Douglas A-24 Banshee Walk Around

Photographs taken at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.















1/72 Scale N1K Kyofu / Shiden Batch Build Part VII

Finished!  This turned into a “just one more thing” build and seemed to drag on, but the first seven completions for 2020 are done and I’m generally happy with how they turned out.  The big pictures on the computer highlighted a few tweaks and touch ups which are needed but they’re mostly complete.  Here’s the list of modifications and details added, some kits required more of these than others:

  • Cockpits replaced and/or detailed.
  • Instrument panels, side consoles, and seatbelts printed on photographic paper.
  • Engines replaced and/or wired.
  • Wheelwells removed, deepened, and detailed.
  • Landing gear covers replaced with card stock.
  • Landing lights made from CD case plastic.
  • Gear down indicators made from bronze rod.
  • Vacuform or plunge molded canopies.
  • Pitot tubes made with metal tube and insect pins.
  • Beading wire brake lines.
  • Wheels replaced.
  • Turned brass cannon barrels from Master.
  • Various openings and trestle ports drilled out.
  • Trim tab actuators replaced with wire.
  • Radio aerials made from Uschi elastic line.
One of the Hasegawa Shiden-Kai with several of the added details visible.  I am always really impressed with the Master gun barrels.  They are inexpensive, sturdy, and the proper thickness – an easy way to make a noticeable improvement.  Also visible are the gear down indicators, replacement landing gear covers, vacuform canopy, and a peek at the cockpit details.
The Hasegawa Kyofu floatplanes are very nice kits.  Fit of the parts was excellent and only required a small bit of sanding to eliminate seams.  The boarding ladders and beaching gear are a nice touch.  I wanted to build the prototype because of the counter-rotating propellers.  Like everybody else, the Japanese were not able to work the bugs out of this system and they reverted to a standard three-bladed propeller for the production aircraft.
This is the foundling, the MPM kit hiding along with another kit bought at the model show and forgotten.  This is a rather crude molding, but I was pleasantly surprised that it built up well with a lot of work and replacement parts.  Tail codes are from an Aviaeology sheet (try remembering how that one’s spelled!) and the Hinomaru are masked.
The best kit of the batch is Tamiya’s N1K1.  It was easy to assemble and well detailed, typical Tamiya quality.  This was the only kit which had passable wheelwells, really all I added were surface details.  For the pedantic the only two things which could be corrected are the oil cooler support should be wider and the inner section of the wheel well should be open to the spar.  The N1K1 was the first version adapted from the Kyofu into a land-based fighter.
The Aoshima Shiden are nice kits but are often overlooked.  This is the N1K1 with the redesigned wing incorporating all four Type 99 20 mm cannon internally.  The kit has shallow wheelwells but a passable cockpit.  The clear parts are a strong point and the canopy can be posed in the open position.  The gear doors do need replacing as they are thick and molded into the landing gear legs – an odd choice for such a nice kit.
The Shiden-Kai saw the wings lowered from the middle to the bottom of the fuselage and resulted in the ultimate version of the design evolution.  These two are made from the 1977 Hasegawa kit, and have the typical Hasegawa shortcomings of their time – basic cockpit, crude engine, and laughably shallow wheelwells.  They also display a shape error concerning the width of the vertical fin, Kawanishi produced both a broad- and narrow-fin N1K2, Hasegawa’s kit splits the difference and so has to be modified to properly represent either version.  Still buildable kits with a little extra effort.


So, overall a fun build but one which took longer than anticipated.  I think the next batch will be something a little more current, hopefully one which doesn’t need as many modifications!

Hasegawa F-117 Nighthawk in 1/72 Scale

Here is Hasegawa’s F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter.  I think of these as being “modern”, but they’re already retired.  Hard to believe.  I’m old.   This is a relatively simple kit.  The plastic is harder than usual, must be to absorb radar energy better.  It’s also much bigger than I expected, I kept checking to make sure it was the proper scale.  Quite a lot can be seen even with the canopy closed due to the large flat panels.  I used the Eduard mask set which saved time with the sawtooth frames.  The fuselage seams needed filled on the underside, as do the wing joints. The clear sprue contains a solid nose weight.  This was barely enough to keep the nose down, the model will sit on its tail if positioned that way.  I’d add just a bit more weight just to be sure if building another.













Kyushu J7W1 Shinden 震電 Magnificent Lightning

A few Canard fighter aircraft were designed during the Second World War, but only the Japanese Kyushu J7W1 Shinden was ordered into production.  While a promising design, it was a case of too little, too late and only two prototypes were completed before the end of the war.
The Shinden was intended to fulfill an Imperial Japanese Navy specification for a land based interceptor to oppose the American B-29s which were ravaging Japan.  While its range was relatively short, it carried four 30 mm Type 5 cannon in the nose, a considerable armament for the time.
Power was provided by a turbocharged Mitsubishi Ha-43 eighteen cylinder radial engine which produced 2,130 hp.  The engine was mounted behind the pilot and drove a six bladed pusher propeller via an extension shaft.  Cooling air was introduced through a series of inlets along the sides of the aircraft.  The prototype experienced engine overheating while on the ground, and vibration due to the length of the shaft connecting the engine and the propeller.
The Shinden flew for the first time on 03AUG45 with CAPT Tsuruno, head of the IJN design team, at the controls.  Even before the first flight the Navy had ordered the Shinden into production, a reflection of both the design’s promise and the desperation of Japan’s military situation.
From the beginning the Shinden was intended to be adapted to jet propulsion using an Ne-130 tubojet.  This would have solved the cooling, vibration, and torque problems associated with the Ha-43 at a stroke, but the jet engine was not ready before the war ended.
One of the Shinden prototypes was brought to America after the war for evaluation, although it does not appear to have been flown.  The U.S. Navy transferred the aircraft to the Smithsonian in 1960.  The forward fuselage is currently on display at NASM Udvar-Hazy with the rest of the components held in storage.  (NASM color photographs)
Cockpit layout of the J7W1 prototype.  
Starboard side, showing the seat adjustment lever and the American-installed fire suppression system.
Port side showing the throttle.

1/72 Dragon T-34/76 Mod 1943 Soviet Tank

There are several variations of the T-34/76 design which reveal the year and location of the plant which produced an individual example.  There are also hybrids which combine these features, likely as a result of field expedient rebuilding to return damaged tanks to service.  Dragon’s kit represents one of the later T-34/76 tanks, and it is a nice kit.  Detail is sharp, and the modeler is given the option of replacing some of the plastic parts with photoetch details.  I used the PE on the engine grill on my build and was impressed with the detail and depth which it added.  The kit also features Dragon’s DS tracks which react well to most common modeling adhesives.  Overall a winner and a fun build!


















World War II River Assault Tactics Book Review



World War II River Assault Tactics Osprey Elite 195

By Gordon L. Rottman, illustrated by Peter Dennis

Paperback, 64 pages

Published by Osprey Publishing September 2013

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1780961081

ISBN-13: 978-1780961088

Dimensions: 6.6 x 9.3 x 0.2 inches

This volume follows the established format for Osprey’s popular Elite series.  In it, author Rottman explores the often-neglected topic of specialized Engineering troops, which often provide a decisive capability on the battlefield.  Rivers and their banks, along with established crossings and their associated road networks, provide natural obstacles and focus the assaulting forces into choke points ideal for the defenders.

During the Second World War the major powers formed dedicated Engineering units along remarkably similar lines.  These were organized into battalions, the companies of which were equipped with a mix of boats or rafts which could be used in the assault or formed into pontoons and modularized bridging materials.  Specialized vehicles provided the means to transport and deploy this equipment, and construction vehicles prepared the banks and roads for the ensuing traffic.  Each crossing posed unique challenges so the equipment was designed to be versatile, adaptable, and easy to deploy quickly.  Rivers were often crossed at multiple points, each bridgehead being provided with multiple spans to increase traffic flow and provide redundancy in case of damage.  A bridge which was erected in only a few hours might be in place indefinitely, and many of these “temporary” bridges remained in service for years after the war, testaments to their design and construction.

The author also gives insights into defensive considerations in preventing river crossings.  The last several pages of the book are devoted to a case study of the failed American attempts to cross the Rapido River in Italy in January 1944.  While the Rapido could not be considered a major river, any river presents a formidable obstacle when properly defended.

I found this book interesting not only from a military perspective, but also for the ingenuity and versatility of the bridging and pontoon systems employed.  This is a good primer for anyone interested in an overview of the topic.