Wednesday 30 September 2020

Artwork - Mizuno "Shinryu II" by Senshi-Isamu - Nipponki '46

Fantastic CG artwork by Senshi-Isamu depicting the very little known project-only Mizuno "Shinryu II".

"Camouflage of the 256th Kokutai."

"Camouflage of the 302nd Kokutai."

Saturday 26 September 2020

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" Royal Thai Airforce

In the summer of 1943, the Japanese Army gave "Hayabusa" fighters to the Royal Thai Airforce to help in the defence of the area. 24 of them were given to the 1st Hikodan. Upon arrival, the 15th Hiko Chutai was organised, equipped exclusively with these aircraft and was based at Don Muang airfield (Don Mueang) of Bangkok responsible for the air defence of the capital.
A number of "Hayabusa" were also given to the 16th Hiko Chutai based at Lampang in the North of Thailand as replacements to their older Nakajima Ki-27s "Nate".

A photo from a vintage publication showing a Japanese (left) and a Thai pilot discussing their flight route. Note the camouflage pattern.

Below is a short clip from the NHK collection showing the arrival of the new fighters at Don Muang and how the Thai markings were applied.

Here's a translation of the Japanese script.
"A white elephant flag is drawn on the tail. Let's intercept the enemy planes that are attacking Thailand and protect our skys by ourselves. Under the guidance of the brave soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army, Thai Air Force officers will work diligently to improve their flight skills with "Hayabusa" fighters and special training. They will join hands with Japan and fight together in the Greater East Asia War.
Enemy planes: come if you dare. With a series of enthusiastic training, the Thai defense camp is steadily getting stronger."

Note the different camouflage pattern with the aircraft in the top photo. The aircraft in the stills does not seem to have any previous unit markings.

A line-up of new "Hayabusa" being inspected by Japanese and Thai pilots. Note that the aircraft in the foreground seems to have a centrally attached drop tank.

The exhaust indicates that this is a Nakajima Ki-43 Model II and from the camouflage pattern we can conclude that it is probably the same aircraft in the two stills at the top.

I think this is the same "Hayabusa" with the one in the above stills. As you will notice in the clip, it has hinomaru on the wings. These were later erased and the Thai markings were applied together with camouflage.

Below are more photos of Thai "Hayabusa" fighters with Japanese and Thai pilots and crews.
The first photo is very similar to the one at the top of the page, so it's safe to assume it was taken about the same time.

The photo below is often reproduced, but most times in very bad quality. Note that the top camouflage continues a little under the wing leading edge. Also note the removed hinomaru and the Thai insignia painted over it. 

There are many illustrations of Thai "Hayabusa" on the net, most of very bad quality, and the camouflage pattern has been depicted very inaccurately.
Below is an illustration by Nohara Shigeru featured in Model Art #395. In my opinion, it shows fairly accurately the aircraft seen in the top and the photos above.

And below is an illustration by Koizumi Kazuaki included in an old Koku Fan issue, depicting the aircraft in the clip.

The above, only the stills, was originally posted in 2012 and received basically no reaction. Since then, the photos have been ofcourse "borrowed" by various blogs without any credit. Thank you guys for the support!

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Nakajima Ki-115 "Tsurugi" by Jan Kanov WIP#3 & finale

 It is my pleasure to announce the news from my office. I finally found the courage to repair the cracked chassis parts of my "Tsurugi" model. And I can be proud that it worked.

Jan Kanov - South Bohemia

Previous WIPS, here and here

Saturday 19 September 2020

Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" - video

A video clip today featuring the production line of Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" seaplanes. The clip is split in two because of limitation by blogger.

The narrator explains:
"One of the systems to mass produce aircraft is the "takt system". It's a way to divide the production into several steps and move them forward all at once for a limited time, as is done in the Navy's aviation yard. This system assures that every day a certain production quantity will be achieved with increased efficiency. At 10:40, it is time to move forward all at once. The "takt system" comes to a halt if even one person shows slacking in their work. Therefore, each and every one of us must be aware of ourselves as a nation and work our machines with respect for our responsibilities. This is the Japanese "takt system"."

The narrator continues:
"However, it is not enough to produce aircraft in quantity. In terms of quality, it is necessary to surpass American aircraft. The Japanese "takt system" can destroy the enemy, the United States and Britain, both in quantity and quality. From parts to finish, the simultaneous progress is bound to show great results.
Far offshore, the day of distinguished military service is near and the observation aircraft are lined up."

The clips are a smorgasmatron of aircraft details following the various stages of production. I will stop only on the application of fuselage hinomaru.

Regarding the "takt system", I found that it reffers to "takt time", a manufacturing term that "was borrowed from the German word Taktzeit, meaning 'cycle time'. The word was likely introduced to Japan by German engineers in the 1930s." Check the wiki link for more details.

Also: "Takt time first was used as a production management tool in the German aircraft industry in the 1930s. It was the interval at which aircraft were moved ahead to the next production station. The concept was widely utilized within Toyota in the 1950s and was in widespread use throughout the Toyota supply base by the late 1960s."

Check also this link and you will understand the usage of the bugle.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Artwork - Twin "Raiden" by Jimbowyrick1 - Nipponki '46

 It's been quite some years since we last posted some "what-if" artwork, we call on this blog "Nipponki '46". I recently spotted on deviant art a nice idea by Jimbowyrick1, here

The project is part of a whole what-if war scenario and the artist explains:

Ve-Mi J33-33 Twin Raiden
Illustration for the up-coming KZK* 1/32nd scale Veeblefitzer-Mitsubishi Ve-Mi J33 "Twin Raiden" series.
Depicted, ascending outrageously fast, such as about 400 mph, going up, at a 30 deg' angle, is the ship belonging to Group Captain Tofu Maru, of the famous 8th Naval Kingdom of Japan Air Forces, based in Outdonesia, a small state of Indonesia, during those horrible years, of the War in the Pacific.
Professor Anton Veeblefitzer, seeing the potential of welding multiple engines and a couple of aircraft, together, dreamed up this insanity, the Veeblefitzer-Mitsubichi Twin Raiden!
The mad Prof' started by taking four Mitsubishi Kase-23 radial engines, each rated at 1,820 max hp. He welded two together, front-to-back, creating a single engine that could produce 3,640 max hp (!).  These two monsters were bolted to the fronts of two standard Mitsubishi J2M Raiden fuselages, and then a stout center-wing connected the two. This arrangement gave the prototype a total of 10,480 max hp (!!!!).
Maximum speed was, before disintegrating from extreme air stresses, 567 mph (!!!!).
Armament, for most production versions, titled Veeblefitzer-Mitsubishi J33 2-to-33 series, "Twin Raiden (Thunderbolt)" was 10 x Ho-7b 20 mm cannon. Six weapons were wing mounted, and four located above the forward fuselage. External stores could range from rockets to bombs, fuel cells. The small cylinder beneath the center wing is a sophisticated radar/computer that is able to automatically fire the cannon, and/or the rockets and bombs, when the aircraft is in a near-perfect position to score reliable hits.
This capability was essential in helping the KOJ, and her allies, keep the wicked BCE air forces at bay.  The rate of attrition, during the War in the Pacific, was horrific, for both sides.  The average life span, for ALL combatant air crews was usually 2.5 weeks ..., at Best.
The new aiming system improved successful results by 72.3 % and helped to result in the KOJ surviving that terrible slaughter: The Battle of Komodo Island.
Critical areas had armor plate and fire extinguishers were abundant.  
Ferry range, unloaded, was 3,000 miles. A set of tough rubber fuel bladders filled the area behind the engine on the left fuselage providing exhaustive amounts of pure-as-the-driven-snow, 280 Octane fuel!  
And the Japanese loved to decorate their craft, with Kabuki mask images, etc.

Although there are various details that don't sit well with historical Japanese aircraft, the whole idea is not that impossible. It reminds me a lot of a couple "Kogiken" plans for twin fighters or reconnaissance aircraft designs. A twin "Raiden" could perform as a heavy interceptor, with heavy cannon armament and even air-to-air rockets. Difficult to see it in the bomber role, though. 
I think I will try to build a kit. I'm inspired!

Sunday 13 September 2020

Kayaba Ka-Go & IJAAF Autogyros

19 years ago (!!!) Keith Walker recommended a video in the comments section of a blog post and unfortunately it went overlooked. With the current overhaul I rediscovered it and I'm now presenting this fascinating video mix of various short clips featuring Kayaba Ka-Go and other IJAAF autogyros. Video source is HERE.

There are very very few books specifically on the Japanese autogyros. The classic is this one:

Title: "Rikugun Ka-Go Kansokuki" (Army Ka-Go Observation Plane)
Author: Tamate Eiji
Published by: Kojinsha 2002 h/b, in-print?
Pages: 356, Size: 20X14cm, Photos: 114 b/w, Illustrations: 19

A SUPERB book on the Kayaba Ka-Go. Fantastic photos, many never published anywhere else, detailed manufacturer's illustrations and a small section on the building of a model in 1/24. The best book on the type. Text is all in Japanese.

A few years ago, Dai Nippon Kaiga released this book:

Title: "Nihon Rikugun no Koku Bokan" (The Aircraft Carriers of The Imperial Japanese Army) 
Author: Okumoto Go
Published by: Dai Nippon Kaiga, 2011, p/b, in print
Pages: 128, Size: 30X21, Photos: 120, CG Illustrations: Watanabe Atsushi, Drawings: Okumoto Go 

It's a nice publication but the focus is exactly on what the title says: IJA Carriers. Very few autogyro photos, none new, and about a dozen very nice Ki-76 photos which unfortunately are presented more as an afterthought than a subject of main interest. The all-in-Japanese text doesn't help at all either. 

Below is our original 2011 post.
There are very few photos of this autogyro inspired by the Kellet KD-1A and built by Kayaba.
This one is the Kayaba Ka-go 2 with a Jakobs L-4 M A-7 air-cooled, seven-cylinder engine.
The story goes like this: the IJAAF imported a Kellet KD-1A from the States for evaluation. Unfortunately it was damaged during trials and the Army gave it to Kayaba to repair it. Kayaba installed a Jacobs engine and produced one more experimental test machine designated Ka-2. It was found to be very satisfactory and the Army decided to put it into mass production as the Ka-1 but with a different engine; an Argus As 10c eight-cylinder.
It served as artillery spotter and, according to a Japanese reference, with the 107 Sentai.
It also served in the anti-submarine role equipped with depth charges from the Army aircraft carrier Akitsu Maru. The first in the world to do so.
Those who have the Francillon volume will notice some differences with the text above.   

Thursday 10 September 2020

Rising Decals - Donryu

Is it X-mas already?! I received this week a great box from Miroslav Kárník from "Rising Decals" with plenty of goodies. Thank you Mirek!!!

In the box there was a new decal set on the Nakajima Ki-49 "Donryu" (Helen), in 1/72, with markings for nine different camouflage schemes.
Here's the instruction sheet.

Of particular interest is the last "Donryu" with the Hamamatsu School marking.
There are two photos of this aircraft, from here.

It's a mysterious aircraft but I think there are four possibilities:
1. suicide aircraft. If that's the case there would be oppenings for the contact rods like "Lily" had. Or the nose would be solid like on the "Hiryu" of the "Fugaku Tokubetsu Kogekitai" with no need to paint the nose windows. Also, most probably the rear gunner positions would had been faired over to save weight.

2. decoy. If it was a decoy, the wheels, the whole landing gear and the engines would have been removed to be used as spares for other aircraft. It doesn't add up to leave so many precious reusable parts on a decoy.

3. night or anti-submarine missions. Perhaps some short of radar was installed in the nose and needed to have all the metal in the nose replaced. The nose cover doesn't look to be very hard. Francillon mentions that some "Donryu" had a search light on the nose but there is no reason to remove completely the windows, replace them with something more solid and then repaint them. 

4a. transport. This is a more probable suggestion but there would be no need to remove the nose windows and replace them with something solid then paint them again. "Donryu" as transports carried stuff in the fuselage, in the area from behind the pilot until (about) the tail. The nose gunner would be needed to protect the plane in such transport missions.

4b. transport for the "Giretsu" or other suicide paratroop mission. The "Giretsu" used specially modified aircraft for their mission, most of them from Hamamatsu. This is even more probable as the aircraft would need to carry as many troops as possible. Note that the dorsal cannon turret has added exterior metal protection to protect the gunner from shots fired from below, i.e. ground. Perhaps the nose was replaced with something that could be kicked out so that attack troops would be able to quickly get out from there. 

For me, 4b is the most possible.
A LOT more about the "Giretsu" mission and their aircraft in our forthcoming "Sally" Eagle Eye!

Another "Donryu" in the sheet is enitled:
"Ki-49-IIb, unknown unit  Marang airfield, Malaya, August 1945."
And it is speculated as belonging to 161 Yuso Hikotai.
One of the most famous Japanese aviation artists, Kaiho Hideichi, has created the following piece featuring a Tachikawa Ki-54b "Hickory" with the same tail marking.
And he says that the unit is the "16 Kyoiku Hikotai". So, there you have it. Another totally unknown and unrecorded unit marking has been identified. I'll try to find more about the unit and will post here.

Yet another interesting "Donryu" in the decal set is this one.
It's a fairly well known aircraft, but unfortunately when high resolution images are not available, inaccuracies are inevitable.
The overall tail marking of the aircraft is far more interesting and complex, with a red "sakura" (cherry blossom) with a white center, painted under the "51 Kyoiku Hikoshidan" "kaminari" (thunderbolt) marking.
I have asked the late Akimoto Minoru-sensei for his thoughts and he was genuinely puzzled. He had seen the photos of this aircraft many times before but not in high resolution and had never noticed the "sakura". He also had no idea about the possible unit with the "sakura" marking.

ALSO, this month the blog is undergoing a massive overhaul. More than 1400 posts are too difficult to cotrol and some posts will be deleted, others will be corrected, merged and expanded. Those with dead video links will be reposted. There will also be many more "labels" to make it easier to find things.
So, stay tunned!