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Bob Dudolevitch
18 articles

Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden by Otaki

April 27, 2021 · in Aviation · · 18 · 2.4K

The Kawanishi N1K1/2 was numerically, the second most important fighter of the Imperial Japanese , behind only the Mitsubishi A6M. 1435 were produced, representing just under 10% of all fighters. For as a whole, only the A6M, Ki-43 (Oscar), Ki-61 (Tony), Ki-84 (Frank), Ki-27 (Nate) were produced in higher numbers . It was an important plane in Japanese military history, and is well represented at iModeler. N1K1/2-J was a solid, late-war design with a 1990 hp engine, which finally matched the F6F, F4U and P-47 in power.

Derived from the N1K1 floatplane, and with minimal modifications, the land plane N1K1-J kept the "mid-wing" design of the float plane fighter This mid-wing configuration makes it appear somewhat similar to the F2A and F4F, and presented similar landing gear challenges. The N1K1 had a LG that extended an extra foot when lowered. This extension is visible in the model at the gap between upper and lower LG doors. This feature ('bug', actually) led to reliability and maintenance problems, and for a military that was in desperate straits by 1944, reliability problems were not welcome. The LG issue finally resolved in the N1K2 by lowering the wing to a standard WW2 fighter form, which allowed for a shorter and more reliable LG structure. But I think the mid-wing version makes for a great looking model.

One of the pleasures of modelling is to be able to see our work from a near infinite variety of angles and make comparisons that we sometimes can't see from a 2D picture. My finished model struck me as a mix between a P-47 and F2A-2. See Darren Dickerson's amazing N1K1 (iModeler May 2020) in US colors for the P-47 comparison.

The Model is from the 1970s Otaki kit, straight out of box, including decals for the 341 Kokutai, which saw action in the October '44 air battles around Formosa and the Philippine Islands. The decals worked great. Painting was Mr. Color 343 (Kawanishi IJN Green) and the underside metal was a mix of flat aluminum, chrome silver and semi-gloss black. Thanks to iModeler contributors on underside color research.

I view the Otaki N1K1-J as a solid model for its era, and was a lot of fun to build and paint.

Reader reactions:
13  Awesome

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

18 responses

  1. Nice work, Bob. I’m a s****r for Otaki kits too.

  2. Thanks, John. Otaki captured the look on this plane pretty nicely.

  3. Very nice looking George. I just finished my fourth

  4. Very nice build, Bob.
    I've only build one Otaki, a 109, before but was impressed by the quality of the kit.
    Your Shiden does also look great in fitting and paintwork.

  5. Amazing job, my friend @bobd56az!
    I too find the mid-wing N1K1 better looking and extremely interesting modeling wise.
    I also love the Otaki kits.
    Congratulations on putting together this classic beauty of a kit in such an excellent way!

  6. Very well done sir! I always like to read the history of a particular modeling subject. Thanks for providing some background on Japanese WW2 aircraft. They are a favorite of mine. I have a large quantity of Otaki kits and I hope to collect the entire 1/48th scale series. Lots of memories of my youth come back to me when I see the box covers. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Jim. My aim is to just make planes that look good on the shelf. They don't have to stand up to hobby show judges. But I do admire the builders on this site who build to that standard -- and share their work.

  7. I have a real soft spot for Arii/ Otaki kits because as your build demonstrates they are quality kits. Not quite the modern uber kits but satisfying to build.

  8. Thanks, Haslam. Arii/Otaki are just fun! But I think I am due for some good Tamiya fun on my next project.

  9. That's a good-looking build! Nicely done.

  10. Good looking George!

  11. NIce looking N1K1! Like the underside mix of grey and silver. Remember building this kit, the only issue I had with it was the alignment of the prop gearcase in the cowling. Like others have stated, these Otaki/Arii kits are still fun to build, available and affordable.

    Is that a Hawk Thunderbolt in one of the pics? Or is that also an Otaki?

  12. Hi Doug, and thanks for your comments.

    IRT your question the P-47 in the background is the Testors kit seen here ...


    ... which I think used the older Hawk molds.

  13. Enjoyment and fun are the most important things, definitely liked.

    • Absolutely, George. Hopefully everyone of us builds to our best talent level, and derives the most fun. The one with the most models wins!

      Best wishes, and thanks for commenting from China - that's a first for me.

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