Saturday 30 November 2013

Kyushu K11W "Shiragiku" pt. 5

AFAIK there are only four kits of the type. Three in 1/72 and one in 1/144.
First up the Pavla kit.

It's limited-run with excess flash and certainly a challenge to fit.

There are some photo-etched cockpit details.

The kit provides two vac formed canopies.

 The decals are for three options but the painting instructions are rather confusing recommending trainer orange and "Light Gray". Anyway, one scheme is a plane belonging to the Chimtao(sic) Ku with green over trainer orange, one from the Tokushima Ku with the same paint job and the last one is for a surrendered plane, overall white with green crosses.

The second kit in 1/72 is from Tsukuda Hobby, vac fuselage, injection wings and other details, metal spinner and prop.

And the last one in 1/72 is from the Spanish company Bum (from here).

In 1/144 there is the FE Resin kit from the Czech Republic with resin parts.

Friday 29 November 2013

Kyushu K11W "Shiragiku" pt. 4

Title: "Kaigun Yomoyama Koborebanashi" (Small talk about the Navy)
Author: Oomachi Tsutomu
Published by: Kojinsha, July 1985 p/b
Pages: 239, Size: 10X15cm, Illustrations: 106 b/w

Oomachi-san was born in 1923 in Tokyo. He joined the Marines in December 1943 and was trained in the Ainoura base, Sasebo. From February 1944 he joined the Mie Kokutai for basic training then in June 1944 to Suzuka Ku for reconnaissance. From April 1945 he was with the Shimizu Ku then from May with Opama Ku and finally with Oi Ku from June 1945 until the end of the war.
His memoirs recall his time with the IJNAF as well as including a record of various conversations with other IJNAF members. A very interesting book featuring brilliant illustrations by Onuki Kentaro.
Oomachi-san describes his "Shiragiku" training when he was assigned to Suzuka Ku. On a training day a group of three students would get on a "Shiragiku" accompanied by an instructor, plus the pilot flying the plane. While in the air they would perform various tasks taking turns. There were two ways to take photos in flight with a hand-held camera. One way was through the special hole on the floor for the bombsight which was usually the Type 90 Bombsight, based on the Goertz-Boykow model; known as "boiko" in the IJNAF lingo. The second way was particularly scary. Holding a heavy camera one crew member was leaning outside the fuselage side window while another crew member was holding him from behind.
Onuki-san's illustration is certainly spot-on!
In-flight training also included shooting practise with the rear flexible machine gun. In this case two "Shiragiku" flew side by side with fukinagashi (tubular streamers) trailing behind them. Students would take turns trying to shoot the streamer of the other "Shiragiku" and since bullets were died with a certain colour assigned to a certain student, in the end it was possible to figure out how many hits each student managed to score. In Oomachi-san's case not even one student managed to hit the target even in such favourable conditions.
Another kind of training was a combination of the above mentioned two; taking photos using a Type 89 hand-held gun camera. For this the services of a "Zero" were required. The fighter pilot would perform all kinds of manoeuvres with the students trying to catch him and take a photo of his plane. Before take-off the Zero pilot had warned the students in Oomachi-san's group "I would be particularly embarrassed if you manage to take my photo" and that was exactly what happened; there were no Zeros in all the photos the students took with the gun camera.
Bombing practise was similarly done, using coloured training bombs assigned to each student who were trying to hit a raft target trailing behind a manoeuvring ship most often without any success.    

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Kyushu K11W "Shiragiku" pt. 3

More "Shiragiku" photos today, this time stills from a vintage news clip.
The two aircraft featured in the stills belong to Kugisho (short for Koku Gijutsu-sho, Aviation Technical Arsenal). The tail marking consists of the katakana コ (KO) which was the standard marking for the Kugisho, the first two digits of the Short Designation in this case K11 and the plane's individual number; コ-K11-1 & probably コ-K11-4.
The original order by the IJNAF to develop the 15shi Rikujo Kijo Sagyo Renshuki (literally "Land-based trainer where work could be done on board" or Crew Trainer) was given in June 1941 and the first prototype was completed in November 1942. From January 1943 a number of pre-production planes were delivered for evaluation, two of which are featured in the stills.
Mass production of the type which received the short designation K11W1 followed but in June 1943 an order was given to modify the type by increasing the number of students on board from three to four and the number of radio sets from one to two. The remodelled type known as "Shiragiku kai" or K11W2 was officially adopted in January 1944.  
With "Shiragiku" students could do navigation, radio communication, reconnaissance, shooting and bombing training but in general communication between the pilot who was sitting one step higher than the rest of the crew was not very good and the previous Type 90 Crew Trainer or Mitsubishi K3M "Pine" was much more liked by the crews.
Kyushu delivered four aircraft in 1942 and 209 the next year and "Encyclopedia Vol. 8" mentions overall nine prototypes without explaining how many were the actual prototypes and how many the pre-production planes. In other words, the total number of pre-production aircraft is not known.   
Overall colour is trainer/test orange. The hole between the cockpit and the tail is the machine gun position for shooting practice.


Monday 25 November 2013

Kyushu K11W "Shiragiku" pt. 2

Three photos from a vintage publication dated January 24, 1945 of "Shiragiku" in the production line of Kyushu Hikoki K.K. The article entitled "Tomari komi de hiki zosan" (Staying in the factory to build more planes) was praising the factory workers who stayed and slept in the factory to increase production.
Admitedly the photos are not of the best quality but by 1945 all Japanese publications were of the worst paper and printing quality due to material shortages.
(Note the weird looking building like a human head in the background)


Sunday 24 November 2013

Library - "Shiragiku Tokotai" pt. 1

Title: "Shiragiku Tokotai" (Shiragiku-Special Attack Unit)
Author: Nagasue Senri
Published by: Kojinsha November 2002 p/b
Pages: 285, Size: 10X15cm, Photos: 27 b/w

Nagasue-san was born in 1927 in Fukuoka prefecture. Joined the Navy with the Yokaren (short for Yoka Renshu-sei, Flight Reserve Enlisted Trainee) programme in August 1943 Class Ko 12 and was assigned to Kagoshima Ku, then from March 1944 to Yatabe Ku. In July of the same year he trained with Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber or Nakajima B5N "Kate" in Hyakurihara Ku to become carrier attack bomber pilot. Six months later his next assignment was the 903Ku where he concluded his training as a "Kate" pilot but also ship escort and anti-submarine patrol. From March 1945 became a member of the Oi Ku and the "Yashima-tai*" kamikaze corpse of the unit flying Kyushu K11W Shiragiku. While undergoing training the war came to an end. After the war, he joined Koku Jietai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force, JASDF) in February 1955 retiring in February 1977.
This most interesting small book is a brilliantly detailed account, describing the career and experiences of Nagasue-san but featuring also many technical details about flying the various types of aircraft he encountered.
As with other books in our library series this is another one for Japanese readers only. No technical illustrations of Shiragiku, photos or material helpful to modellers.
*"Yashima", literally "eight islands" is a very old name of Japan in Yamato Kotoba. According to Kojiki Japan was created from eight islands (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, Awaji, Iki, Tsushima, Oki, Sado). Eight is a number with deep spiritual meaning in Japanese mythology and signifies "abundance"; therefore the meaning of the name is to signify that Japan is a country made of many islands.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Akagi Zero-sen diorama WIP#5 by Panagiotis Koubetsos

Hi again!
The cockpit and some area behind it which I scratched using styrene sheet is finally done and here are some photos of the finished part..
This is the very BEST detailed Zero cockpit and more I've ever seen in my life. Congratulations Panagioti. Incredible!!!


Tuesday 19 November 2013

Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" (Jack) #3 J2M1 prototypes

We continue today with our series of "Raiden" posts we started in July this year (here and here).
  As we mentioned in the second part, about the J2M1, "since there are no known photos of the other prototypes it is unknown if they were in any way different." Actually there is one more photo that could be of one more J2M1 prototype. It is featured on p.23 top of FAOW #61, p.57 lower of Gakken #29 and p.36 upper of Model Art #832 (aka Profile #11). According to all sources it shows one of the J2M1 prototypes but with a canopy exactly like the one fitted to mass-produced J2M2 "Raiden".
  The tail marking is "ヨC-106" (YoC-106) and this indicates that it is one of the test aircraft that were sent to the Yokosuka based 301Ku, one of the very first "Raiden" units. The photo was taken at the end of 1943 or the begining of 1944. According to MA#832, although J2M1 prototypes were painted hairyokushoku this one is painted "kiiro" (yellow) in compliance of the official IJNAF painting instructions of October 6, 1942 that ordered all trainer and test aircraft to be painted in this colour. You will notice that there is one very important difference between ヨC-106 and the other J2M1 prototype, the コ-J2-6; the fuselage hinomaru has a white surround. This is an indication that it was painted yellow (or orange-yellow), not hairyokushoku.   
  Gakken #29 states that if the number "6" of the tail marking is part of the serial number of the aircraft, then ヨC-106 could be the same sixth prototype, the コ-J2-6, but fitted with a different canopy. It is possible but no other source makes this suggestion. As we mentioned before official documentation is lacking.
  Another difference with the コ-J2-6 is what appears to be wing cannon(s?). FAOW explains that this was a Type 99 20mm 2Go Model 1.
Below is artwork created again by our friend Devlin Chouinard.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Nakajima E2N1

Navy Type 15 Reconnaissance Seaplane or Nakajima E2N1 belonging to KasumigauraKu.

Friday 15 November 2013

Yokosho E6Y1 by Ryszard Holak

Navy Type 91 Reconnaissance Seaplane or Yokosho E6Y1 or Navy Yokosho 2-go Reconnaissance Seaplane. CHOROSZY MODELBUD, 1:48.
Ryszard Holak - Krakow, POLAND