Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo 赤とんぼ (Red Dragonfly) “Willow” Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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The major subassemblies were left separate for painting and decals.  This is the AZ kit under primer.  Turns out the kits have two different float designs but both are correct.  The AZ floats have a single step, the LS floats have two and are more slender.
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This is the LS kit with Hinomaru masked with Maketar masks.  I prefer the masks especially for simple insignia like these.
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Later in the war the K5Y had their upper surfaces camouflaged in various degrees and patterns.  Here I have used Floquil Reefer Orange and Mr. Color 15.
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The beaching gear was painted Sasebo Gray with dark brown blocks and weathered.  Colors are just a guess but plausible.
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I used the AZ decals for the codes on both kits with no issues.  The floats and upper wing went on well, this one still needed a little refinement when the picture was taken.  I used Uschi elastic line for rigging but found it difficult to work with so I will likely go back to rigging with Nitenol wire on future biplanes.  Use the box art for a rigging diagram, the diagram in the AZ instructions reverses the tail rigging and misses the aileron wires.
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Here are both finished models together.  They need a little TLC but either can be build up into attractive models.  I’ll post additional pictures once the weather improves.

Airfix P-40B Warhawk in 1/72 Scale

This is the aircraft of 1LT Ken Taylor.  Taylor was one of the few US airmen to get airborne during the Pearl Harbor raid, and was credited with two victories and two probables.  After the war Japanese records confirmed that the probables also failed to return to their carriers.  Markings are from Starfighter Decals sheet 72-135, and went on without difficulty.

All told, the Airfix kits are nice.  The panel lines are excessive, but can be dealt with.  The clear parts were disappointing, I filed down the side rails, removed the mysterious ridge at the rear of the sliding portion, and fabricated the armored glass in the front – and I still don’t like the appearance.  Any future builds will get a vacuformed canopy right from the start.

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B-17E 41-9112 Dreamboat

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While the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was arguably one of the most important aircraft designs of the Second World War, even the best designs can be improved.  Combat experience against the Luftwaffe over Europe identified several potential improvements suggested by the crews.  The job of evaluating those changes was given to Major Robert J. Reed.  Reed was sent to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio and given B-17E 41-9112 to experiment on.
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Reed replaced much of the B-17E defensive armament with components already in production for the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.  The most obvious changes were mounting powered turrets in the nose and tail positions.  Jagdwaffe pilots had identified the hand-held nose armament as a weak point in the Fortresses defenses, and the tail position had a very restricted field of fire.  The Liberator turrets remedied both these problems at a stroke.
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With the nose position now occupied by a turret the bombardier was moved to a gondola under the nose, similar to the original design of the Boeing Model 299.  From this position the bombardier could also function as navigator which freed up a crew position.  Like many Fortresses, the Dreamboat featured her own artwork.
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The radio operator was moved to the nose compartment and a powered twin .50 caliber mount was installed in the old radio compartment.  This eliminated both single waist gun positions while increasing the “broadside” firepower which could be brought to bear defending against a beam attack.  Shifting the crew and equipment weight forward also helped correct a balance problem in the Fortress – the center of gravity was aft of the center of lift, resulting in the Fortress being tail heavy and fatiguing to fly.
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Reed completely redesigned the bomb bay doors.  Instead of two large doors which opened into the slipstream when opened, the new bomb bay doors folded back against the fuselage sides.  This not only reduced drag but was also less noticeable to intercepting Luftwaffe pilots who knew the big bombers were restricted in their ability to maneuver while on their bomb runs.
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The hybrid bomber was named the “Dreamboat”.  One of the more important changes was not apparent when looking at the aircraft from the outside.  The B-17 crew’s oxygen system was adequate, but hypoxia was potentially fatal if the system suffered damage.  Reed installed a dual-feed system on the Dreamboat which increased capacity and provided redundancy, a potential life-saving modification.
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The Dreamboat never saw combat, but was returned to England.  Combat crews were enthusiastic about the improvements – defensive firepower and fields of fire had been improved, crew requirements were reduced from ten to eight, the CG problem had been solved, and the oxygen system and bomb bay doors were improved.
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In the end, the modifications demonstrated on the Dreamboat were not adopted for factory production.  A premium was placed on quantity production above all else, it was felt that the changes suggested by Major Reed would prove to be too much of a disruption to the production lines, and the modifications were too extensive to be performed at the depot level.  The Dreamboat would remain a dream.

Airfix Swedish Volunteer Gloster Gladiator Mk.I in 1/72 Scale

Here is a Gloster Gladiator Mk. I of Flygflottilj 19 (Swedish Voluntary Air Force) at Kemi, Northern Finland, 1940.  The ski boxing also contains all the parts needed for wheeled versions, and both two- and three-bladed props.  The cowl assembly was a bit fiddly, and I had to fill gaps there on my build.  Removing the seams while preserving the details is a challenge.  The second issue is one I’ve found on all the new Airfix kits I’ve built so far – the raised canopy framing is far overscale and detracts from what are otherwise outstanding kits.  I filed the frames off of mine and used them as masters for plunge molded replacements.

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Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War Book Review

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Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War

By René J. Francillon, technical illustrations by J. B. Roberts

Hardcover in dustjacket, 570 pages, illustrated with photographs and drawings

Published by Putnam & Company 1979 (second edition), Naval Institute Press 2000 (seventh edition)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0370302516

ISBN-13: 978-0370302515

Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.7 inches

This book has been in my library for four decades.  I consider it an indispensable reference, and it is generally the first place I look when researching Japanese aircraft.  It has seen at least seven printings from three different publishers and has not been surpassed as a definitive resource.  It is not hard to find on the secondary market at a reasonable price and it is well worth locating a copy if you haven’t already.

As preliminaries Francillon gives a series of brief histories to provide the reader with the necessary context for the work which follows.  He describes the Japanese aircraft industry through the end of the Pacific War, then the histories of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and Imperial Japanese Navy aviation.  The aircraft designation system is next, and there is a general history of the camouflage and marking systems and how they evolved.

The bulk of the book is devoted to describing each aircraft type produced or used by Japan during the Second World War, arranged by service, manufacturer, and specific type.  This is a technical and design history which shows the production and evolution of the aircraft and lays out the deployment of each.  There is at least one photograph and a three view line drawing per design and often there are several, followed by technical data and performance figures in both English and metric units.  Some of the more obscure and less important types only get a few pages, those with more central roles get more.  For example, the A6M series covers no less than sixteen pages.

Appendixes describe lesser types which were mainly conversions or designs which did not enter service (think of the “what if” fodder for the Nippon ’46 crowd) and foreign aircraft in Japanese service.  There are appendixes of armament and engines, and a listing of aircraft carrying vessels of both the Navy and the Army (the Imperial Japanese Army did in fact have its own aircraft carriers which it used for escort work).

This is the definitive technical reference for Japanese aircraft.  I doubt it will ever be surpassed, I’m not sure how it could be.  If you have an interest in Japanese aircraft and don’t already own a copy, do yourself a favor and pick one up, you will not regret it.

 

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Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo 赤とんぼ (Red Dragonfly) “Willow” Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

The Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo was a primary trainer in service with the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1933 through the end of the Pacific War.  It was called Akatombo (Red Dragonfly) after a Japanese children’s poem of the time due to its bright overall orange-yellow paint scheme.  There were two variants in service, the wheeled K5Y1 land-based version and the K5Y2 floatplane.  The two versions differed in their landing gear and in the chord of the vertical stabilizer, that of the K5Y2 was more broad to compensate for the surface area of the floats.  A surprising bit of trivia – the last US warship lost to kamikaze attack was the destroyer USS Callaghan (DD-792), sunk by a K5Y on 29JUL45.

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There are two moldings of the K5Y available to 1/72 scale modelers.  The LS molding was first released in 1973 and came in boxings with either wheels or floats, although both versions came with the small-chord vertical stabilizers.  The AZ molding was released in 2013 and includes resin details, PE instrument panels, and parts to build both the land-based and floatplane versions.
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The LS kit is molded in the bright “trainer orange” scheme.  Surface detail is appropriately recessed, but most of the smaller parts are oversized and a little crude.  Cockpit detail is non-existent, consisting of two over-sized seats mounted to the fuselage sides to support pilot figures.  The inner plastic bag on my kit was still sealed but was missing the rudder and vertical fin.  This is not as bad as it may appear as the LS fin is the smaller chord and would require replacement in any case.
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The AZ Model kit is more detailed as you would expect for a kit which is forty years newer.  Surface detail is finely engraved and even includes rivets on the floats.  Parts for both land-based and float versions are included, but neither kit contains beaching gear which is highly desirable for displaying the model.
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A comparison of detail parts from both kits.  The LS engine at top is really not horrible considering the release date, but the AZ engine looks a lot better.  I decided to copy the AZ engine as I needed to mold a replacement for the LS vertical stabilizer in any case.  The seats are a comedy of extremes with the LS kit containing love seats and the AZ kit going to the other end of the spectrum with child safety seats.  Neither were used.
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I scratched up some cockpit detail and replaced the seats.  Some modelers shy away from this sort of thing but it really goes quickly once you get started.  The only real obstacle is getting the floor width correct so the piece spans the opening without preventing the fuselage halves from closing.  Test fit until it’s right and then build up the details from there.
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Here are the cockpits installed after painting and a wash.  I did the seatbelt and instrument panel trick of printing the appropriate layouts on photo paper and cutting them out.
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The engines were shot with Alclad Aluminum and detailed with beading wire.
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Here is the replacement fin on the LS kit, cast from the AZ part.  It turned out the AZ part had its own set of issues.  The cut-out above the horizontal stabilizer was missing and the bottom of the rudder has to be extended.  Not sure why, but Willow rudders give kit manufacturers problems!
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On both kits the interplane struts fit into groves on the wings.  I attached the center ones here, but cut the slotted portion loose on the outer struts so I could better address the seams.
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The missing beaching gear was constructed from Evergreen stock.  The wheels are castings from the Hasegawa Rex floatplane kits.  Photographs show the floats being steadied with “sawhorse” supports so I made some of these as well.  Famous Aircraft of the World 44 has a few nice photographs of Akatombo floatplanes ashore on the ramp but no clear shots of the beaching gear.  I extrapolated from what could be seen to build my carts, but I would be surprised if this is totally correct.

Tamiya Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik in 1/72 Scale

This is the Tamiya  Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik.  What an outstanding kit!  I have built the Tamiya Zeros, the IL-2 is every bit as finely engineered, the thing just falls together.  I was able to complete this build without using any putty.  The seams almost disappear, they only needed a little sanding.  This is nice as the surface detail is as fine as you’ll see.  The cockpit builds up as a separate assembly which can be inserted into the fuselage from below.  Detail is perfectly adequate for the closed canopy, and really would look fine with the canopy opened.  The cockpit was masked with Eduard masks – highly recommended.  The masks for the landing light on the wing are not mentioned in the directions, but they are included.  The model was built OOB, the only additions were tape belts and antenna wires.  Overall, a very enjoyable build, it just flew together.  This kit represents the state of the art.

The markings are from the kit and depict the aircraft of Guards Captain Ivan Pavlov, commander of the 6th Guards Attack Aviation Regiment, 3rd Air Army, 1st Baltic Front.  Pavlov was twice awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.  The inscription on the fuselage reads, “To our countryman, Hero of the Soviet Union, comrade Pavlov from Kustanay’s workers.”

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