Box Review Pavla Kyushu Q1W1 (-K) Tokai ("Lorna")

by Michael Hays

At first glance, the "Lorna" appears to be a Japanese Navy version of the German Ju-88, but the aircraft was actually an indigenous design. Designed in mid-war for maritime anti-sub patrol, 153 Q1Ws were built and one all-wood experimental Q1W1-K.

Pavla’s multi-media 1/72 kit contains parts to build either a standard Q1W or the all-wood -K variant. About 40 basic parts are injection molded in thick but soft medium gray styrene. These feature finely engraved recessed panel lines, but a lot of clean up will be needed, and overly thick parts will need to be thinned down considerably. Furthermore, the surface of the plastic is occasionally rough in spots with tiny raised grains that will need to be sanded smooth.

A panel containing more than 30 photo-etched pieces comes with the kit. It has parts for the cockpit, landing gear, engine, flap actuators,intake screens, bomb shackles, and radar antennas. My kit included two vacuform canopies and glazed nose cones. Both were thin with raised frames. However their surfaces were slightly grainy in spots. I recommend leaving them on their backing plate, stuffing the interiors tight with moistened tissue, then masking and painting the frames their appropriate colors. Once this is done and the fuselage is ready for their mounting, carefully cut out the canopy and nose cone, trim to fit, and then dip the clear parts in a floor wax like Future or Kleer to offset the grainy effect.

Another nice touch is the inclusion of a clear piece of acetate to sandwich in between the photo-etched instrument panel and its plastic back plate.The instructions for this kit are written in both Czech and English in a small booklet of 12 pages. They contain a history of the aircraft, exploded drawings as a guide for attaching the parts, and a parts map. Three-view drawings of the completed aircraft are provided with color codes for parts and two particular aircraft: (1) the green-over-gray Q1W1 from the 901st Kokutai (featured in color on the box top) and an overall light gray Q1W1 from an unidentified unit based at Formosa in 1945.

The decal sheet features plain and white-edged hinomarus and tail codes for both kits featured. The decals are thin and attach with no trouble. Having built this kit, I can say that a good deal of effort and scratch-building will help to produce a good-looking model. Very few locator guides are present. The kit goes together more like a vacuform than the standard injection molded kit. Most parts therefore need to be dry fit and tested before final attachment. Some will have to be trimmed considerably.

The photo-etched parts used for the cockpit unfortunately leave a lot of empty space still begging for details. The wide-open canopy makes the void all the more obvious. You have 3 (and an option for 4) seats, flight column, instrument panel with gun sight, foot pedals, and a vague radar/instrument console. Fastidious modelers will want to add the standard cockpit accouterments such as levers, radios, wiring and other sundry objects and gadgets. Not included with the kit is the flexible rear-firing 7.7 Type 92 machine gun that mounted in the right rear of the cockpit. If this is added, a panel needs to be cut out of the canopy, and more details will need to be added accordingly. The parts included tend to fit very poorly, so again, you will need to test fit all parts as you move along.

Noticeably absent from the wings are the numerous open slots that were cut in both upper and lower flaps. The thick plastic of the kit parts will make it extremely difficult to cut or simulate such slots--unless you paint black "holes" to represent the cut outs. I recommend cutting out the flaps and making replacements of thinner styrene with the appropriate holes cut in them. And according to my references, the photo-etched flap guides that come with the kit are facing backwards! Accordingly, the rods for the two inner pairs should be cut off and all eight guides turned around before they can be mounted in place and the rods re-attached. Since the Lorna omitted landing gear doors in the wheel wells, the wells are wide open again and begging for more details to be added here. The landing gear legs include optional photo-etched or plastic supports, but again no attachment points are present. Two crude plastic bars to which photo-etched shackles can be attached represent the fuel tank pylons located beneath the inner wings. Unfortunately, the separate bomb shackles mounted on the fuselage bottom nearby are not represented in the kit and will need to be added.

The kit engines are fair, but their crankcases could be augmented with more details (they had a distinctive "rib" pattern on their faces). I found the kit-supplied photo-etched push rods to be extremely delicate and too easily bent. I discarded them and made separate rods from thin stretched sprue. Of course, the prop blades were a bit too thick and not shaped accurately. Lorna’s blades were more pointed at the tips. The problem can be resolved with simple sanding and shaping.

Finally, the photo-etched pieces for the fuselage radar antennas are nicely done and look quite well when mounted (but make sure you attach the decals in this area first). The wing-mounted radar is a different story. I recommend discarding part M7 and making your own wing radar from stretched sprue and/or fine wire. Since these are the easiest parts to accidentally knock off, add them last after painting and decaling, along with the pitot tube (again better made from stretched sprue) and the radio mast. My finished kit scaled out correctly. However, all the extra work paid off in a nice looking model of a rare and little-known aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force. The kit is presently available in model stores and outlets that carry the Pavla brand.

My resources, which proved indispensable in building this kit, included Rene J. Francillon’s JAPANESE AIRCRAFT OF THE PACIFIC WAR, and the Wings 72 & 48 vacuform kit of the same aircraft. (By the way, the Wings kit is very similar to the Pavla kit and goes together about the same way, except, of course, more detail pieces will need to be added by scratch-building or robbing the spares box. Much of what is said here about the Pavla kit equally applies therefore to the Wings 72 kit.) In addition, excellent 3-view detailed drawings of the Lorna appear in the oversized book AGGRESSORS, Patrol Aircraft vs. Submarine, Vol. 4, by Dr. Alfred Price, published in Tokyo and New York by Zokeisha Publications, ISBN number 0-943231-37-X.