Sunday, 19 November 2017

Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" pt. 4 Aleutians Toko Kokutai

Starting with this one the next three postings in the Rufe saga will cover their presence in the Aleutians and will be updated as new information becomes available. If you are not familiar with the campaign, take a look here.
Toko Kokutai
Organized on November 15, 1940 as a flying boat unit, the second of its kind in the Japanese Navy, was called "Toko" from the Japanese reading of the Chinese name of its base, Donggang in Taiwan.
When the war broke out it was based in Palau and participated in the operations against the Philippines. Then relocated there to participated in the attack against Dutch East Indies finally moving to Indonesia patrolling the Bay of Bengal and the South East areas.
In July 1942 a part of the unit was assigned to Kiska island but with the worsening situation in the Solomons first moved to Yokohama on August 14 and then to Shortland Islands where they were joined with the main force from Indonesia patrolling the Solomons.

June 8, 1942
On the day Kiska and Attu were occupied by the Japanese army, seaplane tenders Kimikawa and Kamikawa Maru with their seaplane compliments of Type Zero Observation Seaplanes or Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" and Type Zero Reconnaissance Seaplanes or Aichi E13A "Jake" moved in the area and begun patrols.
The next day, six Type 97 Flying Boats or Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" from Toko Ku advanced in the area.
A six plane Rufe unit was organized in Yokosuka by Lt Yamada  and arrived in Kiska on July 5 on board the seaplane tender Chiyoda becoming part of the Toko Ku.
With the withdrawal of the aircraft carriers two weeks after the capture of Kiska and Attu, the Toko Ku Rufe replaced the seaplane units of Kimikawa and Kamikawa Maru providing the only air cover in the area until the construction of airfields on both islands was completed.
July 8
Ens Saito Kiyomi with one more Rufe located a B-24. An air battle commenced with no results.
The only reference to that event I could find in non-Japanese sources was in the book “Air War Pacific: Chronology: America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific, 1941 – 1945” by Eric Hammel:
“July 8, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Except for one weather reconnaissance flight to Kiska and Little Kiska islands and local fighter patrols, the Eleventh Air Force is grounded by bad weather.”
July 12
There were two air battles and one Consolidated B-24 Liberator trailed black smoke.
There is nothing on that date but Hammel mentions:
“July 11, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Four 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s are attacked by IJN float fighters as they take off from Umnak/Fort Glenn Field. There are no losses, and the bombers proceed to reconnoiter and attack Kiska Island, where they score near misses against an IJN cruiser.”
The confusion with the dates is probably due to the Aleutians being in different date and time zones than Japan. Simply put, US documents have time/date Alaska, Japanese documents have time/date Tokyo.
July 18
Six Rufe seaplanes are engaged in air battle three times. Fought against three B-24 claiming one shot down.
According to Hammel:
July 17, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Three 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-17s and seven B-24s reconnoiter, photograph, and attack land and shipping targets at Kiska. IJN fighters down one B-17.”
July 21
Two Rufe fought against two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. One B-17 trailed black smoke.
Hammel says:
“July 21, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Four 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s dispatched to reconnoiter and attack Kiska are deterred by bad weather over the target.”
July 30
A spartan entry mentioning only one air battle.
But Hammel mentions:
“July 30, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Three 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-17s, three B-24s, and one LB-30 reconnoiter and attack targets at Tanaga and Kiska islands, but results are negligible because of bad weather over the targets.” 
July 31
Another spartan entry mentioning only that a Rufe pilot was forced to make an emergency landing and was saved by an unnamed ship. 
Hammel has the following:
July 31, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: A planned attack against Kiska is canceled because of bad weather, but one B-24 and one LB-30 are able to complete photographic- and weather-reconnaissance flights to that objective.” 

Do you know if there is a more detailed source of the US units involved that could perhaps confirm (or disprove) the Japanese claims? For example, are there more details of the downed B-17 of July 17? What happened to the crew?

According to Akimoto, Toko Kokutai used the marking “トコ” (katakana ToKo) on their flying boats. Izawa, though, mentions that the tail marking for the Rufe unit was the letter “D”. There is a photo in the “Koku Journal” article of a “D” Rufe with a not very clear tail marking.
Probably “D-105” and our friend Devlin Chouinard created artwork of that seaplane.
Notice the different color tone on the canvas covered rudder. This a common feature on Aleutian Rufe seaplanes. We decided to depict it in this article as lighter gray but Hasegawa has released a kit showing the area in question as yellow. Note ofcourse the naughty purplish color of the fuselage. 

Wind Swords mentioned that the tail marking could be an “O” instead of a “D”. Here's a close up of the photo in question.

Note that all fabric surfaces have a lighter color.
And here's a close of another photo from a different publication (FAOW #54, October 1974) that confirms that the tail marking is “-105” but is it an “O” or a “D”? In the photo above it looks like a “D”, in the photo below more like an “O”.
Here's an “O” version of the tail marking, again courtesy of Devlin Chouinard.
Hasegawa has also released a kit with “O” tail marking.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Telford scale model world 2017 by "The Kit Slayer"

Japanese subjects were well represented this year (2017) at Telford U.K. Scale Model World.

- Allan "The Kit Slayer" Jeffery -


Visit Allan's blog  HERE for many more photos! Thanks a lot!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 006 - Mark JAHSAN

I figure there’ll be a few Shindens, so instead of submitting mine, I’ll go with my J8M.
This is an old build of the Testors Komet, with no mods other than the paint and hinomaru from spares.
I like it because it’s colorful, and at the time, unusual- long before the Fine Molds version!
Looking forward to the rest of the entries.
- Mark Jahsan -

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 006 - DEREK COOPER

Here are some photos of my entry for the latest online model contest. It is a 1/72 scale Tachikawa Ki-106 built more-or-less OOB from the RS Models kit. Continuing with my interest in Japanese aircraft under new management, I have chosen to represent it as evaluated by the USAAF after the end of the Pacific War.
Although the kit instructions suggest a green/grey finish, I have chosen to represent the aircraft in my interpretation of the so-called “late war brown”. My reasoning behind this is that towards the war’s end many Ki-43-III Hayabusas were evidently finished in the late war brown scheme. Since Tachikawa were responsible for the manufacture of those aircraft, then why would they not finish the Ki-106 in the same way?

- Derek Cooper -


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" pt. 3 Yokohama Kokutai

As we saw in the previous post, training with the Nakajima A6M2-N “Rufe” started in Yokosuka but very soon pilots and available seaplanes were needed in their originally intended role i.e. to protect remote islands until proper airfields were built. The first unit this mission was assigned to was the Yokohama Ku which was responsible with the training of flying boat crews since October 1, 1930 when the unit was organized with four flying boats and two spare. At the beginning of the Pacific War it had 24 Kawanishi E7K “Mavis”, a number of them were dispatched to Rabaul on February 14, 1942 and on April 1 became part of the 25th Koku Sentai.

It is not known exactly when the Rufe unit was organized within the Yokohama Ku. Some sources mention April 1942 but Izawa Yasuho in his “Koku Journal” March 1977 article entitled “Nihon Kaigun Suijo Sentoki-tai” (Seaplane Fighter Units of the IJNAF) mentions that the Rufe unit commander, Lt. Sato Riichiro, was officially assigned to Yokohama Ku on May 15; so most probably the unit was organized around that time. Also, again most probably, the pilots and aircraft came originally from Yokosuka. The Yokohama Ku Rufe unit arrived in Rabaul on June 3 with 12 seaplanes. According to Akimoto Minoru (in Part #16 of his “Nihon Kaigun-ki Ma-ku-shu” (collection of IJNAF Aircraft Markings) Koku Fan November 1980 issue) they were based in the Green Islands (here) and a small detachment was dispatched to Makin Island (here).
The main source for the Yokohama Rufe unit in the South Pacific, and main source for the Izawa article, are the “Kodochoso” reports (Hiko-tai Sento Kodochoso – Aircraft Unit Battle Action Report). Although the Yokohama Ku reports of the flying boats are very detailed with even the names of crew members of each Mavis, unfortunately the Rufe reports are meagre and confusing in details. But they are the only source from the Japanese side.
According to these reports the unit started patrols in the Rabaul area from June 5.
On June 10 a group of five Rufe seaplanes commanded by WO Hirabayashi Yomichio encountered an equal number of US aircraft while on patrol between 05:45 ans 06:45. One of the seaplanes attempted to intercept but with unknown results.
On June 26 two Rufe, one flown by PO1c Hori, escorted the cargo ship Fujikawa Maru from 06:30 to 09:20. On the same day a single Rufe flown by PO3c Nomura flew patrol over Rabaul.
Until June 29 the Rufe unit flew daily patrols in the Rabaul area with as few as three and as many as eight seaplanes. During that time they were many encounters with enemy aircraft but no air battles took place.

In early July the flying boats of Yokohama Ku advanced to Tulagi first, followed by the Rufe unit. Although the island of Tulagi is mentioned, actually the Rufe and the Mavis of the Yokohama Ku were based principally in the adjoining islands of Tanambogo and Gavutu respectively. The Rufe were there to provide air cover until the airfield on Guadalcanal was built and started daily patrols from the 5th of the same month.

On July 10 they intercepted two B-24 claiming one shot down with one Rufe damaged,
The book “Under the Southern Cross: The B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific” by Bob Livingstone has the following entry:
AL515, by now named YARD BIRD and ASV radar equipped…flown by Lieutenant Casper…
On 10 July, AL515 (Casper) and AL573 (Ezzard) made a reconnaissance of Tulagi, followed by a bombing attack. After the bombing they were intercepted by floatplanes later identified as Nakajima A6M2-Ns, code-named Rufe. AL573 was damaged, though one floatplane broke off the attack with one wing smoking. 25 The LB-30, flown by Lieutenant Wallace Fields with Captain Dick Ezzard riding as check pilot, had number three engine shot out of commission, but the camera operator took a photograph of the two aircraft in one frame. It is thought that this was the first photographic confirmation of the Zero floatplane in action. The crew tried to release an empty bomb bay tank to reduce weight, but with the existing "Rube Goldberg salvo system", the tank only partially dropped and then jammed. The return to Port Moresby was made on three engines with the empty bomb bay tank protruding from the bomb bay; the flight engineer had his shoe sucked off in the slipstream trying to kick the tank out.”
On July 17 two Rufe seaplanes intercepted and claimed to have shot down one B-17. One of the seaplanes flown by 1stWO Hori Tatsuo was shot down with the loss of the pilot.
The book “Guadalcanal: The American Campaign against Japan in WWII” by Dr. Jon Diamond mentions:
On July 17, 1942, three weeks before the invasion, Lt. Col. Merrill B. Twining, the division's deputy operations officer, and Maj. William McKean made a photographic reconnaissance flight aboard a B-17 from Port Moresby. Although Japanese naval float planes stationed at Tulagi drove the bomber off, Twining did obtain photographs of Guadalcanal's northern coast as well as the Tulagi area across Sealark Channel.”
After that, a Rufe flown by Lt Fujisawa Yoichi took off in an attempt to locate Hori's aircraft but in vain.
On July 23 there was an air battle and PO1c Matsui Saburo didn’t return to base.
This site mentions:
THURSDAY, 23 JULY 1942: 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy) B-17s on New Caledonia Island begin photo reconnaissance of the Guadalcanal-Tulagi-Gavutu area in the Solomon Islands.”
But I was not able to find any more details regarding an encounter between Rufe and US aircraft.
On August 1, at 09:20, six Rufe tried to intercept three B-17 but without any results. An hour later seven B-17 were again intercepted by six Rufe. Three B-17 received heavy damage. All 12 Rufe returned to Tulagi at 11:00 having spent 225shells of their 20mm cannons and 550 7.7mm machine gun bullets.
The book “Air War Pacific: Chronology: America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific, 1941 – 1945” by Eric Hammel mentions:
August 1, 1942: SOLOMON ISLANDS: 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-17s based at Efate/Vila Field attack the IJN seaplane base at Gavutu Island. Two A6M2-N float fighters are downed.”
The publication “Pacific Counterblow: 11th Bombardment Group and the 67th Fighter Squadron at Guadallcanal” [Wings at War No. 3] mentions briefly:
 On 1 August the B-17's bagged two Zeros...
This Kodochoso” entry confirms that their were twelve Rufe seaplanes in Tulagi as of August 1st. There is no mention of any lost Rufe. 

Next day, at 08:20, battle between eleven B-17 and twelve Rufe seaplanes. One Rufe came back to base with bullet holes, one B-17 shot down plus one probable.
I was not able to find more details about this major encounter except this very brief in “Pacific Counterblow” that continues from the above: “...on the next day they got one and started fires in the Lunga and Tulagi storage areas. 
Note that this “Kodochoso” entry again mentions twelve seaplanes confirming that none were lost on August 1st. 
The “Kodochoso” entries we located end on that date. The following is information from the Izawa article probably in combination from Western sources.
August 4, one US bomber shot down by a Rufe on a taiatari attack.
The Eric Hammel book mentions: SOLOMON ISLANDS: Three 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-17s based at Efate/ Vila Field attack the UN seaplane base at Gavutu Island. One B- 17 is lost when a damaged A6M2-N rams it.”
A few more details are revealed in “Pacific Counterblow”: “...on 4 August five enemy fighters intercepted a three-plane flight over the target. In this engagement a float Zero, flaming and pressing a close attack, struck a B-I7 near the No. 3 engine, causing an explosion which destroyed plane and crew. This, the first destruction of one of our aircraft by ramming, was considered the result of a Zero out of control rather than intentional self-sacrifice.
August 5, one B-17 is shot down.
Eric Hammel mentions: Several 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-17s attack port facilities at Tulagi Island and Kukum, Guadalcanal. One B-17 is downed by an A6M2-N. while “Pacific Counterblow” explains: With the field on Espiritu operational by 1 August, B-17's headed for Guadalcanal were able to take on full bomb loads, fill their radio tanks at Efate, and refuel at Espiritu on the return leg. Tulagi and the Kukum area of Guadalcanal were thus bombed on 5 August, when another B-I 7 was lost
August 7 was the day when the US landings took place simultanously in Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Gavutu/Tanambogo. Check here, if you are not familiar with the events. The Yokohama Ku members had to fight as foot soldiers and all (?) perished in the fight.
Pacific Counterblow” mentions that: “...on D-day, 7 August, two search planes dispatched to cover the Solomons sector to a depth of 700 miles from Espiritu, by that time the main base, took off at 0300 with instructions to avoid the target area where the attack was scheduled at 0530. One aircraft failed to return.
But according to the book “U.S.S. Wasp” by Turner Publishing:
The Japanese appeared to be caught flat-footed, and the Grummans, arriving simultaneously at daybreak. shot up all of the patrol planes and fighter seaplanes that were in the area. Fifteen Kawanishi flying boats and seven Nakajima floatplane fighters, the seaplane derivative of the Mitsubishi "Zero" were destroyed by Shands' fighters that flew almost "on the deck." Shands himself bagged at least four Nakajima single-float fighter seaplanes and one four-engined flying boat. His wingman, Forret bagged three floatplane fighters and one patrol plane; Lieutenant Wright and Ensign Kenton bagged three patrol planes apiece and destroyed a motorboat apparently attempting to tend the flying boats; Ensigns Reeves and Conklin each bagged two and shared a fifth patrol plane between them. In addition, the strafing F4Fs destroyed an aviation fuel truck and a truck loaded with spare parts...So complete was the enemy's unpreparedness that none of Wasp's planes were shot down.
According to Izawa, on the day of the US attack there were nine Rufe seaplanes on Tulagi. From August 1st until the 7th three Rufe seaplanes are confirmed lost; Matsui's and Hori's aircraft and the one in the ramming incident. Oddly enough the two subsiquent “Kodochoso” entries still mention twelve Rufe seaplanes in Tulagi. I would say that the “U.S.S. Wasp” account above is a bit suspect on the presence of  “patrol planes” as only Rufe and Mavis are mentioned stationed in Tulagi when the attack occurred. There is also the issue of a B-17 shot down by a Rufe before the invasion begun and why the Japanese were still unprepared after that incident.
First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942” by John Lundstrom is more detailed and mentions:
Four Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 flying boats [MAVIS] swung at moorings along Tanambogo's north shore, while in the quiet waters off Tulagi's east coast, gasoline barges serviced the other three for a dawn takeoff....Now six Type 2s [A6M2-N Rufe] drifted in line just off Halavo, a small village on a peninsula of Florida a mile east of Tanambogo. Two others under repair reposed ashore on Tanambogo.”
And later:
At about 0620 Shands and Forrer flew east over Florida past the fires of Tanambogo toward Port Purvis harbor beyond Halavo. In the growing light, Shands spotted the line of six sea fighters (he thought seven) moored close together about 30 feet off the Halavo shore. Several of their pilots were running across the beach or swimming through the surf to man planes. Shands and Forrer took great care in firing quick bursts to preserve their ammunition and get all the targets. In succession they pressed their runs low over the water, roared above the float planes, then nosed up sharply to clear palm trees on the hills overlooking the beach. One after another the Type 2s exploded in flames. With his final burst Shands torched the last, while Forrer silenced a 13-mm machine-gun nest. Soon, other VF-71 pilots flamed a truck hauling gasoline drums down to the beach. The Tulagi air detachment was out of business....
VF-71 destroyed every enemy plane they saw with credits of thirteen flying boats and seven float fighters. In fact, all three Type 97 flying boats at Makambo and the four off Tanambogo burned and sank. VF-71 also strafed gas lighters and motor boats, which in the poor light looked like seaplanes, especially when they exploded and burned as readily. Shands and Forrer finished all six sea fighters so providentially served up at Halavo, and subsequent action destroyed the pair on Tanambogo.”
So, according to Lundstrom the number of Rufe is eight; six off Halavo and two on Tanambongo. Izawa mentions that from a note of a Yokohama survivor who was captured and returned to Japan after the war, one Rufe was still floating at sea after the end of attack.

Here's a NARA photo of the seaplane base on Tanambogo island under attack.
At least one destroyed Rufe can be seen and note the slipways. “Pacific Wrecks” has a little more on the Rufe seaplanes on Tanambogo island, here. The site mentions that seven Rufe wrecks were surveyed by US forces after the island was secured, although there are doubts. 

The “U.S.S. Wasp” book also mentions:
 “Wasp returned the next morning, 8 August, to maintain a continuous CAP over the transport area until noon...At 0815, Snowden sighted a “Rufe” some 40 miles from Rekata Bay and gave chase. The Japanese airman, seeing that he had been spotted, had no stomach for a fight. He pulled up and attempted to use the clouds for cover. Each time the dogged dive bomber pilot gunned the SBD-3 after him: twice the “Rufe” headed for the clouds. Snowden finally pulled within close range, and using his two fixed .50-caliber guns, fired a short burst that hit home, causing the “Rufe” to spin into the Solomon Sea.”
I would say that this account is suspicious in that there were no other Rufe seaplanes in the area, except those destroyed on Tulagi. Also, Rufe pilots of the Yokohama Ku, as we saw above, were on daily patrols encountering B-17 and B-24 bombers showing sufficiently aggressive “attitude” towards enemy aircraft. I doubt that a Rufe pilot would have “no stomach for a fight” against an SBD-3.
Perhaps the floatplane was a “Jake”?

According to Izawa, from August 26 until September 1, one (or two) Yokohama Ku Rufe flown by WO Kofuji Hisateru was based in Shortland island and performed patrols.
Akimoto mentions that on September 23 the remaining Yokohama Ku members returned to Rabaul and then to mainland. (Tulagi survivors?)

To summarize, there are conflicting numbers of Rufe on Tulagi on August 7. Numbers range from seven to nine. At the moment we have not confirmed the presence of Yokohama Rufe seaplanes on Makin or Shortland islands before or after Tulagi. One B-17 is confirmed lost on August 7 before the US attack occurred. Could it be that a small group of perhaps three Rufe took off after that incident, were on patrol during the US attack and instead of fighting against the overwhelming US forces somehow escaped to Rabaul? That would possibly confirm the above “U.S.S. Wasp” account and the presence of Yokohama Rufe on Shortland but for the moment no evidence to support this claim has been found by this author.
On October 1 the unit was reorganized in Yokohama with 16 flying boats in its strength. On November 1 the unit changed its name to 801 Ku.
According to Akimoto the tail marking of the unit until November 1940 was “ヨハ” (katakana YOHA). After that they used the letter “Y”. AFAIK there are no photos of Yokohama Ku Rufe until the destruction of the Tulagi base so no tail markings can be confirmed. Since these were early production Rufe most probably they were finished in overall gray paint but in all possibilities they received some camouflage either in Rabaul or in Tulagi.
Feel free to leave a comment or email if you have more information.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 006 - DIZZYFUGU

1:72 Kawasaki KEN III/Ki-78 prototype during final testing stages at Gifu Hikōjō (Japan), early 1944 (AZ Model kit)

Some background:
The Kawasaki Ki-78 was originally designated KEN III and was a high-speed research aircraft developed to investigate laminar profile wings with high wing loadings. Early in 1938 a high-speed research program was started at the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University of Tokyo for a small single-seat aircraft.
The KEN III, designed at the Aeronautical Research Institute and built at Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K. to investigate flying behaviour at very high speed. All-metal construction was used in combination with a small thin wing with a laminar flow profile and a sharp leading edge. Furthermore, the research aircraft featured a streamlined minimum cross-section fuselage and was fitted with a licence-built Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine. For short duration power boost methanol/water injection was used, and cooling was improved by a 45 kW (60 hp) turbine driven cooling fan for the radiators in the rear fuselage flanks, leaning the wings as clean as possible.
By the outbreak of the war, the whole project was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Army who gave it the military type designation Ki-78. Kawasaki received the order to build two prototypes of the Ki-78, construction of which was started in September 1941. The first was completed more than a year later and was flown for the first time on 26 December 1942.
The engineers had ambitious plans: beyond the experimental nature of the aircraft the Ki-78 was earmarked for the absolute flying top speed record and the IJA was highly interested in a fast fighter derivative.
However, the Ki-78 was found to be extremely difficult to fly at low speeds and had poor stall characteristics. The aircraft was heavier than the design estimates, which increased the wing loading. Even with the special flaps and drooping ailerons, takeoff and landing speeds were both high at 127 mph (205 km/h) and 106 mph (170 km/h) respectively. In addition, elevator flutter was experienced at the relatively low speed of 395 mph (635 km/h).
High-speed flight tests were started in April 1943, and during the Ki-78’s 31st flight on 27 December, the aircraft achieved its maximum speed of 434.7 mph (699.6 km/h) at 11,572 ft (3,527 m). While this was basically an impressive performance, this was considerably less than the program’s speed goal of 528 mph (850 km/h). A feasibility study to improve the Ki-78 flight performance showed that extensive airframe modifications were needed and consequently the project was officially terminated after the 32nd flight on 11 January 1944. The second Ki-78 was never completed.
The single Ki-78 survived the war, but it was crushed by American forces at Gifu Air Field in 1945.

General characteristics:
    Crew: 1
    Length: 8.1 m (26 ft 7 in)
    Wingspan: 8 m (26 ft 3 in)
    Height: 3.07 m (10 ft 1 in)
    Wing area: 11 m2 (120 sq ft)
    Empty weight: 1,930 kg (4,255 lb)
    Gross weight: 2,300 kg (5,071 lb)
    1× Daimler-Benz DB 601A V-12 inverted liquid-cooled piston engine
         rated at 1,160 kW (1,550 hp) with Water/Methanol injection for short durations
    Maximum speed: 700 km/h (435 mph; 378 kn) at 3,500 m (11,500 ft)
    Range: 600 km (373 mi; 324 nmi)
    Service ceiling: 8,000 m (26,000 ft)
    Wing loading: 209 kg/m2 (43 lb/sq ft)
    Power/mass: 0.373 kW/kg (0.2273 hp/lb)   
The kit and its assembly:
The kit is of AZ Model’s IP Ki-78, and this one is actually the leftover sister ship of the early two-kit-boxings that was converted into a fictional Ki-78 Kai fighter that was thought about, but never realized.
The kit is simple and a typical short-run offering. You need some experience to get it together and expect rather mediocre fit and some putty work. Even though I built it mostly OOB I did some changes:
- A rear bulkhead was added in the cockpit
- Different main wheels were mounted
- Added struts for the landing gear covers.
- The propeller received a new, longer axis construction

Painting and markings:
AZ Models offer the prototype in two liveries, the early NMF Ki-78 and the late scheme of the aircraft in overall orange. While this sounds simple, finding an appropriate tone that resembles the IJA trainer and prototype orange is not easy. Among the choice of six potential tones I eventually settled for Humbrol's 82 (Orange Lining), and for the basic painting I added a bit of 132 (Red Satin). Evyrething was painted with brushed.
After an initial overall coat the kit received a light black ink wash and panels were highlighted through post-shading/dry-brushing, and panel lines enhanced with a thin, very soft pencil.
All interior surfaces were painted with Aodake primer - actually a clear blue lacquer. In order to mimic this look, Cockpit and landing gear wells/covers were initially painted with aluminum (Revell 99), and, once dry, overpainted with a turquise, water-based clear window paint - a great contrast to the orange.

 The decals come from the OOB sheet, and I added small markings at the wing tips - since only BW pics are available from the original Ki-78 I assume that these are white? Another addition are silver heat protection shields behind the exhaust stubs, also created with generic decal sheet.
After a little exhaust soot on the flanks with graphite the kit was sealed with acrylic varnish, in this case with a 4:1 mix of matt and gloss varnish, for a light shine.

A simple kit, realized relatively quickly, since it posed no major challenges. The result looks good, though, an elegant and beefy, small aircraft, and the orange livery stands out well.




Friday, 3 November 2017

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 006 - HUB PLOTT

Hub Plott from the USA sent over photos of his amazing "Raccoon Models" experimental IJAAF & IJNAF aircraft collection, all resin and in 1/48, as an opening salvo to our 6th model contest. I'm sure you will agree the models and especially the subjects are more than interesting. Hub asked me to choose and upload the models I liked the most but I just couldn't separate them. You can vote for the collection as a whole or for the individual models.  
Kawasaki Ki-119 
 Nakajima Ki-87
Kawasaki Ki-60
Manshu Ki-98
Nakajima Ki-201 "Karyu" 
Kawanishi J6K1 "Jinpu"
Aichi S1A1 "Denko