Thursday 26 February 2015

Yokosuka B3Y1 - Hokoku #37, 43, 55, 56, 60, 61

A photo from a vintage publication of two Navy Type 92 Carrier Attack Bombers or Yokosuka B3Y1 taking part in a hokoku ceremony together with a Navy Type 90 Carrier-based fighter or Nakajima A2N.

Hokoku expert Ed DeKiep noticed that the photo was taken at the same time of the donation ceremony of six hokoku aircraft which took place on April 14, 1934 in Tokyo's Haneda airport.

#37 - Yokosuka B3Y1, HERE
#43 - Nakajima E4N3, HERE
#55 - Type 90 Carrier Fighter or Nakajima A2N1-2
#56 - Type 90 Carrier Fighter or Nakajima A2N1-2
#60 - Type 90 Carrier Fighter or Nakajima A2N1-2
#61 - Type 92 Carrier Attack Bomber or Yokosuka B3Y1

Thank you Ed for the aditional information.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

68th Sentai - Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony)

Photos from NARA today of the most famous 68 Sentai "Hien", a Kawasaki Ki-61-1 Ko belonging to the 2nd Chutai and flown by ace Lt. Tarui Yoshimitsu, found in Hollandia, New Guinea in April 1944.
Note the rough green camouflage over the unpainted aircraft applied with an airbrush and the thick white band with the rather rough red surround indicating that this particular plane belonged to a chutai-cho. Note also the brown prop and spinner.

Close up of the above photo reveals the red star on the 20mm cannon muzzle.

Stencils on the wheel covers saying (top) "saidai kansho" (maximum shock absorber) and right below it is a line that indicates the maximum point of plane weight and oleo pressure. The stencil under it says "chijo seishi" (ground stationary) and indicates the normal position of the shock absorbers when the aircraft is stationary on the ground.

Note also that most, if not all, the rivets are flash. So no chickenpox scars or acne on your models please. 

The last close-up reveals a very special marking applied only on the port side of the plane right under the cockpit. It's a personal marking of Lt. Tarui and the photos are just not clear enough to see all the small details. It is definitely a bird, not a pterodactylus, and the most possible would be an eagle (wasi) as in Arawasi, a hawk (taka) or a three-legged crow (yatagarasu) since these are the most common Japanese crests (kamon) depicting birds, apart from cranes (tsuru), peacocks (kujaku) and the most common of all wild geese (kari); but the last three are not particularly associated with fighting aircraft and do not appear in any unit marking.
We lean towards the yatagarasu. There is some space between the body and the tail and probably this is where the third leg is depicted. 
For the three-legged crow Wikipedia explains:
"In Japanese mythology, this flying creature is a raven or a Jungle Crow called Yatagarasu (八咫烏?, "eight-span crow") and the appearance of the great bird is construed as evidence of the will of Heaven or divine intervention in human affairs.
Although Yatagarasu is mentioned in a number of places in the Shintō canon, the depictions are primarily seen on Edo wood art, dating back to the early 1800s wood-art era. Although not as celebrated current day, the crow is a mark of rebirth and rejuvenation; the animal that has historically cleaned up after great battles symbolized the renaissance after such tragedy.
Yatagarasu the Crow-God himself is symbolic specifically of guidance. This great crow was sent from heaven as a guide for Emperor Jimmu on his initial journey from the region which would become Kumano to what would become Yamato. It is generally accepted that Yatagarasu is an incarnation of Taketsunimi no mikoto, but none of the early surviving documentary records are quite so specific.
In more than one instance, Yatagarasu appears as a three legged crow in Kojiki.
Both the Japan Football Association and subsequently its administered teams such as the Japan national football team use the symbol of Yatagarasu in their emblems and badges respectively.[14] The winner of the Emperor's Cup is also given the honor of wearing the Itachi emblem the following season."
We can only add that the three legs symbolise the earth, the heavens and the humans.

According to the NARA caption the particular aircraft was taken apart and moved to a different location for evaluation.

Hasegawa has released a kit, number 8190, of this particular aircraft in 1/32 but the personal marking is not included in the decal sheet. A prudent decision since the exact shape, the design and the colours are not clearly discernible.

Image from HERE

Monday 23 February 2015

68th Sentai - The Unforgetable Beloved Airplane - Type 3 Fighter "Hien"

Today we present a translation we did of an article featured in Maru Mechanic #37 on the Type 3 Fighter or Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony) written by Sergeant Major Koyama Susumu who served with the 68th Sentai. Enjoy.

Sg Major Koyama first graduated from Kumagaya Aviation School on December 1942; 10th class of the Shonen Hikohei programme. Then he was assigned to the 246Sentai for a four-month fighter training flying Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate" and then went to Akeno Aviation School to train with Hien. The first month in Akeno was spent training with Ki-27 and Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" followed by a two-month training with Ki-61. He clearly remembers that the very first Hien he flew had serial number 103, the first mass produced Hien, and the first to be given to a school. He trained with six Hien in Akeno, serial numbers 103, 106, 107, 127, 132 and 189. He explains that when a pilot is sitting in the cockpit of the Ki-61 he has the impression that the nose is very long but nevertheless the aircraft offered good overall visibility.
On a typical training day the ground crew climbed on the aircraft wing, turned the starter handle and after shouting “switch on” a ground crew member presses the clutch button located right above the starter handle. When the button is pressed the liquid cooled engine immediately comes to life with a distinctive “bari, bari, bari” sound. The feeling is completely different compared to the "Nate" or the "Hayabusa". After checking the instruments the pilot starts taxing until the take off point. One of the peculiarities of the liquid cooled engine is that after long taxing the engine gets overheated very easily reaching temperatures higher than 90 degrees and steam starts rushing out from the water pressure valve like a whale blow. Instructors advised to ignore this steam and proceed with the take-off. This problem was common with the Hien so very often crews poured water over the engine to cool the planes down when on the ground. Gradually gathering speed, your body pushed back to the seat, you pull the stick a bit and the plane leaves the ground very smoothly. The steam stops right after take-off.
The engine of the Hien was very easy to start posing absolutely no problems. Even without the help of ground crew the pilot could easily start the engine with the same procedure. [Here's a reply to those who wonder how the pilots quickly started their planes without the use of starter trucks
New orders and aircraft
After Akeno, an order arrived that he and four other pilots studying together in Akeno were to get new aircraft and to proceed to Wewak in New Guinea. For this, they all went to Kakamigahara, Gifu prefecture at the Kawasaki factory located in the same prefecture where brand new Hien were standing in line, their duralumin sparkling in the bright sun. Upon receiving a note with the number of the aircraft he was assigned to, number 388, he proceeded to locate it. After he found it he started the engine, checked if everything is okay and then taxied in front of the aviation arsenal hangar. At that point the ground crew applied a white line and madara (spotted) camouflage on the fuselage and Koyama asked them to allow him to paint his own aircraft; applying the number 388 on the tail.
The pilots returned to Akeno for further training including aiming adjustment for the 12.5mm cannons and the 7.7mm machine guns. But as far as Koyama remembers the 388 was still equipped with 7.7mm machine guns on the wings.
On September 18, 1943 the five with Commander Hibino took off from Gifu but Hibino and two others were lost due to bad weather. Two days later with a new commander and pilots they started again and all finally arrived at Clark airfield in the Philippines four days later after stopping at Nyutabaru in Miyazaki prefecture and Taiwan. On September 23, took off from Clark reaching  Davao first. Koyama explains that the airfield in Davao was very dangerous because the lowest point is in the middle of the airfield. His group of five was ordered to land from South and land at a specific point of the airfield. They all did it without any problems but some aircraft from another unit that tried to land after them flying Hayabusa overshoot the airfield and crashed. The next day he reached Menado (present day Manado) in the Celebes islands (present day Sulawesi). On the 26th the group took off from Menado but encountered heavy squall and had to land at Soan [we were unable to locate this airfield], wait for an hour and then proceed to Babo in New Guinea. Babo was also a very dangerous airfield with a sharp inclination and a cliff right after that. So no matter what direction you tried to land you were always sideways and in constant danger to fall off the cliff.
The next day they finally reached Wewak. The flight to Wewak is 7-hours long and the plane had to be fuelled to the brim and fitted with two 200l drop tanks. They all flew their aircraft without any mishaps.
An excellent map showing the various Japanese and Allied airfields.
Source: here
Air combat over Wewak
Koyama remembers that while in Wewak the Hien he flew had the fuselage fuel tank removed because there was always the danger of exploding if enemy bullets hit it.
One day he was flying with the group of First Lieutenant Inoue on air patrol. After take-off he test shot his guns and gathered with the other seven aircraft at an altitude of 6000m. Inoue and the chutai-cho (squadron or flight leader) fluted their wings and they all got into battle formation. As many as 400 enemy fighters and bombers could be seen in an Eastern direction first as glitters, then black spots gradually becoming larger. In the beginning only 2-3 aircraft were visible, then about a dozen then more than 70-80 aircraft. The Hien group turned to the left of the enemy formation and started gaining altitude. When the enemy aircraft saw them a small rain of drop tanks was seen falling to the ground. A few seconds later the battle started and the Hien pierced the enemy formation. Koyama got himself stuck behind M. Seg Matsui and with the other aircraft of the 2nd buntai (squad) turned and approached from the left but were followed by the enemy aircraft finding themselves flying altogether in a circle. Suddenly a hail of bullets started falling in front of the Hien group. Koyama pulled the stick to his belly and stepped on the foot bar. Although the very sharp turn forced high Gs on him and he started to blacken out he could still see that the buntaicho (squad commander) was able to turn left and avoid the bullets too. Suddenly without him doing anything his aiki (beloved aircraft) turned right, nosed down and looked like it was going to crash. He immediately corrected his position always aware of his surroundings. During that time he was separated from the Hien group and he recalled that during training there were incidents where the Hien stalled when the stick was pulled hard. While he was trying to reposition himself he saw two enemy fighters in front of him, diving towards him. They were P-47 Thunderbolts. He was able to avoid them unscathed at an altitude of 6000m. Taking a look around him he could see no enemy planes but 1500m below him there was fierce fighting taking place. Lower to his left a single Hien was pursued by four P-40s. It was Inoue’s plane and he decided to attack. Hien’s diving speed is amazing and he immediately came to within 100 meters from the enemy planes. He started shooting with his 12.7mm cannons and immediately the last P-40 caught fire and was shot down. The other three didn’t notice that the last plane was lost and continued pursuing Inoue. Koyama dove and climbed and placed himself behind the enemy planes. It took 70-80 bullets and one more enemy plane exploded and fell. The explosion was noticed by the other enemy pilots who stopped pursuing Inoue, dove and escaped. After that he shot down a P-47. The battle was so intense and confusing that only when he returned to base he was able to count no less than 29 bullet holes on my plane. The Hien had an armoured protection plate behind the pilot and on his plane they found one 12.5 bullet stuck on the headrest, five more on the back plate and two inside the parachute. He was scratched on his left foot by a bullet fragment and he still carries this scar to this day.
More combat and the 20mm Mauser cannon
One day around November 1943, 10 Hien and two transport aircraft arrived to our base. On the wings of the Hien a metal tube I had never seen before was sticking out. It was the 20mm Mauser cannon. The pilots were later gathered to be shown the new gun and test fire it. I wanted to fly a cannon equipped Hien but I was too young a pilot to give me one. In 1944 when the pilots, the aircraft and the supplies were few, one day I flew alone above the base with a 20mm cannon equipped Hien. At an altitude of around 500m, I got a radio message from the base about a large size enemy plane approaching the base. I climbed to 6000m, flew to an eastern direction and started searching for the enemy plane. A few minutes later I saw a B-24 flying over a mountain east of the airfield. I checked if there were other enemy planes in the area and started attacking the enemy plane from front and above. The B-24 shoot me back but with growing speed from my frontal dive I shot the cockpit of the B-24. I bunked to the side to avoid hitting it, turned around and climbed. I looked to see if I had hit B-24 but I hadn’t and tried again a few times. Suddenly one of my 20mm bullets hit the bomb bay of the B-24 and a huge explosion disintegrated the bomber. Probably one of my bullets hit one of the bombs. It was the only large size enemy plane that I was ever able to shoot down.
The 20mm cannon was so powerful that if a bullet hit the aircraft’s main wing spar it could cut the wing.
Although there were many losses due to mechanical problems and emergency landings, the Hien was a reliable aircraft when the engine was in good condition. It was sturdy and very fast and the originally installed speedometer was sometimes broken because the plane could reach speeds higher than the max 780km/h it indicated. Later speedometers indicated max speed of 1000km/h.
The maintenance crew in my unit did their best and I definitely owe my life to the bullet-proof armour my unit didn’t remove. If I was flying a Hayabusa I wouldn't have survived the War. In my opinion the Hien was a really excellent aircraft.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Isuzu Fuel Truck by Panagiotis Koubetsos

This is the Isuzu 1/48 fuel truck from Hasegawa. I'm going to include it in a diorama set in New Guinea along with a Type 99 "Sokei" Kawasaki Ki-48 (Lily) bomber so I decided to give it a weathered look. I also added a lot of detail including a GAZ AA engine. I used the Gunze H-81 khaki color in which I added a little of red brown.The kit is not done yet, the remaining 10% will be ready when the truck will take its place in the finished diorama.
Panagiotis Koubetsos
Only one word from me, popular in Greece lately:) WOW!!! 

Thursday 19 February 2015

Civilian Yokosho E1Y1

After the Yokosho (Yokosuka) E1Y Reconnaissance Seaplanes were retired from service with the IJNAF, a number was released to civilian operators and some of them were converted to carry three to four passenger while the pilot still remained in the open cockpit. They were usually used for sightseeing, commercial or photo flights and others.
One such converted E1Y1 was operated by Nihonkai Koku Kaisha (Japan Sea Air Company) and received the civilian registration J-BEHH. The photo below from a vintage magazine is quite rare. Note the overall blue colour of the fuselage.
The "Japan Sea Air" was a  very small airline founded in July 1931 by the major of Kinosaki, Hyogo prefecture Nakajima Kyutaro (?) and operated at least two aircraft one Mitsubishi MC-1 equipped with floats flying from Kinosaki to Osaka and later from Kinosaki to Matsue, Shimane prefecture and the converted E1Y1. The airline merged with other smaller ones to form Dai Nippon Koku (Imperial Japanese Airways)

Monday 16 February 2015

NEW RELEASE!!! T-Shirts of Japanese Aircraft now available!!!

Arawasi is proud to announce that limited numbers of T-shirts designed and printed by the Japanese company OSABETTY'S are exclusively available for overseas Japanese aviation fans through our on-line store.
Check below the three designs now available in different colors and sizes and visit our on-line store HERE for further details.
Yokosuka/Kawanishi K5Y1 & K5Y2 "Akatonbo" (Willow)


Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" 244 Sentai

 Mitsubishi F1M (Pete)

More designs will be available soon.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Japanese Hanriot H.36

One Hanriot H.36 was imported by Mitsubishi in March 1928 and was tested in Kakamigahara by pilot Nakao who commented very favourably on the aircraft's flight characteristics. Neither the IJNAF nor the IJAAF were interested in the type though so it stayed with Mitsubishi as a research plane receiving the civilian registration J-BJDC. Photo below from a vintage magazine. 
Interestingly the very brief Wiki entry explains that the H.36 "was a twin-float equipped version" of the H.35. 

Friday 13 February 2015

Yokosuka D4Y3 "Suisei" (Judy)

A less known NARA photo today of a Yokosuka D4Y3 "Suisei" (Judy) Model 33 found at Clark airfield in the Philippines; unit unknown. Serial number was 3957 and it was in generally good condition. She was restored and evaluated by the TAIU receiving the registration S16.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

"Ah! My Goddess! Shinden by Verena Wirnig

The J7W1 "Shinden" as an aircraft ‘Ah! My Goddess’
The idea, to make a fantasy painted a/c is a nice one and completely unusual for me. Therefore, it came to build it. I am a female modeler from IPMS Austria and am very convinced in Japan, its history and its country. So even Manga is part of my thoughts, but actually never read one. On one of my trips to Japan, I bought one ZukeiMura Shinden.
My husband built the Shinden sometime before, but in the WWII painting (HERE). My decision was a bright colorful a/c. The idea for the diorama was a long time growing idea. The ladder is part of accessories for a WWII RAF bomber airfield. The two ladies are from ZukeiMura. The suitcases I found accidently. The hut for the dog I found in a shop in Krakau (Poland). The dogs I bought via internet. So, the diorama was a build up over a long time. Like a puzzle.
The painting of the a/c was something else. The proposed painting from ZukeiMura was too dull, without life. Beside this, the painting was unpractical to me for flying. Since the big blue surfaces without distinction at the rudder surfaces are not good looking. The development of the paint scheme was easy, since my husband build at the time before a Trojan T-28 and a Texan II T-6. This colorful paint schemes as trainers of the USAF and IAF where the basic for the development the Shinden paint scheme.

I think with this explanation, you can understand a little bit the history of this a/c. To note: The engine I painted in the maximum unreal paint as possible. In metallic green and gold!

I don't know about you guys but Verena's "Shinden" is really very interesting and a beautifully built model. Excellent!!!

Sunday 8 February 2015

Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" and fuel track

Photo from a vintage publication of  Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" getting re-fuelled. The "Kinsei" engine used 92 octane gasoline. The fuel track was painted dark blue (navy blue).

Friday 6 February 2015

Kawasaki N2K1-Ja "Shiden-kai" (George) by Jean Barby

Here is my first model of the new year and it depicts a Kawasaki N2K1-Ja "Shiden-kai" (George) from the famous 343 Kokutai. The model is the Hasegawa in 1/48th, late version with the smaller vertical tail surface. The model was riveted and the excellent SBS cockpit was used instead of the parts of the kit. I also detailed the wheel bays and added the break line from solder wire. The Kawanishi color is a mixture of Gunze RLM70 and Gunze Sky blue (15%), underside is alclad with different shades on some panels to break the monotony.
Hinomarus were painted, and the canons are from Fine Molds. Cheers from France, Jean Barby.

I love it Jean! Brilliant paint job, perfect weathering. Merci beaucoup for sharing.