Hasegawa 1/72 P1Y1 'Ginga' (Torpedo Version)

KIT #: 00025
PRICE: $45.00 SRP when new
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1999 boxing with resin torpedo


The Japanese never really had a fast, twin engined medium bomber until 1944 when the Army deployed its Ki-67 Hiryu and the Navy its P1Y1 Ginga (Milky Way). Until then, they had relied on updated prewar designs that were unsuitable for the kind of war they had gotten themselves into. The development of the Ginga was a rocky road to say the least. Design work started in 1940 with the aim of building a plane that was the equivalent of the Ju-88 or B-25. To do that, required a sleek airframe and powerful engines. Unfortunately, the Nakajima Homare engine was chosen. This engine showed a great deal of promise and so many aircraft builders wanted it for their new designs. When it worked well it was a superb powerplant, however that was the problem. It rarely worked as advertised. 

When the prototype Gingas were made it was found that they had a lot of hydraulic systems that just didn't seem to want to work properly. Even in the best of times, maintenance was not easy and there were a number of problems with the hydraulics. Despite this, the plane was put into production, hoping that the difficulties could be cured while the planes were being built. It just didn't work out that way. Despite production P1Y1 aircraft coming off the production lines in late 1943, it wasn't until October of 1944, when over 450 airframes had been produced, that the Navy finally accepted the aircraft. Even then a large number were found unsuitable for service due to serviceability and reliability problems.

Despite these problems, the aircraft was found to meet the expectations of the Navy in terms of speed, range and bomb load. Eventually the engine situation with the Homare became tolerable, but it was feared that production of engines would be insufficient. To that end, Kawanishi decided to install Mitsubishi Kasei engines, which offered similar power as the Homares but were much more reliable. This was the P1Y2, many of which were developed as the P1Y2-S night fighter. As experience with the plane increased, serviceability improved and a number of interesting modifications and variants were suggested. However, the end of the war put a halt to all these plans.


This is another of the continuing line of Hasegawa twin-engined bombers. As you can see from the sprue image, there are quite a few parts and pieces to it. However since the Frances was not built in too many different variants, there are not a lot of interchangeable subassemblies to cause construction problems. 

Molded in Hasegawa's usual grey plastic, the level of detailing is all that we have come to expect from Japan's premier aircraft kit producer. There were a few parts that had rather thick mold seams and a few ejector pin markings will have to be filled, the most difficult of those being in the bomb bay, but overall, there are no mold problems with the parts themselves. I have read that when one cuts away the braces inside the engine cowlings to use a razor saw and work carefully. Apparently it is easy to split open the cowling! Typically, the cockpit is somewhat basic and relies on decals for instruments.

The P1Y1 is not an aircraft that offers a lot of options. In fact, the only ones are to have the bomb bay open or closed and whether to use the wing drop tanks or not. I can tell you that if you have been hanging on to the old Revell kit of the Frances, you can now sell it off or put it into your kit collection of oldies as this is  a much better kit. What added extra to the MSRP of this kit is a resin torpedo. To use it, one has to add the resin section of bomb bay, cut on the bomb bay doors, and cut away fuselage sections behind the extant bay opening to lengthen the bay. This is all clearly shown in the instructions and should not be a problem for an intermediate modeler.

Instructions are very good, as one would expect. Paint callouts are from the Gunze range, though you can substitute your favorites from Testors or Tamiya or Humbrol. Apparently only one unit flew this variant, and that was the Yokosuka Air Group. Thought only one full tail code is provided, there are enough extra numbers to do just about any plane in the Group.  Now the Frances can be painted any way you want as long as it is green over light grey with yellow wing leading edges. If you don't want to paint the yellow parts, then use what is supplied on the decals. T Decals are the standard Hasegawa ones which can work well, but need some care in application. 


I got this kit on sale for a mere $10 as the previous owner had already tried cutting away the fuselage for the lengthened bomb bay and had botched it. Still, I know how to fix minor glitches and so decided to give this one a go. Many years ago I had built the Revell version of this aircraft. That was a fairly nice kit for its time, rivets and all, but was rather lacking in some of the detail we now take for granted.

Anyway, the first thing I did was start to build subassemblies. This meant wheels, drop tanks and the engine nacelles. I also glued together all the interior bits save the rear gun as these would all be painted Mitsubishi Interior Green. There is a bulkhead that is made from clear plastic so the clear portions of it were masked off prior to installation. I then did some prepainting.

I have been trying a ready to spray paint by Tru-Color and did the wheel wells and other bits with their Aluminum paint. It goes on quite well and looks very good. Comparable to Alclad II Aluminum in terms of the shade. The interior was painted using Colour-Coats' paint from their Japanese line.

I then added the instrument decals to the interior. These work well and considering it will be only visible through the canopy, are adequate for the job. I would suggest not installing the pilot's rather oddly shaped seat until after the pilot console decals are applied. I also used some PMA 1mm tape for seat belts. I do not think Japanese bombers used a shoulder harness, but even if they did, the belts are better than nothing. The rear gun was then glued in place in the stowed position.

The interior was then cemented together in stages. As usual, I used superglue to fill any seams as it will not shrink and will not chip when one rescribes any lost detail.

After opening the holes for the drop tanks, I installed the wheel well inserts and cemented the wings together. After the usual seam work on the leading edge, I installed the engine nacelle rear pieces and then the firewall section that includes the ejector exhaust. The lower oil cooler intake was also installed. I used one of the engine cowlings to ensure that all the bits were properly aligned. I then attached the tail wheel housing. This was a bit undersized so needed a couple of super glue filler applications. Next, the wings. These are an exceptional fit. They are keyed to make sure they are tight and after applying glue to both the roots and the wings they were simply pressed together. You can see in the image above of the cockpit how well they fit. The clear bits were then masked, no a short process, and then glued into place on the fuselage. Fit is very good. I should mention that the nose cannon is in two parts. The body of the gun fits inside the nose piece and then later, one attaches the barrel. A great way to do this sort of thing.


I painted the outside of the clear bits with the interior shade and painted the engine nacelles (the forward part) with black. The black was then masked off and the underside had all the areas that needed it painted with Tru-Color's aluminum. I had tacked on the bomb bay doors (which are not used for the torpedo version) to help seal up the bay to keep paint out of it. The horizontal stabilizers were painted separately from the fuselage. Upper surfaces were painted with Colorcoats Nakajima Exterior Green as this was the shade called out in the instructions. I masked between the upper and lower surfaces to get a sharp demarcation line.


With the main colors in place, I gave the upper surface a coat of gloss clear using Pledge (with Future shine), and masked off around the ailerons and elevators on the underside so they could be painted grey/green primer.

Once that was done, I started applying the decals. Now normally, Hasegawa decals hold up rather well and these were only 13 years old. However, they proved to be rather brittle and none of the markings of any size made it off the backing without some part of them cracking or chipping. I also stupidly applied the wing leading edge decals instead of painting them. Despite using Mr.Mark Softer, which is supposed to be formulated for Japanese kit decals, I did not get a good seat and you can see light and dark areas on these markings when looking closely at them. Since the sheet gives options for the tail numbers, I used one of them for the last digit just to be a bit different from the kit. There really are not a lot of decals for this aircraft and so those who are not as slow as I could probably have them on in a day. It took me about four as I put on a pair, let them dry a bit and then used setting solution. After that dries, I go on to a few more and repeat till done.

Once the decals were on and dry, I sprayed on a clear matte coat to the green upper surfaces. Then the last of the bits were attached which includes the gear doors (which fit quite well), the engines and then the cowlings. I painted the exhaust stacks with Vallejo Game Color 'Tinny Tin' and also had to paint the back of the cowlings black as the fit is not totally flush. Then the masking was removed from all the transparencies and what little bleed-under I had was scraped away with a toothpick or fingernail. The nose gun was installed as was the radio mast. The wing tanks were then attached, the torpedo installed in the bomb bay, and the nose cannon was glued in place. Pastels were used for exhaust stains, the props were pushed in place (they are a bit of a loose fit) and that was it.

I have to say that I enjoyed building this one. It is not super complex and the addition of the torpedo makes for an interesting variant of a plane that did not have a ton of variants. This is not the first Ginga I have built, as many years back, I tackled the old Revell kit. While that is still a fairly nice kit for its era, this one vastly supercedes it in terms of fit and overall detail. I know that Japanese twins are not the most popular subjects around, but if you find yourself wanting to build one, this would be an excellent choice. While not currently in their catalogue, they can be pretty easily found from the usual sources. I got mine from a sales table for less than 1/4 the retail price.



April 2012

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