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Airfix Nakajima B5N2 "Kate"

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale plastic model aircraft kit
Superior to its contemporaries when first built, Nakajima’s B5N2 was the most-produced Japanese torpedo bomber of World War II.

A lot of options highlight Airfix’s “Kate”: open or closed cowl flaps; retracted or extended landing gear; separate, posable control surfaces; three canopy options, and a choice of ordnance. Interior wing structure and jury struts are given if the builder wishes to cut and fold the wings. Two markings schemes are provided: a Pearl Harbor attacker from the Shokaku, and a late-war 553rd Kokutai aircraft.

The kit comprises more than 100 parts. Depending upon the selected variant and configuration, many won’t be used. The build was straightforward with no vices. Airfix’s comprehensive instruction sheet provided clear diagrams of ordnance loads and control-surface-travel limits. The Sakae radial engine is nicely done.

Canopy options range from all sections closed to all open. For the latter option, the three nested sections forward of the gunner’s station present a minor appearance problem because only faint lines and a thickened clear section represent the forward frames of each sliding portion.

With its low part count and excellent fit, I finished my model in 14 hours, less than my norm for a model this size. The decals’ register was dead-on, but those printed on a white background (the national insignia and red lettering) needed solvent encouragement to settle into recessed detail.

I didn’t fully agree with the specified color callouts for the aircraft or armament. Humbrol Metalcote aluminum (27001), meant for the wheel wells, isn’t on the color legend. The color for the Pearl Harbor variant is Humbrol hemp satin (168), which Airfix notes is only an approximation. I elected to use Tamiya IJN gray (XF-12) and GSI Creos (Gunze Sangyo) IJN green (H-59) acrylics for my model. The bombs are specified as overall gloss pale gray, and from my limited resource photos, I can see that’s not universally correct, either. In Airfix’s defense, its interpretations are probably as good as anyone’s — there seems to be a wide range of opinions on Japanese subjects. 

A couple of items would really make the model pop. Wingtip navigation lights are missing, and the little teardrop-shaped spots on the upper wing are lights that are not called out in the instructions. An antenna would be a nice addition; it is shown on the box art but not in the instructions. Various references show different antenna configurations as well. I added masking-tape seat belts to my Kate.

Consider these recommendations as constructive comments, not negative ones. Above all, don’t let them deter you from buying this kit. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2017 issue.
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