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 Empire of Japan Group Build.
The only operational Ohka 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, Fine Molds 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!