From the Box Review: The Eagles Talon, Inc. 1/72 Scale Yokosuka R2Y KEIUN

by Michael Hays

The serious scale modeler of World War II Japanese aircraft may want to add this kit to his collection. One look, however, and you can tell the R2Y Keiun (Beautiful Cloud) belies its name and could easily be a top contender of the ugliest plane of WW II contest. Only one aircraft of this type was ever produced, and it was intended to serve as an aerodynamic test bed for the proposed high speed, two-seat, twin turbojet R2Y2 attack aircraft wanted by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The cigar-shaped fuselage of the single R2Y1 concealed two Aichi liquid-cooled engines coupled together in experimental fashion to form the Aichi Ha-70 24-cylinder engine driving a single six-blade propeller. Just one of the ungainly, squat R2Y1s was completed by Yokosuka in April, 1945, and was test flown a month later. Troubles with an overheating engine continued to plague the aircraft, and it was eventually destroyed by American bombs. A second prototype was still under construction when the war ended.

The Eagles Talon offering represents the original R2Y1 and follows the routine format common to most all vacuform kits. Two .040 sheets of vacuformed parts in white styrene and a clear vacuformed canopy are all you get inside the bag, plus instructions. As with most vacuform kits, only the basic parts are represented. The plastic sheets contain 39 parts that need to be cut out and prepared for assembly. The larger pieces--five parts for the wings, two fuselage halves, and four pieces for the horizontal tail--feature delicate engraved panel lines that are accurate in representation. All flying surfaces are molded integrally with their respective wing and tail parts.. Unfortunately, no landing gear legs are included, and the kit commonly suffers from a dearth of other details. There are no white metal parts or decals either. But I nice touch is the separate wheel wells that can be cut out and used for a wheels down version.

Kit instructions are printed in English on three sides of two orange-tinted sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper. Page one features a history of the aircraft along with a side-view profile 1/72 scale drawing of the R2Y1 in its color scheme of IJN dark green over IJN light gray. The other side sports 1/72 scale line drawings of top and bottom plan views and brief instructions for painting and markings. Actually, the only markings on the aircraft appear to have been six white-edged hinomarus ("meatballs") in the standard positions. I know of no other markings, stencils, or warning lines that appeared on this aircraft. Photos show no tail codes, but yellow leading edge ID panels are obvious in the pics. Apparently, it’s not known for certain either about the bottom color, whether the aircraft was painted light gray in this area or left in unpainted duralumin. The photos are unclear; my guess is to go with the light gray, since IJN aircraft tended toward this practice. Page three of the kit instructions shows the parts map, a simple exploded view drawing showing where the parts go, a list of references, and a 1/72 scale drawing of the plane as it faces you.

Construction of this kit is typical of vacuforms: extremely simple and exceedingly difficult! The parts mate together well, but of course, you need a lot of time and patience to cut the pieces out, sand their edges smooth, test fit their joints, and glue them together. Most likely you won’t be tackling this kind of project unless you wish to learn how to do a vacuform, already know how, and/or have some skills in scratch building extra parts.

The cockpit is represented by two bucket seats set side-by-side, a floor, and a forward and rear bulkhead. Everything else will need to be added, since the whole interior can be seen through the single piece bug-eyed clear canopy that comes with the kit. I had no cockpit photos of this aircraft and presently know of none, so imagination and educated guesswork had to be put into operation to fill in the details. Perhaps finding photos of other Yokosuka-built aircraft may help here.

The fuselage and vertical tail comprise two halves that will sandwich the cockpit and nose wheel well between them. It may be best here to build the cockpit in a box and enclose the hole thing inside the fuselage pieces. One large air intake scoop on top of the fuselage will need to be blocked in with two vertical braces and a backing of some type. Furthermore, two exhaust pipes vented from either side of the fuselage behind the cockpit. These are not included in the kit and will need to be scratch built from hollow tubing.

The prop spinner comes in two halves that need to be carefully cut and formed to a circle at the back and not an oval. There is no back plate for the spinner or plug for the front of the fuselage to insert it. So unless you wish to glue the thing solid to the fuselage, you’ll need to make your own mating surfaces and a shaft to insert through an opening. The kit provides six individual propeller blades as part of its vacuformed parts. I’ve never had much success making blades this way. I have better results pounding 25 mm solid lead soldering wire flat with a hammer, then filing, shaping, and bending the blades to the correct shape. These serve the additional benefit of adding weight to the nose to hold the plane down correctly on its tricycle landing gear.

The horizontal tails have no corresponding mating surfaces to join with the fuselage. So here you have to make your tails to suit your desires, then test fit them until you’re satisfied they’re aligned properly. They’re quite thin, as they should be, so it’s not easy to make a thin bulkhead that could be inserted into a slot cut in the fuselage to give the tails extra support. I recommend using lots of liquid cement, sliding the tails into place so that they are aligned correctly, and let the cement serve to make a strong bond as it sets.

The wings come in five basic pieces, along with two wheel wells and two radiator intakes that go on the wing section that fits beneath the fuselage. The radiators will need to be boxed in with some kind of screen. The wheel wells have no details whatsoever. Only the gear doors are provided for the landing gear, and they have no interior panel details either. Also, the main gear doors folded into unusual bends where they attached to the fuselage. This is represented in the construction drawings, but only vaguely. So if you want to build your R2Y wheels down, you’ll need to supply lots of details and check your references.

Furthermore, you’re going to have to find some spares or scratch build the landing gear legs for all places, since these are not supplied. Unfortunately, no illustrations of these legs come with the kit, save but for the profile drawing of the nose gear, and even that is not accurate. You do get passable tires to cut out, so at least you won’t have to scrounge some from your spares.

As with most all vacuforms, you’ll need to test fit the wing joint to the fuselage and probably add lots of putty to fill the gaps. Fortunately, the joint here wasn’t too bad, and things aligned properly as they should. If you haven’t yet attached the canopy, do that now and carefully glue the radio mast on top of it. Unfortunately, the kit drawings do not show where the hinomarus go on the wings or what size they were. These can be about 22 mm wide on the top and bottom wings, including the white edge. Make your own, paint them on, or scrounge some from your spares.

When it’s done, it won’t look very pretty, but you will have a conversation piece that represents one of the rarest and possibly ugliest airplanes ever built during the war. If put together right, the model scales out accurately to dimensions found in Rene Francillon’s JAPANESE AIRCRAFT OF THE PACIFIC WAR. This is the primary reference I had and used for building this kit, and an indispensable one for any modeler who seriously wishes to build kits of WW II Japanese aircraft. More references, such as Koku-Fan No. 1, 1979, are referred to in the kit instructions.

If you have never built a vacuform kit before, this offering from Eagles Talon is simple enough to get your first practice in. Of course, it takes extra work to make this type of kit, but I’ve learned that the skills you develop when you make a vacuform will come in handy when you want to turn that plain looking easy-to-build injection molded favorite of yours into a contest-winning work of art. And what modeler of Japanese warplanes wouldn’t want to have this one-off R2Y1 "beautiful cloud" sitting there proud as a monument to ugliness on his shelf!

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