Hasegawa E13A1a Jake
If you're looking for a subject that will stand out in a crowd, you can't do much better than an ex-Japanese Jake in French markings! Hasegawa's kit is one of their older kits, but don't let that put you off. The kit features fine raised panel lines, a well detailed two row engine with multipart cowl and choice of cowl flaps, plus a choice of three variants- the early, wire braced float E13A1, the strut braced float E13A1a, and the radar-equipped E13A1b (I'm sure I've got these wrong, and some IJN expert will flame me horribly!). As far as I know, the French had the E13A1a variant. On the negative side, the kit cockpit lacks detail, and my canopy splayed at the sprue attachment point.
Strangely enough, there are decals available for this obscure aircraft. Decals Carpena's Indochina 2em Partie includes the required (and rather basic) markings. Note that the Jakes had the early style of cocarde, without the yellow surround. Colours were as per IJN use, though heavily weathered, and likely touched up. Carpena's instructions suggest that the aircraft number should be placed on a medium grey rectangle, across the spot where the fuselage hinomaru originally lay. I haven't seen any photographs of this plane, so I can't say for sure that the decals are incorrect, but allow me to advance my theory. The French would have to have removed the Japanese markings, i.e. the Hinomarus on the fuselage and wings and any other markings. It's likely that they would have painted over the markings with green, to match the topside colour. I doubt that they'd have an exact match, especially given the age and condition of the aircraft when they were obtained. Thus, it's likely they'd have painted over the markings with whatever shade of reasonably dark green they had at hand, possibly even the dark green/olive drab shade used on the MS.501s. Hence, I find it very likely that the patch of colour on the fuselage is actually a different shade of green, which, depending on its reflective properties, could easily appear grey against the darker IJN green in a black and white photograph. This is all conjecture, however, but I don't think I'll ever meet anyone who ever saw the actual plane, and who can tell me I'm wrong.
(A note from Nowfel Leulliot) Though at least one photo shows a IJN green machine, apparently photos of 8.S.1 in l'Aviation Francaise Vol.2 clearly show an overall light grey (or aluminum) plane. So it is possible that the fuselage panels were grey. Still, colour photos are unlikely to show up, and hence some modelling judgement is required here.
The kit goes together with no major problems, though maintaining the correct alignment of the floats and struts relative to the fuselage can prove quite a handful. I got a little sloppy with mine, and the result is an a/c that looks like its just gone through a rather heavy landing (or more of a one-time overstress!)
To fix the canopy, I cut out the offending section and replaced it with a piece of acetate, bent slightly at the top to match the adjoining frames. The fix seems pretty invisible.
In the end I went for a medium grey panel under the code numbers. For the basic colours, I went for the new Model Master IJN colours (which turned out to be glossy, much to my surprise). I toned them down with a healthy dollop of flat white. For an interesting touch, I sprayed the wing hinomaru locations with the unlightened raw colours, though this only really showed up on the topside. I still had problems with the Carpena decals for this one. I coated each decal with Microscale Instant Decal Film, which prevented the decals from disintegrating, and I had to use Future to get the decals to stay in place.
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