Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima B5N2 Kate
Model, Text and Photos by: Mark Smith
Nakajima's Kate was the world's premier torpedo bomber from the time of its introduction in late 1937 to the appearance of Grumman's TBF Avenger in mid-1942. It was a marvelously clean design for a three-place aircraft, and though the swarms of Hellcats increasingly decimated its numbers and effectiveness, it remains an aircraft of great historical importance to any student of the Pacific.
Hasegawa has released the B5N "Kate" in four boxings as of this writing: a B5N2 level bomber with 800 kg armor piercing bomb, a B5N2 torpedo bomber, an earlier B5N1 with the bulbous cowling and single-row radial engine, and the last evolution of the design, a B5N2 with a Yagi radar array.
I built the first release mentioned, kit JT76. I found it this a superb model in most respects, and have enjoyed building it. The one criticism of the kit I heard through the grapevine was that the cowling was too small. In width, both the FAOW drawings and the kit cowling measured out to 24 mm; moreover it looked right, even to a compulsive like me. Most of you who would be interested in building it have eagerly perused this one on the sprues; so I'll cut to the chase and mention what I would have liked to have known ere I started it.
The cockpit is pretty remarkable. The myriad structural details and plumbing will test your painting skills and patience, and it's only fair to warn you that much of it wont' be seen once the model is finished. So dry fit and eyeball everything to determine where your time is best invested. There is no way that styrene by itself can capture this area's complexity, and I would recommend the Eduard brass made for this kit if you're planning on an open canopy. The most obvious part of the interior, once finished, is the pilot's seat. Sadly, this is not convincing, but the Eduard seat, though tough to fold, is gorgeous. It would be worth the trouble. The lightening holes that characterize this seat are represented in the kit only by a decal, which in itself is cheesy. Bit it proved useful as I applied it to the seat as a guide for drilling the holes. Though it came out uniformly, it wasn't convincing due to its thickness. Re the cockpit in general, all is a tight squeeze here once the fuselage goes together.
Decide earlyon what particular aircraft you will model, as many didn't carry the antenna mast and its aerial. Considering the complexity of the aerial, this may be a relief! The rear seat machine gun is tough to position, whether stowed or unlimbered; once you get it in place, reinforce the meager joint here. Two canopies are given, open and closed. After all the cockpit work, I had planned to leave it open, but I thought these pieces unconvincing in this scale. The stationary sections of the canopy are simply not tall enough. This bugged me enough to opt for the beautifully molded closed version. I hope that Falcon/Squadron comes soon with a vac canopy for this kit, as the one they offered for the Nichimo kit is not really compatible.
noticed in the photos in the instruction sheet (built closed) that the fit of
the windsreen looked rough. When I attached it I found it to be slightly long;
it's your choice whether you want it to fit well at the front or at the back.
I attached it with epoxy in stages so as to obtain as flush a fit as possible.
Once secure, I faired in the windscreen and aft section with slow setting epoxy.
There is about a ten minute window in the drying period where a damp cloth run
along the joint will wipe away excess epoxy while leaving a perfect bead in
the joint. Make sure you're taking your medication.
Before I cemented the fuselage together the I noticed that the fin was way too thick in section. I pared it down and rescribed the panel lines. I am not nitpicking here, this really lets the model down if not fixed.
I loved the option for open wing flaps on this model. And they are nicely engineered and molded. I thought I would be really smart and blank off the ugly gap between the wing halves with .005 sheet card. It looked nice, but when it was time to install the flaps, I had ruined their precise fit, and had to do a lot of extra work, an area in which I increasingly specialize.
The installation of the landing gear on this one can be simple if you carefully clean up the struts with file and sandpaper and test fit them before you paint. The tires are flattened but not overdone. Put the landing gear doors on after the struts are installed.
forward fuselage section between windscreen and cowl is in halves; attach these
to the fuselage halves before they are joined rather than as per instructions.
I wish I had. The engine is very nicely done and when carefully painted will
rival aftermarket resin if you add the wiring. It fits perfectly into the cowl,
which fits perfectly to the fuselage. Forward of the windscreen, the Hasegawa
kit is a quantum leap past the ancient Nichimo Kate.
The prop is a highlight of the kit, as its shape and hub detail are excellent. Oddly, its surface is rough enough to need wet-sanding and polishing, as the great majority of wartime photos show a polished metal finish.
The 800 kg bomb (a converted shell) that comes in this version of the kit suffers from thick fins and needs careful seamwork once assembled. The hard part is mounting it. As often happens, Hasegawa's instructions are inadequate without further reference material. I was grateful to have one clear photo of an aircraft so equipped. The are four mounting points for the bomb, so getting it aligned correctly is best done with a slow setting adhesive. (The impressive box art is anaccurate painting guide for this weapon. As far as I can ascertain, these shells were only issued for the Pearl Harbor attack).
I think the torpedo would be easier to mount; of course, you'll need to buy another kit for that! Greg Springer has noted an important detail about that torpedo: unlike the Jill kit, it's round in cross-section rather than oval. In trials in Hittokappu Bay, it was found that the oval torpedos did not run true. Seriously, I worry that modelers who want to do a Jill with torpedo will have to purchase an additional Kate kit. After all, I'm one of them. I wouldn't put it past Hasegawa to have done this on purpose. We're like chimps in the lab...
are just what you'd expect from Hasegawa. Colors and registration are very good,
though the decals themselves look thick. The went on nicely though, at least
the ones I used, as I sprayed the hinomarus with a stencil. The tail codes are
pieced together from the sequential numerals provided to make "EII-301",
and all the white fuselage and tail striping was done with the airbrush also.
The end result was to represent the aircraft of one of the Zuikaku's shotai
leaders Lcdr. Shigekazu Shimazaki; though the last two digits of the code are
speculative, the stripes are not.
This one is long hoped for, and doesn't disappoint. Highly recommended!.
Rev. Mark Smith
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