Valom 1/72 K5Y1 'Willow'

KIT #: 72048
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with photo etch and resin parts


The Yokosuka K5Y was a two seat unequal-span biplane trainer aircraft (Allied codename: Willow) that served in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the World War II.

Due to its bright orange paint scheme (applied to all Japanese military trainers for visibility), it earned the nickname "aka-tombo", or "red dragonfly", after a type of insect common throughout Japan. The aircraft was based on the Yokosuka Type 91 Trainer, but stability problems led to a redesign by Kawanishi in 1933. It entered service in 1934 as a land-based K5Y1 with a fixed tail-skid landing gear, and remained in use throughout the war. Floatplane types K5Y2 and K5Y3 were also produced. After the initial 60 examples by Kawanishi, manufacture was continued by Watanabe (556 aircraft built), Mitsubishi (60), Hitachi (1,393), First Naval Air Technical Arsenal (75), Nakajima (24), Nippon (2,733), and Fuji (896), for a total of 5,770. These aircraft were the mainstay of Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service's flight training, and as intermediate trainers they were capable of performing demanding aerobatics.


Valom's kit of this important WWII Japanese trainer is molded on a single sprue of grey plastic and a single clear sprue. There is a photo etch fret that takes care of instrument panels, belts, hand grabs and trim wheels. The clear sprue also includes bombs, racks, rear gun and rear gun mount in addition to the expected windscreens. The lone resin piece is a rear seat control stick that was somehow not molded on the main sprue. Not shown is an acetate sheet for the instrument faces themselves.

The detailing on the main sprue is really first rate. The fabric representation is there, but understated, as it should be. I appreciate that Valom has decided to provide slots for the complete outer struts as this will make alignment of these items much easier to handle. It will mean there will be a bit of a seam to fill later, but the trade-off is, for most, a good one. The upper wing is in three sections with a separate center section. This is probably going to be the most difficult part of the build as it does have to be at the correct angle to match the lower wing. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen the upper wing as a single piece, but perhaps there is a good reason for doing it in this manner. Another nice touch is that the ailerons are separate. This will allow those who wish, to pose them off neutral and for the rest of us, provides a distinct separation from the rest of the wing. As this same sprue is used for the float plane version, there are pieces that will not be needed for this particular build.

Instructions are well done with nicely drawn illustrations and color information provided in a number of paint lines. There is a front and side view to help with rigging, but the box art is probably your best guide. The painting and decaling section are in full color. Two options are provided, both in trainer orange with dark green upper surfaces. The box art plane is from the Takao Kaigun Kokutai and has a lot more orange showing in the upper surface camo. The second is from 2.Miho Kaigun Kokutai and has the upper surface areas in a solid green pattern. Decals are quite nicely done and appear to be quite thin and in register.


It is good to see kits like this being released. Trainer aircraft were and are an important part of any air force and this one especially so to the IJNAF.


March 2009

My thanks to Valom for the preview kit.

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