Hasegawa 1:48 Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 Attack Bomber
Build Date: July 11 Start date, finished July 31, 2017
Hasegawa first produced this fine 1:48 kit of a Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 back around 2001. Over the years they reboxed this kit with photoedge to allow the modeller to fold the wing as well as reissues with decals for different markings. Of all the models Hasegawa produced during that time period, the Japanese WWII aircrafts series seemed to received the most attention to details: The kits of the Imperial Japanese aircraft cockpits are always highly detailed and had the best fit. That is why I purchased this kit way back when thinking one day I will get to build it. The time is now to build it.
The Nakajima B5N2, code named “Kate” by the Allied, which is the improved version of the B5N1, was a main stay bomber aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Although obsolete in design by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the B5N2 served continuously until the end of the war. The Kates served on board aircraft carriers and on land bases. Thus, Kates had several variations of paint schemes and due to the long service time span affords the modeller with opportunities to seriously weathered the model.
The build starts with the cockpit. The cockpit in this kit is the star of the show. Hasegawa reserved their best effort and details on their Japanese aircraft cockpits and it shows. The instrument panels are molded in relief and they come with two sets of instrument panel decals; one on a clear background and one on a black background, that can be applied to all the panel detail. A decal is provided to show the distinctive lightening holes in the pilot’s seat, but seat belts are not provided. The cockpit comprises of approximately 33 pieces and they all fit nicely together without any gaps. The side walls are provided as separate pieces and they are richly detailed with fuselage ribs and instrument boxes. The only drawback is there are many release punch indentations all over the side panels which are very difficult to cover over with putty. The opening of the cockpit is fairly narrow so I suppose one cannot really see those indentations after you close up the fuselage. One technique to cover the indentations would be filling them with Tamiya putty and then wipe the putty off nearly flush using a Q-tip wet with thinner. I opted to take the simple way out by cutting properly sized masking tape to cover over the sections where the indentations are.
The instruction calls for the cockpit to be painted in Nakajima cockpit colour. Does anyone really know what colour that is? I could not find out what it is. Apparently, there aren’t any surviving Kate around to tell us what colour that is. The only information I could find that gave me some hint are found at the J-aircraft website and an article of a Kate wreak. The links are provided below.
The photo of the wreak seems to show a colour that matches the colour chip NAKA INT. So, on that basis, I used the Tamiya IJN Cockpit Green for the base colour and the Tamiya IJN Gray Green for highlighting.
The pilot’s seat frame was sanded thinner for scale purpose. I used the kit’s seat holes decal as the guide to drill out the holes on the back of the seat. This is much better looking than using decals to represent holes.
I tried to use a set of photoedge seatbelts for Japanese aircrafts but find them too stiff looking. I go back to my tried and true method of making seatbelts from Milliputty.
click this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSy8by13Uvk for a YouTube video from Squadron showing you how to do this method. If you ever played with Play-Doh or plasticine when you’re a kid then you can do this. The only trick is make sure you sprinkle a lot of baby powder on the table when roll out the putty to keep the putty from sticking to the table. Lastly, be sure to use a long sharp knife to cut the pieces.
The rest of the assembly of the fuselage and wings are very straight forward. The parts fit together very well and only little bit of putty is required on some fuselage joints and at the bottom wing to fuselage joint.
I rolled on rivets to the model using my Rosie the Riveter tool. I drew the pattern of the rivets using a pencil and then used Dymo tape as a guide for the riveting tool.
Larger rivets, such as the ones on the wing flaring for example, were imprinted on using a beading awl. This type of awl are normally used as a beading tool on soft gem rocks.
Once all the riveting are done I gently wet sanded the surfaces flat with a fine wet sand paper. The model is then sprayed with a grey primer (Mig primer) to prepare a good bonding surface and for checking for any imperfect joints.
AK Aluminum paint is sprayed on as the base coat. This is the first time I tried this paint. I love it! It is almost like the Alclad paint. It sprays on very fine and can be easily spray in a fine line without clogging the airbrush tip. The paint is durable and can’t be damaged by masking tape.
Next, I spray on dark shading on all panel lines with a diluted Tamiya gloss black.
Now, I respray AK Aluminum paint lightly over each shading lines to blend the shading with the base coat.
Some panels were masked off and painted with AK Dark Aluminum and Dull Aluminum to simulate different sheets of aluminum panels. To simulate the dulling effect of weathering I used the Salt Technique. This is the technique of first wetting the surfaces with mist of water and sprinkling grains of salt on the wetted surfaces. When the surface is dried, I lightly spray over the salt surfaces with Dark Aluminum on selected areas, such as on the fuselage and the wing panels near the fuselage. When the paint is dried, removed the salt with water and gently brushing the salt off. The result is a mottled finish which make the surfaces look worn and weathered.
Instead of using the kit decal for the Hinomaru, I opted to cut painting mask and paint the red Hinomaru on. I cut the circular mask using an OLFA circular cutter. I painted the Hinomaru with Tamiya gloss red.
After the paint had a few hours to dry off, I spray the entire model with Future to protect the paint from final weathering wash. I let the protective coat of Future dried for about two hours. I then pin wash each panel lines with Tamiya Dark Brown panel wash. The riveted surfaces received a general wide brushing with the wash fluid. After fifteen minutes of drying, I wet a paper towel with enamel thinner and wiped off the wash fluid. Some of the AK metal finish was removed by the enamel thinner. The damaged area was easily repaired by carefully spraying with the AK metal paint. The result, as seen from the above photo, is a aged and slightly dirty natural metal finish which I expect to see on an operating aircraft.
Since this aircraft was used as a torpedo bomber during the first wave of the Pearl Harbour attack, I opted to build the kit’s torpedo and mounted it on the model. I just wanted to finish this model as fast as I can and ‘out of the box’, I did not scratch build the wood fins for the shallow torpedo. Lastly, the windshield and canopy were painted and installed. I am very impressed by the care that the model makers did on the windshield fit up. The windshield almost drop into place without any gaps.