Tamiyas 72nd scale M6A1 Seiran
by Mike Swinburne
History: The M6A1 Seiran (mountain haze) was built by Aichi to be launched to be launched by catapult from huge Japanese submarines, I-400 and 401, to attack US forces. Three Seirans were to be stored per submarine in a watertight hanger, with floats removed and wings and stabilizers folded, on a dolly leading to the catapult.
Originally built and test-flown in1943, a mere 28 Seirans and 2 M6A1-K Nanzans (its ground based trainer variant) were built before the war ended. All but one M6A1 and M6A1-K survived, before seeing action bombing the Panama Canal or US invasion fleet - yes the one readying to invade Japan itself. When the war ended, the two subs were on station ready to attack the invasion force, and were captured at sea soon after. According to one of the technicians working on the Seiran at the Garber Facility (see my pics), several attack missions were launched by Seirans to bomb the invasion fleet, but I cannot verify this.
The Kit: The kit itself is Tamiyas first kit of its own in 72nd scale (the Warbird line is mostly reissued Italeri) and is absolutely beautiful, with excellent detail and molding quality. The 14-piece cockpit beats some of Tamiyas 48th scale ones for detail, amazingly. Also, there is superb fit throughout.
Construction: Construction starts in the cockpit, where the pieces and sidewalls (molded onto the fuselage halves) are assembled and painted. Be careful when removing the small parts, theyre very delicate. Dont follow painting instructions here though - the cockpit is different shades of dark greens, see pics, not RLM gray. I painted the instrument panels flat black, and dry-brushed white over it, instead of using the decals. I also dry brushed in various places in the cockpit to produce a weathered effect. Next, glue the fuselage together, making sure the parts are even. Glue the wings together, but dont glue the pitot tube in its hole - it protruded from the bottom of the wing, not the leading edge.
I added bbs in the floats and secured them with modeling clay so the Seiran would sit on the transport dolly also. The transport dolly was to say the least, a pain, just to paint, but okay to build.
Painting and Final Construction: I wanted to paint my Seiran in the prototype scheme, IJN green over red-orange. I used the shorter spinner, and windscreen with telescopic sight. Note - From what Ive seen, the short spinners were only present on the aircraft with the telescopic sights, longer spinners with the reflector sights. For a more accurate windscreen when using the reflector sight, use the windscreen for the telescopic sight, and fill the hole with something like Crystal Clear or whatever its called.
I mixed Testors Model Master paints for the colors, and airbrushed them on, leaving the floats off until after painting. I ran some yellow-orange paint down the separation lines of the landing flaps and the wings, as they were painted like that, also imitated lettering on the wing access panels in front of the flaps by squiggling white paint.
Overall Impression/Final Notes: Despite inaccuracies with cockpit colors and incorrect scribing of lower wing and float panels, the kit is beautiful. I recommend it to beginners and experts alike, but I wouldnt build it as a first time model. This will go nicely next to my two 48th scale Seirans. One last thing - where on earth did I put that Nanzan?
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