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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The engines were shot with Alclad Aluminum and detailed with beading wire.
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!
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.
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.
Part II here: