Hasegawa Mitsubishi J2M Raiden 雷電 Lightning Bolt “Jack” in 1/72

This is Hasegawa’s classic Mitsubishi Raiden kit from 1977.  It is a good kit for its time, but suffers from basic cockpit detail and shallow wheelwells.  I replaced both on my build.  There is photographic evidence for at least three Raiden with the lighting bolt markings on the fuselage which is not all that surprising given the aircraft’s name.  This one represents a machine of the 353rd Kokutai at Omura in March of 1945.

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Mitsubishi J2M Raiden 雷電 Lightning Bolt “Jack” Build in 1/72

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This is a re-boxing of the old Hasegawa Mitsubishi J2M Raiden tool from 1977.  All the Hasegawa kits use the same tool, it has the typical limitations of basic cockpit and shallow wheelwells like most of their kits of the era.  The engine on this one is hidden behind a forced cooling fan, similar to the FW 190.  This is another model show find, the box was a mess as it had gotten wet and the kit had been started.  The original builder had thrown in some spares from other kits and had detached many of this kit’s parts from the sprues so initially I was not even sure everything was there, but it was had for a give-away price and who doesn’t want spare parts?
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One of the bits in the box was this nice sheet of Eduard PE.  I figured even if the kit was missing enough parts to be unbuildable this fret alone was worth what I paid.  Besides, if the main assemblies were all usable there are enough bits in my spare box to fill out the kit.
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The kit cockpit was basic and without any form of detail so I set it aside and began building up a replacement.  The guts of this one are castings of the Tamiya Shiden cockpit modified to better represent what should be in a Raiden, along with an aftermarket resin seat.  The seat is probably the most visible item in a cockpit so getting that & the belts to look convincing goes a long way.
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Here is the cockpit painted and glossed with a Tamiya wash to add depth.  Belts and console faces are printed from photographic paper.
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I hate shallow wheelwells and usually re-build them when I can, even though they are obviously on the underside of the model and therefor hard for the casual viewer to see.  They were rebuilt with the Eduard photoetch fret and the seams filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.
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Here is the model primed with Mr. Surfacer.  In spite of the kit’s age, Hasegawa did a fine job with the surface engraving and the fit is pretty good overall.  I have added gear down indicators from bronze rod and navigation lights using clear plastic from a CD case.
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These are the wheelwells under primer.  The Raiden has the transparent blue primer finish in the wheelwells which unfortunately will obscure most of the fine relief etched into the PE.
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One problem with modeling Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft is you wind up with the same basic scheme over and over.  Here is the Raiden with Mr. Color paints matched to the Iliad design paint chips.  Manufacturing was done at several different plants and the Japanese manufacturers each used their own paint mixes – if you wanted to devise a plan to perpetually confuse modelers that is an excellent way to go.  The Mr. Color Nakajima Dark Green was a great match for the Iliad Design Mitsubishi chip, but Raidens were produced by both Mitsubishi and Koza Air Arsenal so be skeptical if anyone claims to know the actual colors with certainty!
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At this point everything began to go wrong and the build became “snake bit” as we say here in the U.S.  I used Print Scale decals for the lightning bolts and the tail codes, but the lightning bolts looked way too pale when on the model (the Print Scale Hinomaru were not used for the same reason).  In addition, the carrier film was laughably flimsy and the decals tended to fold and ball up given the slightest opportunity.  Even worse, I had a “senior moment” when I was removing the excess panel line wash and reached for the lacquer thinner instead of the much slower standard paint thinner which I use for that purpose.  The result is I stripped off the gloss coat and got down into the paint and the ink on the decals before I caught the error, as you can see on the port side of the fuselage.
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The lightning bolts were the wrong color anyway, so I re-painted everything as best as I could with a fine brush.  It looks okay from a distance, but this one is now destined to skip the shows and go directly to the display case.  On top of all that, one of the Master replacement gun barrels pinged off into the quantum realm, never to be seen again.  Tubing is standing in until a another arrives from Hannants.  I’d still like to build a nice Raiden someday, so if I find another at a show maybe I’ll have another go!

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

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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I used Maketar masks for the Hinomarus and masked off the white combat stripe.  I prefer to mask and paint the Hinomarus when possible.
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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!
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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.
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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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/ls-ki-15-ii-babs-of-the-8th-sentai-in-1-72-scale/

Fujimi 1/72 Mitsubishi F1M Pete

The Mitsubishi F1M Pete was a versatile design which was rugged and maneuverable.  It operated from battleships, cruisers, tenders, and shore bases.  It was primarily intended for observation, but could also perform as an interceptor, light bomber, or in the antisubmarine role.

This is Fujimi’s kit, a real gem.  There is the unusual engineering decision to place the wing seam along the fabric-covered area of the wing, but that is manageable with careful test-fitting and sanding.  An interesting feature is the choice of two options for the main float – the standard float and a waterline.  The beaching cart is included.  The model was rigged with Nitenol wire.  The observer’s gun is a brass replacement.  Overall a nice little kit, and an easy build for a biplane.

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USS Ward (DD-139 / APD-16)

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The USS Ward (DD-139) was a Wickes-class destroyer, one of 273 “flush deck” or “four-piper” destroyers built for the United States Navy in WWI.  She was constructed in record time using a construction technique which would later be called “pre-fabrication”.  Her keel was laid on 15MAY18 and she was launched on 01JUN18 – a mere 17 1/2 days.

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Here is Ward alongside at the Mare Island Shipyard.  Ward was commissioned into the US Navy on 24JUL18.  During her sea trials she made an impressive 37 1/2 knots.

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A nice view of Ward underway in her WWI dazzle camouflage.  If you look closely you can make out her hull number 139 painted under the bridgewing at the deck line. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph)

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A good view of the port side showing the WWI camouflage pattern.  Wickes class destroyers were armed with four 4″/50 guns, twelve torpedo tubes, and depth charges for anti-submarine work.  Note that the after 4″ gun is mounted on the main deck, later this gun was moved to the top of the after deckhouse.  Ward was decommissioned and place into reserve on 21JUL21, and recommissioned out of reserve on 13FEB41.

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The USS Ward is most famous for firing the first shot of the US involvement in the Second World War.  Ward was patrolling the approaches to Pearl Harbor when she received a report from the USS Condor (AMC-14) that a periscope had been sighted in the area.  Ward found the submarine attempting to follow the USS Antares (AKS-3) into the harbor.  The submarine was a Japanese “Target A” mini sub, one of five launched as part of the Pearl Harbor attack.  Ward engaged the submarine and claimed it as destroyed.  Her Commanding Officer, LT William W. Outerbridge reported,  “We have attacked, fired upon, and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area.”  This was 70 minutes before the first Japanese aircraft arrived over Hawaii.  (Painting by Tom Freeman)

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A publicity photograph of Ward’s No. 3 gun crew.  The first shot from No. 1 gun missed but the second shot from No. 3, fired at minimum range, was seen to hit the submarine’s sail.  Most of the crew of the Ward were reservists from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Ward’s No. 3 gun is preserved today in the courtyard at Minnesota’s state capitol building in  St. Paul.  (US Navy Photograph)

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Some skeptics doubted the Ward’s claim.  Those doubts were put to rest on 28AUG02 when researchers from the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory discovered the Japanese mini sub on the seafloor within four miles of the entrance to Pearl Harbor in 1,200 feet of water.  The hole made by Ward’s 4″ projectile is clearly visible at the center of the base of the sail – a perfect shot.

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The “four pipers” were obsolete as fleet destroyers by the standards of WWII and many were converted to other roles such as seaplane tenders, convoy escorts, minelayers, minesweepers, or fast transports.  Ward was one of 32 flush deckers converted to the fast transport role and was reclassified as APD-16 in FEB43.  In this new configuration she could land 120 troops along with small vehicles using four LCP(R) landing craft.  The 4″/50 guns were replaced by 3″/50 dual-purpose guns and augmented with five 20mm cannon.  Ward lost her torpedo tubes but retained her depth charges which allowed her to still function as an escort.

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Ward participated in frequent landing operations both large and small during the better part of 1943/44.  Typically the APDs would land their troops and then provide anti-aircraft and anti-submarine protection of the landing area, and be on-call for Naval Gunfire Support of the troops ashore.  They were also useful for hauling and landing supplies.

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On 07DEC44 – exactly three years after the Pearl Harbor raid, Ward landed 108 Army troops at Ormoc Bay, Philippines and was providing ASW screening of the landing area when she was attacked by three Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bombers.  Two attempted kamikaze runs but missed, the third struck Ward squarely amidships on the Port side. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph)

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Ward lost power and was unable to control her fires.  Here the destroyer USS O’Brien (DD 725) moves in to assist the stricken Ward. (US Navy Photograph)

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O’Brien is alongside with her firehoses at work.  Even with her assistance it was clear that the fires were uncontrollable and the Ward was doomed.  Less than half an hour after the kamikaze hit her Captain, LT Richard E. Farwell, ordered abandon ship.  O’Brien and other vessels took aboard Ward’s crew, then O’Brien moved off 800 yards to sink Ward with gunfire.  Her first salvo detonated Ward’s after magazine.  When the smoke cleared, Ward was slipping beneath the surface stern first.

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In a strange twist of fate, the Captain of the O’Brien that day was William W. Outerbridge, now a Commander.  He was the Captain of the USS Ward during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and commanded the destroyer which sank her exactly three years to the day later.  O’Brien was later hit by a kamikaze herself off Okinawa and was damaged.  Outerbridge survived the war, among his decorations was a Navy Cross for Ward’s actions off Pearl Harbor, and a Purple Heart earned at Okinawa. (US Navy Photograph)