Tamiya's Nakajima J1N1Gekko (Irving)
"Straight Out Of The
J1N1 Gekko (Irving)
Tamiya's Cockpit Straight from the Box
always enjoyed “out-of-the-box” modeling, and consider it a
challenge to create a beautiful model using only the kit parts.
On the other hand, I also enjoy building a super-detailed
model, and I often have a hard time deciding how to approach a new
project. Sometimes I get
the feeling that there is an expectation among modelers that in order
to produce a great finished model, it is necessary to scratch-build
everything, or add tons of aftermarket resin goodies.
Speaking for myself, I can say that a GREAT model is simply one
that I am proud of. You know the feeling…put the model down on the table, have
a good look, check it out from all the angles, step back and smirk al
little, and make that "YEAH BABY!!" remark to yourself in
triumph. THAT is what
modeling is about! Now
that my time is more precious than it used to be, that feeling doesn't
come around as often as I would like, so out-of-the-box projects have
become even more appealing.
J1N1 Gekko Type 11 (Irving) kit is a terrific choice to build
model kit features a superbly detailed interior with plenty of
variations in paintwork to keep things interesting enough without
feeling like I need to add anything.
In fact, the level of detailed paintwork required in the
cockpit is enough for several nights worth of enjoyment.
The fit of the major airframe parts is superb, and the subject
matter is fascinating. As
packaged, the kit builds into a mid-production late style J1N1 that
carried a overall dark green scheme with black cowlings.
Monotone paintjobs can be a challenge to make interesting, so
this will provide a good exercise in using different painting and
weathering techniques as well.
intention upon writing this article is to demonstrate the process of
building an out-of-the-box model from the sprues to the tabletop in
three instalments. I
wish to demonstrate some basic techniques, as well as some advanced
techniques that can turn a potentially “plain” model into a
showstopper. Some of the
more famous pitfalls of modeling will be examined along the way, as
well as some aspects that may be new to you. As a guideline for building out-of-the-box models, the
I.P.M.S. USA rules will be examined, followed for the most part, and
maybe stretched a little to suit the purpose.
It is NOT my intention to show how to win in the
“Out-Of-The-Box” category of any contest, nor is it my intention
to show how to cheat. Actually, it is my intention to demonstrate how to apply
advanced techniques and a “quality” mindset to the Gekko while
building it out-of-the-box, and hopefully satisfying all my
expectations of a great finished model.
Part one will cover some basic points of out-of-the-box
modeling, starting a project, and detailing the cockpit.
Part two will describe basic airframe construction, along with
some “legal” enhancements. In
part three, advanced painting and weathering techniques will be
I.P.M.S. USA rules can be examined in detail at this URL from the
I.P.M.S. USA website: ( http://www.ipmsusa.org/handbook.html#rules
). For the purposes of
this article, I have copied the “Out-Of-The-Box” rules here:
entries will be governed by the following
KITS. Any commercially available kit may be used. The number of
categories incorporating Out-of-the-Box awards will be determined by
the host chapter and the National Contest Committee.
FINISH. All finishing techniques are allowed. Decals other than
those included with the kit may be used. Insignia, markings, and
instrument panels may be hand-painted instead of decaled. Weathering
CONSTRUCTION. The modeler may fill seams and gaps; sand off rivets;
drill out gun ports, exhaust pipes, or other appropriate openings;
thin to scale such parts as trailing edges, flaps, and doors; add
rigging and antennas; and add simple tape or decal seat belts in the
cockpit of an aircraft or the interior of a vehicle (NO commercial
or modeler manufactured
hardware - e.g., buckles, etc.).
IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO: vacuform, manufacture, or replace any part,
or substitute parts from another kit; cut or separate canopies,
surfaces, hatches, doors, etc. (no major surgery); combine a
standard kit with a conversion kit; add anything other than
specified on the instruction sheet except as
shown in Section C above.
INSTRUCTION SHEETS. Modelers must attach the kit instruction sheet
to the entry form. Models entered without an attached kit
instruction sheet will not be considered for an Out-of-the-Box award.
Tamiya's 1/48 Scale Gekko
Now let’s get started.
first thing I do when starting a project is gather my reference
materials. Sometimes this
process starts long before the kit even gets to the hobby shop
shelves. (My pile of
F-86D stuff is still waiting….) Good reference materials should include photos or drawings of
the subject in as much detail as possible.
Period photos are THE most helpful, and pilot’s notes or
maintenance manuals are great as well.
I usually try to stay away from photos of restored aircraft
UNLESS the aircraft in question has been subjected to authentic
restoration like the aircraft of the NASM for example.
There are MANY publications out there that feature walkarounds
of restored aircraft that are not authentic.
there is quite a bit of good reference material available for the
Gekko. The best all
around reference is Robert Mikesh’s Moonlight Interceptor
featuring a good background on the aircraft, as well as the specific
airplane restored by the NASM. This
book may be hard to find now, however.
There is good photo coverage of the airplane before, during and
after restoration, along with a very good set of 1/72-scale drawings.
The Famous Airplanes Of The World #57 features excellent
color photos of both front and rear cockpits of the NASM Gekko as well
as some excellent wartime photos.
The Koku Fan special 302nd NAG is also an
excellent source of wartime photos.
Robert Mikesh has just finished a new book entitled Japanese
Aircraft Interiors, that promises to be a great reference source
for any fan of Japanese aircraft models.
a lengthy comparison of the Gekko kit’s parts versus the real
aircraft restoration at NASM, it is very apparent that Tamiya got just
about everything right. In
fact, it is very tempting to jump in and start painting everything
right away, but it is wise to wait and have a closer look at things.
The injection molding process is limited, and there are
trade-offs that must be considered and improved upon.
The most obvious obstacles to overcome are the ejector-pin
marks, mold parting lines, and sprue connections.
Another problem that becomes apparent in this kit is hollow
backsides to detailed parts. Bottom
line is, there are things that need a little attention when
building this kit, which brings up the next topic.
order to make the finished model as good as possible, it is necessary
to first view the project with a critical eye rather than an admiring
one. I know that when I look at a model that someone else has
built, the first thing I do (after an initial first impression) is
start to look for flaws. I
can’t help it. It is
part of a mindset that allows a judge to quickly “weed” through 30
models on a table, and if you have ever judged a contest, this mindset
becomes second nature. This
may sound like a backwards way of looking at things, especially when
our goal is to produce a piece of art, but having this mindset will
help you to become a better modeler.
You become self-inspecting, and can visualize what needs to be
fixed, before it becomes a problem.
A little time spent sanding and filling here and there will
make a huge difference in the finished model.
You must try to hide the fact that these are injection-molded
plastic parts. Make the
commitment to spend time with every part.
Examine it, identify flaws, and take the steps to fix them.
If your model is successful, people will notice it, look
closer, and stick around for a longer look.
If there are visible flaws, most folks will tend to
“weed-out” the model. It
does not hold their interest. The
goal is to draw them in, and keep them there.
The longer they look, the happier I am.
modelers will be pleased with the interior components of Tamiya's
Gekko kit. Except for
some wiring/plumbing and some equipment brackets, nearly everything
visible in either front or rear cockpit is there.
There is a completely detailed cannon bay, and details in the
forward fuselage that are visible through the pilot's sighting windows
under the nose. When
prepared and painted properly, the crew areas can look stunning.
I was very happy building these components out-of-the-box,
adding only tape seatbelts and some creative painting.
when using the critical eye,
some things become apparent. Most
obvious is the abundance of ejector pin marks that must be dealt with.
Many of the boxes and components that make up the interior are
detailed on one side and hollow on the reverse.
Unfortunately, many of these hollows will show when viewed at
certain angles, so they must be filled.
Tamiya has molded the sidewall details so that they follow the
internal contour of the fuselage sides, which curve away along the
internal shape of the wing fillet.
This results in an unrealistic gap between the floor and the
sidewalls. To be fair,
the gap is not that noticeable after the separate electrical boxes and
structural details are added. The
instrument panel has bezels molded on, but is void of instrument
details. Tamiya has
included decals to replicate the dials.
are several different ways to deal with ejector-pin marks.
First, locate all marks that will show, and highlight them for
fixing. Don’t worry
about the ones that will not be seen, but be extra careful not to miss
the ones that do show. If
the mark is sunken, I will usually fill it in with a mixture of
automotive cellulose putty (Squadron Green or White Putty will do) and
Testors Liquid Cement. 75%
cement, 25% putty makes for a heavy cream that spreads easily and
dries very quickly, and is easy to sand.
Also, it can be manipulated with additional Testors Liquid
Cement while curing to smooth it over. Incidentally, I use Testors brand because it is slower
evaporating than most, and has a good working time for blending, yet
is still dry within half an hour for most applications.
Other methods include filling the depression with discs of
punched-out styrene, or using typewriter correction fluid.
For raised marks, I scrape or chisel them away with a hobby
knife, followed by sanding or filing.
After all of the marks are taken care of, a good coat of primer
will smooth things over nicely. I
use Mr. Surfacer 1000 thinned 50% with Mr. Color Thinner sprayed
through an airbrush.
that have hollow backsides will need filling in order to improve their
appearance. The quickest
way is to fill the void with gap-filling cyanoacrylate.
Apply the cyanoacrylate in layers using accelerator between the
layers until the void is filled.
Simply file the super-glue smooth and you are done.
Epoxy putty works good too, but the long curing time is a
turn-off for me. I would
not recommend using standard cellulose putty because of shrinkage and
very long drying times. A
coat of primer is useful to check for imperfections.
Make sure that all of the interior components have been cleaned
of mold parting lines, and sprue attach points.
satisfied with the preparation of the interior parts, some thought
must be given to the colors of the interior.
Cockpits are a prime focal point for anyone viewing your model. When building out-of-the-box, it is not possible to rely upon
extra-added details or resin accessories to make your cockpit more
interesting to look at. You
must rely upon your skills as a painter to succeed here.
There should be shadows, highlights, and various shades to each
color in order to get the most from the molded-in details. Actually, very good results can be achieved with the simple
techniques of drybrushing and washing.
Whenever a little something extra is needed, I have frequently
painted on details free hand to simulate wiring or plumbing.
am using color photos of NASM's restored Gekko as reference for the
interior painting. Tamiya
calls out several colors for the interior, some of which are
erroneous. Basically, the interior sidewalls and major structural
parts are a combination of aluminum and a clear preservative coating
tinted with blue-green known as Aotake.
The electrical boxes and most of the equipment are a medium
green color similar to FS 34092, and of course black.
The floor is bare aluminum framed in Aotake.
Aotake was a challenge for me.
I wanted to apply the Aotake in the same manner as the
original; bare aluminum first, followed by the blue-green tinted clear
coat. At the same time, I wanted to achieve a 3-dimensional look
with shadows and highlights as if I were painting a cockpit in the
normal fashion with drybrushing and washes.
After several abortive attempts in an earlier KI 84, I came
upon a nice solution.
first step is to paint the interior parts that are to be Aotake
with a flat neutral gray. I used Tamiya XF 53.
Then, I drybrushed the Neutral Gray vigorously with Testors
Chrome Silver enamel. I
did not empty the brush completely before starting, and I used a
scrubbing motion with the brush.
I was not after subtle highlights here; I wanted to color the
majority of the parts with silver and leave the Neutral Gray in the
shadow areas. The next
step is to spray the blue-green clear coat.
I mixed equal portions of Tamiya Clear Blue and Clear Green.
This mixture was then thinned with Gunze Sangyo’s Mr. Color
NOTE: Gunze’s thinner does marvelous things to Tamiya Paint.
Most notably, it allows Tamiya paints to go “translucent”
and build up their color in gradual coats.
Spectacular special effects are possible, which I will get into
in part three.
blue-green clear coat was airbrushed onto the parts in a random,
sloppy manner. I did not
want the interior to look too uniform.
The color was built-up gradually with all of the shadows from
the gray undercoat showing through.
wanted a satin sheen to the parts, so I airbrushed a very thin mixture
of Testors Dullcote onto the parts.
One more drybrush with Testors Chrome Silver brought out the
highlights and details. This
time the brush was kept pretty dry, and a light-flicking stroke was
finish the effect, a wash of dark color was needed in the recesses.
I use Windsor & Newton oils thinned with Ronsonol lighter
fuel. The lighter fuel is
very fast evaporating, and has great capillary properties.
The real bonus though is that the wash dries in MINUTES. Completely dry, with all of the subtleties of an oil wash.
It may take several applications until the effect is what I am
after. I do not “wet”
the parts beforehand, nor do I apply a sloppy wash.
I apply the wash in a very controlled manner, touching the
brush along corners and intersections, and let the capillary action do
the green parts, including the lower instrument panel, I used
Tamiya’s XF 5 Flat Green. It
looks close enough, and offered a good contrast with the Aotake. I use Polly Scale paints for normal drybrush applications.
They have nice qualities, clean up with water, and very subtle
effects are possible. A
pastel version of the base color is perfect for highlighting.
Again, I use a heavier scrubbing motion for the initial
application, though not as wet as what was used for the Aotake
stage. To finish, I use
an even lighter color, and apply the drybrush with a light flicking
motion. A wash with oils
finishes the major coloring. Details
are picked out with fine brushes using Polly Scale acrylics thinned
with water if necessary.
upper instrument panel was painted black, and drybrushed with a
neutral gray color followed by a lighter gray.
A black wash enhanced the instruments and controls.
I used the kit decals for the instruments. Using a Waldron punch, I removed the decals from the sheet,
and applied them into the appropriate bezel.
After the decals were dry, I sprayed the panel with Dullcote.
A drop of epoxy on top of each instrument provides a nice glass
effect. Care must be
taken not to “dome” the epoxy.
Try for a nice, flat pool.
the cockpit floor was a fun exercise, because the primary color is
aluminum with Aotake frames in the rear cockpit, and Aotake
consoles in the front cockpit. First
thing to do is airbrush the entire floor with an aluminum finish.
I used SNJ Aluminum for this, which dries quickly and stands up
to masking tape very well. The
aluminum portion of the floor was then carefully covered with Tamiya
masking tape. The base
color for the Aotake effect, neutral gray, was airbrushed over
the frames and consoles, and then drybrushed with Chrome Silver.
Next was an application of the same Aotake mixture from
the sidewalls. Now the
masking on the aluminum is removed and a light spray of Dullcote is
applied to the entire floor followed by a final drybrush of Chrome
Silver. In the rear
cockpit there is a small canister that I airbrushed with a very thin
coat of Tamiya Clear Yellow to give some contrast against the floor.
A black wash, and color detail painting finished the floor and
color photos I have of the seats inside the NASM's Gekko can be
interpreted a couple of different ways.
At first glance, they appear to be dark green, similar to the
exterior color of the aircraft, but with a slight metallic look.
Several areas that I know are Aotake
also appear to be dark green in some of the photos. I am assuming that indirect lighting contributed to the
appearance of the seats in the photos, and that they are actually Aotake.
Even if they are not, "artistic license" has been
employed, and I painted them so.
Actually, the seats could have been any number of colors, even
unpainted. I wanted a
different shade of Aotake on
the seats for variety, so I mixed the color with a little more Clear
Green in it. Otherwise, the seats were painted in the same manner as the
rest of the Aotake parts.
I.P.M.S. rules for out-of-the-box state that simple tape or paper
seatbelts may be added. I
use 3M Drafting Tape because it has a slight texture and is thin
enough to bend and drape realistically.
Although no metal buckles are allowed, tape seatbelts can be
folded over and around each other so that they look nice all piled up
in a seat pan. I will usually install the belts after the seat has been
painted. I copied the
style and pattern of the belts from photos.
Conveniently, the actual belts do not have shoulder harnesses,
and are very simple with grommet style attach points.
I painted the belts with thinned Polly Scale acrylics, followed
by lighter shades of drybrushing, and finally an oil wash to give
everything some depth. The
brass grommet in the end of the left-hand lap belt was made from a
piece of drafting tape punched-out with a Waldron punch set and glued
in place. A hole was
impressed into the middle and then the grommet was painted brass.
A Sutton-style harness could easily be made in this manner.
cockpit is basically finished at this point, waiting for installation
into the fuselage halves. The
radio still needs paint, and there are some decisions that have to be
made regarding the fitting of various internal components, especially
in the nose. The next instalment
of this article shall have a look at these options, and
proceed to basic airframe assembly, and some other useful hints to
spice-up an ordinary out-of-the-box model.
am sure that most HyperScale Forum regulars have already checked out
Christopher A. LeClair’s website featuring a terrific step-by-step
build up of the Tamiya Gekko. If you haven’t, here is the URL: http://www.angelfire.com/movies/makingmovies/Gekko.index.html
Click the thumbnails
below to view the images full-sized.
1/48 scale Gekko is available online from Squadron.com
Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2001 by
Page Created 24 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007
Back to HyperScale Main
Back to Features