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Tamiya 1/48 scale Nakajima, Gekko Night Fighter Type 11 Late version

October 15, 2017 in Aviation

Originally designed as a long range fighter, the Nakajima Irving (as it was know as) was soon outclassed by other fighters. It was relegated to recon duties primarily, until a field design modification proved its worthiness as a night fighter.
The production version night fighter (Gekko) had two 20mm guns set at a 30 degree upward angle, in a fixed position. The tactic was to fly under an allied bomber, aim and fire upward into the enemy aircraft, maintain air speed and attack the next aircraft. I personally can’t imagine the poor guy in the rear seat suffering through the muzzle blast of two 20mm guns going off just above your head.

The Tamiya Gekko kit is fantastic. I had no issues at all with this build. Every part lined up beautifully. Tamiya engineered the three piece fuselage with a back strap piece that covers the area from the tail to the canopy. I always dred this design, but on this kit it fit perfect with the edges all matching a seem line.

This particular aircraft represents an aircraft of the 322nd Naval Fighter Group based at Katori in 1944.

After decaling, I went back over the upper panels with a very thin dusting of light grey, to add a little paint fading look. The exhaust stains were produced by airbrushing a thinned down shot of Model Master exhaust metalizer and some pastel chalk. Paint chips were made using a silver pencil.

The engines were wired but are almost completely covered by the spinners, Eduard photoetch seatbelts were added and the antenna wire is that stretchy stuff my model buddy Dave Hansen provided for me. He also provided me with the thin solder I used for the brake lines. Thanks Dave !

7 additional images. Click to enlarge

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28 responses to Tamiya 1/48 scale Nakajima, Gekko Night Fighter Type 11 Late version

  1. Terry, this is a sweet build! I love the exposed guns behind the canopy. Fearsome! Thanks for the tips and for posting.

  2. Terry, great Gekko! Where did you get the idea for the wiring in the gun compartment?

    • Thanks Bernard, I found a few photos of the one displayed at the Smithsonian, while it was going through restoration, however not a lot of detail could be seen, so I looked at other photos of electrically fired guns. I took the liberty of painting the wires a brighter color (so you could actually see them).

      • Terry, makes sense. The Smithsonian put out a book on the aircraft, which I’m hoping to find, some day. It’s the only reference I’m aware of. I’ve got 3 of them, the early “penthouse”, this one, and the late one with the radar antennae on the nose and the 3 guns. I’ll bet the observer on the late one was even more rattled when all 3 went off. Like folks who fly that big Russian BearTurboprop. You can tell former crew, they say :Huh? and What? a lot.

  3. Nice lookin’ build, Terry…the GIB must’ve been glad those cannons were “fixed”, huh…? 🙁

  4. Really nice touch with the finishes,Terry. That light grey makes a difference in achieving the characteristic faded look.

    I think Tamiya always provide that extra attention to quality, albeit in moderately priced, to their “national” kits, and Empire of Japan subjects are relatively under-represented. For some reason people would rather build fifteen varieties of 109s than an interesting selection of the sort of model seen here,

    Thanks for posting.

  5. Terry this is an awesome kit of an often neglected Nightfighter. Fortunately Tamiya released the early version as well. You did an amazing job on this one. Well done!!!

  6. She’s beautiful! Love the details and the subtle weathering . When I decide to do a Japanese aircraft, I think this will be my first 🙂

  7. Great choice and execution! The finish on the paint-job is perfect – the weathering is totally believable! Congratulations – this is brilliant!

  8. Very nice Terry, very well done for a subject that’s not often seen on display.

  9. Terry, your Gekko is excellently built, painted and weathered.
    I am currently building the exact kit for a campaign in another site, and I wish mine will turn out half of what yours did. Congrats!
    May I ask which green you used and where did you got the info regarding the gun bay?

    • I used Testors Model Master enamels, a mixture of Euro dark green and approximately 16 little drops of dark sea blue when mixing into my airbrush cup. Not exactly a precise way to measure, but it worked. I noticed that in photos, these aircraft looked a little darker than other aircraft, this may have been due that they were not left outside, exposed to the elements or were simply newer. Thanks for comment, look forward to seeing yours.

  10. Very, Very nice indeed. Good detail, love the paint job. Great build Terry.

  11. Gorgous work, Terry. The paint and restrained weathering are perfect. Congratulations!

  12. I saw this model as it developed, and Terry just keeps going from strength to strength. The most ironic aspect is…. he actually hates doing Japanese subject matter!

  13. Excellent Terry. It’s nice to see a well-weathered Japanese aircraft that doesn’t look like it got the snot beat out of it! The light hand is a welcome alternative.

  14. No matter how good the kit may be it takes a lot of hard work and talent to get it looking as good as this, the subtle finish is really good.

  15. I have seen this model in person. It is stunning! Great job Terry!

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