Monday 31 August 2015


This year Singapore celebrates the nation’s 50th year of independence.
Mr. Koh Tse Hsien, very kindly send over information about the model shops there. Here's what he had to say:
If you ever come to Singapore you will find the model  shops are all over the place and only 3-4 are easy to get to because they are  in the city. I tend to go to Miniature Hobby the most because it  has decent stock and easy parking but it is quite difficult  to access if you  don't have a car.
The other one I use is Hobby Point or Stargek if I  need something from Tamiya.
Once in a blue moon I will drop by Hobby Bounties  because they have old and interesting stuff, but I  haven't been there recently.
Other stores are Hobby Focus, M workshop and The Orchard Store.
Surprisingly there are enough Singapore modellers to print decal sheets.
 If you want to know more about the Singapore model scene you can check out:
I maintain a website for models my late father and I have built over the years:

Having fun is always more important than quality in this hobby of ours.  
Thank you very much Tse Hsien for the very interesting info. Singapore is definitely in the list of our near-future travel destinations so we do hope to meet in person, talk about our hobby and sample some of the most delicious food in Singapore we've heard so much about.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" - Raid against Mal Island - 75 Sentai

The translation we did below is from the book “Kyu Kyu Soke Kyusenki” (Type 99 Air Battle) by Doi Tsutomu, Kojinsha.

The US forces landed on Mal one of the Ninigo island group, New Guinea, on August 15, 1944 and the Japanese decided to try to intercept the advance of the US to the Philippines. The 75 Sentai based in Amahai on the island of Seram, in the Maluku, Indonesia flew missions on August 25 and 28.
The following is from the diary of 1st Lt Ishishi who first describes how bombing attacks were carried out by "Lily".

After taking off from the airfield we try to reach as soon as possible an altitude of 6000m and we are always prepared to confront enemy aircraft. About 100km before our target airfield, we start to make out the airfield lights. But since the enemy is using radar we know we are spotted when the airfield lights are turned off. At that time we break formation, start flying separately and commence evasive manoeuvres diving and gaining altitude or flying in a zigzag pattern. Flying that way we are able to escape enemy aircraft attacks and although we have encountered P-38s many times we were able to evade their attacks with these manoeuvres. When there are no enemy aircraft there is heavy anti-aircraft fire shaking heavily our plane. Fortunately, until now, they have never managed to hit us. When we are almost above the target we use the air brakes to dive at a 60 degree angle at a speed of 550km/h. When we reach an altitude of 2000m the enemy anti-aircraft guns start shooting at us. Although in high altitude they are inaccurate, at lower altitude there is no way for them to miss, scaring the shit out of us. At 700m the pilot presses the bomb release button, then lifts the nose slowly, retracts the air brakes and at an altitude between 200 and 300 meters escapes at full speed. From the beginning of the diving until the release of the bombs it takes between 40 to 50 seconds.
At that time during night attacks against enemy airfields we used “tadan” bombs with great success. The tadan have a very short fuse that explodes immediately and is basically a 50kg bomb including 76 smaller ones. The carrier bomb after released from the plane immediately breaks apart and the bomblets burst into flame. It is particularly effective to set fire to enemy aircraft lined up on an airfield. It was originally designed to be thrown from a high altitude to enemy bombers below. In the beginning of August together with Watanabe we used these bombs against Owi island with very good results. Although we use different weapons to attack enemy aircraft, the first time I saw enemy planes on fire was when I first saw tadan being used.

On August 28, Ishishi and one more "Lily" from the 3rd Chutai flown by Totsuka were ordered to take off on a mission against Mal island, 500km from their base in Amahai. Here's what Ishishi writes in his diary.

On that day, at 17:30 our two aircraft with eight crew members on board, took off from Amahai airfield. The moonlight was particularly bright and we approached the target from an altitude of 6000m. Right above the target there was a huge thundercloud at 7000m. We tried to find a break through the cloud but we couldn’t find our target so we couldn’t do any dive bombing. The searchlinghts of the airfield tried to spot our planes and we broke formation and started flying separately. We kept losing altitude trying to find an opening through the cloud. I decided to do a low altitude attack below the cloud at about 300m. When we were near Mal island one searchlight found us and immediately all of them were trained towards us. I thought “we've had it” and pushed the engine to full speed. The enemy machine gun bullets gathered against us like arrows sometimes hitting our fuselage. Eventually the enemy airfield appeared before our eyes. About a dozen enemy aircraft with silver wings were parked there, so I pressed the bomb release button and flew over the airfield at full speed at about 100-150m. Mori from the rear seat said “enemy planes on fire”. At that time both engines stopped. There was serious problem with the engine fuel preassure and I decided that there was no way we could make it back to Amahai. So, instead, decided to make an emergency landing at Babo airfield.
The 75 Sentai back in Amahai were informed that they did an emergency landing at Babo and a few days later the Sentai commander Doi Tsutomu (the author of the book) went to Babo on a "Lily", but the runway was full of bomb crates and had to return to base. The odyssey of Ishishi and his crew continued by travelling on land and it was not until December they managed to return to the base of their unit.

Friday 28 August 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" - Wewak/New Guinea

Five NARA photos today taken during air raids by the US 5th Air Force against the Japanese held airfield of But/Wewak in New Guinea.
The photos were taken by one or two different aircraft but you will notice they show the same area and I have posted them here as a plane would make the pass from the background to the foreground.
Note the close ups with the details on the various camouflaged Kawasaki Ki-48s (Lily) and Nakajima Ki-21s (Sally) as well as the various tents, shacks, revetments and other installations.





Tuesday 25 August 2015

Collector's Items

Vintage and extremely rare kits recently on sale on the Japanese Ebay.
Do you have any information about them?

Fujimi, Kawasaki Ki-100, in 1/70

Sanwa, "Hayabusa", 1/120
Hasegawa, Zero Model 52, 1/100

Kawai, "Dinah", 1/100
Otaki, "Betty", probably 1/100

Two Fuji kits in 1/100

Sunday 23 August 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Sokei" (Lily) by Panagiotis Koubetsos WIP#4

These are the photos of the finished 1/48 AZ model Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily". I tried insistently to build the nose to look more decent than the AZ original. The model will be part of my ''Lily mishap'' latest diorama and for this reason it shows one broken wheel and a damaged starboard engine.






Saturday 22 August 2015

Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Babs" - Kumagaya Rikugun Hiko Gakko

Two photos from a vintage publication featuring a number of  Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft or Mitsubishi Ki-15-I "Babs" belonging to the Kumagaya Army School as indicated by the tail marking. The school was based in Kumagaya, Saitama prefecture. When you visit the Wiki page note that the tail marking of the school is based on the city marking, itself based on the kanji of the city name, which is red.
Normally aircraft belonging to schools would be painted overall trainer orange but in this case the Ki-15 is a front-line reconnaissance aircraft and therefore left the Mitsubishi factory finished in gray (hairyokushoku). Kumagaya, which was mostly equipped with Tachikawa Ki-9 "Spruce" and Ki-55 "Ida", probably had this very small number of "Babs" to familiarise the pilots with more high performance aircraft. It would have been particularly tedious and time consuming to remove the overall paint and repaint every single Ki-15 while they were serving in the school only to have the colour change again if they were assigned to more needed front line units. Therefore it is safe to assume that the Ki-15s in the photos are finished in overall gray. Note the white lines on the cowling. In the IJNAF Zero these were applied for gun synchronisation. In IJNAF and IJAAF bombers sometimes they were applied in various fashion and position to help with bomb aiming. The Ki-15 had neither forward firing guns nor any bombs so these were probably applied to help pilots stay in formation during in-flight formation training.    
Of interest is the twin engine aircraft in the foreground on the left in the bottom photo.
Small quiz: what type do you think it is?

Monday 17 August 2015

Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Babs" - 8th Sentai

The 8th Sentai was organised on August 31, 1938 at Pingtung in Taiwan when the unit changed its name from Hiko 8 Rentai to Hiko 8 Sentai with the 1st Chutai  reconnaissance, 2nd Chutai fighter, 3rd Chutai bomber and 4th Chutai maintenance (as of 1936).
On September 5, 1940 the fighter chutai became independent and was re-organised as the 50th Sentai. From April 16, 1941 the 8th Sentai participated in operations against Fuzhou and returned to its base in Taiwan on May 2. Nine days later, relocated to Shanghai and participated in operations against Hangzhou. By May 28 the unit had returned to Taiwan.
On September 2 the unit was re-organised, the 1st Chutai got equipped with Type 97 Command Reconnaissance or Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Babs" while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Chutai received Type 99 Twin Engine Light Bombers or Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily".
The 1st Chutai of the 8th Sentai originated from the 1st Chutai of the 2nd Sentai based in Gifu, Gifu Prefecture with nine "Babs" and commander Captain Suzuki Masao.  
With the outbreak of the Pacific War the unit relocated to Tuguegarao in Luzon between November-December 1941 to take part in the Philippine operations. From December 22 to January 7, 1942 participated in the operations against Manila. The "Babs" of the 1st Chutai, without radio, flew at an altitude 9000m taking photos. By January 9 the unit returned to Pingtung.
From January 20 relocated to Don Mueang airport in Bangkok via Guangdong and Hainan island to participate in the Burma operations.
The unit constantly changed its base and on February 23, 1942 one 1st Chutai "Babs" took off from Moulmein (Mawlamyine) airport to reconnoitre the Mingaladon airport and the harbour of Rangoon (Yangon) with pilot 1st Lt. Nakatani Takesada in the controls and observer 1st Lt. Fujimori Akira in the rrear seat. During the mission they were intercepted by a British Hawker Hurricane but managed to return to base in Moulmein. Upon arrival the ground crew were able to count 119 bullet hits, four of which had found Nakatani's right arm.  
The main source for this is a brilliant article by Izawa Yasuho included in the April 1990 issue of Aireview featuring artwork by Watanabe Rikyu.
The two photos below are from a vintage publication showing the "Babs" and the damage it received while the other three are stills from a news reel offering very rare glimpse to the cockpit of the "Babs". Artwork by Devlin Chouinard.