Hasegawa Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden-Kai 紫電 Violet Lightning “George” in 1/72 Scale

Another build of the 1977 Hasegawa kit, this example has had the chord of the vertical tail reduced to represent a late-production Shiden-Kai.  It is marked as the aircraft of Warrant Officer Kaneyoshi Mutoh of the Yokosuka Kokutai in February 1945 operating from Oppama.  Mutoh was credited with twenty-eight victories total, including eight on the Shiden-Kai.

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Hasegawa Kawanishi N1K2 Shiden-Kai 紫電 Violet Lightning “George” in 1/72 Scale

This is the 1977 Hasegawa kit.  It has all the typical Hasegawa shortcomings of its time – basic cockpit, crude engine, and shallow wheelwells.  An additional problem which is often missed is it displays 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.  On this build the fin was widened to represent one of the first one hundred examples produced.

This aircraft carries the markings of Chief Petty Officer Shoichi Sugita of the 343rd Kokuti operating from Matsuama Japan in March 1945.  CPO Sugita was credited with approximately seventy victories, including seven in the Shiden-Kai.  He was killed on 15APR45.

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Tamiya Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden 紫電 Violet Lightning “George” in 1/72 Scale

Tamiya’s N1K1 is a little gem but is overlooked by most modelers.  It has the fit and finished we have come to expect from Tamiya and goes together without any issues.  I detailed the cockpit and replaced the cannon barrels with brass from Master, but this kit looks great right out of the box.  The markings represent an aircraft of the 341st Kokutai at Marcott in the Philippines in October 1944, by January the squadron had been wiped out.

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MPM Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden 紫電 Violet Lightning “George” in 1/72 Scale

This is the limited run MPM Shiden kit from the 1990s.  It is rather crude by today’s standards and has been superseded by the excellent Tamiya offering.  Almost all of the smaller parts have been replaced on this build.  The cockpit was completely replaced and the wheelwells enclosed and detailed.  It can be built into a presentable model but requires a lot of work.

The aircraft carries the markings of Chief Petty Officer Tomeshiro Hiro of the Tsukuba Kokutai in February 1945.

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BatesHavePatienceMeme

See more Bates-isms on A Scale Canadian TV here:  http://www.ascalecanadian.com/

Hasegawa Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū 強風 Strong Wind “Rex” in 1/72 Scale

The Kyōfū was produced as a floatplane fighter in limited numbers.  Production examples dispensed with the counter-rotating propellers of the prototype and the pilots learned to deal with the engine torque on take-off.  The Kyōfū served operationally in Balilpapan, Borneo, and finished the war on Lake Biwa defending the Tokyo area.  This is the Hasegawa kit built as an example from the Sasebo Kōkūtai.  It is fitted with a more conventional engine arrangement and features individual exhaust stacks with a standard propeller spinner.

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Hasegawa Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū 強風 Strong Wind “Rex” Prototype in 1/72 Scale

After a long delay, the weather finally cooperated and I was able to take some finished pictures outdoors of recent completions from January’s batch of Japanese aircraft.

This is the design which eventually was developed into the excellent Shiden-Kai fighter by the Imperial Japanese Navy, the prototype “Rex” floatplane fighter.  I wanted to build the prototype because of the counter-rotating propellers, and the IJN overall orange finish (used on prototypes and trainers) was a bonus.  Like most everyone else at the time, the Japanese were not able to work the bugs out of the counter-rotating propellers and they reverted to a standard three-bladed prop for the production aircraft.

The Hasegawa kit is nice and goes together without any surprises.  It comes with the beaching cart and boarding ladder, along with a plastic weight for the float.  I rebuilt the cockpit and wired the engine but the rest is pretty much out of the box.

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BenchTime

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

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

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After loads of sanding the kits are finally ready for primer.  These are the Hasegawa Shiden-Kai with the modified tails.  After primer always comes … more sanding.  Things weren’t really all that bad this time, but there were minor touch ups needed here and there.  Always glad to get to the painting stage.
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This is the underside of the Tamiya Shiden.  No surprise that this is the best fitting kit of the batch, and needed the least additional work to bring it up to par.  Surprisingly it did not appear to get much attention at the time of release but it is an excellent kit.
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I have left the floats off the Kyofu to help with masking and painting.  These are well engineered kits and only needed a bit of fitting work at the wing / fuselage joint on the underside.
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In order to show the work done in the cockpits I intend to display the models with the canopies in the open position.  The Aoshima Shiden has parts for both an open or closed canopy, the others were cut apart.  This picture shows the sliding part of a Kyofu canopy having a thin replacement made by a technique known as “plunge molding”.  This is done by heating a piece of clear PETG over a candle flame until soft and then pushing it down over the master.
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I have aftermarket decals from Kopro for most of this batch, but the Hinomaru for the Kyofu and the MPM kit were sprayed on using masks from Maketar.  The yellow wing I.D. panels were also sprayed on at this time.  The masks are a good way to go, especially for markings as simple as the Japanese insignia.
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While I’m working I generally listen to podcasts.  All around good guy and friend of the blog David Knights has started recording a podcast along with Mike Baskette.  They’ve managed to put out three episodes already (which is pretty impressive), give them a listen here:  http://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/

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

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It feels like this build has been dragging on, but with the holidays over I’ve been able to get some more time at the bench.  Seams have been sanded smooth on all the kits which is a big hurtle for me as I find sanding boring.  The monotony was broken with the assembly of the beaching gear for the floatplanes which turned out nicely.
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Time to start adding some details.  The wingtip navigation lights have been cut out and replaced with a small rectangle of clear plastic from a CD case.  This is superglued in place, then filed down to the proper contour.  The Shiden had another clear light cover at the base of the rudder so three are needed for each model.
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Here’s what it looks like after sanding and finishing with an 8000 grit polishing cloth.  These will be masked before painting (hopefully I won’t forget) and then coated with Future at the end of construction.
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Master turned brass gun barrels are a big improvement over the molded parts and much harder to break off.  These are the Tamiya guns for the underwing gondolas compared with Master barrels and round stock sized to match the FAOW drawings.
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The Aoshima Shiden has the wheelwell covers molded onto the gear legs, and these have a sprue attachment and mold seam running right down the middle.  Rather than cleaning this up, I found it easier and more accurate to saw off the covers and replace them with stock.
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I’m doing something different with this batch and attaching many of the detail parts before painting.  Attaching everything now will ensure a good bond and hopefully prevent any glue from marring the finish.  The down side is I’ll have to handle things very carefully from here on out.  This is the Tamiya kit.
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This is the MPM Shiden showing the extent of the replacement of the soft, flash-ridden kit details.  The gondolas are castings of the Tamiya parts, the rest are fabricated from Evergreen stock.  The sway braces for the bomb racks are made from 0.0125 inch (0.3 mm) bronze rod.  The kit drop tank was a mess so this model will be finished without one.
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The top of the MPM kit.  The cockpit decking and headrest are Evergreen replacing an unusable part from the kit.  The rods sticking out from the wings are “gear down” indicators.  These were mechanically linked to the gear legs, when the gear was lowered and locked they would protrude from the upper wing surface giving the pilot a visual confirmation that his gear was down.  These were common on many aircraft types and can often be seen if you look closely at photographs.
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The underside of one of the Hasegawa Shiden Kai with everything in place.  The landing gear covers were replaced on each of the kits with the exception of Tamiya’s which looked the part.  There are a few more details to attend to, but hopefully I can shoot some primer and get to painting by next week!