X-otic72 1/72 F1M2 'Pete'

KIT #

AU 1003

PRICE:

$9.95 at Aviation USK Nebraska

DECALS:

Two aircraft

REVIEWER:

A. Sean Glaspell

NOTES:

Short Run kit.

HISTORY


The prototype F1M first flew in June 1936. After resolving some initial design problems including an upgrade to the powerplant (875 hp Mitsubishi Zuisei 13, 14 cylinder air cooled radial piston engine), the F1M2 model entered naval service in 1941.  Given the Allied code name 'Pete', the F1M2 was used in the fighter as well as observation, gunnery spotting, antisubmarine, and convoy escort roles.  It was among the combatants at the Battle of Midway, having been part of the air search component from the heavy cruiser Tone during 4-6 June 1942.  It flew in Japanese operations in the Philippines, New Guinea, the Solomons, from Attu in the Aleutians, and other areas. 
 
In combat, the F1M2 proved extremely agile with a high rate of climb.  It could be viewed as the peaking of the capabilities of the sea borne biplane, as the Fiat CR.42 was the pinnacle of the land based biplane fighter.  When production terminated in March 1944, a total of 1,118 had been built. 
 
Armament consisted of:
2 x .30 caliber (7.7 mm) type 97 cowl mounted machine guns,
1 x .30 caliber (7.7 mm) flexible rear-firing machine gun and 
2 x 132 lb (60 kg) bombs on under wing mounts
 

THE KIT

 
What the modeler is getting for his hard earned cash is a 2 plastic sprues of parts with a small vacuform piece containing the 2 required canopies.  The panel lines, engine cowling and other details are recessed although a bit on the shallow side.  The instruction sheet is printed on both sides with references on one side and part inventory and 2 exploded views for assembly.  As there are no steps to follow, the builder relies on their own knowledge of kit building to decide what needs to assembled when. Follow this link to see a preview of this kit. 
 
Markings for 2 aircraft are provided, one for seaplane tender Sanuki Maru in early 1942 and the battleship Yamato in mid-1944.  In addition to the national and unit markings, beaching gear reference marks are provided on the sheet.  No beaching gear or any form of display stand is provided.   The box is printed on both sides "Skill Level 3: For Experienced Modelers" and they are correct.  Armed with the kit and that knowledge, let's build a 'Pete!

CONSTRUCTION


Step One:  Reread the boxtop:  "Skill Level 3: For Experienced Modelers."   Understand that this is not a Tamigawa or even an older Monogram kit.  The quality of this kit is below the quality of an older KP or no-name Russian import in this builder's opinion. 

 
Step Two:  Play relaxing music.  It will help you through Step 3.
 
Step Three:  Never work on this kit for more than 60 minutes at a time.  Use an egg timer if you have to.  Get up, walk away from the workbench and take a break.   Otherwise you may seek to send this aircraft for flight testing against the wall before it is finished. (In other words, it is an older short run kit. Ed)

1.) Fuselage - The assembly of the cockpit consists of 10 pieces of modest detailed parts.  The instrument panels have little detail, so you can use your references and imagination to detail it as much as you like.  There is no detail molding on the fuselage interior sides.  A one piece firewall with molded on engine is featured in the nose of the aircraft.  There is no mounting post either in the engine crankcase or a shaft on the base of the propeller.  The modeler may either glue the propeller directly onto the engine or drill a simple hole and mount a metal or styrene shaft to the propeller.

Being a child of the days of operating parts on the old Monogram kits, I at least demand the basics of a rotating propeller.  With a hand powered pin drill, I drilled a hole in the center of the crankcase and matched it up with the back of the propeller mechanism.  Cutting a section from a .20 cent piece of copper rod available at your favorite craft store, I glued it to the back of the prop.  Insert the rod through the crankcase and you've got a spinning prop. 
 
Another use for the simple pin drill technique to add locator pins to your kit as needed.  Since this basic feature is missing from the molding, it challenges the molder to correctly glue pieces like the fuselage, flying surfaces and floats correctly.  This also aids the modeler since you only have a line drawing as a reference to place necessary items like struts and pylons.  There are no reference points on the kit itself for properly locating the struts, etc..  Once again, we reference to Step One.  Try building a biplane without some reference points for wings and struts and you may wind up with an interesting result. 
 
It would have been nice if the manufacturer had included either a trolley or a simple stand for the modeler to use while the kit dries during glue or paint phases of assembly.  None was provided in the kit, so I scavenged one from the spare parts box.
 
2.) Wings and Floats - Like the seaplane version of the A6M2 Zero, the A6M2-N 'Rufe,' the F1M had a central main float with two smaller wing mounted floats.  A point of interest is also like the Rufe, the large hole in the from of the main float mount served as the housing for the oil cooler.  Checking the parts inventory, no under wing wing racks or bombs are provided.  The modeler can either build this kit in a pure observation craft configuration or check out their spare parts box for simple wing racks and small bombs.
 
Since there are no strut locating marks, let alone holes in the wings or pins on the strut parts, the modeler has the basic reference of the instruction line drawings and if you're the type of modeler who likes to research subject, then Koku Fan Number Illustrated #38 has excellent 3 view plans for you to use.  You'll want to add some weight to the front of the aircraft, either behind the engine in the fuselage or the main float.  Otherwise, your Pete will be a tail sitter.
 
3.) Rigging and Final Details - Luckily, the F1M Pete had only 4 flying wires.  Additional rigging can be done for the antenna from the wings and down the fuselage, but it makes handling the kit a challenge. At 1/72 scale, you'll have to decide if it is important to you.
 
Throughout the assembly, the modeler has the opportunity to further develop their skills with body putty and then smoothing out the filler.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS


I used my own mix interpretation of Mitsubishi Interior Green using Floquil Warsaw Pact Gray Green as a base color and tinting from there.  Details, either molded or placed, were picked out with other base colors.  For the propeller blade fronts and spinner, I just finger applied Rub-N-Buff with the back of the blades black.

 
Originally, I thought I'd do something different with the scheme of this aircraft.  Beware of references that may stated that a number of F1M's were allotted to the Royal Thai Navy for coastal patrol duties.  This is an error.  The IJN was the sole operator of this aircraft. 
 
The modeler has the choice of building the aircraft in an early war overall IJN Gray scheme or a later scheme of IJN Green over IJN Gray.  Wanting to do this kit out of the box as much as possible, I used Gunze Sangyo MAH059 IJN Green uppersides and Gunze Sangyo MAH061 IJN Gray undersides.  Both of these paints are a gloss finish, which provides a smooth finish for the decal placement later.
 
Kit decals for a F1M based on the battleship Yamato were applied.  For modelers wishing to have these decals outside the kit, Aviation USK does offer them as aftermarket options.
 

CONCLUSIONS


It is a very basic kit.   I call to the scratch builder or vacuform builder in all of us.  I can't recommend it as a beginners kit since the lack of assembly references and mounting pins can leave the casual builder frustrated.  For the super detailer, your got a basic shape of a F1M and you can let your imagination run from there.  The lack of any kind of stand challenges the modeler to either use a stand from a third party or scratch build their own. 

I've built Aviation USK kits from their original release of the Ki-115 since they had taken a lead in producing some of the more obscure kits not available from the large manufacturers.  No, they are not the precision-tooled quality of a big manufacturer but they are decent basic kits for you to build up.  Since this is definitely not a 'shake-n-bake' kit, approach this kit as a challenge to increase your modeling skills and try out a new technique such as scribing a panel line, using bits of extra plastic to add detail to your model or adding spare parts from your supplies.  Xotic72's additional releases of the E8N2 'Dave' and E15K1 'Norm' are additional kits available to round out your Japanese Navy Floatplane collection. Enjoy the hobby!

REFERENCES


The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, 1997, Barnes & Nobles Books
Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, 1970, Rene Francillon, Funk & Wagnalls
Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings, 1977, Don Thorpe.
Koku Fan Number Illustrated #38 (3 view plans)
Koku Fan Number Illustrated #42 & 50 (Photos and color art)
Maru Mechanic #20 (Interior drawings and data with photos)

A. Sean Glaspell

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Reviews Index Page