War Prize
Tamiya M6A Nanzan in 1/72
  Started: January / 2005
Finished: June / 2005

I got this kit in a bargain. Being a Tamiya kit, it was too cheap to let it pass. Tamiya has some strange things... only six of these aircraft were produced. Anyway, by then I had just finished a Ryan Spirt of St. Louis (a truly one of a kind) so I'm getting used to it. Besides, I loved the crisp molding (typical of Tamiya latest releases) and decided to give it a go. The easy part was the research on the subject. Not many photos available, but fortunately I had a couple of magazines showing the Smithsonian restoration of a Seiran (the floatplane older brother of the Nanzan).

Something that has catched my attention was a set of interesting photos of a Nanzan captured by US invasion forces at Kokugijitsusho Experimental Unit right after the war. These pics showed the sixth (and last) Nanzan in a miserable state. I found pics of the bird right after capture and some other a few days after those, with the aircraft somewhat fixed. This particular Nanzan had green upper camouflage sprayed over the original IJN training orange. The bottom of the aircraft was left in orange except for the nose/radiator. The heavily chipped paint revealed both, the orange underneath as well as the aluminum skin (on spots where the damage was more severe). Green overspray from the upper camo is clearly visible under the wing tips and ailerons, as are several spots with bent panels and dents along the wings leading edges. Some inspection panels as well as the Pitot tube are missing, and the aircraft has a flat tire and brake lines severed. There are also evidences of confiscated material codes chalked on one side of the fuselage (probably by Allied personnel) . Not all these observations are present simultaneously in the same pics, but I figured that I could use some artistic license to include most of them in my model. It would be an interesting test bed for new techniques, too. So the work began...

Work started by the cockpit (what you expected?). It is mostly out of the box, except for a few electrical/hydraulic lines here and there. I stuck with the kit decals for the control panel and the seat belts. The later was, however, cut with the backing paper an glued to the seats, for a more realistic appearance.

Being a Tamiya kit, the overall assembly went without any problems. At this stage I added the indentations on the wings leading edge, and opened a couple of inspection panels. Several bents were added on the nose panels using a dental tip on my Dremel. Once satisfied, these areas were sanded smooth (but not much).

I decided to rivet the whole model (a first to me) using my home made riveter. Since I took the decision after assembling the airframe, the task was not really easy, but I managed to rivet the whole aircraft in less than an hour, using the Seiran drawings as reference. More on that later. The wing tip lights were made of oversized tinted clear sprued in the appropriate colors, cemented in place, and sanded flush to conform the wing tips. The Pitot tube slot was also drilled at this stage.

A test fit showed that the windscreen would leave a large gap if used as is in the kit. I solved the problem cementing small pieces of plastic card under it. After trimming the excess, the windscreen was sanded over a piece of sandpaper rolled over a handle of suitable diameter.

Masking the canopy was a hell, to say the least. I spent a whole afternoon producing the masks with my usual method (make three, use one). I wasn't really satisfied with the result, but since this was part of my AMS therapy, I decided to leave with it.

Once all those rivets and damages were done, I applied a coat of Aluminum color. Besides being the base color of the real aircraft, it serves as an excellent medium to reveal any blemishes:

As a by product, I was able to check my riveting work much better than in the bare plastic.

Next, I applied a coat of IJN trainer orange. I mixed my own color using Tamiya acrylics, but don't ask me the recipe (I don't remember). Photos like the one below helped me a lot to find a good match for both, the orange and the green as well.

I also applied a heavy pre-shading using a dark brown color. In retrospect, the pre-shading worked all right on the bottom surfaces, but the green practically killed the effect on the top side. Some "exhaust stains" pre-shading was applied on the belly of the aircraft, and later this proved to be a good measure for heavily weathered surfaces.

I'm always afraid of Tamiya decals. They're too thick and I judged they would oblitarate the rivet details. The top wings and fuselage Hinomarus didn't have the white outline, so I decided to paint these on. An old bottle of Testors Insignia Red acrilic paint was used, and I almost destroyed my airbrush trying to avoid the stubborn clogging. Lesson learned: don't use those old Testors acrylics (Acryl is fine, though)!

I then started to chip the paint. I used a needle and a sharp toothpick for that. The first was used when I wanted to chip the paint all the way through to the Aluminum coat, while the later was preferred when the intention was to show the original orange camo. Of course, the effect was concentrated around the wing roots, nose and belly, and reduced on the remaining areas. Sometimes I followed the chipping with some gentle sanding, particularly over bent panels. This also helped to highlight some rivet lines. I can't remember the last time I abused so much of a model...

The Hinomarus on the bottom of the wings would be too difficult to pain (for me, at least). There I stuck of the kit decals, but before applying them I brushed a layer of Future on their positions. I was worried the brush marks wouldn't disapper completely after the flat coat was applied, but it worked wonderfully, as the photos below prove. Lesson learned (an old doubt of mine): it is not absolutely necessary to airbrush the whole model with Future in preparation for the decals.

The control surfaces received a coat of lighter color:

A few more shots of this stage:

Before proceeding, I used a 4B pencil and added oxidized scratches here and there, although they are more visible on the underside. I love this technique: simple and effective. At this point I airbrushed the exhaust stains, but I forgot to take a picture of the model after that.

The chalked code over the fuselage Hinomaru was drawn using a technical pen filled with white acrylic paint. Combat rules here: one shot, only. The faded bands were painted with artists aquarelable white pencil, using a Dymo tape as a guide.

Next, the canopy masks were removed. Everything was ok, except for a small bleed under one of the canopy frames. Thanks to my habit of thinning Tamiya paints with lacquer thinners, the clear part was visibly attacked on that spot. There was nothing to do about it. My solution was to include a figure on the wing, with the arm over that spot, hiding the fault.

I then turned my attention to the small details. The landing gear legs were modified by including small sections of brass tubing to simulate the oleos, since the original kit part had oleos with the same diameter of the strut:

The propeller was painted with Gunze Mahogany (H84) and coated with Future. I used Humbrol Semi-Gloss Black (#85) for the landing gear struts. The flat tire was simulated by pressing the kit wheel against the bottom of a pan with boiling water, and later sanded to round things a bit:

While I was finishing the smaller bits, a small base was made depicting a portion of sandy spot of Kokugijitsusho base. Nothing fancy here, just some sand sprinkled over and brush painted with household acrylics.

I also added some small gears from an old watch to add interest. The fuel drums show below are my from own production, painted and weathered accordingly:

And there you have it. Although it took almost six months to be completed, the elapsed time was very low, one of my fastest builds so far. I omitted many details, but my memory is fading away, and that's why I've written this report in a rush. I'll leave you with some more pics. Look carefully and you'll find some evidences of an early ill fated stressed skin attempt. Fortunately I stopped before it was too late.

The Nanzan was a strange plane, but I'm getting used to this sort of thing. I like to think on this vignette as a small example of the aircraft industry oddities during wartime.

I entered this model in Brazilian IPMS Nats in 2005 along with my Spitfire prototype, but it didn't rank. Interestingly, I managed to hear the judges claiming that the rivets came originally with the kit. That was enough to make me satisfied...

Technical file
- Tamiya #

Basic colors: 
- Primer: Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500
- Green: Mixed fromTamiya acrylics
- Orange: Mixed fromTamiya acrylics
- Aluminum: Floquil Bright Silver

Rato Marczak © 2007

Antrvm%20Ratvs%20/%20B-727">Rato Marczak © 2007