On the Bench: Tamiya 1/48 Ki-84 Hayate

UPDATE: Due to user error – my installing the cowl gun deck backward – looks like this kit is unfortunately going to be living out its days as a paint mule. I will be tackling the Ki-84 in the future, as I have two Hasegawas and plenty of markings options.

The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (“FRANK”)

For all my interest in World War II, Japanese aircraft, like Italian aircraft, have been something of a blind spot. Pretty much everyone knows what a Zero is, and I can recognize several of the Allied codenames – Tojo, Val, Kate, Betty, Tony, etc – but the actual aircraft, their capabilities, when they served and whether it was with the Imperial Navy or the Air Force, yeah, nothing.

I don’t know why, but I’ve just never been interested in Japanese aircraft. Growing up, it was enough for me to know they were what attacked Pearl Harbor, and what Wildcats, Hellcats and Corsairs knocked out of the sky. I’ve never built a Japanese aircraft, and until recently, had no desire to do so. But seeing several fantastic builds coming out of the Japanese group build on the FSM forums, well, it piqued my interest.

In particular, the Ki-84. Continue reading

Of Wingscale, Wing XL, H-K Models and Big-Ass B-25s

Last year at this time, one of the hottest stories in the modeling world was Wingscale and the imminent release of their massive  1/32 B-25J Mitchell (and announcement of a ridiculous 1/32 B-17 Flying Fortress).

It seemed too good to be true, and then in March of last year, all of the sudden is was. Something happened, Wingscale fell apart, and everyone was quick to bust out the torches against the unnamed tooling company that screwed Martin out of his company and his kits.

Well, there’s a fantastic quote by Ambassador Kosh from Babylon 5 (which if you’ve never seen it…is essential geek viewing and a precursor of the serialized format so successfully utilized by Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, Spartacus and basically any television show worth viewing):

Understanding is a three-edged sword. Your perspective, their perspective, and the truth.

Up until now, we’ve only really had Martin’s perspective. Heck – I wrote a post on it, and it’s since become one of my most-trafficked posts, second only to anything relating to Tamiya’s 1/32 Mustang.

Well, fast forward to the present. The unnamed tooling company – H-K Models – has recently announced the 1/32 B-25J, along with the B-17 and an Avro Lancaster.

This was met with scorn and derision, and I must confess I was dismissive myself. I like to reward passion, and not shady business practices.

But this afternoon, I came across an e-mail that H-K sent to Tom Cleaver over at Modeling Madness. Remember that three-edged sword? Go have a read…

My take? The e-mail seems pretty specific and damning. I don’t know if it’s the whole story any more than Martin’s rather vague account, but it definitely pushes the whole thing into a gray area where, at the very least, I no longer view H-K as the “bad guy” in the whole sad affair.

And that means that I will be pre-ordering one of their B-25s.

Razorback Giveaway – Winners!

A hearty congrats to Rodney Anderton and Reamon Keener, winners of the Tamiya and Monogram Razorbacks respectively!

I’m building both right now, and can say without hesitation that they’re both great kits in their own ways. The Tamiya is among the best 1/48 kits ever boxed, and the Monogram is pretty much the epitome of the simplicity, solid fit, and overall accuracy that makes the old Monogram kits great.

To mark their wins, here are their entries for their favorite Jug drivers:

Rodney Anderton:

I have to go with Capt Gerald W. Johnson

  1. Gerald flew wing for the commander, Colonel Hub Zemke on the 56th’s first mission
  2. First Ace of the 56th. 16+ kills
  3. Flew 88 missions before being shot down while strafing a train. Which he crash landed in a field.
  4. Spent 13 months as a POW
  5. Gotta have some love for his plane “In the Mood” inspired by one of my favorite Glenn Miller songs. Just the nose art alone puts it at the top of the list for 1/48 scale Razorbacks!

Reamon Keener:

It’s gotta be John W. ( Wild Bill ) Crump for me!

I Love the story of his pet coyote “Jeep”, the only coyote to fly on 5 mission in WWII! Wild Bill was a heck of a guy, he flew 47′s and later P-51′s, and racked up 311 combat hours and helped save the life of fellow pilot Huie Lamb who went into the drink over the North Sea. Wild Bill remained active as a pilot and as a community leader, even carrying the Olympic Torch in Atlanta in ’96.

Future Build Preview – Chance Vought AU-1 Corsair

It’s rare that my modeling ventures much outside of World War II. In my opinion, the years of 1939-1945 are lightning in a bottle in terms of aviation history and the airplane’s use as a weapon of war. The aircraft left standing in 1945 were light years ahead of their pre-war predecessors in every possible way, but they were also the last of their breed. The age of the jet was in the offing, and many pinnacles of piston-engine design – such as the Grumman F8F Bearcat and Goodyear F2G “Super” Corsair- found themselves relegated to footnotes.

A few WWII aircraft soldiered on into the early conflicts of the Cold War, and one of the most prominent was the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. While jets assumed most air-to-air roles over Korea, the Corsair traded on a reputation it earned in the later stages of the Pacific War as a very effective strike fighter, and was employed largely in a ground attack capacity.

The AU-1 was the last variant of the Corsair the U.S. military purchased, and was built as a dedicated strike aircraft for the Marines. The supercharger was revised and optimized toward low-altitude operations, and armor plating was beefed up to make the Corsair even more resilient in the face of ground fire.

One of the things that sets the AU-1 apart from other Corsairs is that it stayed in service long enough to make the transition to the gull gray and white scheme the Navy adopted in 1955.

Next to the steady parade of blue F4Us, the AU-1 sure stands out.

I knew I had to build an AU-1 as soon as I first learned of its existence. The Corsair is one of my favorite aircraft, particularly the later variants (-4 and above), and the AU-1 in hi-viz gray and white offers a very distinct look from pretty much any other Corsair.

After months of scouring eBay,  I finally scored one of Hasegawa’s out-of-production 1/48 AU-1 kits last fall.

Lately it’s been popping up in my mind with increasing frequency. Hopefully it’ll be one of the kits I get to this year.

PCM Fiat G.55 – Splinter or RLM?

From the moment I cracked the box on Pacific Coast’s Fiat G.55, I’ve known exactly which livery I’ve wanted to do – an experimental sand/red-brown/green splinter pattern dating from 1944.

But over the past few days, a doubt’s been nagging at my mind. The splinter camo is indeed striking, but it’s also rather jarring, with large, jagged patches of color that I think confuse the Fiat’s lines. This is more apparent in physical representations – both scale models and actual aircraft – than it is in the profile card.

That doubt’s drawn me more and more to another livery – a G.55 wearing the RLM 74/75/76 camoflage so common to Messerschmitt 109s and Focke Wulf 190s.

The strike against the RLM scheme is its ubiquity. It was to the Luftwaffe what Olive Drab/Neutral Gray was to the USAAF, or Dark Green/Ocean Gray was to the Royal Air Force. At the same time, it’s rarely seen on Italian fighters, and I find it especially flattering to the G.55’s lines, making the fuselage appear longer and sleeker.

Which would you choose? Splinter, or RLM 74/75/76?

Have your say below! The poll is non-binding, since this is my build, but I’ll certainly take popular opinion into account before I start throwing paint!