Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" free flight model by Doug Beardsworth

I wanted to share some photos of my "Shoki", which will be making its first contest debut later this month. The model was built from a heavily edited Diels engineering laser-cut kit. The "Shoki" is a very challenging Free flight subject, due to its very short nose and small wing. The short nose means that achieving the necessary balance point will mean adding a fair amount of dead-weight ballast to the nose. And then the small wing area means there are fewer square inches of lifting area to carry the all-up weight of the ship and ballast with its rubber motor. I’ve changed the construction from using 1/16” square stock to smaller 1/20” square stock for the fuselage stringers, and stabilizer and fin/ rudder construction. And the dihedral and stabilizer’s area have both been increased in order to improve lateral and pitch stability. 
To my mind, the "Shoki" appears more like an air racer rather than a dog fighter. It is essentially a big radial engine attached to a small airframe with a comparatively small wing. In my opinion, it “looks fast” and that fin and rudder extending well past the stabilizer only adds to the effect. And from what I’ve read, it was employed in combat in the manner of a fast, swooping and diving attacking  airplane. 
The ship is covered with Esaki Japanese tissue, and the translucent silver color was sprayed on with multiple, highly thinned coats of nitrate dope with some silver enamel added. All of the markings are cut from colored tissue or hand painted.
I have not created a spinner for this bird as yet. That will be completed once I find the correct propeller diameter and pitch that gives the best flights. So the prop is a bit provisional until I get the flight qualities dialed in. 

- Doug Beardsworth -

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Heads up!

Another very interesting release from RS Models; Manshu Ki-79 single-seat or double-seat trainers in 1/48!

The kit comes with four paint scheme and decal options.
1. Ki-79 Ko, 17. Kyoiku Hikotai, Japan, April 1945
2. Ki-79 Otsu, Red Army of China, 1946

3. Ki-79 Ko, 1th Yasen Hojyu Hikotai, Sembawang, Singapore, August 1945
4. Ki-79 Otsu, unidentifed training unit captured by Sovier troops at Mukden, China, August 1945

A nice looking kit I would definitely like to get.  

Thanks Jan for the heads-up!

Monday, 24 May 2021

Nakajima J9N2-S "Kikka" by Dizzyfugu

1:72 Nakajima J9N2-S “Kikka” (橘花), aircraft “(51-)03” of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s 251st Kokutai; Kumamoto airfield (Kyushu, Japan), early 1946 (Whif/modified AZ Models kit)

The kit and its assembly:
This is a J9N two-seater from AZ Models – it is the trainer boxing but converted into a fictional night fighter. The AZ Models kit is a simple affair, but that's also its problem. In the box things look quite good, detail level is on par with a classic Matchbox kit. But unlike a Matchbox kit, the AZ Models offering does not go together well. I had to fight everywhere with poor fit, lack of locator pins, ejection marks, anything a short run model kit can throw at you! What worked surprisingly well was the clear IP canopy, though, which I cut into five sections for an optional open display. However, I am not certain if the kit’s designers had put some brain into their work because the canopy’s segmentation becomes more and more dubious the further you go backwards: the rear hatch is only pygmy size at best!
Personal mods include a slightly changed armament, with one nose gun deleted and faired over with a piece of styrene sheet, while the leftover gun was moved to the left flank, firing obliquely. I initially considered a central position behind the canopy but rejected this because of CoG reasons. Then I planned to mount it directly behind the 2nd seat, so that the barrel would protrude through the canopy’s last segment, but this appeared unrealistic because the (utterly tiny) sliding canopy for the rear crewman could not have been opened anymore? Finally, I settled for the offset position in the aircraft’s flanks, partly inspired by “Schräge Musik” arrangements on some German Fw 190 night fighters. The antenna array comes from a Jadar Model PE set for Italeri’s Me 210s – chosen on the basis of descriptions of the FD-2 radar that was used on other Japanese night fighters of the late WWII era.

Painting and markings:
This became rather lusterless, with the intention of a realistic look and feel for this what-if model. Many late IJN night fighters carried a uniform dark green livery with minimalistic, toned-down markings, including hinomaru without a white high-contrast edge. Just the yellow ID bands on the wings’ leading edges were retained.
For this scheme the model received an overall basis coat of Humbrol 75 (Bronze Green), later treated with a black ink washing, post-shaded with lighter shades of dark green (including Humbrol 116 and Revell 67) and some dry-brushed aluminum. The only colorful highlight is a red fin tip (Humbrol 19) and a thin red stripe underneath (decal). The yellow and white ID bands were created with generic decal material (TL Modellbau).
The cockpit interior was painted in a yellowish-green primer (trying to simulate a typical “bamboo” shade that was used in some late-war IJN cockpits), while the landing gear wells were painted in aodake iro, a clear bluish protective lacquer. The landing gear struts themselves became semi-matt black.
The markings are fictional and were puzzled together from various sources. The hinomaru came from the AZ Models’ Kikka single seater sheet (it offers six roundels w/o white edge), the tactical code on the fin was created with red numbers from a Fujimi Aichi B7A2 Ryusei. Stencils and victory markings come from a PrintScale 1:72 Mitsubishi J2M sheet.
Finally, the simple model received a coat of matt acrylic varnish and some grinded graphite around the jet exhausts and the gun nozzles.

- Dizzyfugu - 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory"

Two photos today from the Arawasi collection featuring Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory" trainers.
First up is a Ki-54Koh belonging to the "Rikugun Koku Tsushin Gakko" (Army Aviation Communication School). More about the school, here.

The second photo is a very often reproduced one featuring a Ki-54Otsu but here you can find it in better quality.
There is a "Sally" bomber in the background on the right and the other aircraft has tail marking indicating that it belonged to the "Mito Rikugun Hiko Gakko" (IJAAF Aviation School in Mito). So probably this "Hickory" belonged to the same school too.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Japanese Ryan NYP

In 1927 Osaka Mainichi Shimbun purchased a sample, the 11th aircraft of the newspaper, and received the civilian register J-BACC. It was employed as a communications aircraft until 1937.
On April 27, 1928, pilot Haneta Fumio loaded the plane with enough gasoline for a 20h flight and took off from Kakamigahara airfield, Gifu Prefecture, at 05:02. He flew in an eastern direction, over Hamamatsu, Hakone, Tokorozawa, Sendai, then turned south, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Osaka, then continued until Takamatsu, and finally returned to Osaka where he landed at the Army parade grounds, at 18:25. He flew for 13h23min, a distance of 2,100km, a record flight. He wanted to fly for more and had enough fuel, but at that time night landings were extremely dangerous. So, basically he flew from early in the morning until darkness fell.

Here's a close-up on the tail marking.

Below are two photos from Model Art 420 and Nihon Koku-shi, showing the Ryan in its later overall scheme, which was, purpotedly, brown around the cowling with light blue fuselage. 

Friday, 14 May 2021

Help needed!

If you have a copy of the book "Air War for Burma: The Allied Air Forces Fight Back in South-East Asia 1942-1945" by Christopher Shores, please email me at:

I have what I need now. A big "thank you" to everybody who offered to help. 👍Greatly appreciated.

Although this would fit better in a forum, here's the problem I have.
We are finishing one of the last chapters of our forthcoming "Sally - BR.20" Eagle Eye and we can find very little information from the Allied side about a particular incident.

The subject is "Operation Crimpson", the attack of the British Pacific Fleet against the Japanese installations on the small Sabang Island (Weh Island), on July 25, 1944.
A small detachment of three Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" bombers from the 62 Sentai were stationed at the IJNAF airfield of the island. They were contacting anti-submarine patrols in the Indian Ocean and on July 25, when the British fleet showed up, one "Sally" flown by Capt Hiasa was out on patrol. Never returned to base.
I have found that four pilots (Lt. M.K. Munnock, Sub.Lts N. Brynildsen, F.C.Starkey and K. Seebeck) from the 1830 Squadron based on the HMS Illustrious claimed a "Sally" shot down at 09:30.
According to a message from a IJN watchtower, Hiasa was attacked and tried to crash his plane against an enemy submarine which he "sunk". 
Question: Are there any records or reports or memoirs, perhaps from the British pilots, saying something about the shooting down of the "Sally"?

After the bombardment was over, another "Sally" flown by 1Lt Oono, took off, and very near the airstrip located an enemy submarine which he bombed and claimed to have sunk.
There were two submarines in the British fleet during Operation Crimpson: HMS Templar and HMS Tantalus. Both seem to have come out unscathed from the operation.
Question: Is there any information regarding these attacks against the British submarines?

Unfortunately, focusing exclusively on the Japanese side of events, has left me with very few sources from the Allied side. I hoped to find something in the Shores book, but unfortunately very little is mentioned. 
If you have more information, please leave a comment or email me in the above addresses. Any help is really very appreciated.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Japanese Airspeed Envoy #2

Photos today of Japanese Airspeed Envoys. Check part #1 for more general information.

J-BDBO, was imported by Mitsubishi, AS.6A, C/n 42, Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engines. Operated by Nippon Koku Yuso (NKYKK) from Osaka airport, seen in the photo.
On September 18, 1935, it was based in Kwantung and changed its registration to J-EDBO.

J-BDCO, has a similar history with the aircraft above and also operated from Osaka. AS.6, C/n 43, Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engines, original British register was G-ADCC.
Was based in Kwantung from the same date as J-BDBO and changed registration to J-EDCO.

A colorized version of the same photo.
J-BDAO, was again one of the six aircraft imported by Mitsubishi. AS.6, C/n 38, Wolseley Aries Mk.III engines.
Was roginally based in Tokyo, but moved to Kwantung and changed registration to J-EDAO.
It is a more colourful Envoy with the red line on the fuselage sides.

J-BAOS, was built by Mitsubishi, C/n 8, Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engines. It was operated by NKYKK and was originally based in Tokyo.
Flew in the Seoul - Chongjin line from October 1 until November 30, 1938 and changed registration to J-DAOS.  

Our friend Jacob Terlouw sent over a colorized postcard of J-BAOS from his private collection. Thanks!
Photo taken at Tokyo's Haneda airport. In the background are hangars of NKYKK. Note the airline logo and the "air girl" posing next to the aircraft. 

In case you didn't know, back then, the female flight crew members in Japan were called "air girls". Personally, I think it's far cuter and relatable than the horribly impersonal "flight / cabin attendant" (a person who attends, takes care of the flight or the cabin; not the passengers) or "stewardess" (in-flight female waiter). Even the British "air host / hostess" is far far better.
In modern Japanese the formal and official word is "客室乗務員"(kyakushitsujomuin), a mouthful that nobody in their right mind would ever use, especially in an emergency case. So the american "キャビンアテンダント" (kyabin atendanto) is the most common.
In Greek it's "αεροσυνοδός" (aerosinodos) that can be translated as "air escort" (the person who escorts the passengers during their flight). Sounds quite okay in Greek but very creepy in English.
How are the "air hostesses" called in your language?

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Heads Up!

Heads Up! first from our friend Jan Kanov for two new releases from RS Models, both in 1:72.

including markings for J-BDEO

including markings for J-BACC

Thank you also to our friend Harold K for reminding us the forthcoming release of Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory" from Special Hobby, also in 1/72.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

302 Kokutai - Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" (Jack) - video Pt.1

The last video in the NHK news series features the 302 Kokutai (San Maru Futa Kokutai) of the IJNAF and the Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" fighters they flew. We present the video in two parts due to size limitations.

The video starts:
"The "Raiden" Flighter Unit of the "Sea Wild Eagles" spread their wings over the mainland, shooting down an uncountable number of B-29s"

Then it follows with the "Raiden" song. Here are the lyrics in Japanese, Romaji and our English translation. 

呼べよ瑞雲 富士に射す
Yobeyo Zuiun  Fuji ni sasu 
Call the Auspicious Cloud, wrapped around Fuji-san

旭陽浴びて 羽ばたけば
Kyokuyo abite  Habatakeba
Bathe in the sunshine, flap your wings

醜夷の翼 挑むとも
Shuui no tsubasa Idomu tomo
Challenge the ugly wings of the enemy

皇土守らん 若桜
Kodo mamoran  Wakazakura
Protect our Imperial land, young cherry blossoms

我等 雷電戦闘機隊
Warera Raiden sentokitai
We are the "Raiden" Fighter Unit

全機進発 振る旗は
Zenki shinpai  Furu hata wa
All the aircraft are taking off, waving flags

興廃懸けし Z旗ぞ
Kohai kakeshi Z-ki zo
The rise and fall of the Z-flag

撃墜マーク 輝かし
Gekitsui maaku  Kagayakashi
Kill markings shine

疾風をまいて 征く愛機
Hayate o maite  Yuku aiki
Throwing up a gale of wind,  (our) beloved fighters take off  

我等 雷電戦闘機隊
Warera  Raiden sentokitai
We are the "Raiden" Fighter Unit


見たり敵曳く 飛行機雲
Mitari teki hiku  Hikoki gumo
Looking at the contrails of the enemy airplanes

巻雲裂きて 益荒男が
Kenun sakite  Masurao ga
Rip the cirrus clouds, brave men 

まなじり高く 襲いゆき
Manajiri takaku  Osoi yuki
In high spirits, we attack the enemy

衝くは疾風か  稲妻か
Tsuku wa Hayate ka  Inazuma ka
Hitting like a gale or thunder

我等 雷電戦闘機隊
Warera Raiden sentokitai
We are the "Raiden" Fighter Unit


弾幕衝いて 突撃す
Danmaku tsuite  Totsugeki su
Oppose a barrage, attack

降下反転 必殺の
Koka hanten  Hissatsu no
Dive and turn over, (strike a) deadly blow

機銃轟然 火を吐けば 
Kiju sozen  Hi wo hakeba
The roaring machine gun, spitting fire

燃えて墜ち行く ボーイング
Moete ochiyuku  Boingu
Shooting down burning Boeings

我等 雷電戦闘機隊
Warera Raiden sentokitai
We are the "Raiden" Fighter Unit

At 0:30 we can see a J2M3 Model 21 with tail marking "ヨD - 1164". The particular aircraft was flown by NAP1/C Sasazawa Hitoshi when the 302Ku was based in Kanoya. On April 28-29 shot down one B-29 and damaged four more. It made an emergency landing in Miyazaki base, Miyazaki Prefecture, and was damaged beyond repair. 
The kanji under the tail marking was the name of the maintenance group leader responsible for this aircraft.

The life vest of a pilot, probably NAP1/C Murakami ? and under it says "Raiden".

At 01:04 the shout "KEREI!" (salute!) can be heard, followed by "NAORE!" (at ease!)...

...and Hikotai-cho (unit leader) LT Yamada Kushichiro, calls the pilots and is giving a speech:
"The mission of our fighter unit is extremely important. We have to protect the industrial areas that manufacture aircraft, weapons, ammunition, the transportation network and the warehouses that store them. We have to protect these places from the bombing of the enemy. This is our mission now. Therefore, everyone must do their outmost to knock down all our enemies, flying these brilliant "Raiden" aircraft."

Yamada Kushichiro was orginally a floatplane pilot who flew "Rufe" during the Aleutian Campaign and shot down one P-38, check HERE.
He is the pilot in this photo, from KFI#96, and he's sometimes mistaken for a non-Japanese.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate", 58th Shimbu-tai by Danilo Renzulli

This is the classic 1/72 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-84 still holds well despite its age - at least in terms of construction and proper fit. The model depicts a subject from the 58th Shimbu-tai and has suffered from some issues with its finish due to the poor quality of more recent Humbrol paints so I had to remove the paint while trying to preserve the interiors arranged with CMK cockpit set and Yahu instrument panel. The original canopy has been replaced by the excellent one from Rob Taurus. The built-in gills have been carved out  and replaced with ones coming from a Tamiya F4U kit adding new exhaust stacks from plasticard rods. The u/c legs received the break lines using copper wire and tiny strappings made out of thin aluminium sheet. The landing light resulted somewhat messy as I missed to note it has been surprisingly ignored in this model - when I realized it I had to arrange something well after having already sprayed the olive-brown. The model has been duly riveted although little is visible after primer and paint coats.
After spraying the Tamiya primer I tried to replicate the elusive olive brown finish with a mix of Mr. Color paints over locally applied Alclad aluminium masked with the "salt tecnique" to obtain some chipping effects. The tail insignia and numeral are the kind present of Michael Furry (laser cut masks) and George Eleftheriou (decals). Hinomaru have been sprayed with the help of Maketar masks. I didn't apply any final varnish on the model. I added the position lights using small drops of coloured Crystal Clear and added a new pitot tube made out of telescopic brass tube 0.5 to 0.3mm. Finally, for the first time I used small disc masks to paint the wheels discs. The mask was obtained by using a punch of proper diameter from a set I recently purchased on Amazon site. I suggest the use of these punches as they come in a kit of sizes from 0.5 to 6mm that turn very useful under several respects i.e cutting small disc masks, rear view mirrors, landing lights, inspection doors, ect. - I even obtain the microscopic glass for aiming device - These punches can be used with materials such as paper, thin plastic or aluminium sheet, frisket, Bare-Metal foil, etc. One thing has been left unfinished - the wheel wells colour as I didn't decide yet which colour I have to finish them (silver, aotake, ect...?). 
Suggestions are welcome, thank you.

- Danilo Renzulli -