Thursday 30 April 2015

IJN Aircraft Carrier "Shokaku" by Jean Barby

Here is my 1/350 "Shokaku" from Fujimi. A lot of details were missing from the kit and I had to use plenty of photo-etch to get the details right. The wind shield and the two LSO platforms at the rear were made from scratch, triple 25mm and 127 AA guns are from Veteran model and all the plane have received their share of photo-etch from Rainbow! Gee those canopies cages were really something to fix! Three tins of Gunze H-83 were needed to paint the whole ship, the standing brass bases are from Pontos and they are great! Best regards from France, Jean.
Thanks a lot, Jean. BEAUTIFUL model!

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Vintage Aviation Humor

"New weapon - Alight slippers!
How about this idea for land-based aircraft
to become able to "land" on water? Giant slippers!
Especially if they could be carried along."

"Triplets, the new members of a family
watching a 3-plane formation flight.
-Honey, it would be perfect if these three became pilots"

-Doctor, unscrew my neck, please!"

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Gliders - Japanese Olympia Meise

From Wiki (here):
The DFS Olympia Meise (German: "Olympic Tomtit") was a German sailplane designed by the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS) for Olympic competition, based on the DFS Meise.
After the Olympic games in Berlin in 1936 introduced gliding as an Olympic sport, plans were made to fly the 1940 Olympic championships with a standard design of sailplane to give each pilot the same chances. As a result of this, the Meise was redesigned to fit into the new Olympic class specifications. The new 'Olympia' Meise had the prescribed wingspan of 15 m (49 ft 2 in), spoilers, but no flaps, and an undercarriage consisting of a skid and a non-retractable wheel.
The 1940 Olympics were to be held in Tokyo (here) and Professor Sato Hiroshi of Kyushu Imperial University, who was in Germany at the time studying aviation, imported one. Eventually five or six more were built in Japan and on January 1943 an endurance record of 8h 12min 30sec was achieved by pilot Sato Takeo.
The September 1941 issue of the magazine "Shashin Shuho" (Photo Weekly News) featured one of the Olympia Meise gliders on the cover with some photos.
An excellent photo of the cockpit. Counter clock-wise: altimeter, compass, variometer, speedometer, release handle, turn and slip indicator, spoiler handle, rudder pedals, control stick. Unfortunately we don't know what the last thing on the starboard side of the cockpit is.   

Some more photos from other vintage glider publications.
Note the three Tachikawa Ki-17 trainers flying overhead
often used to pull civilian gliders. 

The spoilers

Multi-view drawings and data

Monday 27 April 2015

Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" - 104 Sentai

The following stills are from a vintage new reel. The Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" (Tojo) in the foreground has a most interesting tail marking, a "ken" (sword), and together with the other Ki-44 belong to the 104th Sentai.

 The above were first introduced in the first of a two part series of articles featured in the May 2003 issue of the magazine "Scale Aviation"*, written by Yoshimura Hitoshi and Abiko Kunyo, illustrated by Saito Hisao.
According to the article the tail marking possibly was one applied to a "Shoki" belonging to the "tokko" (ramming unit) of the 104 Sentai named "Kikusui-kogekitai" (chrysanthemum-attack unit) to differentiate the particular aircraft from the others. The aircraft of the ramming unit had heavy equipment like armament and radio removed to gain more speed. Unfortunately the news reel does not show the wing leading edges and therefore it cannot be confirmed if this particular "Shoki" still had its armament on. The Ki-44 in the background with the two stripes is also unidentified.
Our good friend Devlin Chouinard created the beautiful illustration below of the marking on the "Shoki" tail. As you know colour is very difficult to tell from b/w photos. So in this case it is shown simply as black. Red or blue are ofcourse also possible.
   The 104th Sentai was organised on August 15, 1944 in Ozuki base, Yamaguchi Prefecture (still in use, here) with members of the 4th Sentai. Initially it was to be a Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" unit but actually received none and there were only six pilots that could fly Ki-84s and one maintenance member. The unit was ordered to relocate to Manchuria but it was something beyond their capabilities. On August 28 unit commander Takiyama went to another unit, got a "Hayabusa" and flew alone to Changchun. The commander of the 2nd Air Army Itahana was really looking forward to add an all "Hayate" unit to the Army's strength so his disappointment was really big when he saw a lone "Hayabusa" arriving. The 104th was then ordered to relocate and train in Mukden and the 2nd Air Army managed to gather a number of "Hayabusa" and "Shoki" and from September 1944 six pilots and 12 maintenance crew members from the Manchukuo Air Force were added to the sentai. On September 8, when information arrived that B-29s were to bomb south Manchuria, Takiyma and another pilot flew on their own initiative from Mukden to Dalian and tried to intercept the bombers, but to no avail.
  On September 26, 80-90 B-29s bombed south Manchuria and Takiyama took off with six "Shoki" and managed to cause light damage to one bomber.
  In November the 104th received new pilots and their first two "Hayate" and started intensive training. Those who completed this, flew to Utsunomiya and ferried back more "Hayate" (exact number unknown). On November 30 the unit could finally reach its maximum strength of pilots, maintenance crew members and aircraft. In the beginning of December it had four "Hayate" in the Sentai HQ, the 1st and 2nd Chutai had together eight "Hayate" and eight "Shoki". The 3rd was a training Chutai with 11 "Hayabusa".    
  From the middle of December the unit became responsible of the defence of Anshan and dispatched 12 "Hayate" and 20 "Shoki". 
  Around that time the "Kikusui-kogekitai" was organised with four members flying three "Shoki" and one "Hayabusa".
  The 104th intercepted B-29 bombing raids on December 17 and 21 claiming one B-29 shot down on the first and a number probables. In both cases the interception forced the B-29s to drop their bombs prematurely, far away from their target.
  Before the Soviet Army invasion of Manchuria the 104th had in its strength 50 "Hayate" and 30 "Hayabusa" and "Shoki".  
  On August 12, 1945 a group of "Hayabusa" and "Shoki" from the 104 and other units attacked Soviet tank formations in Linxi, Inner Mongolia. But due to very low provisions of fuel and bombs the unit returned to Anshan on August 13 where the end of the War found them.   
Hasegawa has released a kit in 1/48.

* When it was still interesting and cool and didn't rely on photos of scantily clad girls in order to sell.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Mitsubishi F1M "Reikan" (Pete) & Various Seaplanes - RC

A most beautiful RC Reikan built and flown by a Japanese guy I found on UTube. Unfortunately they just don't give any more details about the model, size, location, date etc. Pity...
Enjoy the movie!
And there is also this absolutely amazing collection of RC Japanese seaplanes by the same guy: "hamanonobuchan". I LOVE IT!!!

Saturday 25 April 2015

Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" - Kashima Kokutai

The following is another selective translation we did from an article featured in the Maru Mechanic #20 on the Mitsubishi F1M "Reikan" (Pete).

That was the role of the Reikan
by LCDR Yoshikawa Akira of the Kashima Ku

  The first time I touched a Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" was in TateyamaKu in 1941. There were Type 94 and Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplanes (Kawasaki E7K "Alf" and Nakajima E8N "Dave" respectively) and a single Reikan that was used to train new pilots for the type and air combat. It did not have the later 3-blade propeller but had instead a 2-blade Sumitomo/Hamilton 2-step variable pitch one. The Type 95 (Dave) and the Reikan had a very tight turn radius but when going for a loop-the-loop, at the apex point, the aircraft had the tendency to stall so the pilot had to be extra carefully and work the stick and the throttle.
  I have flown the Zero-sen too. Fighter pilots thought that the controls of the Zero were much heavier than the "96 Kansen" (Mitsubishi A5M "Claude"). But in comparison with the Type 95 (Dave) or the Reikan I found the controls of the Zero particularly light. If the controls of our seaplanes were light our lives would be much easier. When fighter pilots flew the Type 95 or the Reikan they were really impressed with our ability to engage in air battles so skillfully with our seaplanes.
  At the end of the War I was serving as "Hikocho" (Group Leader) with KashimaKu. We had about 50 Reikan in our strength but most of our students were reserves. From July 1945 we relocated to Maihama beach, in Hakata bay to prepare for the battle of the mainland (the Allied invasion of Japan - Operation Downfall). The Reikan has a single main float so no bombs could be attached on the belly. Under the wings only two 60kg bombs could be attached and this bombload was deemed insufficient for this major battle. So we were ordered to weld and attach one 250kg bomb on the main strut of the central float. Modifying 50 Reikan to carry 250kg bombs was quite a job but everybody did their best. Fortunately the War was over before anybody could fly suicide missions with these Reikan.
  By August 23 we had all flown back to Kashima and these were the last Reikan flights of the War. 

Thursday 23 April 2015

Teikoku Hiko Kyokai Hikokan - Type Ko-3 Fighter/Trainer (Nieuport Ni24)

On June 15-16, 1929 the 7-floor "Hikokan" (Aviation Building) of the "Teikoku Hiko Kyokai" (Imperial Aviation Association) was inaugurated. On the first floor there was an exhibition hall with model aircraft and photos, on the second and third floors there were rental rooms for events, on the fourth floor a meeting room, on the fifth and sixth floors two large halls. There was also a roof garden on the seventh floor and a restaurant on the basement.  
Interior of the building from here

The photo below was taken during the inauguration ceremony. On the roof garden is a Type Ko-3 Fighter/Trainer (Nieuport Ni24) with a very happy General Nagaoka Gaishi, Director of the "Hikokan". The tail of a Hansa Branderburg W29 is visible on the left.
The tail reads "Type Ko Model 3 Trainer - 641 - Weight 436kg - Equipment Weight 188kg". 
The building stood until fairly recently and is now housing the offices of the Japan Aeronautic Association and the Aviation Library of Tokyo (Link). 

Thursday 16 April 2015

Reikan 955Ku

A NARA photo of a Mitsubishi F1M "Reikan" (Pete) found at the end of the War in a not-so-good condition. The tail marking is visible and as far as we can tell it's 955-02 which means it belonged to the 955 Kokutai.
The unit was organised on August 1, 1944 with reconnaissance seaplanes and was active in Davao and South Philippines. Probably that's where this Reikan was found. The unit had Mitsubishi F1M, Aichi E11A "San-Za Suitei" (Jake) and other types and upon organisation it had 16 two-seat reconnaissance seaplanes and 24 three-seat reconnaissance seaplanes. 

Wednesday 15 April 2015

The Reikan of Musashi

The following is a selective translation we did from an article featured in the Maru Mechanic #20 on the Mitsubishi F1M "Reikan" (Pete).
The Reikan of Musashi
by Shikada Kanjuro, maintenance petty officer 2nd class
  Shikada joined the Musashi crew in September 1943. The organisation of the air group in the ship was different from that of a land based unit. The flight (pilots, observers, gunners, radio operators) and the maintenance crew members all belonged to one unit and everybody including low rank officers used the same quarters located near the hangar and the catapult. In general Musashi had two Reikan per one catapult with 5-6 maintenance crew members. When the ship was scheduled to put in at a harbour a seaplane was first sent out for patrol, alighted and stayed at a nearby Naval base. The loudspeakers of Musashi blared orders to get ready to enter the harbour and the maintenance crew members gathered their tools and things, got on a launch and were sent to the base where the Reikan was.
Musashi 1944 (Wiki)

  In February 1944 when Musashi reached the naval base in Tonowas island of the Truk (Chuuk) lagoon the crew of Shikada consisted of seven members who had to do all the work on their own. There were no spare aircraft and they were all very busy and on hold waiting for the orders to launch a seaplane.
Musashi and Yamato in Truk Lagoon in early 1943(Wiki)
  Apart from that the maintenance crew were always busy. When the ship was sailing they had to maintain the various parts of the catapult, like the rail, the wire and the control room because they were all exposed to the elements.
  The Reikan of Musashi were there to observe whether the shells of the main guns were hitting their target but in reality they were doing patrol, reconnaissance and other work. When the seaplane was to be launched there was announcement from the bridge: “Hikobuntai Hikoki Hashin Yoi” (Flight Division, Prepare for aircraft launch). The maintenance crew brought the seaplane out of the hangar and gave it a final oil and fuel check, then it was lifted by the crane and placed on the catapult. In the meantime the pilot was getting ready and once the seaplane was secured on the catapult the pilot climbed in and started the engine. The catapult officer prepared the catapult by inserting a powder charge in the firing chamber and gave the okay then the pilot completed his own check and gave the okay signal. Then the flight division commander signalled the bridge that they were ready and once the CO from the bridge raised a red flag, waived it once above his head then lowered it, the catapult officer shoot the catapult. The pilot had to be extra careful to place his head firmly on the head rest. When the plane reached the end of the catapult it was released automatically from the arrestor hook. Then the plane usually waived its wings and flew away.
  The maintenance crew were happiest when they got the order to retrieve the seaplane. During launching everybody was nervous but when the plane returned they were all relieved. When the seaplane is spotted in the horizon gradually losing altitude to alight, the ship is turning against the wind to create a slick for the seaplane to alight. The waves of the Pacific are subdued and for a while the sea is calm. The seaplane alights, the ship stops and the crane is getting readied. The seaplane after alighting is moving close to the ship, the observer is climbing on top of the top wing and attaches the hook of the crane. Shikada and his team did launching and recovery training all the time. After getting back on board the maintenance crew brings the seaplane inside the hangar giving it a thorough check for oil leaks, fuselage cracks and rub the whole plane gently with pieces of cloth.
As you all probably know the wreck of the Musashi was located last month by Paul Allen. Below is a photo from HIS site of one of the Musashi catapults.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Eighth Student Aviation Competition

The "Dai Hatchi-kai Gakusei Koku Taikai" (Eighth Student Aviation Competition) took place on October 25, 1941 in the Second Airport of Osaka. Among the dignitaries was Professor Tanakadate Aikitsu and Murayama Nakadate the President of Asahi Shimbun. As many as forty schools participated in the competition with a little less than 200 students and ten different categories. The opening ceremony was at 07:00 and at the end of the day they all flew in formation over the airport.
 A Tachikawa Ki-9 with the civilian registration J-BDHC.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Kawanishi E7K2 "Alf" & Imperial Japanese Navy

A set of photos from two different magazines, one released in August 1938 and the other in October 1938. They were all taken during the Battle of Wuhan.
The first two photos are from the first magazine and were taken during the operations in the South of Yangtze river and the capture of the city of Jiujiang.
Wikipedia explains:
"On 13 June, the Japanese made a naval landing and captured Anqing, which signaled the onset of the Battle of Wuhan. On the southern bank of the Yangtze River, the Chinese 9th Military Region stationed one regiment west of Poyang Lake, and another regiment between the line from Jiangxi to Jiujiang. The main force of the Japanese 11th Army attacked along the southern shore of the river. The Japanese Namita detachment landed in the east of Jiujiang on 23 July.
The Chinese defenders tried to resist the attack, but they could not repel the landing force of the Japanese 106th Division from capturing Jiujiang on the 26th."

Combined Fleet mentions HERE:
"23 July 1938
A detachment of the Japanese 11th Army Group lands east of Jiujiang in Jiangxi and captures Jiujiang three days later.
24 July 1938:
At night, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kondo Eijiro’s (36)(former CO of KAGA) Yosuko Force lands troops of the No. 5 Kure SNLF on the banks of the Yangtze. Kondo’s 11th Battle Division provides gunnery support consisting of minelayer IJN YAEYAMA (F), river gunboats IJN ATAKA, SAGA, HASU, HIRA, minelayers NATSUSHIMA, SARUSHIMA, KAWASEMI, DesDiv 11, DesDiv 21’s IJN TSUGA and KURI, TorpBoat Div 1’s KASAGI, HIYODORI, OTORI and HAYABUSA, gunboats IJN HOZU, SETA, ATAMI, FUTAMI and KASIDA, Special Minesweeper Unit 1’s IJN TSUBAME, KAMOME, SUGI MARU and KASIWA MARU and Special Minesweeper Unit 2.
Minelayer YAEYAMA (F) leads the van with TorpBoatDiv 1, MineSweepDiv 1 and MineSweepDiv 2. Kondo’s Guard Unit is made up of TorpBoatDiv 11 and TorpBoatDiv 21. Seaplane tenders IJN KAMIKAWA MARU and NOTORO provide air cover. Threatened with envelopment, Chinese forces withdraw."
Therefore the Kawanishi E7K1 "Alf" in the photo above belongs either to Seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru or to Notoro. The caption of the photo on the right simply says that the mast of the ship is being repaired but the name of the vessel is not mentioned.
The second set of photos were taken during the operations in the North of Yangtze river and the capture of the city of Wuxue.
From Wikipedia:
"The Chinese recaptured Taihu, Susong on 28 August. With the momentum, the 11th Army Company and the 68th Army launched counter-offensives, but were unsuccessful. They retreated to the Guangji region to coordinate with the Chinese 26th, 86th and 55th Army to continue to resist the Japanese Army. The 4th Army Group ordered the 21st, 29th Army Company to flank the Japanese from northeast of Huangmei, but they were unable to stop the Japanese. Guangji and Wuxue were captured sequentially."
Combined Fleet does not mention which Japanese naval units participated; presumably they were the same.
 Another Kawanishi E7K1 returning to her ship.

The ship on the left is an Otori-class torpedo boat of the 1st or 11th Torpedo Boat Divisions but the one on the right is more difficult to identify. 

Wednesday 8 April 2015

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Japanese Aviation Artifacts
at the
San Diego Air & Space Museum
 If you are visiting the San Diego area, one of the must-see places for the aviation inclined is the San Diego Air & Space Museum. In the collection there is an assortment of Japanese aviation artifacts, including flight gear, aircraft fragments, a prop blade from a G4M “Betty”, and a bomb fragment from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. I have included the descriptions as provided by the museum.
The display of the flight gear is interesting, and meant to depict the scene of a “kamikaze” pilot before his final mission. However, I would have thought that having the mannequin in a standing position would be a little less awkward, and would have shown the flight suit to better effect. There is a surprising lack of information here also, even noting which branch of service the clothing and equipment were from is absent. That said though, these items are rather rare in the U.S.
The aircraft fragments are of special interest, especially those that have original paint still on them. Nothing is mentioned about what aircraft the fragments are from, save for the G4M “Betty” prop blade, so we are left to guess in most cases.
In the same case as the aircraft fragments is a diorama of a crashed G4M as it would look some 70 years after the war, a silent reminder of what went on in the skies over the Pacific.
-D. Chouinard

Thank you very much D. for the information and the photos. Indeed, the pilot's pose rather unfortunate...