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Building a cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai

By "George," it's easier than you think!
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Cutaway models can involve a lot of scratchbuilding and complicated design - the realm of the supermodeler - but Waikong Chung found a shortcut to looking like a real pro.

"Like many modelers," he says, "I've always admired cutaway models but deemed them too difficult. Then one day while finishing a Hasegawa Zero 'skeleton' kit, which has a clear fuselage you can selectively paint (or not) to show the interior, I realized it was essentially a cutaway that required far less scratchbuilding and aftermarket material, as the interior elements are already provided."

Waikong already had a 1/48 scale Hasegawa Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai (skeleton version, kit No. 51945), so he got to work - and the results took his modeling to a newly advanced level.
Like most modelers, Waikong started in the cockpit, adding wire and styrene details to dress it up a little.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
The details continued aft as Waikong wrestled with the wobbly photoetched-metal formers and stringers.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
If he was going to show off the engine, Waikong had to build a styrene firewall and engine mount.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Waikong employed "gizmology" to fill the space. It looked like a lot to fit in the nose ...
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
... but fit it did. Remember to paint the inside of the fuselage before closing it around the details, Waikong cautions.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Waikong anchored the framing inside the tail where gobs of super glue wouldn't be seen. Extra care in assembly paid dividends. "A magnify glass helps," he says.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Waikong opened just enough wing to suggest more ...
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
... using styrene sheet and strip to fill in
details ...
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
... and "revealing" machine guns and fuel tanks.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Taken in sum, the details lend an air of complexity to Waikong's carefully considered cutouts.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Things are kept relatively simple underneath and in the wheel wells.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
Waikong "chipped" paint with a silver marker, sanding it back a little to keep it from looking too bright.
cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai aircraft
The result is a realistic depiction of the level of weathering seen in wartime photos - and a darned good-looking George!
For more photos and details on how Waikong built his cutaway Shiden Kai, be sure to see the January 2010 FineScale Modeler magazine, available now at newsstands and hobby shops near you.

View the January issue's complete table of contents and watch the issue's video preview.

More January 2010 online:
- Mike Mikolasek's MiG-15
- DESKTOP WALLPAPER: David Farris' 1/35 scale King Tiger
- Buffalo Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV)


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