RS Models 1/72 E15K1 'Shiun'

KIT #: 92076
PRICE: $21.40 on sale (33.95 SRP)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


In 1939 the Imperial Japanese Navy instructed the Kawanishi Aircraft Company to develop a two-seat high-speed reconnaissance floatplane, which was required to have sufficient performance to escape interception by land based fighters. It was planned to equip a new class of cruisers, intended to act as a flagship for groups of submarines, operating six of the new floatplanes to find targets. The first of the new cruisers, Ōyodo was also ordered in 1939.

Kawanishi designed a single-engined low-wing monoplane, powered by a 1,460 hp (1,090 kW) Mitsubishi MK4D Kasei 14 14-cylinder radial driving two Contra-rotating two-bladed propellers, the first installation of contra-rotating propellers produced in Japan, while a laminar flow airfoil section was chosen to reduce drag. It had a single main float under the fuselage and two stabilising floats under the wing. The stabilising floats were designed to retract into the wing, while the central float was designed to be jettisoned in case of emergency, giving a sufficient increase in speed (estimated as approximately 50 knots (90 km/h) to escape enemy fighters.

The first prototype of Kawanishi's design, designated E15K1 in the Navy's short designation system made its maiden flight on 5 December 1941. Five more prototypes followed during 1941-42. Problems were encountered with the retractable stabilising floats, resulting in several accidents when the floats could not be lowered for landing, and the system was eventually abandoned, with the stabilising floats being fixed, and a more powerful Mitsubishi MK4S Kasei 24 engine fitted to compensate for the increased drag.

Operational history

Despite these problems, the E15K1 was ordered into limited production as the Navy Type 2 High-speed Reconnaissance Seaplane Shiun Model 11. Six were sent to Palau in the South Pacific, but these were quickly shot down by Allied fighters, as the jettisonable float failed to separate on demand (although subjected to wind tunnel testing, the float separation system had never been tested on the actual aircraft). This resulted in the cancellation of production in February 1944, with only 15 Shiuns completed, including the six prototypes.


This is not the only kit of the Norm done in plastic as Aviation Usk did one many years back. However, this one is far more detailed and will undoubtedly fit better than that older kit. Molded in grey with excellent exterior detailing, this one is still short run as you will find large ejector towers on one side of all the major pieces. While many of them can be ignored, the ones on the inside of the wings and those on the large flat plates for the outrigger floats will need to be removed and in the latter case, sanded smooth.

The cockpit is fairly bare with just a pair of seats, a couple of bulkheads and a pilot control stick to go on the flat floor. There is an instrument panel with fairly faint raised detail and some interior bulkhead detail. The instructions weasel out on the exact shade of the interior by simply calling it 'interior color'. Kawanishi did have a cockpit color that was a fairly dark green.

There is a one piece lower wing with two upper wing halves. The cowling is split vertically, making a clean lip difficult to attain. No engine is provided as the spinner is quite large and would hide most of any engine detail. The two parts of the prop are simply butt fit with no attempt to allow them to rotate, but those handy with brass tubing should be able to make that happen. The outrigger floats can only be modeled in the extended position. The upper portion is actually inflatable and that would deflate upon retraction. If you feel handy with a razor saw, you could duplicate the raised position. This is all topped by a one-piece canopy section. The kit also comes with a beaching dolly, the best way to display these sorts of aircraft. You may want to consider adding weight to the front of the float if you wish.

Instructions are combination of CAD type and standard line drawings with the CAD bits a lot brighter than some I have seen so you can actually see where the bits fit. All aircraft are dark green over grey with yellow leading edges to the inner wings. Markings are for three aircraft; two from the cruiser Oyodo and one from the Air Technical Arsenal. The ATA plane has an all green fuselage and float pylon. The decals are very well done and include float stripes. The under wing Hinomarus will have to be be specifically cut to properly fit the large flat retraction strut. It would have been nice had this already been done. Interestingly, the box art shows the insignia more inboard than what is on the painting and markings guide on the back of the box.


Another interesting and unusual kit from RS Models. This one is a must have for the floatplane crowd and is a pretty good sized aircraft. It will look great in with your other Japanese floatplane models.


June 2013

Thanks to me for picking this one up.

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page