connection with the relic will hopefully give you and idea of the actual colour.*

First the hinomaru red.
It certainly is less bright than the colour used in most decals. FS21136, 21140 and even 21105 are close enough.

IFF stripes on the wing edges.
These were very well preserved and were basically yellow-orange. In the top photo FS13432 is very close but the online chip looks too orange in my screen. The FS13415 is much closer to the original. The second sample is from the JPMA deck and the C17-70X was an almost perfect match even if it doesn't show in the photo.

Propeller colour.
The port propeller was in quite good condition. Most of the colour on the blades was intact and was very very dark brown without a hint of green. It was difficult to find a close match in the FS deck. As you can see in the middle photo FS10075 is too bright. FS10032 and FS10049 are fairly close. FS10111 is also too bright.
C09-20D from the JPMA deck is closer of all.

The same room where the "Hickory" was on display featured a Zero-sen propeller in quite good condition. We had the chance to compare the propeller colours of the two aircraft and to our surprise we found that the Zero prop was much brighter than the "Hickory".
FS10059 is a fairly close match.

The overall hairyokushoku gray.
The remaining colour on the fuselage is much brighter than some better protected  panels. Gray with light green and a little brown. FS15622 (top) is ridiculously bright and blue, FS16350 (middle) is too dark. I was quite fond of FS16357 and found it matching nicely most of he panels (especially as seen on the net sample here) although it doesn't look that good in the bottom photo (sorry) against the fuselage surface which is more ash gray.

That's all folks. We hope you liked this short one on the Misawa "Hickory". Many more photos will be featured in a forthcoming Arawasi magazine special.
As usual feel free to share your thoughts and ask whatever question you might have.
*One last word for the colour police lurking somewhere ready to put down our effort: get your decks or spectroscopes, go to Misawa and by all means, please, do take better colour samples!
Finally I see fitting the following dialogue from the wonderfully delicious movie...sorry, film "SIDEWAYS" with brilliant Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church).

M: Let me show you how it's done. First thing hold the glass up and examine the wine against the light. We're looking for color and clarity. Just get a sense of it. Thick, thin, watery, syrupy...Now tip it. What you're doing here is checking for color intensity as it thins out towards the rim. That's gonna tell you how old it is...Stick your nose in it. Don't be shy. Mmm a little citrus, there is some strawberry, passion fruit and just like the faintest of asparagus and a flatterer, like natty edam cheese.
J: WOW! Strawberry, yeah, strawberry. Not the cheese.
M: That's what you do with every one of them.
J: When do we drink it?
M: Now!....Are you chewing gum???!!!

Misawa - The Plane

The Tachikawa Ki-54a c/n 5541 rests in a spacious hangar at the far corner of the museum next to an A6M2 replica. Lighting is discreet and good for photography and although the display is still a work in progress it offers all around access to the aircraft from up close.

The pilot seats, the instrument panel and other parts of the cockpit are placed separately in front of the a/c together with the port wheel and wing fuel tank.

Although when pulled out of the lake it looked in quite good condition, the cleaning up process unfortunately revealed excessive erosion at places from microorganisms.
Close ups of the canopy, the starboard wheel which was retracted at the moment of the crash landing and one of the two engines.

With the Director of the Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Mr. Oyanagi Shigezo.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Misawa - The Place

Aomori prefecture. A place famous for it's apples, the fresh and delicious tuna and the summer Nebuta Matsuri. Monday 17~Tuesday 18 we visited the city of Misawa which as Wiki says is "the location of a large military base, Misawa Air Base, which is under joint operation of the United States Air Force's 35th Fighter Wing, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force's 3rd Fighter Wing."
Going there from Tokyo takes some time, about three hours by bullet train to Hachinohe station.

The bullet trains of the Tohoku Shinkasen are called "Hayate" or "Hayabusa". Nice, eh? 
Flip flops (???) on the train.
Arriving to Hachinohe from the hot and humid Tokyo, we were greeted by the dry and chilly weather of northern Honshu blanketed in dense fog. Then changed to the local Aoimori line and arrived to Misawa half an hour later.

We spent the night at the excellent Aomoriya hotel where we sampled delicious local dishes and enjoyed a very nice short performance of tsugaru-jamisen.
A tsugaru-jamisen sample by the great Takahashi Chikuzan.

Evening at the Aomoriya hotel pond.

The next day we visited the MISAWA AVIATION & SCIENCE MUSEUM, AOMORI. It is indeed quite far from Misawa station and unfortunately without a direct transportation connection, except by taxi. It was built ten years ago, located right next to the Misawa base and it's the best aviation museum we have seen so far in Japan with big facilities and very friendly staff.

From the 18th the museum started displaying the Tachikawa Ki-54 trainer/transport that was retrieved from lake Towada on September 5, 2012 (HERE), after the wings were joined to the fuselage and the plane was placed in supports.