Tuesday 25 April 2023

Questions - Manchukuoan Air Force pt.2

Let's continue with more MAF aircraft.
Kawasaki Ki-32 "Mary". AModel has released two kits in 1/72 and there is a small number of older kits by Merlin, AV USK, FERESIN, Wings and others; none with MAF markings. AFAIK only TriAngle has ever released a kit in 1/48, again no MAF markings. A great pity for such a beautiful and so horribly overlooked aircraft type.
Kora has released a set in 1/72. The markings are correct but the "KA" Ki-32 should not have its rudder in yellow.

Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate". Here we have a good number of kits in various scales. In 1/72 there are kits by Mania, Hasegawa and ICM but only RS has released a kit exclusively for MAF.
Unfortunately, the tail marking is incorrect. There should be a "1" inside the circle on the tail. It is a common mistake everybody did until our book was released when we showed exactly what the tail marking of the 1st Hikotai of the MAF looked like. Until then, the main source was this poor-quality photo where few details were visible.
Note of course the 104 Sentai Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" (Frank) in the background and the Tachikawa Ki-9 "Spruce" next to the gokoku MAF "Nate".

The most accurate decals are from Rising, but, apart from the bad tail marking, the Axis decal set is also useful, see previous post.
Lifelike has included one gokoku MAF "Nate" in its 72-034 set.
Correct but I find the blue of the roundel too dark for my taste.   
There is also the fairly new Print Scale set, also with one gokoku "Nate".
But what possessed them to depict the blue of the roundel as purple is beyond me.  
Kora has released two sets of decals in 1/72, accurate, but the blue of the roundel is too dark and the yellow too lemony. A matter of taste I guess.

In 1/48 Hasegawa has released two MAF kits with the old and marvellous Mania kit inside.
The first kit, #09433, has accurate decals. 

The second kit, 09512, has inaccurate tail markings for the 1st Hikotai but the second decal option is accurate and recommended.
Note that Hasegawa uses "Manchoukuo" instead of "Manchukuo". The name of the "country" had always appeared in many different versions, the funkiest been "Manchutikuo".

Aeromaster has included decals in its set.
Unfortunately, again, the 1st Hikotai tail marking is inaccurate and, to make matters worse, the gokoku inscription is unintelligible: these are not accurate kanji characters, just shapes of whatever the artist could see in the above-mentioned photo.

Finally, I discovered yesterday this decal set; here
The tail marking is a nice April Fool's joke!, but I like a lot the colors of the roundels.
Kora has released 2-3 decal sets in 1/48, all accurate.

In 1/32 there is the Special Hobby kit, without MAF decal options but there is a Kora set in that big scale.

Moving on to Nakajima Ki-43"Hayabusa" (Oscar). 
In 1/72 there is the new Special Hobby kit with the terrible MAF roundels. NOT RECOMMENDED!

Print Scale has included a MAF "Hayabusa" in one of its sets.
Note again the purple in the roundel. It's not that their printer had issues with the blue color. The French roundels and markings have a fairly good blue color. I think they chose to make the roundel line purple. Why? Just a look at the Wiki page would clearly show them what the roundel looked like. Meeehhh...

Fine Molds has released TWO kits. An older, FA12, and a newer one, FB-9. 
There are differences in the decal sets. (Sorry for the missing piece. I'm building one.)
Be careful! Some Fine Molds instruction sheets depict the roundels placed incorrectly.
As with the "Nate", the roundel lines should be perpendicular to the aircraft's centre line, not follow the panel lines. 

In 1/32, Hasegawa has released a kit, 08150, but as with Fine Molds, the instructions place the roundels incorrectly. 

Aeromaster has released two decal sets with MAF markings, in 1/72 (72-018) and 1/48 (48-011). In this case, they are very accurate and highly recommended. In my eyes, Aeromaster has the best colors for the MAF roundels.

Kora has released decal sets for the MAF "Oscars" in various scales.

There is one MAF "Hayabusa" photo, from the Kikuchi Collection, that has been puzzling everybody since it first appeared in print in 1972. No other photos of this particular aircraft have ever surfaced.

The "lines" on the tail have been depicted as blue or red, but if that was the case, the tail would either look like a Nationalist China aircraft

or a US aircraft.
Both are big no-nos as markings for Japanese aircraft. The most plausible explanation is that the rudder skeleton is showing through. We clearly explained that in our book, but of course this hasn't prevented Kora and other decal companies from releasing sets with red or blue stripes to be placed on the tails. 

Moving on to the Kawasaki Ki-45 "Toryu" flown by the MAF. Hasegawa has released a kit, 00851, in 1/72 and that's all.
Kora has released accurate decal sets in 1/72 and 1/48.
If you want to be super accurate with your MAF "Toryu", though, especially in larger scales, you should include a removed fuselage hinomaru, showing through the camouflage. 

Kora has also released decals for MAF Ki-44 "Shoki" but no photos have ever surfaced, so we don't know what they looked like.
Another Kora decal set is for MAF Manshu Ki-98s!!! Completely what-if and utterly BS! As if the Japanese would give to the MAF examples of their latest, most advanced fighter. Yeah, right. Let's slap MAF roundels to all Japanese X-planes and call them what-ifs. How about a MAF "Fugaku" Kora? Why not?

Anyway, to wrap this up, I think there are plenty of kits and decal sets for MAF aircraft, some more difficult to find, some less so. 
Arawasi does not recommend any of the decal sets released by Kora but it's really up to you if you want to support them. 
Always spend a moment or two to confirm the decal sets depict the colours of the roundels correctly, red, blue, white, black and yellow, and be careful how you place them on your models.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Questions - Manchukuoan Air Force pt.1

After the recent Special Hobby Manchukuo "Hayabusa" crush, Kevin Lawton asked: "So does anyone produce the correct decals??"
I think it's high time to do a special on the Manshu Kokugun Hikotai or Manchukuoan Air Force (MAF) and what modelling options are and aren't available.

Since there is often confusion regarding the terminology, let's begin by making clear that Manchuria is an obsolete geographical name of present-day northeast China. The term "Manchurian Air Force" would refer to the one under the command of Chinese warlords Chang Tso-lin or his son Chang Hsueh-liang and even include all the Japanese Army Air units stationed there. 
Manchukuo was the vassal state created by the Japanese in 1932, with its own air force and civilian airline, supposedly independent from the Japanese command. Wiki has a page under the name "Manchukuo Imperial Air Force" but in reality, it never had the "Imperial" word in it. The correct Japanese name, Manshu Kokugun Hikotai, is literally translated as "Flying Unit of the National Army of Manchukuo", but we opted for Manchukuoan Air Force as it's shorter, easier to remember and accurate enough. The MAF used this roundel on its aircraft.

The MAF operated a number of IJAAF aircraft types. Here's an almost complete list:

Army Ko-4 (Nieuport 29C1),
Army Otsu-1 (Salmson 2A2) reconnaissance aircraft, 
Army Type88 (Kawasaki KDA-2) reconnaissance aircraft,
Army Type 91 (Nakajima NC) fighter,
Kawasaki Ki-10 "Perry",
Mitsubishi Ki-2,
Tachikawa Ki-9 "Spruce",
Tachikawa Ki-17 "Cedar",
Tachikawa Ki-55 "Ida",
Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate",
Kawasaki Ki-32 "Mary",
Nakajima K-43-II "Hayabusa" (Oscar),
Nakajima Ki-44-II "Shoki" (Tojo) and
Kawasaki Ki-45-KAIc "Toryu" (Nick). 

All the types in the list are confirmed by photographic evidence and/or are clearly mentioned in veteran testimonies. The MAF could have in its inventory a small number of other older and obsolete IJAAF types, therefore the list should be considered as incomplete. A Kwantung Army document, mentions that MAF had or was to be supplied with 30 Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Babs" Command Reconnaissance aircraft, but apart from this document there is no other record confirming that MAF was ever supplied with "Babs". 
There is no photographic or otherwise record of MAF ever having Mitsubishi Ki-30 "Ann" light bombers, Manshu Ki-79 trainers or Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" bombers in its inventory. The types Nakajima LB-2, 2F BXN2 Gamma, Tachikawa Ki-54 mentioned on the Wiki page, were never operated by the MAF, because the MAF did not permanently operate any transports. Whenever such aircraft were needed, they were borrowed from Manshu Koku Kabushiki Kaisha or Manchukuo Aviation Co., Ltd. (MKKK). Therefore these transport types belonged to the fleet of the MKKK, not to the MAF.

At this point, I would like to remind you that our book "The Eagles of Manchukuo", the only one to properly cover the subject, came out in 2011.

It is sold out and out-of-print but a corrected and expanded edition is in the works and will come out this year; 2023.

Okay, let's talk about kits and decals.
After the release of our book, Kora Models bought a copy (thanks for that) and without any credit, thank-yous or complimentary samples (F U for that), released a series of decals in 1/72 and 1/48. Some are accurate, some less so and some are completely BS. I'm sure you understand why no Kora Models decal images will appear here.

Let's see what's out there by aircraft type. 
There are no readily available kits for the Kawasaki KDA-2 or the Mitsubishi Ki-2 light bomber. I know of Choroszy Modelbud resin and Sova Model kits but without any MAF markings.

For the Ko 4 (Nieuport 29C1), there is the Azur kit in 1/72, the Raccoon in 1/48 and Lukgraph in 1/32; all without MAF markings. There are no photos of the type in MAF service, so the exact markings, finish etc, are not known but this didn't stop Kora to release a decal set with MKKK (!!!!) roundels and markings. Completely BS. 

For the Nakajima Type 91 fighter, there are kits by Choroszy and RS Models in 1/72 and only the ancient Raccoon Model kit in 1/48, but all without any MAF markings. Kora has released an accurate MAF decal set in 1/72 and a completely BS MKKK, again, decal set also in 1/72.

Kawasaki Ki-10. There are 2-3 kits in 1/72 by Hasegawa, ICM and Avis and older by Merlin and Av USK, also, the great Fine Molds kits in 1/48 but none has MAF markings. Again, Kora has released accurate sets in 1/72 and 1/48.

Completing the older pre-war aircraft types, Kora has also released a Dewoitine D.27 kit with MKKK decals; also completely BS. The type was never flown either by MAF or MKKK.

Moving on to the trainers.
I know only of the Choroszy kit for the Ki-17 in 1/72; no MAF markings. Kora has released an accurate set.

For the "Spruce" there is the RS Models "Special Unit" kit in 1/72 and it includes accurate MAF decals for a gokoku (donated) Ki-9.

In 1/48 there is the old Nichimo kit without MAF decal options.  
Kora has released fairly accurate MAF sets in 1/72 and 1/48.

For the poor "Ida" there is only the very old Fujimi kit in 1/72 and the Raccoon in 1/48. 
Kora has released an accurate MAF decal set in 1/72 (DEC 72.175) and a completely BS set of MAF Ki-36 (DEC 72.272). The MAF had NO Ki-36s.

There are also three 1/72 decal sets with MAF Ki-9 and Ki-55 options, among others.
Axis Decal from our very good friend Onoguchi-san came out first, in 1996. 

Followed by Blue Rider in 2001

And finally by Rising Decals in 2012.

Mirek from RD is the only decal guy who profits from our research and has had the decency to express his gratitude.

Feel free to ask questions, add or correct information and leave a comment.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Heads Up!

Special Hobby  -  Nakajima Ki-43-Koh/Otsu "Hayabusa" (Oscar) - Japan's Allies - in 1/72

Very interesting subject, pity they F-up the IFF stripes in the illustrations. And the Manchurian Air Force roundels are also completely F-up in the illustrations and most probably in the decal sheet too. WOW! WTF!?!?!?What did these guys use for their source? 

That's exactly how it should look like. Illustration Nohara Shigeru, Model Art #395.

I'll check again the Thai markings to see if they're correct but just for the MAF subject, the decal set of this kit is NOT recommended.

Sunday 16 April 2023

Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally"

Moky sent over this very interesting photo from his collection, featuring a Mitsubishi Ki-21 Model 1 Koh from the "Rikugun Koku Shikan Gakko", translated as "Army Air Academy" or "Army Aviation Officer's School". The main school was in Toyooka (present-day Iruma, Saitama Prefecture) but it had many branches as well.

The "Sallys" are all Model 1 Koh with no fuselage hinomaru.
The planes of the school often received their names, written in black hiragana, from cities and various locations.
The "Sally" in the foreground is named "I YO" from here.

The school marking has been traditionally depicted with a kanji ("shi" - as in "SHIkan gakko") in black in a white circle, but this photo proves without any doubt that the kanji was in fact red.

The close-up wing in the photo is from a different type of aircraft. Notice the pitot tube. I would say it's a Mitsubishi Ki-30 "Ann" which is one of the very few, if not only the only, Japanese planes with the pitot on the starboard wing.

Moky asks: Is the dorsal gunner holding a signalling device or a camera (so the two gunners or perhaps the radio operator are taking pictures of each other!)? What do you think? Check the closeup. 

Thank you very much Moky for your contribution.

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Heads Up!

Infinity Models, Aichi D3A1 "Val", in 1/32.