Monday 31 March 2014

Kyushu J7W1 "Shinden" by Argyris Giannetakis Take #1

Between 2005 and 2007 our friend Argyris Giannetakis, from Greece, with very little information, built his very first "Shinden" and shared with us some excellent photos.

More information, photos and the unfortunate end of this beautiful model are in the video below.

Nevertheless Argyris didn't give up and is currently working on his second "Shinden" which we will start presenting in a future posting. Prepare yourselves to say a big: WOW!!!  

Sunday 30 March 2014

Kyushu J7W1 "Shinden" #2 - bibliography

Unfortunately the bibliography of the "Shinden", apart from mentions in numerous X-plane publications and articles, is very limited. The only publication specifically dedicated to the plane was originally released in October 1978 by Bunrindo in their "blue FAOW" series as #102 and then reprinted in January 1982 and January 1986 in their "white FAOW" series as #129 and #153 respectively.
All the publications are identical with only minor differences, are long out-of-print and presently VERY hard to find. They have not been updated/reprinted by Bunrindo. 

For modellers the best immediately available option is the "Concept Note" by Zoukei Mura which is in English too.
Visit also THIS page of Zoukei Mura to download the building instructions of their marvellous kit and more.

Kyushu J7W1 "Shinden" #1

Photos, from a vintage publication, of one of the Kyushu J7W1 "Shinden" prototypes when it was delivered to the US forces at the end of the War. 

Saturday 29 March 2014

302 Ku - Nakajima J1N "Gekko" - Kill markings

In Tokyo the cherry blossom season has started and is expected to peak next week. So today we feature a very nice photo, from a vintage publication, of a pilot standing in front of a Nakajima J1N "Gekko" with two yellow kill markings.
This particular kill marking design was used by the 302 Kokutai and looking closely in the KFI#96 on the unit we think the pilot is PO1c Ohashi Isamu who together with navigator LTJG Yokota Masayoshi flew a Nakajima J1N1-Sa or Model 11Ko.

The first kill markings, denoting a certain kill, is a "yaezakura" (double flowering cherry blossom).

While the second marking, which means a damaged plane, is a common "hitoe no sakura" (single-petalled cherry blossom). (sakura photos from the Japanese wikipedia).

Friday 28 March 2014

Model Commentary #2c - "Shoki" & "Hayate" IFF stripes

We conclude this series on the IFF stripes of IJAAF single engine fighters with the Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" and the Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate".

The IFF stripes of the "Shoki" were usually similar to the ones "Hayabusa" had because of the shape of the wheel wells. But occasionally they were rather thick and there is at least one exception as shown in the photo further below from FAOW #16 p.29 where the caption says they were red instead of yellow.
Kikuchi Collection
FAOW #16


The IFF stripes of the "Hayate" were a lot narrower compared to all the other IJAAF fighters. They were also very close to the wing leading edge and didn't touch the wheel covers. Check your references for possible exceptions though where the top part could be thicker.

That's it about the IFF stripes for the moment. We will come back with the IJNAF fighters very soon.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Model Commentary #2b - "Hien" IFF stripes

As we saw in the previous part the IFF stripes of the "Hayabusa" were applied parallel to the wing leading edge, mainly because there was a rivet line that helped.
In the Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" things are a bit more complicated and therefore modellers often get confused and make the IFF stripes too tapered. 

Below is an illustration detail of the upper part of the port wing by Matsuba Minoru that shows that there is a panel on the edge of the wing, the rear part of which is parallel to the main spar.

Modellers often choose to paint this panel yellow and as a result the IFF stripes become too tapered.

The photo detail below from Gakken #61 shows "Hien" manufactured at the Kawasaki factory in Gifu and the aircraft in the foreground has the hinomaru and the IFF stripes applied (while the one behind it hasn't yet). This is a clear indication that originally the IFF stripes on the "Hien" were applied at the factory, and ofcourse were later maintained at the units. Note that they are quite thick and they don't look perfectly parallel to the wing leading edge.

The photos below from FAOW #17 give examples of the IFF stripes as applied on combat aircraft.

Based on these photos we can conclude that the stripes were not perfectly parallel but slightly tapered following certain indicators on the wing as roughly shown in the illustration below.
The bottom of the wing is equally confusing and unfortunately there are no clear enough photos that show exactly, and beyond any doubt, how the IFF stripes looked.
Below is again a detail from an illustration by Matsuba-san and what we believe is the usual pattern the IFF stripe followed when applied.

The detail of a photo from FAOW #17 shows the wheel cover of a 244 Sentai "Hien" and exactly which parts were painted yellow.

Finally, the illustrations below by Devlin Chouinard, show how the IFF stripes should usually look like on a "Hien.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Model Commentary #2a - "Hayabusa" IFF stripes

During our visits to model shows but also on HS and other modelling sites, we often encounter beautiful models of Japanese planes, unfortunately with small inaccuracies that spoil to some degree the visual pleasure and we ended up commenting: "If only this or that small thing was correct the model would be perfect." 
Following the previous posting of last month (here) we would like to continue this series answering questions and offering advice to modellers to help them build more accurate models of Japanese airplanes. Please note that this series will not touch the issue of colour hues but will hopefully serve as a simple, basic modelling guide. The second "Model Commentary" posting is about the IFF stripes of IJAAF and IJNAF planes and will be in parts. 
On October 5, 1942 the IJAAF and IJNAF issued joint instructions stating that all aircraft should have IFF (identification friend or foe) stripes painted on the inner leading edges of the aircraft wings. The length and thickness is not specified (as expected, since aircraft had wings of different length) but the instructions state that the length of the stripes should be about half the wing length. For camouflaged aircraft the stripes should be yellow (kiiro), for aircraft without camouflage the colour should be either red or yellow. The instructions finally mention that trainer and experimental aircraft should be painted yellow (kiiro) if there are no impediments.
The first IJAAF aircraft we will present is the Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar).
All illustrations were created by our friend Devlin Chouinard.
First of all, not all "Oscars" had IFF stripes. Those built and operated before the above order was issued (Oct. 1942) did not have them. Most of them though probably had the stripes applied after the end of 1942. So, If you are building the Hasegawa "Hayabusa" in 1/48 with markings for the 1st or the 64th Sentai don't be surprised if the instructions don't have them.
The following photo detail from Model Art #395, shows exactly the length of the IFF stripe on the top surface of the "Hayabusa".  

And in general it should look like this:

top view
bottom view

Common mistakes on models are the following:
1. Too short IFF stripe

2. Too long

As mentioned above the exact dimensions are not specified in the orders. Although there were "Hayabusa" with longer and shorter IFF stripes than others, overdoing it and making either too long or too short is not accurate.
3. Too thick
4. Too rough
The details in the photos below from the "Kikuchi Collection" and from "Aireview" show that the IFF stripes on the "Hayabusa" follow the rivet pattern near the wing leading edge and were not too thick as sometimes portrayed by modellers. The stripes were never in perfect condition either, unless they were recently repainted by the ground crew. The "Hayabusa" did not have primer applied under the top camouflage and therefore the paint chipped quite easily. Maintaining and refuelling the aircraft as well as many flying hours naturally wore the paint. 
A common problem modellers have in the 1/72 scale is to hand-paint the stripes and make them too rough on an aircraft with otherwise little weathering. It would be best to either build a "Hayabusa" in pristine, factory-fresh condition or if you are building one that has seen plenty of action, weather the plane and the IFF stripes accordingly.

5. Tapered stripes
6. "Wrong" yellow 
According the Akimoto Minoru-sensei (in Koku Fan Illustrated #42) the colour of the IFF stripes was more yellow than the orange-yellow of the trainer aircraft but still yellow-orange.
Very often modellers choose to paint the stripes very bright "lemon yellow". Although this colour is possible on older aircraft without a chance for proper maintenance or aircraft found after the end of the War, it is unlikely and an exception. Front line units used whatever kind of yellow paint they had available and often made their own mixes. But unless there is some evidence (colour photos, very detailed reports etc) to support the "lemon yellow" for your specific modelling subject, the "safest" option is to use a soft yellow-orange colour.  
We hope you find the above useful. Every posting is an open invitation to questions, objections and requests for clarification. So feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.