OUT OF THE BOX
This is an old kit. Tamiya has improved dramatically over the years as far as the quality of their kits is concerned. There is no doubt about that. Never the less, this is a quick & easy build, which will provide an accurate representation of this plane for your collection.
Except for the lack of detail on
the breaches of the guns, the cockpit is adequately detailed.
Panel lines on the wings are recessed, but those on the fuselage
are not. Two canopies are provided, one three-piece open canopy
& one single-piece closed canopy. The decals are typical for
a Tamiya kit from this period; very thick. The instrument cluster
is provided in the form of a decal, with no other detail offered.
The first thing you will notice in building the cockpit is the instrument panel is a decal. There is no detail on the piece that fits there, so if you forget to put it on until after the fuselage is put together (like I did) you are either looking at more work, or a closed canopy to hide the mistake (like I did). I tend to dry fit parts before gluing them together, and noticed the locator pins on the fuselage are out of register. Cut them off, or you will be looking at a lot of filling and sanding. I did not experience any trouble with the fit of the wings to the fuselage, so I did not do any filling there. The horizontal stabilizers were another story. No small effort was made to fill the seams on both upper and lower surfaces. By and large, this was the only area where any filler was used. I learned a while back that, on Tamiya kits at least, careful fitting of the main assemblies results in a good fit with minimal filling and sanding required.
There were only two real glitches
on my model. One was that the rear pontoon support did not fit
well in the slot provided for it. This resulted in an annoying
ridge that I couldn\rquote t do anything with. The other was the
fit of the canopy. I don't think I have ever built an old Tamiya
kit where the canopy fit the way it was supposed to, and this one
was no exception. There is a space several scale inches wide on
the forward section, near the breaches. Because I did not realize
that I had forgotten the decal for the instrument panel until it
was too late, I elected to use the closed canopy.
I do not pretend to be an expert on interior colors of Japanese planes, therefore the Floquil Japan Interior Blue I used is probably incorrect. The underside of the plane was painted with Model Master IJN Sky Gray, and the upper sur face was painted with IJN Green. I mixed the paint to an approximate 2:1 ratio, paint to thinner & applied it with an airbrush. After I was satisfied with the finish, I used my airbrush to apply what amounts to a wash of IJN Green, mixed about 2:1 with w h ite primer, a dab of RLM 02 yellow and a smaller dab of olive drab to create a faded IJN Green. I applied this finish only to the upper surfaces of the plane that would be most heavily exposed to the harsh Pacific sunlight. When the finish was complete I applied about four coats of Future & let it dry for a day.
I was not crazy about the hinomarus that came with the kit. I was bent on an "Out of the Box" model, so I used them. They are very thick, and Aeromaster decals should be substituted wherever possible. I applied the decals using Micro set, and after the decal is completely dry, I use up to five applications of Solviset to make then really snug down flat. There are some obvious places where the Hinomarus did not set right, but I suppose that's modeling. After the decals were dry, I applied another couple of coats of Future and set it aside for another day to dry.
This is my favorite part of the process, and I experimented with several things to see how the overall effect would look. I did the panel lines using a heavy wash of Black & Burnt Umber artist oils. After it was dry, I wiped the excess off, being careful to wipe in the direction of the airflow over the wings. This way, any excess that did not come off completely looks like it belongs there. Then I applied about four coats of a wash I made using a combination of artist oils (earth tones) to simulate sort of a grungy dusty color. I really loaded it up in a couple of places to give the plane a particularly crusty look, but was careful not to overdo it because I did not want it to look excessive. When that was dry, I lightly airbrushed black around the wing-mounted guns to simulate powder stains & I used a straightened out paper clip to apply silver paint simulating worn areas in the paint. I then applied two coats of Model Master Dullcoat to complete the model. I weathered the dolly using a combination of the colors Tester's Rubber, Model Master Light Tan, Burnt Metal and Exhaust Metallizers to simulate a rusty finish.
On completion, this turned out to be one of the best models I have built in my brief time in this hobby. I have always liked the wide variety of Japanese aircraft. For a modeler of tremendously average talent (such as myself) this was a great kit to practice a variety of weathering techniques on. I can't say that I recommend it over the Hasegawa kit of the same plane, because I have not built that kit. I can say that beginning modelers should have excellent results with this kit.
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