Tuesday 25 July 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 005 - JACOB TERLOUW

Modelled to a picture of these N1K1’s found at Sourabaya in 1945 and sources say it belonged to the 10th Area Fleet/13 Air Fleet - former 936 Kokutai and an ex 934 Kokutai floatplane after that unit was disbanded.
It was found with two other N1K1’s painted in AURI-colours  and only this one had a unit code. On the two other ones it was painted-over. All the three N1K1’s were probably pre-production machines with the  longer engine exhaust ( like the prototype) different from later productions machines.

- Jacob Terlouw -

Gun-camera shots as published in a Reconnaisance book-1945
The N1K1 Kyofu with the unit code A1-105 was transported to the Netherlands on the light carrier QH-1 (Karel Doorman-1) together with an Aichi E13A1- spring 1947.
Soon after arrival in the Netherlands the Kyofu was transported to Delft university Aero Technical branch  and scrapped a few month later.
The E13A1 sank in the North Sea after being used for target shooting. I still have to find out the unit code of that plane.

Sunday 23 July 2017

"Okinawa 1945" colour pt.2 - video

And here's the second video. The source is, HERE.

A few interesting stills.
First the heavily camouflaged Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia", unit unknown.

And the Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" of the 23rd Dokutritsu Hiko Chutai (Independent Company) which was based on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture from March 26 until middle of April 1945 to escort toko aircraft. So, the "Hien" in the video could be one that made an emergency landing on Okinawa or this video was shot on Ishigaki Island. 

Friday 21 July 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 005 - ALLAN JEFFERY

My first entry into this competition, is the old ("classic") Tamiya  Rufe.
At the time of this build I was trying to simulate a finish that may have been mistaken for the violet colour that had been much debated (and finally denied). I painted the model how I thought it would have been painted when it was in service. Natural metal,red brown primer with a IJN grey top coat. The IJN grey recommended was the early Tamiya acrylic light grey and not the later ash green. The effect under certain light did have a slight violet colour. How it would have worked with the later and better researched colours I dont know, if I ever build another Rufe I will be trying out a heavily weathered IJN green. I think Tamiyas Rufe stands the test of time and is still a very decent kit. Thank you for giving me the chance to show off my build.
- Allan Jeffery -
I had hoped to get this finished by the end of the contest, but it was not to be. I lost the aerial and couldn't build or find a replacement before going on the family vacation. I'm posting it up anyway and hope you all can invisage it with the aerial mast in place.
 The kit is Hasegawa built OOB, using mainly Tamiya acrylics through an Iwata a/b. The lightening bolt was a little "see through" and (to me) spoiled the overall look.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 005 - DIZZYFUGU

1:72 Nakajima A6M2-N ('Rufe') of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Air Service, 81st Kokutai; Aleutian Islands, 1943 (modified LS Model kit)


The kit and its assembly:
This is a real world model, despite the weird looks (see below), and “built on purpose” as an entry for the Arawasi blog's "Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 005 - Japanese Seaplanes & Flying Boats" contest in summer 2017. Even though whifs were allowed to enter, I used the opportunity to build a kit I had originally bought for a few bucks and stashed away in the donor bank: a vintage LS Model Nakajima A6M2-N, an aircraft I have been wanting to build for decades but never found the right occasion and motivation. The stars were right now!
The kit’s moulds date back to 1963(!), and this A6M2-N model was re-issued several times, also under the ARII label. You get a tiny box, with only two sprues moulded in a pale baby blue, and the number of parts is minimal. It's truly vintage and pretty toylike at first sight. Consequently, you have to face some real old-school issues, e. g. moulded markings for the roundels on the wings, general mediocre fit of anything and lots of sinkholes and flash. Then there are toylike solutions like the single-piece propeller or separate, moveable ailerons with bulging joints.
The cockpit interior is non-existent, too: there's just a blank place for a dashboard (to be cut out from the printed BW instructions!), a spindly pilot figure which is held in mid air by some pins. Furthermore, the kit was designed to take a small electric motor in the nose (sold separately) to drive the propeller. Wires, as well as respective internal ducts, and an external AA battery holder are included.

Sounds scary? Well, maybe, if you just build it OOB and do not like the inherent challenges. All these flaws should not keep the ambitious modeler away, because the LS Model kit is (still) a sound basis to start from, even though and by today's standards, it is certainly not a match-winner for a rivet counter-esque competition.
For its age and the typical solutions of its time, it is actually surprisingly good: you get very fine engraved surface details (more delicate than many contemporary moulds!), a pretty thin, three-piece clear (yet blurry) canopy which can actually be displayed well in open and/or closed position, and, as a bonus to the elevons, there are separate flaps, too – a unique detail I have never come across before! Proportions are IMHO good, even though the cowling looks a bit blunt, and the engravings are rather soft and shallow. Anyway, on the exterior, there’s basically anything you can ask for, and as another bonus the kit comes with a beaching trolley, which makes display and diorama fitting easier.
Thanks to the kit's simplicity, the build in itself was pretty straightforward and simple. Cleaning the parts and checking fit was the biggest issue. Upon gluing the old styrene showed signs of serious reaction to the dissolving effect of modern glue: it took ages for the material to cure and become hard again for further work!? Weird…
Overall fit is mediocre, at best. You get small gaps everywhere, many sinkholes and overall displacements, which had to be corrected with some NC putty/PSR. No major killer flaw, though. The protruding elevon/flap joints under the wings were sanded away as good as possible, and due to the wobbly nature of the kit’s styrene I added small blobs of 2C putty inside of the wing halves in order to stabilize them.
Some mods and improvements were made, though. After cleaning the OOB propeller from massive flash the piece turned out to be pretty usable, and it was put on a metal axis. A styrene tube adapter was added behind the relatively flat engine dummy, so that the prop could spin freely – for the later beauty pics, because no CG effect beats IMHO the real thing. A cockpit interior was created from scratch and donor parts, using the new Airfix A6M model's cockpit as benchmark. It’s not an exact replica, because not much would later be visible, but I wanted, as a minimum, “something” inside. For some of the finalized model’s beauty pics a separate/better pilot figure was used.
Under the wings, the hardpoints (missing in the OOB kit) were simulated with some bits of styrene and wire as shackles, but left empty. Under the stabilizer fin I added a lug(?), made from thin wire, too.
The elevons were fixed in place, the seams to the wings filled with white glue in order to conceal the gaps as good as possible. The flaps remained movable, though, adding life to the model.
The dolly was also taken more or less OOB, since it fits well. I just improved it with some sinkhole fillings, modified the wheels with hub caps and added a towing bar as well as cushions on the float stabilizers, made from paper tissue soaked with thinned white glue.


Painting and markings:
The reason why I settled for an A6M2-N is mostly the unique paint scheme which could be applied, while still being a real world model: a purple livery!
As far as I could find out, the A6M2-Ns initially carried an all-over IJN Grey livery, which was in late 1942 modified with dark green upper sides for a better concealment on the ground, and the Hinomaru received white edges for better contrast. Anyway, during the Aleutian campaign and more or less in between these two major standards, several aircraft must have received a special camouflage with lilac upper surfaces, and this model depicts such a machine, based on “urban myths” and various profiles but no color picture of such a machine as reliable and credible reference.
The sources I consulted, as well as pictures of finished A6M2-N models in similar livery, show a wide variety of shades and paint scheme layouts, though. Upper colors range from pale pink through more or less bright shades of purple to a pale, rusty-reddish brown (maybe primer?), while the undersides show a wide range of greys or even a light, deep blue. Some depictions of Aleutian A6M2-Ns as profile or model even show a uniform wraparound scheme! Choice is yours, obviously...
Because of the corny information basis I would not call the model “realistic”, rather a personal interpretation of the subject. I based my livery more or less on a profile by Michele Marsan, published in Aerei Modelismo Anno XII (March 1991). The unit information was taken from there, too – the only source that would provide such a reference.
My idea behind the livery and the eventual finish was that the machine once was fully painted in IJN Grey. Then, the violet upper color was added in the field, resulting in a slightly shaggy look and with the light grey shining through here and there in areas of higher wear, e. g. at the leading edges, cockpit area and some seams.
Painting started with an initial coat of aluminum under the floats, around the cockpit and on the leading edges. Then the undersides and some areas of the upper surfaces were painted with IJN grey. The latter is an individual mix of Humbrol 90 (Beige Green/RAF Sky) and a bit of 155 (Olive Drab, FS 34087). On top of that I added a thin primer layer of mauve (mix of ModelMaster’s Napoleonic Violet and Neutral Grey, Humbrol 176) on the still vacant upper surfaces – both as a preparation for the later weathering treatments (see below). Everything was done with brushes.

The following, basic lilac tone comes from Humbrol’s long-gone "Authentics" enamel line. The tin is probably 30 years old, but the content is still alive (and still has a distinctive, sour stench…)! I cannot identify the tone anymore with certainty, but I guess that it is 'HJ 4: Mauve N 9', one of the line’s Japanese WWII tones which was later not carried over to the standard tones, still available today.
Anyway, the color is a dull, rather greyish violet, relatively dark (a bit like RAF Ocean Grey), and it fits well as a camouflage tone on this specific model. Since there was no better alternative I could think of, except for an individual mix or garish, off-the-rack pop art tones, I went with it.
After overall basic painting was done and thoroughly cured, weathering started with a careful wet sand paper treatment, revealing some of the lower IJN Grey, violet and aluminum layers. While this appears messy, I found that the result looks more realistic than artificial weathering applied as paint effects on top of the basic paint.
The engine cowling was painted separately, with a mix of black and a little dark blue. The propeller received an aluminum spinner (Humbrol’s Matt Aluminum Metallizer), while the blades received aluminum front sides (Revell acrylics), and red brown (Humbrol 160) back sides. Two thin, red stripes decorate the propeller tips (Decals, left over from an AZ Model Ki-78, IIRC).
As a standard procedure, the kit received a light wash with thinned black ink, revealing the engraved panel lines, plus some post-shading in order to emphasize panels and add visual contrast and ‘drama’.
Decals and markings were improvised and come from the spares box, since I did not trust the vintage OOB decals - even though they are in so far nice that the sheet contains any major marking as well as a full set of letter so that an individual tail code could be created. Anyway, the model's real world benchmark did not carry any numeric or letter code, just Hinomaru in standard positions and a horizontal, white-and-red stripe on the fin.
The roundels actually belong to a JSDAF F-4EJ, some stencils come from a leftover Hobby Boss A6M sheet. The fin decoration was created with generic decal sheet material (TL Modellbau). Similar stuff was also used for the markings on the central float, as well as for the yellow ID markings on the inner wings' leading edges. I am just not certain whether the real aircraft carried them at all? But they were introduced together with the new green upper surfaces in late 1942, so that they appear at least plausible. Another argument in this marking‘s favor is that it simply adds even more color to the model!
The cockpit interior was painted in a light khaki tone (a mix of Humbrol 159 and 94), while the flaps' interior was painted with Aodake Iro (an individual mix of acrylic aluminum and translucent teal paint – an experiment that turned out well). Lacking good reference material, the beaching trolley became IJA Green, with some good weathering, dry-brushed silver on the edges and traces of rust here and there (created with artist acrylics).
Close to the (literal) finish line, some soot and oil stains were added with graphite and Tamiya's 'Smoke', and the kit finally received a coat of matt acrylic varnish (Italeri); to the varnish on the engine cover a little  gloss varnish (Revell) was added, for a slightly sheen finish.


In the end, quite a challenging build. Not a winner from the rivet counters’ point of view, and the livery is questionable. But this ‘Rufe’ is …different.
Concerning the LS Model kit as such, I must say that - despite its age of more than 50 years now - the A6M2-N model is still a worthwhile offer, if you invest some effort. Sure, there are certainly better 1:72 options available (e. g. the Hasegawa kit, its mould was created in 1995 and should be light years ahead concerning detail and fit. Not certain about the Revell/Frog and Jo-Han alternatives, though), but tackling this simple, vintage kit was fun in itself. And, based on what you get out of the little box, the result is not bad at all!
Beyond the technical aspects, I am also pleased with the visual result of the build. At first glance, this antiquity looks pretty convincing. And the disputable, strange lilac tone really makes this model outstanding. Even though I still wonder what might have been the rationale behind this tone? The only thing I could imagine is a dedicated scheme for missions at dusk/dawn, similar to the pink RAF recce Spitfires in early WWII? It would be plausible, though, since the A6M2-Ns were tasked with nocturnal reconnoitre and ground attack missions. I tried to reflect this in some of the beauty pics – and to a certain degree, the paint scheme it even works!
Dizzyfugu - Germany