LS Yokosuka K5Y2 Akatombo 赤とんぼ (Red Dragonfly) “Willow” in 1/72 Scale

This is the old LS mold of the Japanese Akatombo primary float trainer first issued in 1977.  The kit has a few limitations but still goes together well and can be built into a nice model.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit as there is very little included in the kit.  The beaching gear is scratchbuilt, and I replaced the vertical stabilizer with a broad cord clone from the newer AZ kit as the floatplanes all had the wider stabilizers.  The decals are from the new AZ kit and are of a machine from the Otsu Kokutai in August of 1945.

















Completed AZ Model kit here:

Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo 赤とんぼ (Red Dragonfly) “Willow” Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

The major subassemblies were left separate for painting and decals.  This is the AZ kit under primer.  Turns out the kits have two different float designs but both are correct.  The AZ floats have a single step, the LS floats have two and are more slender.
This is the LS kit with Hinomaru masked with Maketar masks.  I prefer the masks especially for simple insignia like these.
Later in the war the K5Y had their upper surfaces camouflaged in various degrees and patterns.  Here I have used Floquil Reefer Orange and Mr. Color 15.
The beaching gear was painted Sasebo Gray with dark brown blocks and weathered.  Colors are just a guess but plausible.
I used the AZ decals for the codes on both kits with no issues.  The floats and upper wing went on well, this one still needed a little refinement when the picture was taken.  I used Uschi elastic line for rigging but found it difficult to work with so I will likely go back to rigging with Nitenol wire on future biplanes.  Use the box art for a rigging diagram, the diagram in the AZ instructions reverses the tail rigging and misses the aileron wires.
Here are both finished models together.  They need a little TLC but either can be build up into attractive models.

More completed pictures here:

Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo 赤とんぼ (Red Dragonfly) “Willow” Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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:

Mitsubishi Ki-15-II “Babs” LS Build in 1/72 Scale

LS released their Ki-15 “Babs” family in 1976.  In spite of their age, the moldings still hold up quite well today.  The kits were originally issued in four different boxings which included the Ki-15-I, Ki-15-II, the Imperial Japanese Navy C5M, and  the civilian-registered “Kamikaze”.
The moldings feature finely recessed panel lines, razor sharp trailing edges, and excellent fit throughout.  Cockpit detail is basic, but little can be seen anyway.  Even though this is an old mold it still holds up well by today’s standards.
One weak point of the kit is the engine, which is oddly shaped.  When I first built this kit in the late 1970’s one of my first efforts at improving a model was to substitute a spare engine from an Italeri Ju 88 in place of the LS kit engine.  For nostalgia’s sake I will do the same on this build.  Not perfect, but a substantial improvement over the kit part.
Here the basic cockpit is in place and the Italeri engine has been painted.  Seat belts are made from masking tape.  All the interior components have been given a black wash to bring out details.
The kit goes together without any drama.  Fit is excellent throughout, a real joy to build.  I gave the wing joints a swipe of Perfect Plastic Putty, that was all the filling required.
I was quite happy when I saw that Dead Design had released a canopy mask for the Ki-15 and bought one straight away.  Unfortunately, it does not fit the LS kit.  I was able to modify some of the masks, but wound up making most myself from household masking tape.  Maybe the Hasegawa kit is different?  Here is the model under a coat of Mr. Surfacer, tell-tale seams have been re-sanded.
I used Maketar masks for the Hinomarus and masked off the white combat stripe.  I prefer to mask and paint the Hinomarus when possible.
Mr. Color 128 Gray Green is the base coat, 16 IJA Green was used for the camouflage.  I am really liking the Mr. Color paints!
After a removing the masks the model was shot with Testors Glosscoat.  The tail markings are from Rising Decals Emperor’s Eyes Pt. II which have markings for several Japanese reconnaissance aircraft.  The decals performed flawlessly.
The model was given an acrylic wash to bring out the panel lines, and then shot with Testors Dullcoat, mixed with about 1/5 gloss.  I wanted it to be flat, but not too flat.  The antenna wire is Uschi elastic line.

More finished pictures here: