I started working at the 1/72 Mitsubishi J1M Raiden (Jack) from Hasegawa, on 1st april, hoping that it wouldn't be a fools day trick. A good friend of mine, also a modeller presented me with a rare set of resins from "Resinart" which contained details for interior and exterior of the interceptor, of a state of the art precision.
After a few mistakes caused I gues by the long time passed since I last worked with resins, after ruining the superior parts of the wings, which due to the bad translation from the instruction sheet, I cut instead of thined, I received a new kit from another good friend and here I am, in a straight line to finish the construction.
First I dealt with the wings, in which I instaled the landing gear bays. It was a tedious work of thinning and sanding here and there, in order to keep as much of the orriginal plastic as I could, to ensure a sturdy structure. I hate the green plastic from Hasegawa. It's brittle and when using a motor tool it's hard to kep the pace avoiding the overheating and melting of the material. Also I made holes for the navigation lights and for the landing gear indicators and cut the molded navigations light at the end of each wing, in preparation for transparent ones.
The result of the montage (at this point) is what you can see "downstairs".
The cockpit was a little easier to cope with. Nevertheless, it was a typical Japanese cockpit with all kind of cables and levers unconcealed, and boxes secured on the walls almost as field modifications (thinking at the german engineering).
After the montage of the parts on the three main parts of the cockpit ensemble, I glued them with Bison fabric glue to a piece of cardboard, to prepare them for priming.
After priming I applied a layer of Mitsubishi Interior Green (personal production paint) which is not as it-s final hue, but is conceived to support a shadowing with a brown/black glaze and then highlights with a lighter, more ochre green.
After I picked up the different colored details (lever knobs, pump handles etc.)I atached the safety belts and then closed the walls of the cockpit. At the same time I completed the instrument panel, then glued it to the piece that will hold the gunsight and the armoured glass shield.
Forgetting to cut down the kit's exhaust pipes, I jumped directly to attach the cockpit in the fuselage tub. This was to make the surgical operation to remove the exhausts, more trickier than it was needed. But, a modeller will not be stopped by such minor inconvenients.
I almost lost the transparent piece that represents the armored shield, but when I find it again, something was crying in my head that it was not alright. I got to the conclusion that Hasegawa has calculated the width of this piece to fit in the space left by the transparent canopy of the kit. But because I have now a vacuformed thinner replacement (and a good one) for this canopy, I can use another piece more close to the original proportions. As "for the blind stork God will provide a nest", I found an unused piece of transparent plastic of exactly the right shape (in fact an instrument panel from a P51 Mustang from Smer).
With the help of a few photoetched remains of a 1/72 tank track I simulated the bracing system as I saw in the pictures of the Smithsonian held Raiden.
I finally closed the two halves of the fuselage. Positioning and gluing the instrument panell with the console was a teddious operation. The lateral panel from the right side didn't fit on the right side so I must cut a breech in the struts that hardened the cockpit wall.
By dryfitting the gunsight and the armoured transparent panel, I found out that the complete gunsight was too complex (to long) to get in place, aft of the panel. After studying the photos and diagrams I get to the conclusion that I have to cut a good chunk of the lower part. That cleared enough space to fit both parts.
After all this intellectual gym, I learned that the variants bearing the oblique mounted gun sported no armoured windshield but they were fitted with an auxiliary gunsight for the cannon, in the upper left corner of the windshield.
Now, it was too difficult for me to find a good picture of this secondary gunsight and, on the other hand I wasn't too keen to give up to the armoured shield. Anyway, the plane I choose to represent has only the hole for the cannon, but the barrel itself is apparently missing. I guess that due to it-s low rate of success, the pilots were giving up to this installation, to lighten the plane. I'm not convinced if they refitted the cell with the armoured transparent panel - most probably not - but I took the decision to use mine.
After a long pause, I restart working at the Raiden.
To make my hand I begun with simple things as dry-fitting the scoupe beneath the engine. The plan from the resin parts indicated just to cover with putty the hole. I saw in the pictures of the Raiden from the Smithsonian Museum that the parts in the scoupe are quite visible if the light is getting in there. I wasn't so demanding in this section but anyhow I scratchbuilt a radiator and a central pilon. These pieces are meant to obstruct the view all the way through the intake, giving it at least some credibility.
I also completed at this stage the horizontal stabilizers putting the rudders at a certain degree down, as too take advantage of the marvelous resin parts offered by Resinart.
Being in that area, I also glued in place the tailwheel.
But, the trickiest part was yet to came. I always hated those vac-formed canopies. No matter how good they are made, it will always be a test of nerves to conform one to the fuselage. In this case it was possible to use the transparent part from Hasegawa which is very well done, but looking at the picture, one could realize that the canopy of the Jack was really thin. The second argument in choosing the vacuformed one is that I want to represent it opened, to take advantage of the detailed interior.
After I carefully detached the rear part of the canopy, by dryfitting it, I understand that major filling will be necessary.
The same thing with the windshield, even after forming the bottom line(s) with sandpaper rolled on a marker.
After gluing in a few points with cyanoacrilate glue, I abundantly filed the seams between the vac piece and the fuselage with white glue. After everything was set I added Mr. Surfacer 500 with a brush, layer after layer. The area was then sanded with a roto-tool, and then smoothed by hand with very fine sandpaper.
I completed then the resin doors of the landing gear with the etched parts that will constitute also the guidance for the brake lines. To separate the secondary doors from their block of resin was quite difficult but the "wurger" saw made from a modified razor blade confirmed once again that is the best micro saw on the market (and cheap too).
As you have seen above, one of the resin roots of the landing gear was broken in the process. I fixed it but the angle was slightly different from the original. When I positioned the legs, to my surprise I found out that the original angle was wrong (too much inclined to the interior and in front). The solutions to repair this was very few. Warming the resin roots even with a hairdryer or with warm water, would have lead to the heating and probably deforming of the adjacent resin parts. I opted for a third solution - to bend the upper end of the legs. Being made from hipodermic needles it wasn't so difficult. The angle created between the resin root and the metal leg of the landing gear was so small and so concealed that it wouldn't bother me. I'm sure it will bother other serious modelers (if they'll be aware of this mistake).
For the next stage in the process I sprayed the almost the entire airframe with a solid aluminium color. This helped me in identifying little fit problems and will constitute a good base for the next colors, with the possibility of scratching here and there the final paint work for more realism. I painted then the Yellow ring around the back fuselage and the identification bands on the leading edge. I sprayed the area more or less freely and then obtained the proper shape by masking. I used narrow masking tape from Jammydog, which permitted me due to it's elasticity to surpass the curvature of the fuselage.
More difficult was to mask the opened cockpit, but I used the lesson learned at my opened FW 190 A8 and used a mix of masking tape and masking fluid to seal the area.
You probably noticed that I have also fix the antenna mast and fashioned a light bulb for the tail.
The aluminium color was then slightly buffed with steel wool to get rid of asperities. In the flaps compartment I sprayed an acrylic transparent turqoise from the Marabu range of glass colors. This color over the aluminium make the same effect as the Aodake, which in fact I belive it was just this - a protection lacquer which in order to be more visible had this tint of blueish green. In time it aged becoming more or less greener in appearance.
The same treatment was applied to the Fowler flaps. Looking at pictures I somehow get to the conclusion that this was the internal color of that area. This was not the case with the cockpit and the landing gear bay. The landing gear bay and the covers was painted at Mitsubishi planes in the same color like the rest of the undersides ( maybe an influence from the US naval planes). Anyhow, looking at many pictures the legs (gear struts) were not painted in the same color. My belief is that this was either left aluminium or protected (anodised) with the black almost transparent color like other japanese aircrafts (Shiden, Shinden, Hien and others).
The propeller and hub were painted with propeller brown.
Below you can see a picture which contains all the small subassemblies in different colors.
Then I masked the flaps area and sprayed the pale gray over all the bottom parts. I use custom made paints and the characteristics are those: Extrafine pigment granulation - I thin the paint with more than 70% thinner and the covering power is unaffected. The flow through the airbrush with 0.2 or 0.3 duse is flawless. The thinner used is nitrodiluant, (lacquer thinner) of good unaltered quality. The setting of the paint is almost instantaneously, giving me the possibility to grab the plane from the painted area after 5 seconds, without living any printmarks. It can be masked with no matter what kind of tape. The solvent in the paint is so strong that once on the plastic, the paint will bond to the surface forever.
A disadvantage might be the fact that at a higher pressure, the paint tends to dry in the air, leaving a crumbled surface. This can be easily fixed with some steel wool. I buff (when necessary) in the direction of the windflow. Accidental scratches being more logical this way. I also employ this technique to scratch the paint for weathering effects.
On the uppersurfaces of the wings I glued in place small light bulbs (from Elf) to simulate the formation gathering lights. Looking at the Smithsonian example I noticed that all bulbs are red.
Due to international convention this could not be the case. Every modeler knows that (in the direction of flight) left is red and right is the another collor - in the case of japanese airplanes this collor being blue rather than green as to other nations. What I do not know and I couldn't find references about, is what are the collor for the other fires. I only found a collor diagram made by Rikyu Watanabe where the collor order is kept also for the upper parts of the wings.
Being to elevated in shape I was compelled to sand them down a bit and then to polish them again to a shiny luster.
I then protected the bulbs with masking fluid (I use Bison textile glue) that has the same composition as Maskol but is more cheaper and much to easy to found at household products departments.
As you can see in the picture below I also used this liquid mask to point here and there where I wanted to represent exfoliated paint. I used this technique because I didn't give a layer of transparent varnish over the aluminium color. Thus I was afraid that the green and other colors applied over the silver will adhere too much making it difficult to select by scratching where to stop in the weathering process.
I then applied the Green collor to the upper surfaces.
I'm not a partisan of those theories that state there was 12 kind of green for japanese aircraft. Of course there was some 2 to 3 colors for the navy and 3 or 4 colors for the army airplanes. The rest I believe are conjunctural variations of the designated collors.
As for the nuances, the discussions have been endless and the voices supporting one point of view or another, based their science on less then precise information.
For good argumentation on japanese collors you can consult Arawasi magazine and their site http://arawasi-wildeagles.blogspot.ro/ and also this Site http://www.aviationofjapan.com/ where Mr. Millman has struggled a lot to put an order in this subject.
There are serious research that are analysing original parts of planes and original color chips.
After the uppersurface green has been applied I continued with small retouches of the undersurface grey (I also attached a retractable ladder in a drilled elongated hole) And applied a clear turquoise collor from Marabu to simulate aodake protection lacquer.
After all these, the feared moment of doing the Hinomaru with paint instead of decal has arrived. Postponing it more could be labeled as ridiculous....
Have you ever tried to apply in practice what is written in theory on the cutting compass box. Well I tried and at least for discs of 7.5 mm diameter is an almost impossible task. In fact it was pretty hard to find a cutter likewise with a cutting diameter smaller than 10 mm. The second lesson about this kind of tool is that regardless of the quality of the blade, trying to cut normal with it at smaller diameters is almost impossible (1 out of 10 tryouts get's well). Is better to use the blade in revers. I mean cutting with the back of the tip. This way it scratches (as an engraving tool !!!) the material to be cutted and after a few passes a disk is obtained (and of course a corresponding hole). Anyway the blade tends always to take a way of it's own and the blocking systems at this kind of dividers is not strong enough to resist the independence will of the blade.
So I retrograded to an old little divider with two steel points. The material for the mask I used is hard to be found but one can use plain transparent acetophane. It is important to be resistant at solvents to be wiped of excess paint from one work to the other, and also to maintain it's transparent qualities for ease of positioning.
I have a little problem with the red. I prefered it a little more duller and softer in intensity. Well I wouldn't change it just for this but I will be more generous with the final weathering wash.
I use a wash made from Future floor polish as a base in which certain amounts of brown and black drawing ink has been added.
The result can be seen in the following picture where one of the landing gear bay is weathered and the other no.
Done, with most of it...I hope. There are a few more steps till the end, but from a long experience, I know that from this moment the hell can began.
And has began - first in the form of my computer being toasted.
Then, the ensemble tires, legs, covers was a nightmare to put together right and aligned.
Resin Art give us flattened wheels....But from all the pictures I've seen (also of abandoned Raidens), no one has tires so pressureless. To position the flattened portion on the ground while correctly positioning at the right angles the legs proved to be a daunting task.
First of all the resin roots provided in the bays where to prone to the leading edge (like at the FW 190). Also they was to inclined to the interior. I was able to correct these with a pair of pliers, my legs being now from hypodermic needles. But I didn't succeed in correctly position the tires. This will be hidden on a future grass vignette.
Decals have been placed at this stage and also some chipped paint simulated, as well as painting of the exhausts. The decal is from the original Hasegawa box, but combined to form the serial number. Only an eight (8) has been cannibalised from a Gekko sheet of decals, which is visible being of a slightly different quality of white.
The pitot tube was made from hypodermic needels (2 diameters).
Trying to do the guns from the same material softened in fire proved impossible. The whole needle becoming to soft to be worked in a funnel at one end.
Reluctantly I opted for the resin ones because I can stand to wait almost 2 weeks for a set of brass cannons by Fine Molds from HLJ.
After a time I ordered a set of cannons from Master-model Poland, and changed the resin ones.
The last step ( or better said - last few steps) is to add the holders to the windshield and to the mobile canopy, and then to put the antenna wire.
A friend of mine indicated that the winshield frames are to glossy. I will resolve that too but I don't want the whole airframe to have the same finish. From various pictures I saw that wear and tear was not the same everywhere on the airplane. In fact I aplied a thin coat of matt varnish on ailerons and rudders to simulate the diferent material underneath the paint and the fact that luster was lost quicker on these parts.
Finaly (or not...)
I consider it done and make some pictures. That's how I found out that it was not ready. It still needs the landing gear up indicators on the upper wings, a different color on the pop-out handle beneath the rear of the cockpit and the wire antenna.
Well, I already take the pictures so you will have to make an effort of immagination for the moment.
More pictures of this model and others you can see here
There are a few points that I could consider to improve. But.... I'm not that kind of fanatical modeller which makes a weathered and unclean model that wants to represent a fully used airplane, to look as an attentive and very scientifically degraded piece of lab-experiment.
On a closer inspection you will find little blemishes and stains of different colors. I didn't even tried to take care of those accidents because they can happen in real life too.
However some are unwanted mistakes that I didn't see in due time and so didn't get a chance to correct them.
My advice is to look it in a relaxed state of mind bearing in mind that this is a free time occupation, when one must rest and regather energy and not being more stressed than at work.
Photos with the completed work: