Superscale 72-067 WW2 Japanese Aces




See review


Brendan Ibbs


A very old sheet and one of Microscale/Superscale's earliest offerings. 

Having a number of WW2 era Japanese fighters in my store of unbuilt kits I decided to acquire this decal sheet to enable me to complete some of them as the aircraft flown by the aces of WW2 as is my preferred theme for my fighter collection.

Upon receiving the sheet I discovered that while it lists the aircraft type and name of the pilot, there is no profile artwork provided of the aircraft concerned and no information whatsoever about the correct location for the markings on the sheet.

Therefore it falls to the purchaser to do some research and hopefully locate the required information, which is what I’ve done, with varying degrees of success.

In technical terms, the decals appear to be in good register and sharply printed. (For those who wish to see the other two Japanese tail markings sheets in this series, please visit this review. It should be noted that when Microscale - later Superscale- first started printing decals, they expected the builder to have access to the easily obtained and rather inexpensive references of the day. Ed)

The markings are not numbered as such, so the descriptins of the planes and pilots to follow will be done starting at the top left and working down , then moving to the right side and finishing with the bottom set of markings.

Ki-44 II Otsu flown by the commanding officer of the 85th Sentai, Major Togo Saito while at Canton, China in 1944.

Searching the net produced a color profile of Saito’s Ki-44 , allied codename “Tojo” which appears to have green upper surfaces with black anti glare panel, pale grey undersides, with the white edged blue arrow on the tail and white edge blue band around the rear fuselage.

Togo Saito does not appear on the list of aces provided in Ospery’s Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 or many of the lists of  Japanese Aces available on the internet. One such list that does contain Togo Saito is;  which credits him with 5 kills in the China theatre of operations, circa 1943-44.

 Ki-43- Ic Hayabusa  flown by Major Tateo Kato

 Tateo Kato was group commander of the 64th Sentai in Burma during 1942 at the time he flew the Ki-43, allied codename “Oscar”, shown in the attached profile.

 Kato flew a number of different Ki-43’s however no profiles or photographs that I was able to find contained the exact same markings contained on the Superscale sheet.

The Oscar in the attached profile contains a blue edged white arrow on the tail and similarly colored bands on the fuselage. The decal sheet doesn’t contain the fuselage bands and contains a second set of arrows that don’t appear on the attached profile.  

 According to information in the the Fujimi 1/72 Oscar kit, which appears to contain markings for the Ki-43 in the profile, there should be white bands on the upper surfaces of the wings, reportedly to enable Kato’s comrades to readily recognize his aircraft in combat.

 Kato was credited with 18 victories, 9 of which were achieved during the Nomonhan incident with the USSR.

 Ki-10 “Perry”  flown by Major Tateo Kato

 This biplane fighter was flown by Kato while a member of the 2nd pursuit Sentai, first chutai, circa 1937-38 presumably during the Nomonhan incident with the USSR.

 A search of the internet produced a profile of a Ki-10 flown by Kato with similar though not exact matches for the marking provided on the Superscale sheet.

 Ki-84 Hayate flown by Lt Tomiya of the 104th Sentai

 According to the single reference discovered on the internet, Chui Mitsuo Tomiya was commander of the 2nd Chutai, 104th Sentai while operating  Ki-84s at Anshan, Manchuria in August 1945.

The only image I was able to find of, supposedly, Tomiya’s Ki-84 is attached and contains the same tail markings provided on the Superscale sheet. There is no indication as to where the three victory markings contained on Superscale’s sheet might be placed.

 Tomiya does not appear on the list of aces in Osprey’s Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 or on any other list of Japanese aces from WW2 I was able to locate.

 I suspect that the main reason Tomiya’s aircraft was included on the sheet, given that it appears that he wasn’t actually an “ace”, was because of the three kill markings, which were not especially common on Japanese aircraft.

 N1K2-J Shiden Kai “George” flown by Squadron Leader Kanno, 343rd Kokutai (Naval Air Corps)

 Lt Naoshi Kanno flew the “George” in the attached profile while based at Matsuyama in the Spring of 1945.

 The Superscale sheet closely matches the markings on the profile, including the kill markings on the side of the fuselage.

 In common with many Japanese aces, Kanno is credited with varying numbers of victories ranging from 25 to as high as 72. Osprey’s Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45 credits him with 48 victories before he was killed in action on August 1st 1945 while engaging B-24s over Yaku Island.

 A6M2 Zero flown by Saboru Sakai of the Tainan Koku-Kantai

Saboru Sakai, probably the most well known WW2 Japanese ace, reportedly flew the Zero coded V-103 shown in the attached profile, matching the markings provided on the decal sheet. The Tainan Koku-Kantai was based in Bali in February 1943.

 Saboru Sakai is generally credited with 64 victories.

 J2M3 “Jack” flown by Lt Aoki

A curious choice to include on the sheet for two reasons,  firstly the readily available Hasegawa 1/72 Jack/Raiden kit already contains markings for a J2M flown by Lt Yoshihiro Aoki and secondly because Aoki does not appear on any list of Japanese aces that I could find. 

Given these two factors I would’ve preferred to see markings for Lt Sadaaki Akamatsu’s J2M, Akamatsu being credited with 27+ victories. 

A number of slightly differing profiles of Aoki’s J2M are available on the net, containing the distinctive yellow lightning bolt markings which are not included on the Superscale sheet but are contained with the aforementioned Hasegawa kit.

 The serial number on the tail differs from what is included on the sheet and the three cherry blossom (?) symbols on the decal sheet, likely representing victories or probables, are not visible on any profile I could find. The Superscale sheet’s “3D-153” may have been a less well known mount of Aoki’s at some stage. 

 A6M5 Zeke flown by Petty Officer Takeo Tanimizu, 303rd figher squadron.

Takeo Tanimizu flew an A6M5 with the 303rd hikotai, 203rd kokutai in Japan during June 1945.

The markings in the attached profile closely match that on the Superscale sheet, though the color of the serial number differs.

Tanimizu is credited with 32 victories in Osprey’s Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 137-45, though other sources put his total at 18.

Ki-27 Nate flown by Captain Shimada, 11 Fighter Sentai, 1st Chutai 

Kenji Shimada flew the Ki-27 Nate pictured in the attached illustration, from the ICM kit, in Mongolia against the USSR during the Nomonham Incident.

The markings on the Superscale sheet match those in the picture with the exception of the band around the rear fuselage which is white on the sheet but red in the picture.

 Depending on the reference used, Shimada is credited with between 27 & 40 victories during the Nomonhan Incident up until he was KIA against I-16s on 15 September 1939, the last day of hostilities.

Ki-61 ‘Tony’ flown by Tembico Kobayashi, Commander, 244th fighter group. 

Kobayashi is the most well known proponent of the Ki-61, flying a number of different examples, usually adorned with kill markings depicting his successes over B-29s, including one brought down by ramming.

Kobayashi is generally credited with between 5 and 12 victories.

The closest profile I could find to match the markings on the Superscale sheet is actually from a Life Like Decals sheet and is shown below. There appear to be some differences in the victory markings and the colors of the tail marking however.

From the Life Like decals description;

“…Ki-61 Type I-Tei #4424 flown by Capt. Teruhiko Kobayashi, Commander of the 244th Sentai, Chofu Airbase, March 19 1945.  Reference photos for this plane on this date were taken just before a mission against enemy shipping, but weather prevented the mission being successful.  The photos taken were to be used for for propaganda.

Brendan Ibbs

June 2009

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