WHY I AM DOING THIS, AND SUBJECT #1 - D3A1 Val
As some of you know, I have spent literally years working on B-17F Luscious Lady, as recorded in another build blog. In the intervening eons I have lost the pleasure of one of my main reasons for modeling, which is adding to my collection.
I don't know how I actually got into diecast models, but years ago when I was at the Boeing Museum in Seattle I saw my second favorite airplane in 1/48 scale in a diecast kit, the Brewster Buffalo, and was amazed how good it was. I should have gotten it but didn't.
While lurking around eBay a couple of years ago I saw the kit for sale at a fairly decent price, bought it (and other Buffs!!) and was surprised to see many other good subjects done by a few manufacturers, mostly in China and Japan. I took the plunge to add to my display case, and have been happy to do that while working on my own mad obsession.
In addition to discussing diecast acquisitions, I will also discuss and show off some OPM (Other People's Models) that I've acquired over the years and fixed up one way or the other.
I thought I would share some of these with you since, for virtually every one I have "put my mark on it." You know, like a dog in a fire hydrant factory.
Anyway, a Japanese D3A1 Val is the first one I'm going to post about and discuss here.
In the 1980s I did a Fujimi Pearl Harbor Val back when they were pearl gray and all that. Inevitably it got broken and I've always missed the fact that I no longer had a "Pearl Harbor Trio." Then I ran across this "semi-finished kit" on eBay from a Japanese company called Marushin.
Here's the model photographed on the box top:
The model is "semi-finished" in the sense that you have to literally screw the wings on from the bottom and use metal pegs to fit things like the wheel spats and horizontal stabilizers on. There are also a number of plastic parts that you have to cut off and add to the kit. So it's not one of these that you pull out of the box and put on the shelf.
One thing negative about Marushin kits is that their cockpit interiors are black and devoid of much detail. Since I was going to make this with the canopy closed as per the box top photo it didn't bother me too much but I did add an instrument panel, joystick, and Fine Molds Lewis gun aft, which of course you can't see. But here is how the kit looks after I finished with it.
If you compare this to the box top model photo you can see that I added the manufacturer's data plate decal in front of the tail, and antenna wire. I also changed out the pitot tube, and added some detail underneath, although that remains somewhat sparse.
Available research suggests that this aircraft had red striped decorations on the wheel spats, as pictured below.
Of course it is from Akagi, and here is some information about the aircraft during the Pearl Harbor raid.
AI-201 was flown by a hikotaicho. The crew were PO1c Kiyoto Furuta (pilot) and Lt. Takehiko Chihaya (gunner/radioman).
Note the three red hikotaicho horizontal stripes. During second wave attack, 18 Val dive-bombers of the Akagi unit
target the tanker USS Neosho during her sortie, the floating dry dock (USS Shaw), the northwest side of Ford Island
(USS Raleigh, USS Tangier and USS Curtiss) and the battleship USS Maryland at Battleship Row. The first squadron
of 9 planes led by Lt. Chihaya. Four Kanbaku hit USS Shaw (three bombs struck the ship and one near hit) at 9:10
and started a fire that caused a might explosion at 9:30. Four Kanbaku attacked USS Neosho during her sortie to
Southeast loch and one Kanbaku attacked USS Maryland at Battleship Row.
I like the profiles on the site containing this image, see http://japanese-aviation.forumotion.com/t29-33-pearl-harbor-raid-akagi-s-dive-bombers/.
The Brazilian guy who did the profiles is to be commended for the ton of work he did researching them, though he has been criticized by the purists for some "errors." [The discussion about brown-tailed Kates off of Kaga is particularly "harsh," shall we say]. But I think the guy deserves a medal for all the valuable info he's published, free for everybody.
While there are indications that some Akagi Vals did not have the decorations on the wheel spats, I felt pretty sure that this aircraft did, and not just because of the artwork.
Anyway, if you look at the kit box top you'll see a problem. The red decorations on the wheel spats on the model are missing. At first I thought that I could simply fix this by taking decals off of other Pearl Harbor Val kits and aftermarket sets, only to discover for the first time that the geometric shapes of the wheel spat decorations for each carrier are different! And, I didn't have one for Akagi. So I wound up masking and painting the wheel spats for this model.
Finally, if you look at the box top photo you will see that the engine in the kit is entirely flat black. That wouldn't do. So I hammer-tapped the engine out of the cowling (not that hard really) and painted it up so that it would look closer to the real thing.
One of these days I'll get around to building the Hasegawa D3A1, but for the present I'm happy with this result.
One other thing I'll say about Maruschin is that they are the only game in town if you want a D3A2 in 1/48 scale. That is a rare bird indeed! Have the model but haven't finished fixing it up yet. Also, kits from Marshuin weigh a ton!