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 Exotic-72 Kawanishi E15K1 Norm 1/72

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Kyushu J7W


Posts : 192
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: Exotic-72 Kawanishi E15K1 Norm 1/72   Sun Feb 19 2017, 15:48


The Kawanishi E15K Shiun ("Violet Cloud") was a single-engined Japanese reconnaissance floatplane of World War II.   The floatplane  was designed to undertake reconnaissance missions in areas where aerial supremacy was held by the enemy, the primary requirement   being speed. This 14-Shi specification was only issued to Kawanishi whose design team began work on the project in July 1939. From the outset of design work the aim was to produce a floatplane faster than land-based aircraft that it was likely to encounter, and which could, therefore, rely on its speed for protection. The Allied reporting name for the type was "Norm" after Squadron Leader Norman O. Clappison of the RAAF, a member of the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATAIU).  Its design and intent as part of an integrated weapons system was unique in Japan at the time.  The first flight was on 5 December 1941   A total of 15 E15K1s were built by Kawanishi Kokuki K. K. in their Naruo plant as follows: 6 prototypes and Service trials aircraft (1941-42), 9 production aircraft (1943-44)

Specifications (E15K)  Data from Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War & other sources

General characteristics
Crew: Two
Length: 11.59 m (38 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 14.00 m (45 ft 11 in)
Height: 4.95 m (16 ft 2⅞ in)
Wing area: 30.0 m² (323 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,165 kg (4,978 lb)
Loaded weight: 4,100 kg (9,039 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 4,900 kg (10,803 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Mitsubishi MK4S Kasei 24 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with two two-blade contra-rotating propellers, 1,159 kW (1,540 hp)at 5,500 m (18,045 ft)

Maximum speed: 468 km/h (253 knots, 291 mph) at 5,700 m (18,700 ft) (float attached)
Cruise speed: 296 km/h (160 knots, 184 mph)
Range: 3,373 km (1,820 nmi, 2,095 mi)
Service ceiling: 9,836 m (32,270 ft)
Wing loading: 136.7 kg/m² (28 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.28 kW/kg (0.17 hp/lb)
Climb to 6,000 m (19,700 ft): 10 min


1 × 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine gun in rear cockpit
2 60  Kg bombs.

Brand: Xotic-72
Title: Kawanishi E15K1 Norm
Number: AU2023
Scale: 1:72
Type: Full kit
Includes: Plastic sprues, Vacu, Waterslide decals
Released: 200x | Rebox  

While the instructions certainly don't give the appearance of a difficult kit, it is  rated a skill level 3  for "experienced"modelers.    I may see myself demoted to skill level 1.     It is a repackage of a kit released by USK in 1997.   Just under 40 gray plastic parts including individual propeller blades and hubs.   It comes with photo etched parts for a very small cockpit ( MY EYES) and a vac canopy.   Having never worked with a vac canopy and there being only one, I will be asking our group how best to go about trimming and fitting this.   No beaching trolley as with other kits.  My last venture into photo etch was on a 1/48  Bachem Natter.  I did not enjoy it. Sad   I found this one at Don's Air Hobby shop in Lumbarton NJ.  It was cheap and a bit of an orphan.   I bought a few other kits and Don said your buying all the odd balls no one else wants.  
Scalemates web site lists many 1/72 kits for this rather obscure aircraft. Aoshima made one years ago but it had no cockpit, UPC may or may not have taken over this mold while RS now make what may be the best 1.72 of this model complete with a beaching dolly.   Racoon Models did make a 1/48 years ago, but after reading reviews  describing their offerings to be lumps of resin and it never showing up for sale I figured take a pass.  


As always I like to add a bit of history.  This one will be no exception. I will post pics as I build.  

In 1939 the Imperial Japanese Navy instructed the Kawanishi Aircraft Company to develop a two-seat high-speed reconnaissance floatplane, which was required to have sufficient performance to escape interception by land based fighters.  It was planned to equip a new class of 7 cruisers, intended to act as  flagships for groups of submarines, each operating six of the new floatplanes to find targets.  

The kit may be small in number of parts, but the attachments are a bit thick and there is a bit of  flash that is not as noticeable until you start to dry fit prior to assembly.  No pins to line up parts.  The entire propeller hub takes up a large number of parts and you need to drill out the small indentations provided for the prop mountings to have any hope of connecting the individual blades. I actually had to use my small magnifying glass to find these indentations.   Though the instructions list the numbered parts there are no numbers on the sprues.

Kawanishi designed a single-engine low-wing monoplane, powered by a 1,460 hp (1,090 kW) Mitsubishi MK4D Kasei 14 14-cylinder radial driving two Contra-rotating two-bladed propellers, the first installation of contra-rotating propellers produced in Japan, the front blades rotating in a clockwise direction and the aft blades rotating counter-clockwise, while a laminar flow airfoil section was chosen to reduce drag. It had a single main float under the fuselage and two stabilizing floats under the wing. The stabilizing floats were designed to retract into the wing and were a rather novel float system.

The outboard stabilizing floats were unique in having metal planing bottoms and rubberized-fabric tops which were inflated when the floats were extended. For retraction the floats were deflated by vacuum pumps so that only the planing bottoms projected beneath the wing undersurfaces.

The instructions appear to have a ledge to mount the cockpit floor but it does not exist, so positioning the office leaves a slight amount of guesswork. The interior where the floor pan probably needs to go has some ejector pin flash that needs to be filed down.  No raised detail on the cockpit walls of the fuselage.  The photo etch is meant to take care of this.

 Dry fitting the fuselage finds it a bit warped, again no line up pins or slots to insert the wings and rear stabilizers to make the assembly easier.  As this is my first limited run kit, perhaps this is the norm.  As you can see the wings do not have the solid side edge and inserts to assist with attaching them to the fuselage.   This will take some addition work and filler. The radial engine is supposed to line up with the raised edge inside the fuselage (see instruction sheet above)  but as you can see this would put the first set of props inside the cowling. The second shot where I just let it hang loose and the one visible side is at a tilted angle, it still does not clear the cowling lip.   The only thing to do here is to ignore the instructions and trim around the radial  engine until you get the prop hub to clear sufficiently.   The radial engine does not show up in the completed models I've seen on line and there are no Xotic -72 builds posted.  

The cantilever pylon-mounted central float could be jettisoned in an emergency, more speed (estimated as approximately 50 knots (90 km/h)thus being gained in order to elude pursuing enemy fighters. The float pylon was attached to the fuselage by means of two pins. The fore pin could be removed by means of a lever in the pilot's cockpit, the aft pin thereupon being forced free by the air pressure. The jettisonable float scheme was adopted after extensive wind tunnel tests had proved that the float would not hit the fuselage or wing after being jettisoned, although, in the event, no full-scale tests had been undertaken when the Shiun entered service.  

The first prototype of Kawanishi's design, designated E15K1 in the Navy's short designation system made its maiden flight on 5 December 1941. The first prototype Shiun was heavily damaged at the beginning of its flight trials when, during a landing, malfunctioning of the flaps resulted in the stabilizing floats being torn off. The aircraft was then completely dismantled, a new engine installed and a ventral fin added beneath the rear fuselage.

The wing ends are wide open and not that flush to the fuselage to begin with so there is little continuous area for the glue to bite.    I could sand it but them have it misshapen elsewhere.  So I've used my smallest drill bit and a piece of sprue to create a makeshift spar that would be below the cockpit floor pan.    I drilled out the float to do a similar attachment to the fuselage.   The float should be flared at the join to the fuselage but this one is not.    For the vertical and horizontal stabilizers I will need to make some smaller pins to make the attachments. I broke my smallest bit so I need to get a new one.  :/


I tried my old hot needle in a flame method that I use on the SAM missile build a few years back to make holes in the stabilizers but the plastic does not react well.  I cut up a small paper clip to make the pins and opened the parts join edge with the tip of an exacto blade.  The float pins are just whittled down sprue.  This should help hold things in place a bit better.

  Five more prototypes followed during 1941-42.  A series of accidents were experienced with the stabilizing floats during subsequent trials, the inflation and deflation system proving extremely unreliable, and on occasions the floats were retracted inadvertently or would not deploy during a landing. The float shape was therefore modified and the inflation system eliminated, but the retraction system was also troublesome and, finally, was also eliminated, the stabilizing floats being fixed and attached to the wings by slim cantilever struts.   Despite a more powerful engine being added to compensate for the drag, the performance of the E15K1's (being about 500 kg heavier than the more common Aichi E13A1 "Jake") suffered.  Despite these problems, the E15K1 was ordered into limited production as the Navy Type 2 High-speed Reconnaissance Seaplane Shiun Model 11.   Thanks to Bill Pippens site for this additional data on the float system.

The office of the E15K did include a handle to deploy the outrigger floats and release the large central float.  (See item marked M20) As no other aircraft had this potential the photo etched part that mounts just behind the pilots seat may have been the mechanism to do this.   The makers of the kit must have found photos of the cockpit but perhaps the wreck found in Palau might one day shed light .

Operational history

Four Shiun float-planes had been passed to the JNAF for evaluation by the end of 1942, a further eight were delivered during 1943, and the last three aircraft of this type were handed over in January-February 1944, quantity production having been cancelled. The reason for this cancellation was the disappointing result of  testing and by 1944 wide ranging carrier strikes showed floatplanes could not stand up to the new US fighters.  Attacks by US army bombers on outlying bases were another matter where these aircraft could be useful.  Six Shiun reconnaissance aircraft were sent to Palau in the South Pacific, but it was found that the central float could not be jettisoned as easily as had been supposed, and with the float attached the maximum speed of 292 mph (470 kmh) was insufficient to enable the Shiun to elude enemy lighters. The single 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machinegun installed for defensive purposes was totally inadequate, and while some sources say all six machines had been quickly lost to Allied fighters and airstrikes  at Palau in mid 1944 this was not actually the case.  More on this story with the final build pictures.

While no examples were captured at wars end, there is a report of a possible survivor relatively intact to found in the waters off Palau, a bit too deep for recreational divers to pillage it.  Perhaps it may be recovered some day.  I have been able to research that the 16th kokutai was based at Arakabesan, Palau. It had Jakes and Petes, a few of which are dive sites in the area.  

I tried PMMAKERS suggestion of sanding the canopy and then doing the closer  trimming.   The plastic is pretty thick  but it was a good suggestion.   One side of the canopy has an imperfection in molding but overall it turned out OK.   I have to trim the front a bit to fit the curve of the fuselage and with the blown up photo I can see a bit more needs to come off on the left.  .

The E15K1's that went Palau may have island base hopped to get there vs being transported via  ship, based on snippets of information I have gleaned researching this aircraft.  I can find no record of the Oyodo stopping in Palau.  I have reached out to a contact in Japan to see  I can learn more.  

The engine & the inner walls of the fuselage had to be trimmed and sanded extensively to get the prop hub to seat & fit properly.   The mounting pins helped with the stabilizers and float and as expected attaching the wings was a bit of a chore.  Some putty filler will be needed.  

The clear elmers used on the upper wing worked well to seal the gaps, I forgot the bottom wing seal,  but the fit on this model is difficult to say the least.

The canopy is giving me lots of trouble and I'm trying the clear elmers.   Letting it seal over night and just have to add the floats.   Will be finished for the 15th by evening.

The IJN Oyodo     The ship the E15K1 was intended for and the intended  mission.

I have added this pic of a modelers beautiful build of the Oyodo in her 1943 configuration. Long heavy duty catapult and hanger.    I assume the aircraft being E15K1's were part of it and are to scale .   If this is true then there must have been folding wingtips as the pic does not make it look like the Norm would fit.  

Intended as a unique class of 7 command vessels for submarine operations, Oyodo was laid down at Kure Naval Arsenal on 14 February 1941, launched on 2 April 1942 and completed 28 February 1943.   The first of 7 planned   specialized cruisers, Oyodo was also ordered in 1939 along with the E15K intended for the class.  She ended up being the only one of her class built.  As was the practice with IJN light cruisers, she was named after a river. The Imperial Japanese Navy pre war concept of submarine warfare was to use long-range submarines in squadrons (sentai) to attack enemy battle  units at extended ranges. The Japanese felt merchant shipping attacks were not a good use of submarines.  These submarines would be coordinated by a cruiser, which would use the more powerful  thus survivable and longer ranged  reconnaissance aircraft to provide targeting information.      Oyodo-class ships were intended to be specialized  scouting cruisers and hence the entire deck of the ship aft of the superstructure was devoted to aircraft facilities. In view of their intended role, no torpedo tubes were fitted, making the Oyodo class the sole class of cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy without these weapons.

While the decals are not bad, putting the meatball on the white disc was a seeming waste of time.   I've never see a Japanese insignia provided to a modeler in this way. The hinged under carriage split the insignia very nicely as it was only a red disc.  The yellow wing prop warning markings and the red float strip was hand painted.    There was a red float decal but if fell apart.  

The weight thus saved was invested instead in increased floatplane capacity (up to six) and a heavy-duty 45 m (148 ft) catapult that was necessary for the new E15K1 Shiun floatplane due to its weight.  When the E15K was deemed to be a dead end and the war needs changed the ship was reconfigured on March 6 1944.  I can find no record of the Norm ever being actually based on the ship though it would make sense that some testing may have occurred of the larger catapult and launch process, I can find no evidence of this.

I used the tail number that was based on the only photo existing of a Norm with a tail designator.  Whether or not this one was at Palau is a question.  The kit is  for the Norm with the inflating  float system that was retractable .  This was dropped and the ones sent into action were of the fixed and "solid" float style.

Oyodo was to receive 2  Aichi E16A1 Paul  reconnaissance planes, but these are not ready on time either. OYODO receives two standard IJN Type O Aichi E13A1 Jake  three-seat reconnaissance floatplanes and these aircraft were used on the ship on missions.  The seaplane hangar is converted to crew living quarters and the crews' quarters in the forward part of the ship are converted to use by staff personnel. The catapult is replaced. Six Type 96 triple-mount 25-mm. AA guns and 11 single-mount guns are installed bringing OYODO's 25-mm. AA suite to a total of 47 barrels. A Type 22 surface-search radar is also fitted. Other work is carried out in the engine and boiler rooms.   ( see drawings below)  

The contra rotation prop does provide for a funky looking photo , the blade did not fall off its just the angle of the shot .

The role for which Oyodo was designed no longer existed..  With the failure of the E15K1 to meet expectations she was ultimately used for a variety of missions including, command ship and even fast transport of 300 tons of rubber, zinc, mercury, tin and petrol from Malaya and Indonesia as the course of the war turned against Japan.  

Oyodo was at Kure on 19 March 1945, Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58  made the first carrier attack on the Kure Arsenal. More than 240 aircraft (SB2C Helldiver dive bombers, F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat fighter-bombers) attacked the Japanese fleet. Three 500 pounds bombs hit  Oyodo; she started to flood, but was towed to Etajima and beached. However, she was quickly repaired, and combat-ready again by 4 April. On 24 July 1945 US Task Force 38 launched a massive attack to destroy any and all remaining units of the Japanese Navy. Oyodo was strafed and hit by four 500-pound bombs and many near misses that left her listing to starboard. Four days later, another all-day-long attack was launched by the US carrier fleet. & Oyodo was hit by four more bombs; at 1000 hours, hits near the bridge caused extensive flooding and Oyodo took on a heavy list to starboard. At 1200, she capsized to starboard in shallow water. With about 300 crewmen killed, her remaining crew abandoned ship that afternoon.  For a light cruiser she certainly stood up to quite a beating.   She was raised and scrapped in dry dock in 1947.  

The actual story of the Norm's combat use was written in an article in Arawasi magazine. Researched and written by Komine Bunzo I really appreciate the effort that went into finding out this story.   The copy was one of the first issues and is long out of print but after searching a few forums I made contact with  Sam Bueler who very kindly provided me with a pic of his copy and the article.     Most of what we find on Wikipedia and other internet sites when it comes to aircraft specs and well documented historical events is "reasonably " accurate.   Obscure units such as these get the same story generic repeated over and over and in this case what is on line is wrong.  

 The Norm never was used on the cruiser Oyoda, no crew member who survived the war ever remembered it actually being on board.  See the notes above on the subsequent  conversion of the ship and the trial issues of the prototypes.  However the remaining aircraft  not lost in trials were pulled together in a unit that island hopped from Japan though the Bonin islands  via  Chichi Jima, the Marianas to Palau with two others coming through the southern  Phillipines via Davo,   5 aircraft started out.  2 were lost  at the Chichi Jima anchorage due to strafing carrier airstrikes ( depending on the depth of the anchorage there may be a salvageable wreck  yet to be discovered )   The other 3 made it to Palau as the 12th recon flight Shuin, and did engaged in 23 combat and recon sorties.  None were shot down though two were damaged by carrier fighter sweeps.  One gunner was badly injured and his pilot burned but managed to land the badly damaged plane that subsequently sank. The crew made one claim for an F6F shot down.  This badly damaged Norm may be the recent 2013 discovery. It still had the rear MG mounted and the Japanese would not have allowed a MG and scarce instruments or other cannibalizable spares  to lost on  an aircraft that had beached itself or sank in shallow water.  Another aircraft became non operational due to maintenance and the last aircrews were  ordered out via flying boat to Mindinao PI in late 1944.   The third float planes final fate is unknown.     So the comments all were "shot down" does not appear to be correct but the realization that float fighters could no longer exist against carrier fighters in 1944 was the valid reason for the cancellation of the program,

While this kit did say it required a higher skill level and was more of a PIA than I expected,  I would not list it in the hall of shame as it did provide fair warning.     I would never purchase another exotc-72 personally unless like this one, it was dirt cheap and the only game in town for its type.   I did not enjoy the build as much, and that, after all for me  is what its supposed to be about.       However I do have an unusual subject .    

A YOUTUBE VIDEO of a Norm balsa and paper flying model built in the EU.   Interesting subject for a person to pick.

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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Posts : 273
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Exotic-72 Kawanishi E15K1 Norm 1/72   Thu Feb 23 2017, 19:14

An absolutely stunning build Kyushu. What a Face I didn't get to see it at completion on the old forum, so I'm glad you copied the post over here to enjoy. Wonderful!
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