Tamiya 1/72 M6A1 'Serian'

KIT #: 37
PRICE: $15.00
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Mike Kleber
NOTES:  

HISTORY

The Aichi M6A1 ‘Seiran’ (Mountain Haze) was a single engine, two crewmember attack aircraft designed to be ferried and launched by an I-400 class submarine.  Development began in May 1942 with the first flight in November 1943.  Twenty eight were built for the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service including two land based ‘Nanzan’ (Southern mountain) trainers.  The aircraft’s primary mission was to attack the Gatun locks in the Panama Canal in order to interrupt the flow of allied war materiel entering the Pacific theater. 

 Three aircraft were stored in a watertight 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in) diameter, cylinder shaped hangar on the submarine.  For transit, the two floats and support pylons were removed and stored in separate compartments.  The wing rotated 90 degrees and then folded back to lie flat against the fuselage.  About 2/3 of the horizontal stabilizer folded down, as did the tip of the vertical stabilizer.  The aircraft could be launched from the submarine with or without floats.   It carried a single 800 kg (1,760 pound) bomb or torpedo and was armed with a 12.7 mm flex mounted machine gun in the rear.

In July 1945 two submarines of the 1st Submarine Flotilla, each equipped with three aircraft on board, sailed from Japan now tasked to attack the US fleet at Ulithi atoll rather than the Panama Canal.  The war ended prior to the mission being carried out and the submarines we recalled.  All six aircraft were scuttled by the submarine crews en route back to Japan.

THE KIT

The kit consists of 54 light grey parts attached to 2 runners and 5 clear parts.  There is a second windscreen option that accommodates an external gun sight.  The surfaces have very crisp recessed panel lines and many other surface details.  Also included are the parts for the beaching dolly and 1 plastic “bushing” used in the propeller assembly. 

 A detailed 8 page instruction sheet accompanies the kit.  Colors for each part are referenced with Tamiya paint numbers.  A completed model of the subject is shown on the box cover.

CONSTRUCTION

The cockpit parts fit very well with no problems.  Raised dial details are found on the pilot’s instrument panel and radio operator’s panel. Decals are provided for the instrument panels and seat harnesses.  Solvaset was used on the panel decals and they shrunk right down around the raised features.  For ease of application, you may want to slice the harness decals down the middle of the lap belt and apply in 2 pieces.  Note: Not much is readily visible in the cockpit once the canopy is on.

Lead foil from my dentist’s x-ray films was used for weight in the nose.  The foil is versatile as it can be shaped as needed.

The wing assembly was straight forward and after it was attached to the fuselage only a tiny amount of filler putty was required at the wing fuselage seams.

The construction of the floats was trouble free as well. 

The bomb racks required some patience.  The front and rear rack pieces look very similar but are different with unique part numbers.  Test fitting the bomb helped to ensure the proper alignment of the racks before the cement dried.  The bomb is offset from the centerline and there is a small raised feature on the lower wing which the bomb’s fin rests on.  For ease of assembly, you may want to cement the bomb in place prior to the floats being attached.

The canopy comes in two pieces:  The pilot’s windscreen and the remaining length of greenhouse.  The bottom of the greenhouse needed to be sanded at the back end in order for it to fit to the fuselage with only very minor gaps remaining.  These gaps were filled with a small amount of white glue. 

The floats were painted before being attached to the wings.

The beaching dolly is an 11 piece project.  The wheels have to be “trapped” in the frames in order for them to rotate.  To avoid breaking the axle pins off, the frames needed to be spread apart while positioning the wheels.  This feature seems to have little ‘value added’ to the kit for the all of the fuss.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Plastic enamel was used for the entire model. The instructions call for a RLM grey green interior.  The yellow ID leading edges were painted, however decals are provided if you prefer.  IJN green was used for the upper surfaces and RLM 63 for the underside grey.  The paint dried with a semi-gloss finish and was left as is.

The Smithsonian’s Seiran has a portion of the sides of the floats painted grey.  A color photograph of a Seiran, (looks to be taken by the allies post war) shows no grey, so I opted to paint the floats in that fashion. 

The beaching dolly was hand painted.  A few drops of copper and brown were mixed into red for the anti-fouling paint on the frame and wheels.  For the wooden planks, tan, light brown and earth were used.  A thin coat of tan was applied and then brushed over with the other colors thinned out.

Decals provided with the kit were used.  The carrier film does not extend beyond the diameter of roundels (Hinomarus).  The decals have a semi-flat finish.  The carrier film around the tail numbers is glossy so a shot of dull coat would be required to lessen the shine.  Two applications of solvaset were used to set the Hinomarus down into the panel lines.

CONCLUSIONS

The end result is a nice looking model of an uncommon subject.  The build is straight forward.  I highly recommend it.

REFERENCES

 Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Combat aircraft of the world: (John Taylor)

Warbirdphotographs.com

Mike Kleber

August 2012

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