Hasegawa 1/48 C6N1 Saiun “Myrt”

Kit #09646                                            Collector’s Market Value $31.95
Images and text Copyright © 2007 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
       In the spring of 1942, soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Naval Staff passed specifications to Nakajima to develop a fast reconnaissance aircraft that possessed not only speed but long range and rapid rate of climb combined with a landing speed not to exceed 130kph for carrier operations, a fairly loaded set of requirements for any aircraft designer. Nakajima Engineers Yasuo Fukuda and Yoshizo Yamamoto applied themselves to the task and initially envisioned a twin engine aircraft that would use two conventional engines buried in the fuselage turning a pair of wing mounted propellers through a complex power transmission process that would have been a maintenance nightmare. Fortunately for them the Nakajima Homare engine became available which provided the slim profile and high power output needed for the project.
       To allow the observer the best possible view they incorporated windows in the side and belly of the fuselage. To achieve the low landing speed both Fowler flaps and split flaps were used in the wing design. By 1943 a prototype was ready for testing. Unfortunately the engine did not produce the expected power level and the design specified speed could not be obtained however the top speed of 396 mph was sufficient to give the aircraft a good speed advantage and the Navy ordered it into production in early 1944. By this time the Japanese navy no longer a had sufficient aircraft carrier presence and most missions were conducted from land bases. The use of a large torpedo shaped external fuel tank gave the aircraft an impressive range which coupled with its speed allowed it to shadow the US fleet with impunity.
       By this time US forces were closing in on the Japanese home land and the need for night bomber interceptors was paramount. The observer position was eliminated from the aircraft and a pair of oblique-firing cannons was installed in that position. The aircraft’s speed and climb rate were well suited for bomber interception and they would have been exceptional had they been equipped with airborne radar units. The C6N1 Myrt holds the distinction of being the last Japanese aircraft shot down during the war just five minutes before hostilities ended. A single surviving example is stored at the National Air Museum and is of the night bomber interceptor type.

The Kit
       Hasegawa has made three issues of this kit over the last couple years, the original release was done as the C6N1 Saiun then the night fighter version and lastly the back to the C6N1 with new Z Flag decals. Here I am looking at the last issue with the ‘Z Flag’ decals. When Hasegawa did the mold work on this kit they spent time at National Air Museum taking measurements from the sole surviving example and seem to have made every effort to get things right. Inside the box we have five large sprues of high pressure injection molded polystyrene that is very clean. There is no flash anywhere on the sprues and all surface detail is very crisp.
       For exterior details we have separately molded flaps and leading edge slots, nice consistent lightly engraved panel lines and rivet detail. The kit includes the large torpedo fuel tank and well detailed landing gear bays. Inside the detail level is excellent with lots of good sidewall and floor detail. The instrument panels all feature raised instruments that should paint up well but the seats do not include and seatbelt detail. The kit includes a large sprue of clear parts that features a complete closed up canopy and a multi-part open canopy. The clear parts are pretty thin, display good clarity and finely raised frame lines. As with most Hasegawa and Tamiya kits this one uses a poly cap to secure the propeller.
       Taking an inventory of the parts we have one hundred light gray plastic pieces, twenty clear parts and four poly caps. Of these one hundred twenty four parts eleven will most definitely not be used and some of the clear parts will be optional depending on whether you build the kit with canopy open or closed.

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Decals and Instructions
       Kit instructions come as a large four panel fold out sheet printed on both sides for eight panels of information. It opens with some historical background of the aircraft type in both Japanese and English. Following this we have ten exploded view assembly steps that include plenty of color call-outs. One panel is devoted to a complete parts map and comprehensive paint chart. Two panels are reserved for decal placement for three aircraft. The decals are the same for all three units other than the tail numbers.
       While the decal sheet is somewhat small it is printed with vibrant colors and sharp graphics. Other than the Hinomarus there are wing walk markings, prop markings, three sets of tail numbers and decals for the instrument panels should you not want to paint that detail. There is also a left and right side decal to make a little flag to post from the forward antenna mast but you need to provide your own flag pole and something to attach the decals to. Print registry looks dead on and color density is good.

       This is an excellent kit with well engineered parts. The interior detail is better than found in most contemporary kits and could be built straight from the box and satisfy most modelers. Decals are sharp and from previous experience work well with most common setting solutions. There are some little extras on the market for this kit like an extensive interior detail set from Eduard that does not so much replace the kit materials but rather enhances them to yet another level. There are a couple mask sets out there and should that kit canopy still not be thin enough you can pick up the Squadron Vac replacement set for ultimate realism. At the time of this writing none of the C6N1 kits are in production but should you have the opportunity to pick one up at a vendors table during any club meet I would recommend it.

       As with most aircraft builds this one starts in the cockpit which is pretty well detailed right from the box but I suffer from a high degree of AMS and must add more to it. I will be using every aftermarket item I can find in this build beginning with the Eduard photo etched interior set. This set requires that most of the forward side consoles be removed first. In doing this you must be certain to remove the plastic all the way through the floor pan as the new PE parts need to extend below the floor pan and secure with small tabs that bend under the floor. Once the new side panels were installed, the various levers and wheels attached to them and the new forward floor pan installed I worked towards the back section placing all the flat parts I could before painting. The side walls had the plastic instrument details shaved off, various straps were added along with some basic junction boxes. This entire step took about a week of my modeling evenings and I was ready to start painting.
       Selecting a paint color is a little difficult. The kit instructions are talking about mixing two different Japanese cockpit colors to achieve a new blue/green. Unfortunately I do not have either of the base colors they make reference to. I visited several internet sites that contained color images of Japanese aircraft examining various interior shots. There is only one C6N1 in existence and it is not in good condition nor is it well documented on the internet yet. As an alternative I looked for different Nakajima aircraft and settled on a blue/green color that seemed common amongst them. To achieve this color I started with some IJN interior green and began adding a medium green until a close approximation was achieved. Since paint generally dries a little darker than when wet I kept the mix a little light until I could test a spot and let it dry. From what I could see it looked like I was very close and loaded my airbrush.
       The base cockpit parts were painted as well as various other details like radio boxes and camera equipment. The six gas cylinders that mount in the floor were painted with Krylon gloss black them with Alclad chrome. Once the base paint was dry smaller details were done with various colored enamels. The PE pilot’s seat was bent into shape, painted and had the seat belts attached. The other crew seats were detailed with PE parts, painted and installed. Almost another week of modeling passes and the cockpit is nearly ready for installation. Once all the interior components were painted and installed I made a sludge wash using Paynes Gray as my base and washed the interior sections.

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       Once the interior was complete I set it aside to allow everything to dry and began working on the engine. The kit engine is fairly simple. Detail is somewhat difficult to see once everything is enclosed in the cowling but still some is visible. Since the Eduard set that covers the interior of the model also includes an ignition harness I decided to go ahead and include it to see how things worked out. To begin the basic engine was airbrushed with Model Master Burnt Iron and the reduction gear block was done with Alclad Chrome. The ignition harness was brush painted with a Tamiya dark brown. Once all the paint was dry the components went together. The harness was attached with spots of superglue then treated with accelerator. Once inside the cowling it gives a great impression of a busy engine bay.
       Finally it is time to start putting the big pieces together. The interior was fitted to the right side of the fuselage and test fitted against the right. Everything looks good after just a little fiddling around and the fuselage left side is glued to the interior assembly. The fuselage comes together and is glued. Some small amounts of Mr. Surfacer 500 are applied to the seam and allowed to cure. The wings are assembled and attached. There is bit of a gap on one side that requires some Squadron White Putty followed by Mr. Surfacer 500 to fill out. While this stuff is drying installed the Eduard PE parts into the gear bays then airbrushed some Alclad Aluminum into the wheel wells, the flap areas and the wing leading edge areas. After a day of cure time the seams were sanded and the aluminum areas were masked with tape and damp tissue paper.

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       I plan on using the Squadron vac canopy on this kit. The kit does provide a fairly nice open canopy and a complete closed canopy. I totally masked the closed canopy and attached it to the model with a few spots of clear parts cement to mask the crew area for painting. The model was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1200 thinned 50% with lacquer thinner then was preshaded with flat black enamel. Once that had dried I was able to start applying some color. I’m using White Ensign enamel paints for this build. They have a very nice and supposedly quite accurate selection of Japanese paints. The nose area and the cowling which is not attached to the model yet (only pressed into place for a fit check) are airbrushed with White Ensign Japanese cowling black then masked off. For the lower surface I am using Mitsubishi Zero Gray. Unfortunately my camera does not like this color and is showing it as a dark tan/gray rather than the light tan/gray that I am seeing in person. The upper color is Nakajima Dark Green. Once the base coat of green was on I lightened some paint with a few drops of white and dusted the interior areas of the wing panels and fuselage panels to create some very slight paint fade. In the third picture you can see some better color on the landing gear cover.
       Speaking of landing gear, I painted the struts Alclad steel and the inner covers Alclad aluminum. The Eduard PE brake lines were painted dark brown and installed to the struts before the struts were put into the model. The tail wheel was glued in place then brush painted. Most of the masking material could be removed now and the flaps, external fuel tank and remaining gear components installed. The model is just about ready for its first treatment of Future prior to decaling.

        Okay folks, this is the home stretch. The decals are placed and sealed with a second coat of Future. Once this sets up I made a sludge wash with brown water soluble ink and some Payne’s Gray acrylic paste then washed all the panel lines with this mixture. This was wiped down with a damp paper towel then sealed with a coat of Polly Scale Clear Flat. It seems the formula for PS Clear Flat has been changed and to prevent white fogging it is necessary to thin this stuff at least 50% with Windex and apply light coats with some dry time in between. Anyway, this is done and the propeller can be attached. Earlier I had masked the kit closed canopy piece with tape to act as a general cockpit mask and had attached it with small spots of clear parts cement. Now I carefully slide the tip of my razor knife under the edge of the canopy and popped it free. This piece will head to the spares box as I will be using the Squadron vac canopy.
        I spent a couple modeling sessions removing the vac canopy from the master sheet by carefully tracing the edges with the tip of a scalpel. Once they were all free they were dipped in Future and set aside under cover to cure. While this was happening I worked over the wings and fuselage with a sharpened silver pencil adding a small amount of paint chipping here and there. Along the Port side I made the wear a little heavier as this was the crew access side. I also airbrushed some heavily thinned RLM-66 around the exhaust manifolds as a base for the exhaust staining. This was followed with some ground brown and gray pastel chalk applied with a woman’s eye shadow swab. More brown chalk was rubbed around the various fuel ports and service areas that might leak some fluids during flight. Final little exterior PE details were added like the boarding steps along the Port side and the Pitot tube.
        The canopy required quite a bit of effort due to its complexity and the addition of PE parts. Once it was all masked with strips of masking tape the interior color was dusted over it then the exterior green was applied. Next the masks were removed and the plastic polished with a tack cloth. Not the forward canopy upper window struts and hinges were attached with fine spots of superglue followed up with a touch of accelerator to prevent fogging. Grab handles were attached to each of the access canopies in the same manner. The aft machine gun was modified by removing the hand grip and replacing it with a more scale PE grip. The aft canopy was drilled out and the painted gun installed. Once in place the gun sights were attached. At last the canopy pieces can be attached with clear parts cement. I used several small strips of masking tape to hold things in place while the glue dried. Once everything was dry the tape was removed and some final touch-up with a fine point brush finished the paint work. The aerial mast was installed and the antenna was made from invisible thread drawn across a black magic marker. The insulators are simply spots of superglue quick cured with accelerator and painted white. I made a flag pole from a piece of magnet wire and used thin strips of masking tape as leather tie downs. The flag is from the kit decal sheet. I did not remove it from the paper backing simply folding it over the wire mast and super gluing it together.

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