Trumpeter 1/144 Kawanishi H6K5 Type 97 'Mavis'
IJN Flying Boat
Model and Text by Tom Norrbohm, photos by Steve Jantscher
First Impressions: The kit comes with 2 parts trees in gray plastic and 2 in clear. All parts are flash free and finely molded. Panel lines are engraved. Enclosed decal sheet gives you markings for 6 different aircraft according to kit instructions, 3 in the green/gray scheme and 3 in the overall gray. There are decals for a civilian version that will no doubt come out later ( H6K4?) that is not shown in the instructions.
Construction: Since I wanted to build this straight from the box, I decided on the overall gray scheme. This would allow me to build the entire model and paint it after it was completely assembled. As it turned out, this would make building this kit a much easier task in the long run.
Fuselage: Open up all the appropriate window and blister openings as shown. An earlier version is apparent as there are available openings in the shape of 'round' windows in each fuselage half. Since I planned on painting all clear parts black, I did not open the blister openings, but drilled out the locating holes for the blisters. Clear parts were then installed as shown. The interior is very basic (see photo) and is installed at this time. The main fuselage wing supports (A11 & A12) are installed and puttied around the base. Little putty is needed on the fuselage itself. After sanding and finishing, the tail assembly was installed (you may want to leave this off until later if you are doing a green/gray scheme) and the blisters glued on the fuselage. The two nose windows (C14 & C15) are glued on and sanded flush. Canopy can be glued on now or later, I did mine now as well as the tail part (C7).
Wings: Now comes the most frustrating part of the whole kit. You may or may not have a problem with your wings. Without thinking, I glued my wing halves together assuming everything was okay. Well, my wing definitely had to much dihedral (see photo). According to the 1/144th plans in the Model Art #541 on Japanese Float planes, there is a slight dihedral from the centerline out to the join line of the outer wing section. From there, the outer wing panel also has a slight dihedral. To confirm this problem, I placed the assembled wing on the fuselage (no glue!) and dry fitted the main wing supports (A4, A5, B13, B14) to see if they would fit. They came up short.
My suggestion (this is what I should have done!) is to dry fit and tape the wings together to see if you have a problem. If it looks like the wing in the photo, you will have to fix it. If it looks more like the corrected wing, you are okay. This appears to be a kit to kit issue, as a friend has one and the wing seems okay. How you fix the problem is up to you. Bend the wing halves in hot water until correct; score the wing and bend, etc. Since mine was already glued together, I faced a more difficult problem. I ended up taking an X-axcto razor saw and cutting through the bottom wing only (see photo). I then turned the wing upside down and applied pressure downward on the wing until the cut lower wing came together. I then applied MEK to the seam and worked it in a little bit and then put some weight on top of the wing until it set (overnight).
This will bring the wing down closer to the correct dihedral. Putty and sand the seam as needed. Assemble the two outboard wing floats at this time and set aside.
Engines: Dry fit an engine cowling to the wing and you will notice the back half of the air scoop housing does not meet the curved engine nacelle of the wing (see photo). Take a pliers and bend back half of housing until it meets the nacelle (see photo). You will also note, that since we have corrected the wing that the housings on both top and bottom of the engines are no longer square to the fuselage and are in fact canted slightly. You can correct this by cutting the locating pins off the cowling and gluing in place in proper alignment. However, the bottom housings are molded on and you either live with it or cut them off and reposition them in the proper place. Glue corrected cowlings in place on the wing.
Wing to Fuselage Assembly: Dry fit the wing to the fuselage supports. Fit isn't the best, and you need to check if the wing is square to the fuselage when viewed from above. I had to open the support openings in the wing a little so the wing could be 'jiggled' a bit to square it to the fuselage. Now, if your are doing a green/gray scheme, you may want to leave the wing off and pre-paint the fuselage and wings as well as the tail assembly. Since I am doing the all gray scheme, I glued the wing assembly to the fuselage supports making sure the wing was square and level to the fuselage. As the wing is setting up, I take all four main wing supports (A4, A5, B13, B14) and dry fit them to the wing/fuselage. Chances are they will now be a little to long as mine were. Take a sanding block and remove a little at a time from the end that meets the wing. When all four fit properly, glue in place and install the smaller wing supports, whose ends fit into recesses in the main supports. Wing floats can be glued in now or later after painting.
Painting & Decaling: I used some Aeromaster IJN Gray enamel paint for the overall gray color. I don't know if this is the right shade (and I don't care!) but it looks good to me. After painting I used my #2 pencil and an electric sharpener to draw all panel lines in. Then, I used a #00 Rapid-O-Graph technical drafting pen to 'paint' the windows with black india ink. Ink works best on flat paint and not gloss. Model was then gloss-coated and decals applied. Decals are a little on the thick side but went down well enough. Black decal was used for some of the fuselage windows. Afterwards, the model was flat-coated, props painted in IJN Primer by Aeromaster and installed as were the various masts and DF loop. Model was then glued to the enclosed stand.
Conclusions: Look at the photos of the finished model and the corrected wing and you can see a big difference in appearance. My corrected wing may not have enough dihedral to the center wing section, but it goes to show, that you don't need much to correct this problem. This kit reminds of a DML kit: looks great in the box, but a crap shoot on ease of assembly. This kit went together well, only the wing problem (if you have one) will make things a little more difficult. My only other complaint is the lack of beaching gear. I am not a big fan of putting models on a stand and nobody makes kits with stands anymore! Putting in 3 beaching gear pieces certainly would not have been that big a deal in this kit. This model is much easier to build if you can assemble everything at once. If you choose to build and paint in subassemblies, be sure everything fits as this will make the build easier! All in all a nice kit and highly recommended for those who build in this scale.
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