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Paul Barber
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Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka Fine Molds 1/48 for The Empire of Japan Group Build

A while back I started building Kamikaze machines for the 'iModeler goes to The Movies' group build. A thread can be found there that shares some views and history around two modern Japanese films (The Eternal Zero and For Those We Love) that represent the lives of the pilots of those machines. While they have some great sequences with aircraft, they are controversial films and consequently the discussion was rich, and is to be found in that GB. I'd really like to thank those who contributed there - I have never really had the chance to since, because I moved home, and then a pandemic arrived - I am a high school teacher and I was quickly engaged on a learning curve in the new house and the 'new normal' that took me away from the bench.

Out of the research around Zeros and Oscars used in suicide attacks came some reading about a small rocket-powered human-guided kamikaze attack aircraft employed by Japan against Allied ships. I decided to build one and it is now my first contribution to the .

The only operational was the Model 11. Essentially a 2,600lb bomb with wooden wings, powered by three Type 4 Model 1 Mark 20 solid-fuel rocket motors.

The slow, heavily laden mother aircraft (often a Betty) had to approach within 37 km (20 nmi; 23 mi) of the target, making them very vulnerable to defending fighters. Many Bettys never got home. Many Ohkas never deployed. Once in flight the Ohka glided towards its target and then utilised its rockets to accelerate into its target.

Around 850 Ohkas were made, some were trainers to allow pilots to gain experience for their final glide. The operational record of Ohkas used in action includes a handful of ships sunk (escort vessels in general) and a few others damaged.

Judging by some of the entries in the Empire of Japan Build, kits are a force to be reckoned with - this small kit doesn't disappoint.

A small trolley is provided.

All told it is a little less than 13cm long.

The interior allows for the bomb and the rockets to be basically represented.

The fit is great and with the addition of the Fine Molds photo etch set and Montex canopy masks some small details can be added. The colours used were based broadly on the restoration project at the Imperial War Museum.

I chose a clean finish with a few dings - since these were probably stored en masse and armed as needed - so probably weren't wonderfully looked after. I added Hinomaru - some carried these insignia others did not.

In Japanese the aircraft's name 櫻花 means "cherry blossom"; The United States gave the aircraft the name Baka - Japanese for "stupid".

Thanks of course to David Leigh-Smith for the inspiration via the Hollywood GB, and to Louis Gardner for the EoJ GB, which is going strong with plenty of time to run - so still a fantastic opportunity to get a Japanese build submitted or to experience some of the great WIPs as they shape up and discussions around modelling some common and some rarely built aircraft types!

33 responses

  1. Hi Paul!
    This is a fantastic build and an unexpected surprise to the EoJ GB!
    I like the looks of the Ohka (though "like" is maybe not the right word for this suicide machine), your work presenting it in an excellent way.
    Viewing this cockpit, I can imagine that pilot entering in for his final glide...
    Well done, my friend!

    • Thanks Spiros, a little bit of a hangover from late last year, but at home in this GB now! The cockpit is as basic as can be - not so many controls needed for a glider with a switch or two to engage rockets and send it hurtling at 750mph.

  2. Paul, your Baka looks every bit like the real thing. I do like the paint work a lot but there are a couple of details that really enhances the overall photo impressions.

  3. You have put quite some detail into this small aircraft Paul,
    Very nice build.
    Pilots must have had steel nerves to step in for their final flight.

    • Thank you John - we discussed the whole culture of Kamikaze in the Movies group. I’d agree - whatever the political, cultural, psychological considerations - it is hard to imagine the nerve required to go through with the attack - that is somewhat covered in the films - which are well worth a watch even though there are questions about glorification of the ‘cult’.

  4. Well done Paul, you did some nice detail work on such a small model. Some nice pics as well that really show off such a impressive build.

  5. Nice job, Paul. I like the cleaner look and the little details.

  6. Incredible this detail! Well done!

  7. Yet another incredible @yellow10 build. Very well done! - I like the sign hanging from the nose. Nice touch.

  8. Great work on this museum quality piece, Paul. You've captured intricate details in the cockpit and on the fuselage of this tiny model perfectly. Such fine work really brings it to life, in spite of being such a simple airframe. It's odd how the lines of the Okha are so aesthetically appealing (if that's the right word!?!), in spite of its being merely a cylindrical flying bomb with a horrific purpose. It must be the overall balanced look or the shape of the canopy. You did an excellent job on the vac transparencies, by the way. That also really contributes to the realism of the model .

  9. Nice work on this, Paul. I've seen a real one out at Planes of Fame (the first airplane Ed Maloney collected, from the trash heap at NAS Seal Beach in 1946), and yours looks very realistic.

    We're lucky the carrier Shinano was sunk while carrying the first 200 of these to southern Japan for deployment, and the carrier Unryu was sunk with 100 of them headed for the Philippines. He they been deployed in the Philippine archipelago, where their bases would have been minutes from US ships, things might have been very different.

    Destroyer Mannert R. Ebele was the only ship sunk by one of these fool's errands. They made no more attacks after 15 of 20 Bettys carrying one were shot down north of Okinawa.

    • Thanks so much for those added details, Tom. I know this is one of your areas of expertise - one day, when I get back to Blighty I hope to pop into the IWM and check out their restoration.

  10. Beautifully done as usual, Paul! Looks fantastic. Love the details.

  11. All of the above, a great build !

  12. Splendid work, Paul!

  13. Hello Paul, @yellow10
    I am very pleased that you accepted the invitation for our ever growing EoJ group build. Thank you !

    Your model looks fantastic... Having read all the comments listed above there's one thing they all have in common, and that is praise for your work. Your tiny little plane looks very authentic and the use of color is exceptional. The cockpit photos show you have "nailed it"...

    I have the ancient Testors Ohka that was packaged with a Feisler V-1. My younger siblings built them when I was in the Army. Somehow they have survived to this date, and I have plans to install the Ohka under a G4M, and the V-1 under a Heinkel 111 after giving both built models a makeover.

    You have completed yet another gem !


  14. Thanks Louis, and of course thanks for all your hard work on the many group builds you have run so well.

    The Okha and The Betty would be something special!

  15. Really nice job on this Paul. I've got this kit with the photoetch set in the stash and seeing yours put it on the short list.

  16. Hi Paul. Love this. Fantastic job. Very different, haven’t see to many of these.

  17. Thanks Glenn, yes it’s not something I’d heard much about until I started looking into the whole Kamikaze strategy. Interesting to build but inhumane on many levels.

  18. Paul @yellow10, Love this. Been away for a while due to the epidemic as I'm sure you can understand. Still finding my path back. Stay safe.

    James B

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