On The Bench

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Nakajima Ki44-II Otsu SHOKI (TOJO) w/40mm Cannon
Hasegawa (08200)
Scale: 1/32


Started: 25 March 2010
Finished: 26 June 2010
Updates:
Updated: 04 Apr 2010
As with most models, we start with the cockpit. I don't have much reference for this aircraft (as I'm not seriously into WWII Japanese) but I did find some stuff on the net. As you expect, the kit detail provided by Hasegawa in 1/32 is very nice and will be more than adequate for my build.
A test fit of the fuselage and cockpit reveals no problems. Note the panel in the lower left of the photo, which is an alternate panel which you need to glue in. Presumably on other boxings, this panel will be different. The box art indicates that the seams of this part are not actual panel lines on the real thing. As such these will be filled and sanded away.
One thing my research did show was that on both sides of the cockpit, there is a small hinged door that opens to allow ease of cockpit ingress and egress. As it was pretty simple to use a razor saw to remove this part on the port side, I decided to open just one of them. Here we see a dry fit test of the open door and the clear parts.
The kit seat is accurate in shape and detail. Two things need doing to it. 1. Drill out the holes and 2. Thinning of the sides to better represent the sheet metal it was made of.
After a few minutes work, we have a considerably more accurate seat. Simple tasks like this help add a great deal of realism to your model and are enjoyable to do. All we need to do now is a add some scratchbuilt belts. More on that later.
The access panel I mentioned earlier has now been had the seam filled (with super glue) and carefully sanded flush (so as not destroy the fine panel details around the area).
When dry fitting the parts in and around the cockpit, I noted that the dash shroud was way over scale thickness. You can see here that the part looks very un-realistic for something that would in real life be sheet metal.
Some trimming with a knife blade and final sanding brings the part down a much more realistic size.
The cockpit parts have now been painted using Gunze Mr Color 127 "Nakajima Cockpit Color". I am certainly turning into a fan of the Mr Color Laquer paints. It's a pity that I have to purchase them from Hong Kong via Luckymodel and not locally.
Hasegawa provides some nice instrument dial decals. In preparation I have painted the parts (Tamiya Nato Black) and then brush painted a coat of Future to provide a gloss surface for the decals. Note that I will be trimming and cutting each decal to minimise the amount of carrier.
Here we see a collection of the various completed cockpit parts. I will leave these to dry and give them a wash later before final assembly and insertion into the fuselage.
Updated: 10 Apr 2010
The cockpit is now complete (with the exception of the seat which I can fit at the end). A light wash of darkened Burnt Umber oil paint has been applied and a light dry brush of Testors Model Master Silver has been applied.
Another view of the cockpit. Notice the nice detail provide by Hasegawa in the rudder pedals and insturment panel.
The starboard cockpit sidewall, with the assorted control panels attached (with Super Glue). I'm sure that with more reference there would be extra cables and wires running in this area. I'm not concerned as once this is buttoned up in the fuselage, much of it will hardly be seen anyway.
The port inner cockpit sidewall. I pretty much followed Hasegawa's painting suggestions as I have nothing better to go off.
Here is what it all looks like once fitted inside the fuselage. The guns are painted with Humbrol Gunmetal and then buffed with a soft cloth.
A wider photo showing how it all fits together. As you would expect, the fit is almost perfect.
Ummm, when I was gluing the fuselage halves together, I did not put the glue bottle far enough away and bumped it. No big deal, just don't touch it I told myself. Of course, within 10 seconds (literally) I had forgotten about it and stuck my big fat thumb right in the middle of the glue. It looks the damage is confined to some rivet details (I hope).
Updated: 26 Apr 2010
Some simple enhancements to the tail wheel doors. The doors have been thinned to a more scale thickness and supports added from plastic rod.
The only aftermarket addition I will be making to this kit is the Quickboost exhausts. This is really just because I was lazy and the item was very cheap.
Continuing to enhance the kits parts, the cowl flaps (which I will be displaying open) do not have the splits visible on the inside of the flap. Easily fixed with some quick scribing.
Moving onto the undercarriage, I have opened up the inside of the scissors for the oleo strut. These are in two parts (on each main gear) so all four needed to be worked.
Here we see the main gear strut completed. The brake line was added from lead wire. It is held in place using lead foil and super glue. Even though you can't see it, the main gear doors have been thinned as well.
Once I got to the tail wheel, I have to admit I was both suprprised and dissapointed. How could Hasegawa think molding the wheel with the strut is acceptable in 1/32 scale ??? It was bad enough in 1/48 on the A-4 Skyhawk nosewheel, but this is ridiculous.
Of course, I was not going to live with it so I separated the wheel from the strut (using a knife and razor saw) and once I had gone that far, I decided to turn the wheel at an angle as well.
The Elevators are next on the chopping block. Only tricky bit here is the small tab extension on each outboard end which needs to separated as well. I do this in two steps, first (as seen here) is to cut the main part out, then second remove the small tab. The tab and elevator are then re-glued. This is quicker and less messy than trying to cut the tab out with the elevator.
Here we see both horizontal stabs with droped elevators. You don't need to drop them much for it look that much more lifelike.
As I had turned the tailwheel, I decided to also offset the rudder. I'm not really sure what I have done with that little brass actuator rod is accurate but it seems sensible (to me anyway :)
Moving onto the main gear doors, there are several small doors that are provided, and just like the tailwheel doors, look way over scale. I could not figure out how to thin the kits parts easily so I opted to replace them with copper sheet. These will look much more believable once added to the model.
In the port wing leading edge is quite a large opening for a landing light. As can be seen here, it has a nasty seam right thru the middle of it
A quick way to deal with this type of seams, is to skin them with plastic card. Use 10 thou card and you seam is gone and no-one will ever notice the small change in depth caused by the card.
Updated: 06 May 2010
It was a bit more work than I expected to sort out the seam lines on these inserts. The panels sat lower than the fuselage and needed quite a bit of Tamiya Basic Putty to correct. I should have fixed this when I was gluing it. Oh well.
Once the putty is dry, some solid sanding was needed to bring everthing under control.
The kit engine is quite nicely detailed. Here I have painted both parts with Alclad Stainless Steel and applied an oil wash to the right one. If you know you are going to use a wash, its normally better to start with a lighter color than is called for, because as can be seen here the wash really darkens the whole part.
The completed engine. In addition the Dark Gray was applied in the step before, I have also randomly applied a Burnt Umber wash to break up the shades. To be honest, when I test fitted this to the model and added the cowling you cannot see hardly any of it.
The kit provides a very nice pilot figure, which unfortunately is in the seated position. I decided instead to use the pilot figure from the Tamiya Zero kit. Basic assembly and priming has been completed here. Detailed painting is next.
A landing light is located in the wing leading edge compartment that we saw earlier on. I like to use MV Lens where possible to simulate lights.
The kit light with the MV lens fitted and then attached in the wing compartment.
The drop tanks on this model are incredibly detailed. Quite a few seams that need removing (carefully) so as not to break any of the delicate support legs.
The interior of the cowling has been painted (if the color is wrong, let me know and I'll remember it for next time :)
The clear cover for the landing light turned out to be an average fit. Here I have glued it with super glue and am ready to start sanding it to shape.
Once the shape was corrected, the clarity of the part needed to be restored. For this I use Micro Mesh polishing cloths. Here, you can see one of the finer grade (8000) pads.
The cover has now been rescribed and masked. Time to move on.
Last step for tonight was to glue the fuselage and wings. As I plan to have the cowling flaps open, I decided to paint the interior of this area now, hence the silver NMF paint on the nose.
Updated: 30 May 2010
When test fitting the cowling to the fuselage, I noticed some small gaps on the bottom. Here I have built up the mating edge on the fuselage with some 10 thou plastic strips.
The rear lower join of the wing to fuselage has a natural panel line (which corresponds to the part join line). Here I have cleaned up the join, filled with super glue and rescribed to get a clean panel line.
Time to join the cowling to the fuselage. The engine mounts to the main fuselage independently. Because I will be opening the cowling flaps (down both sides of the cowling), the only place to join the cowl to the fuselage is top and bottom. The fit was ok, but I decided to use a clamp to make sure it was exactly in place while the glue dried.
Here is a good shot of the cowling join. No glue is used along this join, only under the small oil (?) cooler in the very center line. Also you can see the Mr Color paint in the main wheel wells. This is a metalic paint, Mr Color 57 Metalic Blue Green. I purchased this off an ebay shop in Hong Kong for $1.99 with free shipping. Ain't Ebay great !! It arrived in less than a week.
A shot of the final tail assembly with the control surfaces in the relaxed positions. I'm pretty happy with how these turned out.
The join between the cowl and fuselage has been cleaned up and rescribed. The cowling flaps (having been thinned and scribed) have now been attached also.
Time to get out the masking tape again (groan). As per usual, I have used Tamiya tape strips to ourline the clear parts of the main rear canopy. Note that the window corners are rounded and here I have used my punch set to create small discs of tape. Simple but effective.
As I want to paint the interior of the canopy, I need to mask it as well Here you can see the tape on both the inside and outside of the clear part.
Of course, the widescreen needs the same treatment. If you are wondering what the hole in the front is for, many of the Ki44 variants had telescopes fitted so the pilot could visually locate and identify aircraft at range.
I have to say that masking this reasonably small part on the inside tested my patience (and ability).
Ahhh, finished. I hear you say, use the pre-cut masks from Eduard et al. Do they give you masks for the inside of canopies ?? Didn't think so...
The interior of the clear parts have recived a coat of Tamiya Nato Black (my choice for cockpit interiors). Herre the windscreen has been attached and the pilot headrest also fixed in place.
More masking underneath. The landing flaps recived some Tamiya tape, whilst the main wheel wells have been filled with damp tissues. I find this method fast and once the water dries, the paper is rock hard.
Of course, we have to mask the cockpit opening. Some tricky cutting and fitting of tape needed here. The pink liquid is Humbrol Maskol which is useful for blocking any small holes that occur due to tape angles etc.
And so the first coat of paint goes one. Well actually its a primer coat because this guy will be 100% natural metal. I will be using Alclad metalisers so I have used their primer (which I like anyway). I found a few blemishes that needs fixing, but next step will be to load up the Iwata and have at it :)
Updated: 06 June 2010
The assorted bits and pieces have all received a base coat of either Stainless Steel or Aluminium. Here I have sealed the Alcad with with a light coat of Future and done the detail painting of the brake line and strut cover. For brush painting I have pretty much standardised on Vallejo acrylic paints.
The upper (ie internal) surface of the landing flaps have been painted a dark red (mix of Insignia and Hull reds).
With the underoat dry it was time to apply the base coat of natural metal. This is my first attempt at a full airframe with Alclad so I proceeded quite cautioiusly. After much testing, I settled on one of their latest tints, that being 119 Airframe Aluminium. I like this color as well as Stainless Steel (115). I think the reason being that they do not look as mono-tone as the earlier shades. They are not as hardy as the earlier shades which you could literally mask directly onto. To combat this frailty, I sealed the entire model with a very light coat of Future.
Research shows that most of the IJA aircaft had fabric control surfaces, which were more often than not unpainted. Here I have use Mr Color 128 Gray Green.
Of course no natural metal aircaft is all one shade. One thing I was looking forward to was experimenting with some of the contrasting shades of Alclad. This picture shows the wing with just the base coat of Aircraft Aluminium.
Here we see the wing after several different shades have been applied.
For reference, the Alclad paints used are:
1) Dark Aluminium (103)
2) Polished Aluminium (105)
3) Magnesium (111) (it looks much darker in real life, but this photo caught the light badly)
Once I was satisfied with the shades I was going to use, the larger task of masking all those panels took place. This photo shows the masking for Dark Aluminium panels.
Of course no model is complete without a stuff up. For some apparent reason the paint on this upper rear fuselage preferred to stick with the masking tape, rather than the model. SHIT !
So, nothing for it but to repair the damage (their were several other smaller section likewise affected). here you see the results of some sanding with Micro Mesh pads to smooth out the sharp edges and blend it back.
A coat of primer was added to ensure the repair was satisfactory.
As I have decided to paint all the marking on this model, I wanted to do some testing with shades of red. Colors like red are painful because they really don't cover very well. Normally when painting red or yellow I would do an undercoat of white, but that is not a option for this one because I want to weather the markings and so do not want any white to show thru !! After some testing, I have settled on Humbrol Flat Red (H60) as it seems to give fairly good coverage.
The only downside of painting your own markings is that you have to mask them off :(
For the Hinomaru's on the wing, I decided to use Frisket Film rather than tamiya tape. Frisket film is self adhesive and clear. If you look closely at the photo you can see the outline of the circle.
A closer shot of the curves on the nose. I used the natural break of the cowl flaps as a point to switch pieces of masking tape.
Once the edge tape is down, time to fill-in to protect from overspay.
It's my intention to fairly heavily weather this bird. First step was to try another new technique for me. To simulate paint chips, I wanted to use Humbrol Maskol (liquid mask). I saw someone on the internet (or magzine) apply random splotches of liquid by using a small section of normal kitchen scouring pad. If you look closely at the nose of the Tojo you can make out some of the small spots of dry Maskol. As I said, not tried this before, so fingers crossed.
Whew, its time to actually load up the airbrush and get some paint on this sucker. Fairly happy with the coverage of the Humbrol Red. I have tried to keep the coat thin to aid in my subseqent weathering efforts. I had to restrain myself from trying to lift the tape and Maskol to see how it looks as I really need the paint to dry completly before doing so. To see the result, you will have to wait till next update :)
Updated: 14 June 2010
Time to remove the masking tape and more interesting the Maskol liquid mask. I have to say that this is a bit heavier than I would have liked, but the technique seems to work fine. I just need to refine it a bit. Well plenty more opportunities on this model.
The Hinomaru on the wing got the same chipping treatment. You can also see that the paint on the aileron also lifted (doh).
A slightly wider shot showing the overall effect. The tail has been masked for the next phase of painting.
All the masking was driving me batty, so I jumped ahead and thought about how I might make up masks for the letters and more complex shapes (after all the circles for the Hinomaru was hardly challenging !!). I used a technique I learned on my custom painted Nanchang (see the gallery) which involves the following:
1) Photo copy the decals
2) Stick them securely in place on some Frisket Film mask
3) Use a new blade and ruler to cut out the letter/numbers. Press hard enough to cut thru the paper and the frisket film.
Here is the end result with the photo copied decals removed. Obviously in this case I am only interested in the exterior mask and can discard the interior masks (the actual numbers themselves).
The A/C serial number has to be applied to the main wheel doors and the rudder. I plan to use the same mask for all 4 places. Here we see the self adhesive Frisket Film on one of the gear doors.
A light coat of Nato Black.
Remove the mask, rinse and repeat. Why not just use the decals in this case ? Well the kit decals are red and I wanted black numbers on the gear doors. Also I'll be able to weather this marking much more effectively than decals.
The same Frisket Film technique was used on the fairly complex tail markings. Luckily they all straight lines. I did need to use the interior masks this time. The marking covered both the tail and rudder which made it somewhat more tricky to lay flat. Some minor underspray occured.
Here is the end result after a coat of Humbrol Flat Red (H60). Also note how I have toned back the chipping having learned from the fuselage band.
Things a are coming along very nicely now. The white "home defence" band has been masked and painted.
Humbrol Satin White H130 was used as I find it covers very well compared to other whites. Again restained use of the Humbrol Maskol liquid mask has resulted in I think a fairly believable level of chipping.
Looking for another distraction from the masking, I did some work on the propellers and spinner. The chipping on the spinner was done this time by lightly abrading the paint with micro mesh until the red came off and the metal underneath was revealed. This did not always work as desired and in some cases (hopefully you can't see them) it went thru to the plastic. The props are finished in the aptly named Mr Color 131 "Propellor Color". The yellow tip bands are kit decals (trimmed of all carrier film).
It was time to get back to the masking and painting so I re-used the serial code stencil, this time on the lower rudder.
The end result. You can see that in some places the edges of the numbers look soft. This is due to some underspray because of the ribs on the rudder. It may have been better to use Tamiya Tape as the mask rather than Frisket Film as it is thinner and thereforer more flexible (note to self for next time).
The "last" step in finishing off the rear fuselage was to mask and paint the Hinomaru. No probs until I went to remove the mask that had been protecting the white band. Well as you can see the white and in some places the underlying Alclad came away. Why ? I really don't know. It actually did not look too bad except the fact that it had also taken up the Alclad.
So, into repair mode, I carefully (ie lightly) masked off the white area after touching up the Alclad. The end result was "ok"
The second last area to be painted was the leading edges of the inner wings. These would be painted Humbrol H154 Insignia Yellow. More masking (groan) ensued. You can see that I have placed the gear doors in place as the edge of them was tipped by the yellow.
The upper surface of the wings has likewise been masked off.
And so it was onto the final "decal" replacement painting job. The anti-glare panel on the nose was painted Tamiya Nato Black and again chipped and abraded with Micro Mesh.
Here we can see the final coloring of the tail. The white repair job can also be seen here.
The nose and assorted colors from the starboard view.
The white paint on the tail was not finished giving my the shits just yet. When I masked the black off, more of the damb stuff came off. It really has me stumped what was going on but I decided to leave well enough alone.
A quick peek underneath reveals wheel wells and assorted markings. Next step is the panel line wash.
Updated: 26 June 2010
Lately, I have been trying to tone down my panel line washes. The recessed lines on this model were absolutely perfect. It helped I think to have sprayed the markings rather than decal them as the paint did not interfere with the panel lines at all and so the wash worked very well. In the end I applied a combination of Burnt Umber and Paines Grey washes to various panel lines.
To protect the Humbrol enamel paints from the wash, as normal I applied a coat (light this time) of Future. I focused on covering the paint and tried to minimise the coverage on the Alclad.
As you can see here, the wash is quite restrained. The burnt umber really needed the dark gray to help it out.
The wheel wells and underside got the same wash treatment.
As I was nearing the end, it was time to tidy up those little tasks like seat belts. I decided to do two lap belts and a shoulder belt, although some debate ensued as to whether these A/C had shoulder belts. Oh well, mine does !! The buckles are frome a verlinden set and the belts are from folded metal foil.
The Wolfpack crew figure arrived in record time from Sprue Brothers (thanks guys) and here I have done the basic assembly. One thing I needed to do was remove the 40mm cannon shell from his hand and replace it. I eventually scratchbuilt a screwdriver.
Most of the final assembly has been completed here, you can see the seat in the cockpit, undercarriage etc.
The flaps (visible in red here) where quite a pain to secure to the lower wings. Hasegawa does not really give you what I would call a solid attachmet point for these guys.
During my research I found that covers on the 40mm cannons where supplied from the factory, but once in the field they were quickly removed. As it turns out, Hasegawa actually provides you with the covers and the cannons themseleves on the sprue. I only needed to drill out the end a little and paint.
And so we come to the end. To compliment the figures, I made a new grass covered base. I'm really quite happy with how that turned out.The fuel drum and jerry cans are actually 1/35 scale, but I won't tell if you don't.
An interesting final photo showing the pilot watching patiently in the background as the maintenance crewman puts the finishing touches to his work. For the final pictures of the finished model, jump on over to the Gallery section here