This is the Aoshima kit of the Tank Ta 152 H-1/R-11 of III. /JG 301 flown by Oberfeldwebel Willie Reschke. He scored 27 victories during the war, including three while flying Green 9 and an earlier one by ramming, but was shot down eight times himself and wounded once. He survived the war.
The kit is Aoshima’s Ta 152 with a Quickboost replacement cowling and scratchbuilt wheelwells. Reference for this aircraft is Hitchcock’s volume 3 of the Monogram Monarch series, published by Eagle Editions. The profile of this machine on page 160 shows Green 9 with the horizontal bar of III Gruppe, which differs from the markings in other references but is consistent with Luftwaffe marking practices .
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.
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!
Completed N1K models here:
The last week was spent in a little painting (Yay!) and lots of masking (Boo!). The canopies were dipped in Future (Klear) and then masked the old-fashioned way, with little bits of Tamiya tape. I did have one set of masks for the Kyofu, but they were the old Eduard green vinyl type which I find to be worse than useless so they were discarded. The canopies were attached with Superglue and any gaps filled with Perfect Plastic Putty, which I can highly recommend. The photo is at the maximum masking stage, with the undersides sprayed in Alclad Aluminum and awaiting the upper surface colors.
The color of the Kyofu prototype is debated and you can find three interpretations called out in different references. All sources agree that the aircraft was painted – salt water would not be kind to untreated Aluminum. Some say the finish was Aluminum dope. Others say it was a light gray overall, this is what Hasegawa calls out in the kit instructions. The third option is the one I favor, which is orange-yellow. A profile in Famous Aircraft of the World 124 shows the prototype in this finish. The orange-yellow was used by the Japanese for trainers and prototypes, if the Rex were not in this color it would be the only exception to the rule as far as I know. I used Floquil’s Reefer Orange for this finish. The Hinomaru are painted Testors Insignia Red using Maketar masks.
There is also some controversy surrounding the underside colors of the land-based Shiden. Here the choices are Light Gray Green or natural Aluminum, with some saying the earliest Shiden carried the paint. Photographs are inconclusive, and more recent references tend to lean towards the Aluminum finish. As the Shiden-Kai was produced at several plants there is room for either to be correct, but I leaned with the general consensus on my builds and went with Aluminum undersides. I matched the upper surface green to an Iliad Design paint chip and used Mr. Color 15 IJN Green (Nakajima), which fit the Kawanishi chip best. Go figure. The wing I.D. panels are Mr. Color 58 Orange Yellow.
The operational Kyofu has Mr. Color 15 uppers and Mr. Color 128 Gray Green lowers. The beaching dolly is in Sasebo Gray but I have no clue if this is correct as I could find no mention of colors for this anywhere. The Hasegawa instructions call out Black but the pictures look lighter to my eye. In any case, this is the Kyofu with painted Hinomaru under a coat of Testors Glosscoat, ready for decals. With any luck I’ll finish these off and have the completed models done for next week!
Part VII here:
Here are the engines ready for painting. The two on the left are for Hasegawa’s Kyofu, in the light tan is Tamiya’s Shiden, and the rest are cast replacements using the Kyofu engine and Aoshima gearbox. All the engines have ignition wires added using beading wire from the local crafts store.
Cockpits are arranged in a similar manner, taped to card and awaiting paint. All have been enhanced with the addition of various levers and other details using Evergreen stock and wire.
I start with a base coat of black to emphasize the shadows. The green cockpit color is painted over that, but is not sprayed to completely cover the black in the deepest recesses. Then lighter mixes of the green are sprayed on, the last being a thin mix from directly above. The intention is to artificially create the effect of light and shadow within the cockpit.
Here is the finished effect after painting. The instrument panels, radios, and seatbelts are graphics printed to scale on photographic paper, cut out and positioned in the cockpits. The paper gives the belts a thickness which is lacking in PE seatbelts. I know it’s cheating but it works! The knobs and levers were picked out in the appropriate colors and everything received a wash to bring out the details.
The engines received a coat of Alclad Aluminum and Tamiya Panel Line Wash.
While things were drying I began assembly of the major components. This is an unusual feature of the Hasegawa Kyofu – a plastic weight trapped inside the float. Oddly there were no deformities from shrinkage on these parts. Hopefully Hasegawa knows what they are doing and this is enough weight, but I was tempted to add more.
These are the replacement cockpit tubs inside the Hasegawa Shiden Kai fuselages, a big improvement over the kit parts. The kits had the front of the cockpit opening over the instrument panels decked over, this was removed. Also note the oval shaped openings which were drilled out aft of the antenna masts. This was for a small window which allowed light to enter the fuselage interior to help when servicing the aircraft.
Part III here:
I generally build models in groups to exploit commonalities, increase efficiencies, and compare kits. I feel this results in higher quality builds as well as reducing construction times. It certainly helps increase production. For this build I will be working on the Kawanishi N1K Kyofu / Shiden (Rex / George) family with kits selected to trace the evolution of the design.
Here are the boxes on the bench, representing a nice cross section of manufacturers and vintages. It is interesting to see where the engineering approaches differ and where mold making technology has evolved. All the kits were new and unopened when purchased with the exception of one of the Hasegawa Shiden Kai. This one was obtained from a vender at a model show for only a few Dollars. It had been started but contained a surprise.
This is a sprue shot of Hasegawa’s Kyofu (Rex). Nine sprues, which seems like quite a lot! The high sprue count is a result of Hasagawa’s practice of maximizing mold utilization by providing parts for multiple versions. These were first released in 1995. I will be modeling two of these, one as the prototype with counter-rotating propeller blades and the second as an operational version with a more conventional propeller arrangement. The kits are nicely molded with fine details and panel lines. The beaching dolly is very welcome and one of the best ways to display any floatplane.
Tamiya’s N1K1 Shiden is on a single sprue, issued in 2001. While this one doesn’t generate the same buzz among modelers as some of their other releases, it is every bit as good and enjoys the same level of detail and finesse which made Tamiya famous. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Aoshima’s N1K1 represents a further refinement of the Shiden, this version saw the wing re-designed to incorporate four Type 99 cannon internally and eliminated the need for the cannon gondolas under the wings. Aoshima has taken a few shortcuts with this tool, the wheelwells are too shallow, molded into the lower wing. Also the landing gear bay covers are molded onto the legs. A little extra work but not a major problem, although surprising for a 1994 vintage kit.
This is Hasegawa’s Shiden Kai, first issued way back in 1977. I still have one in my display case built back when it was new and Thorpe was the only real modeling reference available in the U.S. on Japanese aircraft. This mold is very much a product of its time, with a simplified cockpit, scant engine detail, and comically shallow wheelwells. One error which most modelers miss is the cord of the vertical tail is wrong – Hasegawa compromised between the two actual sizes, so the kit’s vertical is either too big or too small depending on which type the modeler wants to depict. I will be modeling both versions so more on this later.
Surprise! This is the MPM limited run kit from 1992, found in the box as an extra with the model show purchase. This is injection molded with a lot of flash, the line between injection molding and vacuform begins to blur at some point. Between the flash, large sprue attachments, and the soft molding most of the smaller parts will be of little use. I consider this addition an “extra” to the batch, and will build it up as a modeling challenge and because I really couldn’t see when I would ever take the time to build it otherwise.
Here is a comparison of the detail parts from each kit, setting the MPM bits aside. At the top are the Hasegawa Kyofu cockpit and engine, nicely molded. The cockpit is perfectly adequate for a closed canopy build, and the engine is crisply molded and deeply recessed into the fuselage in any case. I will leave it to the reader to explain the lack of wheels in this comparison.
In the lighter tan plastic are the Tamiya components, not surprisingly the best of the lot. The cockpit and engine are good to go right out of the box, or could really be made to stand out with just a little extra detailing.
While not quite as good as the new Tamiya kit, Aoshima’s interior is not all that bad either with the exception of the rather basic seat.
Hasegawa’s Shiden Kai parts are on the bottom. These are rather crude by today’s standards, but one must remember the kit dates back to 1977 so they were better than many at the time. By 1945 the IJN was recruiting Sumo wrestlers as the seat shows. The wheels are pretty basic and the centers have shrunk.
Here is a illustration of one of the advantages of building in batches. Where one kit’s parts are markedly superior or another kit’s parts unusable, a replacement can be cast in resin and substituted. Here the mold walls are constructed from Lego blocks and the bottom is sealed with masking tape. The tape not only seals the mold floor but also keeps the parts in place while the RTV rubber is being poured.
Part II here: