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.

















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.

Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka 桜花 Special Attack Aircraft

The MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) was a manned flying bomb used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the closing stages of the Pacific War.  It was an air-launched kamikaze intended for use against Allied warships.  Construction was basic, consisting of a 2,600 pound (1,200 kg) warhead in the nose, wooden wings, and three Type 4 Model 1 rocket engines in the after fuselage.
2 -721NAGBetty
While there were several sub-types in development, the only Ohka type used operationally was the Model 11.  These were designed to be air launched, carried aloft by the G4M2 Model 24 “Betty” bomber.  The 711 Attack Squadron of the 721 Naval Air Group was one of the units tasked with launching the Ohka.  Here is a 721 NAG “Betty” with an Ohka semi-recessed into the bomb bay.
Fitting the Ohka into the bomb bay allowed the pilot to move about the bomber, only entering the Ohka when launch was imminent.  The Ohka had a nominal 23 mile (37 km) range, but until launch range was reached the heavily-laden bombers were very vulnerable to interception.  While this picture is likely of a model, it shows the carrying arrangement well.
The first Ohka attack occurred on 21MAR45 when the 721 NAG launched eighteen G4M2 carrying Ohkas against U.S. Navy Task Group 58.1 operating off Kanoya.  TG 58.1 consisted of four aircraft carriers, two battleships, and numerous cruisers and destroyers.
While the “Bettys” were escorted by over three dozen A6M5 Zero fighters, the American task group detected the Japanese raid on radar and was able to launch additional fighters to reinforce the Combat Air Patrol protecting the fleet.  In all approximately one hundred and fifty American fighters rose to oppose the Japanese.
All the Bettys were destroyed before they got within range of the U.S. fleet, and roughly half the Zero escort was lost as well.  These pictures are from the gun camera film shot by a VF-17 Hellcat operating from the USS Hornet (CV-12) that day.
On 01APR45 U.S. Marines discovered fifteen Ohka on Okinawa.  Interesting diorama material for a modeler.
In the U.S. April first is a day for practical jokes, commonly called April Fool’s Day.  The Americans dubbed the captured Ohkas “Baka” bombs, in Japanese baka means “fool”.
In the wartime color photographs of Ohkas it is very common to see the wings and / or tail planes in a lighter color than the fuselage.
The first success for the Ohka was the sinking of the Sumner-class destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 12APR45.  The Abele was struck by an A6M Zero kamikaze in the after engine room and by an Ohka forward, she sank a few moments later.  In all seven American ships were hit by Ohkas, three being either sunk or damaged beyond economical repair.
The controls of the Ohka were quite basic, only a limited number of instruments were provided.  These photographs show the interior of the restored aircraft in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.  (NMUSAF photograph)
Another view of the cockpit.  (NMUSAF photograph)
During the Second World War the USAAF operated an evaluation center for foreign aircraft and related equipment at Freeman Field near Seymour Indiana.  After the war the field hosted an open house where many of the foreign aircraft were put on static display.  This is the Ohka displayed at Freeman Field, note the color of the fuselage, and the lighter wings and tail assembly.  One of the Type 4 Model 1 rocket engines lies beside the aircraft.  In the background is a Junkers Ju-290A-9 transport.