This is my Fine Molds Keiun. She was basically built OOB. I just added some minor cockpit detail. The underside was sprayed with Tamiya orange-yellow. The rest of the plane is hand-brushed (Tamiya IJN Green, the props are a mixture of brown, red and black). I gave it some minor exhaust-traces and finished her with clear-matt. As I still have no better camera at my side I again had to rely on my cell-phone. So excuse the quality of the photos!
Figure 46. (11/01/2018) All remaining pieces were glued on with PVA wood glue with the forward canopy, tail wheel and control surfaces being reinforced afterwards with superglue. Control surfaces were also glued in an angled position for a more natural land look while landed. I wanted to present this with an open canopy but because I have found no photos of the aircraft in this state, this leaves me some more room for the imagination. From my observations, no guide rails for a slide-back canopy are present and a vertical flip up canopy seems counter intuitive for entry due to the aircraft's small size and would be somewhat prone to damage especially if a gust of wind passed by. Therefore, I have chosen to present my aircraft with a horizontal flip up canopy held up with a tiny support rod made from black stretched sprue.
And thus, my Ki-78 is finally completed! This is by far the most rewarding build for me, much more than the Ki-43-I with many more new techniques and skills learnt for me. After this build, I’ve come to realise how fiddly 1/72 scale can be to achieve greater realism like this tiny aircraft and am now itching to build something in a larger scale. Perhaps I’ll revisit and reinterpret this unique subject in 1/48 scale someday.
Hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks very much for reading! Cheers, - Alex Nam Tran -
Figure 24. (27/12/2017) All prepared pieces up to this point were primed in Alclad II Black Base before painting. The control surfaces were airbrushed with Tamiya Chrome Silver acrylics while Tamiya Flat Aluminium was used for the outer landing gear panels. A small flap was also made from cut styrene and superglued onto the rudder's rear before painting. All interiors were airbrushed in an Aotake mix made from a 2:1 ratio of Tamiya Metallic Blue and Tamiya Clear Green acrylics. The landing gears and wheel plates were airbrushed with Alclad II Polished Aluminium. The spring-like area on the landing gears were hand painted with Tamiya Flat Black while the wheels were airbrushed with Tamiya Nato Black (closest thing to a tyre colour I currently have) after masking the plates with BluTack plasticine. All pieces were sealed with Pascoe's Long Life Floor Acrylic.
Figures 25a and b. (28/12/2017) The original exhausts are inaccurate and their positioning is somewhat sloppy too. Therefore, they will be replaced with cut 0.25 mm styrene replacements based on the photo above. The propeller shaft was also extended using a piece of cut sprue. Luckily, this piece of sprue was hollow in the centre, providing an easy guide for drilling to enlarge the opening. After cementing it into place, excess was cut off and the shaft was reinforced internally with regular Milliput epoxy putty.
Figure 26. (29/12/2017) When measured properly, the entire fuselage including the propeller was short by 2.5 mm to scale. The fuselage was then extended by using 5 layers of cut 0.4 mm styrene strips and 2 layers of 0.25 mm styrene with the last being a closed bulkhead. This was then filed and sanded down to shape.
Figure 27. (31/12/2017) The tail wheel was going to be replaced with a resin copy from Hasegawa's 1/72 Ki-84 Hayate. Sadly, before any of this could be done, this was misplaced within my bedroom/work station. Although it was going to be better than the original, this was still not a satisfying replacement either way as they were quite undersized. Fortunately, the tail wheel from Fujimi's 1/72 B7A2 to Minoru Matsuba's blueprints turned out to be the best match. A mold was then made using Blue Stuff/Oyumaru thermoplastic to cast an original Milliput epoxy putty replacement. This method is difficult to produce pieces properly and after over a dozen attempts in my career, this one was a great success, achieved by preparing the mould as a one-piece mould and cutting it in half partly for removal. After pressing the putty in, the wheel was reinforced with a piece of scarred paper clip, the mould closed with the help of masking tape and left to set over night. After removal, the tail wheel was cut back and shaped to fit in the fuselage neatly. Left is the replacement, centre is the original B7A2 tail wheel and right is the kit's original wheel.
Figure 28. (31/12/2017) I wanted to present the canopy opened to reveal the cockpit rather than having it hidden behind a distorted canopy. This called for a vacuform replacement but I had still yet to build a vacuformer. After learning of crash-forming, I attempted to do this around the beginning of the build using a cut bottle, heating it over a BBQ grill at the time, and plunging it onto the original canopy. Unfortunately, this did not work well and the original canopy was distorted from the heat. After thinking and reading, my mistake was using polyethylene (Recycling code 1) which shrinks rather than melts when heated. I still hadn't given up on the technique and so salvaged the canopy and made a plug out of it by using original Milliput epoxy putty to reinforce and reshape it. A piece of sprue was also incorporated into the plug to hold it upright. After rummaging through my plant propagating equipment and remembering properties of weathered plastics among my containers, a spare PVC strawberry punnet (Recycling code 3) was found, cut and heated over a candle. This time things worked as expected and once soft, this was pulled over the plug quickly to form the shape and with great success too. Three copies were made and were ready for cutting.
Figure 29. (31/12/2017) A freshly cut canopy set. Crystal clear with no distortion.
Figure 30. (04/01/2018) Tiny pitot tubes were made using cut pieces of flash and stretched sprue. Spare wing weights from a 1/72 Hasegawa A6M kit will also be used for the Ki-78's elevator weights.
Figure 31. (04/01/2017) Forgot to mention, the front and rear opening pieces of the fuselage radiators were thinned down with sanding before cementing them to the fuselage. Gap filling and further shaping was done with superglue and spare bits of styrene. In addition, because of the poor uniformity of the moulded panel lines, all of them were filled with superglue and sanded smoothly. I will be replacing all of these with my own.
Figure 32. (04/01/2017) Front view of the right radiator.
Figure 33. (04/01/2017) After observing various wheel wells of Imperial Japanese fighters, overall, I must say that their designs are minimalistic compared to their naval counterparts. Hence, I've decided to keep it simple for my Ki-78 as well with the addition of 2 cut 0.25 mm styrene strips and a piece of cut Tamiya masking tape in each well to detail them.
Figure 34. (04/01/2017) Tiny raised details at the front of the fuselage were made with diagonally cut pieces of stretch sprue before cementing them. The extended propeller shaft was also tested and the propeller spun smoothly with gentle air flow.
Figure 35. (04/01/2017) At this point, the entire aircraft is smooth ready for priming and painting.
Figure 36. (05/01/2017) The instrument panel original instrument panel was lost and a new one was prepared, this time in one piece. This was airbrushed with my Hai-Ai-Iro mix and sealed with Pascoe's Long Life floor acrylic before decal application. The individual dials from a spare 1/72 Hasegawa A6M decal set were cut before application and rearrangement. So far it looks convincing and proper to me!
Figure 37. (05/01/2017) The crash-formed canopy was masked before airbrushing the interiors with with Hai-Ai-Iro mix and exteriors Tamiya Flat Aluminium. From photos, I've noticed that there appears to be extra frames present on the canopy interior, hence these areas were masked on the interior to create them. Also, the little raised detail at the rear of the canopy present in was also added. This was made from a diagonally piece of stretched sprue and painted with Tamiya Flat Aluminium before gluing it down with PVA which was subsequently reinforced with superglue.
Figure 38. (05/01/2017) Landing gears were first assembled with PVA wood glue before adding an application of superglue to the joints for reinforcement. A brake hose made from black stretch sprue was also wired and glued into place. The wheel axle on the visible plate was closed with a slice of
black stretched sprue and a tiny piece of raised detail made from an even tinier slive of stretched sprue was also glued to the plate close by. All of this was very fiddly. Finally, the tail wheel was first sprayed with Alclad II Polished Aluminium, sealed with what was supposed to be a clear gloss laquer (turned out matte for some strange reason but I did not mind) before handing painting the tyres with Tamiya NATO Black.
Figure 39. (07/01/2017) Pretty tragic turn of events. Alclad II Black Base was used for priming however I'm starting to believe that this is not a real primer at all. The trouble started when I sprayed on a second coat yesterday after gap and sink mark editing. Because of the current heat wave here in Sydney (a thirsty 35-40+ degrees Celcius), the second coat left an ugly orange peel surface. Guess I should've waited for the cooler evening (approx. 28 degrees Celsius where I was, probably not cool enough either…). In addition, the heat also made the coats tacky even after drying, leaving unsightly finger print moulds. Hence, majority of yesterday was spent stripping the entire airframe of the black 'primer'. Next time I'll be avoiding this with good old Alclad II grey primer and evening spraying (provided it cools down properly...). Also, the elevators conveniently broke off whilst cleaning and will make painting them silver easier.
Figure 40. (09/01/2018) With the current heat wave starting to dissipate, progress resumed. The fuselage was primed with Alclad II Grey Primer, airbrushed with Tamiya Black, sealed with Pascoe's Long Life Floor Acrylic and finished with Tamiya Flat Aluminium. Next is the risky part, scribing panel lines through the paint. To help me with line positioning, a copy of Minoru Matsuba's blueprints was scaled down to 1/72 scale in Adobe Photoshop and printed for reference.
Figure 41. (10/01/2018) After around 3 hours, scribing has been completed. Although it was very risky, this method is not as difficult as you'd think and is probably by far the most rewarding for the finest and most realistic lines in this scale even though it is still not accurate (technically, almost no panel lines should even be present in 1/72 scale). This was my first attempt at using this method on an entire model and of course there were mistakes along the way. However, in the case of Flat
Aluminium, I have found that faulty lines can be covered up easily with delicate airbrushing, achieving a minimally noticeable result which is good enough for me. Next is painting the final details.
Figure 42. (10/01/2018) Painting is finally completed! The ailerons were first superglued into place before painting. Hinomaru were masked using Maketar's 1/72 Hinomaru masking set and airbrushed with Tamiya Red acrylic. Wheel wells, were airbrushed with my Aotake mixture. Engine exhaust panels were masked and airbrushed with Tamiya Gun Metal Acrylic. The front upper surface of the fuselage was airbrushed with Tamiya Flat Black. Finally, the distinguishing wing markings of the configuration of interest was masked and painted with Tamiya Flat White and Tamiya Flat Black. Next is the last stretch, attaching all completed pieces to the airframe.
Figure 43. (11/01/2018) The brake hose was 'extended' with an additional piece of stretched sprue, bent and superglued into place.
Figure 44. (11/01/2018) Landing gear struts were made from cut 0.25 mm styrene painted with Tamiya Flat Aluminium and black stretched sprue. These were glued into place with PVA wood glue. Landing gear were superglued into place.
Figure 45. (11/01/2018) My own exhaust funnel replacements were painted with a burnt iron mixture made from a 2:1 mix of Tamiya Gun Metal and Copper acrylics. These were individually glued on with PVA wood glue before reinforcing them with superglue. Their position is based on photos rather than the blueprints I was working with. Black water colour was dry brushed on for exhaust stains. The air intake internals on the left wing were also filled with black water colour to enhance the illusion of depth. Also, the flat black surface of the upper surface was sanded lightly at the edges and resprayed after noticing a slight error in its positioning.