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

Shallow wheel wells bug me more than they do most people.  IPMS judging rules frown upon hollow openings into the wings but don’t specifically address wheelwells with no depth.  Even though you would have to flip the model over to notice unrealistic wheelwells I can’t seem to resist grinding them open and building them deeper.  Here is the Aoshima lower wing with the wells opened up and the side walls added with Evergreen strip.  The wells of the Shiden were open back to the main spar for part of their length, similar to those of the P-51 Mustang.
Here is the Aoshima Shiden built up with the internal wheelwell structure roughed in.  Some modelers hesitate to make this modification because of the very real possibility of affecting the length or rigidity of the main landing gear legs.  I have side-stepped that issue by leaving the molded in attachment points in place and removing the rest of the well roof.  When the gear legs, covers, retracting arms, and brake lines are in added this does not look out of place.
This is the Hasegawa kit with the same treatment.  If you look back to the sprue shots in the first post you can see just how shallow the original Hasegawa molding is – there is not even room for the gear covers, let alone anything else.  The join line along the flaps needed some attention as well.
Tamiya’s Shiden is molded with deep wheelwells.  They do not go all the way back to the spar but I didn’t correct it here.  I did add the curved structural supports which were made with a Waldron punch set.  The internal structure in the round part of the well was added to cover a join seam which would be impossible to fill otherwise.
This is the MPM kit.  The wing was entirely open inside but had a PE part for the “roof” of the wells.  I chose not to mess with that and built the inner structure up with Evergreen instead just like the others.  The wing joints required a lot of filing on the underside to get them smooth.  The upper joint was much better as I chose to get the good alignment there and correct the bottoms to match.
There were two vertical fin sizes used on the Shiden Kai.  The first one hundred machines were manufactured with a broad fin, on the rest of the production run it was much narrower.  This is the Hasegawa fuselage compared to the drawings in Famous Airplanes of the World no. 124.  Hasegawa has split the difference between the sizes on their kit, the vertical fin will need some work in order to represent either version.  The trailing edge of the rudder is molded as a curve but that is simple to file straight.
The tail on the left has been modified to represent the smaller fin Shiden Kai, compared to the stock kit profile on the right.  The fin has 1-2 mm removed on the leading edge to match the FAOW drawing and the trailing edge of the rudder has been straightened.
I wanted to build the second Shiden Kai with a broad fin to show the difference.  This one has the leading edge of the fin flattened to get a nice straight attachment point, then the fin was built back out with Evergreen strip.  Superglue was used to blend the fin and then it was smoothed with Mr. Surfacer.
Here the two modified fins are compared.  Once I’ve verified the seams with primer I’ll re-scribe the lost panel lines.

Part IV here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/1-72-scale-n1k-kyofu-shiden-batch-build-part-iv/

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

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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/1-72-scale-n1k-kyofu-shiden-batch-build-part-iii/

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

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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/12/20/1-72-scale-n1k-kyofu-shiden-batch-build-part-ii/

Xotic 1/72 Kawanishi E15K Shiun (Norm)

The Kawanishi E15K Shiun (Norm) was an innovative design which was plagued with problems.  It was intended to be fast enough complete its reconnaissance mission and escape any pursuing Allied fighters.  To that end it employed a 1,500 hp Kasei 14 radial engine which necessitated counter-rotating props.  The wing floats featured metal undersides with an inflatable bladder on top and could be retracted into the wings.  If all that failed, the large center float could be jettisoned to reduce drag.  Problems with these features were never quite resolved and all six examples sent to Palau for combat evaluations were quickly lost.

This is the Xotic-72 limited run kit with a lot of work.  The cockpit was a floor with two seat molded in, so it was replaced with several scratch bits and castings from other kits.  The engine was replaced with spare radials from Italeri found in the spares box.  Underwing bays for the retractable wing floats were constructed from Evergreen.  All control surfaces were repositioned.  The beaching cart is scratchbuilt.  Markings represent an aircraft from the light cruiser Oyodo.













1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part V – Building the Hasegawa H8K2 Emily Flying Boat

The 1/72 scale Hasegawa Kawanishi H8K2 Emily kit is what originally planted the seed for this entire project. The kit does not disappoint, and is everything you would expect from a new mold Hasegawa offering.  Fit was outstanding throughout, molding is crisp with many fine details.
On the underside of the hull there is a grid pattern of raised detail. I believe that is meant to represent the internal structural framing, but it should not be visible.  Easy enough to sand off but be aware of the need.
Internal detail is impressive right out of the box. I added some detail to the nose section as I wanted to pose the crew access door open, but even that was almost impossible to see on the finished model.
One area where extra detail will be visible is the engines. These are the kit engines with the push rods replaced and wiring added.
Akitsushima had deck storage for four wingtip floats, two against the midships bulkhead on the starboard side (shown in the photograph in the earlier reference post), and two shown in drawings on the main deck. The drawings also illustrate a main float for an A6M2-N Rufe fighter aft of the stack.  I cut an insert to fill the attachment recess on one of the kit floats and used that to make a mold for resin clones to provide the needed spares.
Emily is a big girl, the fuel truck makes for a good size comparison.
Here is the finished Emily on her beaching gear at the Inch High International Airport (and seaplane ramp, apparently).
Emily in flight. I painted the Hinomaru using Maketar kabuki masks, but the stencils and tail codes are from the kit.  Hasegawa did a good job replicating the silver walkway stripes, but they are printed as one huge strip.  I cut the small stripes out separately to prevent any chance of the decal film silvering.
Here is the completed Emily test-fit on her display base. The aircraft will be one of the focal points of the project so it is fortunate that Hasegawa produces such a fine kit.
The Emily is secured to the cradle mechanically with long bronze rods. The rods penetrate the cradle and go into the hull itself to prevent the danger of a weak bond between any of the other components.  To prevent slippage, the contact points will be joined with MicroScale LiquiTape, which is an adhesive that remains tacky without drying hard.  This will allow removal of the Emily if desired.
This long view of the Akitsushima with the Emily test fit shows everything in perspective. The Emily is a rather large aircraft, Akitsushima is probably about the smallest displacement tender design which could accommodate these large flying boats aboard.

Part VI here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/1-72-akitsushima-%e7%a7%8b%e6%b4%a5%e6%b4%b2-ijn-seaplane-tender-scratchbuild-part-vi/