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Nakajima B5N2 Kate

by Ian Robertson


Dewoitine D.520


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Kate is available from Squadron.com




Introduced in 1937 in time to serve in the Sino-Japanese war, the Nakajima B5N Kate represented a major improvement in Japanese warplane design over earlier fixed-gear aircraft. Although considered ordinary and obsolete by the onset of WWII, the Kate played a chief role in the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as in sinking the US carriers Yorktown, Lexington, Wasp and Hornet.



Hasegawa's 1/48 B5N "Kate" has been much anticipated by fans of Japanese Navy aircraft following the earlier releases of the B7A "Grace" and B6N "Jill" kits, both of which were superb. The first Kate version released by Hasegawa was the B5N2 with a centerline 800 kg bomb. More recent was the release of the B5N1, and later in 2001 a torpedo-carrying B5N2 is expected, perhaps in time for the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.





The B5N2 kit for the most part does not disappoint, although there are numerous distinct ejection pin marks on the inside surfaces of the cockpit walls that are difficult to remove and bothersome given that the cockpit is where construction begins. Luckily these blemishes are hidden in the completed model. The kit provides the option for lowered wing flaps and a canopy that can be displayed open or closed. Fit is excellent.



Painting, Markings and Weathering


I chose to paint and decal my model in the markings of BII-307, an aircraft from the carrier Hiryu that participated in the first wave of level bombing during the attack on Pearl Harbor (note: BII-307 is not an option in the kit, but its colour scheme is very similar to the kit's BI-318 option). BII-307 is reported to have had IJN green upper surfaces with earth brown mottles, and at least one reference claims that the upper camouflage on this aircraft extended to the outer folding portion of the underside of the wings. Although the kit instructions suggest a natural metal finish for the underside, the consensus in articles at j-aircraft.com was that ame-iro (caramel color) was more likely.



I began by painting my model with an undercoat of SnJ aluminum, followed by pre-shading in black along panel lines. The ame-iro underside color was simulated using Tamiya JA Grey (XF-14) mixed with a touch of the Tamiya flat Earth (XF-52). The upper camouflage consisted of Aeromaster IJN Green and Tamiya flat Earth mottles. I painted the cowl a mixture of dark grey and dark blue. Because this particular aircraft was not represented with kit decals, it was necessary to mask and paint the blue fuselage bands and the black numbers on the undersides of the wing (note: there are extra decals with the kit for any Pearl Harbor carrier aircraft tail code). The hinomarus were also masked and painted using a mixture of red and red-brown. The cockpit was painted with Aeromaster Nakajima interior grey/green.

I weathered the model lightly by chipping paint in a few places on the cowl and by using fine-grit sandpaper to create minor surface abrasions on the leading edges of the wings and around the cockpit entrances. Extensive chipping and weathering did not seem appropriate for an aircraft participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor, although in subsequent operations many Pearl Harbor Kates became heavily weathered.

Additions I made to the kit were etched brass seatbelts and crosshairs for the machine gun.



The Base


The base is a resin 1/48 Japanese carrier deck from "Just Plane Stuff" - highly recommended.







All in all the Hasegawa "Kate" is a quality offering, and unlike many Japanese Navy aircraft the Kate has a number of interesting camouflage options.



Nevertheless, I still prefer Hasegawa's B6N "Jill", perhaps because of its more intriguing shape. Although no fault of Hasegawa, the large bloated wheels on the Kate can't help but make it look toy-like.


Model, Images and Text Copyright 2001 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 21 August, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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