Tuesday 30 June 2015

Kawasaki Ki-10 by Andrey Temnyy

ICM Kawasaki Ki-10 in 1/72. Excellent model!
Visit Andrey's blog (http://darkmodels.blogspot.jp/) for more!

Monday 29 June 2015

Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" - Akeno Hiko Gakko

A line-up of Type 2 Single-Seat Fighters or Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" belonging to the Akeno Army Fighter School are getting maintained by ground crew members in this photo from a vintage, September 1944, publication. Note the very heavily camouflaged by airbrush "Shoki" and the "Hayabusa" just taking off.
Of interest is the big aircraft in the background, most probably a bomber. It looks like it is sitting on a nose wheel and since there are no IJAAF bombers with tricycle landing gear, what type of aircraft could this be?  

Saturday 27 June 2015

Nakajima J1N1-S "Gekko" by István Tekler

In reference to your latest post about IJN night fighters, I am sending some photos of my Fujimi "Gekko" built a few years ago using Eduard PE, Falcon canopy and a lot of scratch built items including optical sight, shrouded exhausts that are completely missing from the kit. Cockpit and wheel wells  required most of the extra details.
Fit was terrible especially at the fuselage spine and engine nacelles. Huge amount of filler used to smooth things out, only the Dragon Do335 needed more among the kits that I've built.
Kit decals were used only for the individual numbers, still could not avoid silvering.
I'd like to build more Gekkos in this scale, but think it is better to wait for a new mould kit to be released one day...
István Tekler - Hungary

Thank you very much István for the photos of your really beautiful model. Excellent work on a quite demanding kit.


Friday 26 June 2015

Model Commentary #4c - Choosing your next J. a/c model

The next part in this series is about the Night Fighters of the IJNAF, a fairly neglected modeling subject. The big oblique guns are admittedly much more interesting than the paint schemes but there are many types of IJNAF types that were modified for night fighters to allow for subject variety. All of them without exception were painted green/top, gray or silver bottom so don't go out looking for colorful scheme variations. These planes flew at night and wanted to be as undetected as possible.
First up is the Nakajima J1N "Gekko" the only dedicated night fighter type, even though it started as a reconnaissance.
Although the bibliography is small, the only surviving and restored "Gekko" in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center provides excellent reference for very accurate models.
 In the 1/72nd the "Gekko" series by Fujimi remains the only still available. I started mine a few years ago and encountered major fitting issues with the fuselage top. Actually I haven't seen many Fujimi models so if you've built one share your impressions.
In 1/48 the Tamiya kit is the best around and some really impressive models can be built, like the one below from HERE.
 Typical inaccuracy issues with "Gekko" models is the excessive weathering when in reality the ground crew took extra care to keep the planes properly painted and avoid natural metal areas that could shine in the night and give away the plane. Unless the model is depicting a derelict aircraft found after the end of the war. In that case anything goes regarding weathering.
Next up is the Yokosuka D4Y2-S, the night fighter version of the "Suisei" (Judy). Again the bibliography is very limited but the "Judy" in Yushukan provides very accurate reference.



Fujimi has released only one kit in 1/72. Old but nice with a bit shallow panel lines.
In 1/48 Fine Molds has the best "Suisei" around. Check this brilliant model by Dan Salamone from HERE.

Only limited numbers of the next two famous fighters were modified with oblique cannons; the Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" and the Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden". The bibliography for these two types is extensive but photos of the night fighter versions are very very few and therefore there are not many options regarding markings and modeling subjects.
AFAIK Hasegawa is releasing the only Zero Night Fighter kits in 1/48.

Or you'll have to scratch-build one in 1/72 like this very nice model from HERE.

As for the "Raiden", Hasegawa and Tamiya give decals for the  "YoD-1183" with the oblique cannon next to the cockpit but the modification needs to be scratch built. I Googled it in English and Japanese but couldn't find any models. I guess I'll have to finally finish mine...
The night fighter version of the Yokosuka P1Y "Ginga" AKA "Kyoko" was less succseful and not so well-known.
Hasegawa has released three different kits in 1/72. All excellent and highly recommended as modelling subjects.
Check this model from HERE.

AFAIK no major company has released a "Ginga" kit in 1/48, much less a night fighter version.
And last but not least the coolest night fighter with the biggest cannon; the Nakajima C6N1 "Saiun" Night Fighter.
Fujimi and Sword have released kits in 1/72.

And Hasegawa in 1/48.

Check this brilliant model from HERE.

In conclusion, IJNAF Night Fighters is an interesting subject but often neglected due perhaps to the few paint scheme options. A dear subject of mine, wish there were more NF models in shows...

Wednesday 24 June 2015

EAGLE EYE SERIES, No. 1 - Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" / Tachikawa Ki-36 "Ida"

Received today from the printer's copies of EAGLE EYE SERIES, No. 1 - Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" / Tachikawa Ki-36 "Ida". This is the first re-print and includes corrections of some oversights. So copies are again available from our on-line store, HERE

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Vintage Ad - Airspeed Envoy

An ad today from a vintage publication of an aviation uniform and accessory company called "Hansamu Shokai" (Handsome & Co.) featuring two pilots standing by an Airspeed Envoy. According to the ad, Handsome & Co. provided flight suits, leather flight helmets, flight boots, gloves, goggles, life jackets, electrically heated flight suits, clothing and accessories for glider pilots, pilot caps and  menswear. The ad also mentioned: Send a stamped envelope to send back our catalogue.
Address of the shop was Tokyo, Kyobashi-ku, Ginza West 6-2, S Sango Building. Tel. Ginza (57) 0879.
We searched but couldn't find any more information about the company. 

Sunday 21 June 2015

Model Commentary #4b - Choosing your next J. a/c model

After a few rather hectic months we finally found some time to sit down and continue with this J. plane modelling guide. In the first part (HERE) we talked about IJNAF single engine fighters of WWII. Today, as promised, we'll talk about IJNAF seaplane fighters.
First up is the Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" the very first seaplane fighter of the IJNAF.
Few were built, they didn't see as much action as the land-based "Zero" and they all carried the typical IJNAF paint schemes; overall gray or green-top with gray-bottom. For years the rubbish "purple Rufe" has been a modeling favorite as a "different" and "interesting" option. Perhaps the red-brown primer was showing, the gray looked purple in the Aleutians, the US pilot(s) who reported seeing such a plane against the setting sun had moonshine in their canteen instead of water....blah blah blah. There was no such scheme, end of story. Am I allowed to say it loud and clear? STOP BUILDING PURPLE RUFES IF YOU CARE ABOUT ACCURACY! If you don't care and you're just having fun, go all the way and build something like the beautiful model below. A purple Rufe won't be less accurate.
image from here
There is surprisingly (or perhaps not) little material available in print for the Rufe. There are usually a few pages in all the Zero publications, most with exactly the same photos and that's about all. It was not a very photographed aircraft after all. Hasegawa has released excellent Rufe kits in 1/72 and 1/48. In the bigger scale they are a lot better than the old Tamiya kits with the raised panel lines and the poor at places fit. Apart from the gray/green options with different tail markings, there are two aircraft with interesting schemes both released by Hasegawa.
One is the 934-06 with the thunderbolt on the fuselage side.
The other, recently released, belonging to Takuma Ku with what looks like hastily applied camo.  
Trumpeter is releasing a Rufe in 1/24 and Sweet in 1/144. The Sweet kit is excellent for its size but haven't built the Trumpeter. If you have let us know how good it is.
Another interesting option is the Rufe in French markings and there are a couple after-market decal sets available.
The other IJNAF seaplane fighter was the Kawanishi N1K1 "Kyofu" (Rex), one of the most beautiful seaplane fighters in the world.
As with the Rufe, the Rex gets only a brief mention in the "Shiden/Shiden-kai" publications with the same photos repeated again and again. Except for the prototypes there is only the green/gray paint scheme and Hasegawa has released a couple kits in 1/72 and Tamiya has the only "Kyofu" in 1/48. AFAIK there are no kits in 1/144 and in 1/32 it would require a major modification of the ancient Revell N1K1-Ja kit.
The most interesting options are the prototypes especially the one with the SUPER cool contra rotating props. Hasegawa releases both in 1/72 but I have seen very few modelers attempting modifying the Tamiya kit in 1/48. Take a look HERE for an excellent model (on a terrible base).
There is also the interesting option of Indonesian "Kyofu". Fairly easy to make by cutting the hinomaru in half and placing it against a white background.
So, in conclusion, be careful when you purchase a seaplane fighter kit. Be sure you really like the scheme the kit offers because there are not many options. And DO NOT build a purple Rufe if you care about historical accuracy. 

Saturday 20 June 2015

Aichi D1A2 - Hokoku #131

Two photos, from a vintage publication, today featuring Type 96 Carrier Dive-Bomber or Aichi D1A2 Hokoku #131. The aircraft was donated to the Navy by the Citizen's Association of Ginza (a bigger organization than the chonaikai) in a ceremony that took place in Haneda airport on October 30, 1937.   
Our good friend Zygmunt Szeremeta sent over artwork.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Hamamatsu Air Park

A few weeks ago, one day before this year's Shizuoka show we had the chance to visit KOKU JIETAI's Hamamatsu Air Park. 
It is one of the best museums in Japan, established in 1999, and located next to Hamamatsu Air Base. Since 1933 the same area was occupied by the IJAAF's bomber school and as Wiki mentions: "After World War II, the base facilities were used as an emergency landing strip by the United States Air Force, and were returned to the Japanese government in 1952 for use as a flight training school for the nascent Japan Air Self-Defense Force."
In the museum collection there are a number of JIETAI aircraft and helicopters and a single restored Zero. There is also a flight simulator and Bernhard who tried it (twice) says:
The absolute MUST in Hamamatsu is the simulator. For me it was difficult, because the instructions were in Japanese only. The instruments in the cockpit look like a picture. I did not recognise at the beginning that these are new flat screen instruments. I flew only with the HUD. The program in the simulator uses an override system. If I remained passive, the a/c took over. It was fun, but I was killed several times.

 Light conditions inside the hangar are perfect for photography, all the aircraft are easy to see from every possible angle, there is access to a couple cockpits and the staff is very friendly, informative and speak fairly good English. Some of them are JIETAI veteran pilots so it is highly recommended to chat with them. 
Lockheed F-104J Starfighter (76-8698)
North American F-86D Sabre (84-8104)

Two engines, a General Electric J79 for the Starfighter and a General Electric J47 for the North American F-86 Sabre. 


Fuji T-1 (15-5825)
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (63-5571)

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (71-5239)
Beechcraft B-65 (03-3094)

Sikorsky HH-52 Seaguard
Beechcraft T-34 Mentor

Boeing Vertol KV-107
North American T-6 Texan
Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52, 43-188, built by Mitsubishi in March 1944. Retrieved from Guam in 1963. On display in Hamamatsu since 1999.
Lockheed F-104J Starfighter
Piasecki H-21B (02-4756)

Curtiss C-46D (91-1138)
Flight uniforms are also available for a certain amount of time as you can see from the photos. There is also a mini theatre where we enjoyed a short presentation movie about the Blue Impulse, a small restaurant with delicious ice cream and...did I mention that everything's for free? Yep. Absolutely free. Except for the ice cream ofcourse!

The best of all was that the rear of the main hangar is covered in glass and you can see the runway with aircraft taking off and landing. Absolutely amazing!  I managed to take a photo of a Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye belonging to the 601 JASDF Airborne Early Warning Hikotai based in Misawa.
To visit the place you need to take the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo for a 90min ride. Don't forget to visit the small but most enjoyable Hamamatsu Castle.
Hamamatsu is famous for its unagi (eel) but avoid such adventures and enjoy instead the best kushiage ever, made by chef Kurata at "Kushitomo", inside Big Camera, right next to the station.