by: Mike Wood [ ]
HistoryThe Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete' was produced in response to a specification of 1934 for a catapult launched short-range observation sea plane. The production mark, F1M2, saw the original 820hp Nakajima Hikari engine, replaced with the more powerful 875hp Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 fourteen-cylinder and the elliptical wings of the former were also replaced with straight edged wings with an increased dihedral. The vertical fin and rudder was also made larger. These improvements enhanced the overall stability of the aircraft and the type saw service as a fighter, dive-bomber, convoy escort and patrol aircraft as well as the originally intended observation role. A total of 1,124 aircraft were built.
ContentsThe box contains seven sprues of shiny grey plastic, one clear sprue, one decal sheet and four poly-propelene caps, one of which is used to attach the propeller assembly to the engine. The surface detail is generally excellent, although the depiction of the fabric areas of the wings is possibly too pronounced. This could however be due to the shiny plastic accentuating this detail and may look better under a matt coat of paint. Panel lines are suitably fine and are accompanied by select rows of subtle rivets. All control surfaces are moulded in place, in neutral position. The engine has push-rods moulded in place and represents the front row of cylinders in full, as well as the front half of the rear row. The real star of the model though, is the cockpit interior. This is very well represented, with excellent side-wall and instrument panel detail and will look quite stunning when painted. The clear sprue contains parts for both early and late models. The parts are crystal clear with minimal optical distortion and well defined frames. There are also alternative cowling parts for early and late versions. A beaching trolley is included and the consensus is that weight should be added to the forward section of the main float, in order to prevent tail sitting, if used.
InstructionsThe instructions look complex but are in fact very comprehensive with colour call outs for Gunze Mr Color and Aquaeous paints. These should be easy to cross reference for users of other brands as the colours are also named in the key. Several sections of the instructions are surrounded by a dotted line and these are areas where the optional photo etch parts are used. These can be used in areas such as the cockpit, the wing assembly, the bombs and the gun sights, though surprisingly, no seat harnesses are provided. I can’t comment on the quality of the photo etch set, as I have not seen it. What I can say is that it contains bracing wires for the wing assembly which, in my opinion are sufficiently visible and a major part of this structure, that I feel they should have been included with the kit. They are too large to be effectively represented with a material such as EZ-line and the wing assembly looks incomplete without them. I can see how the photo-etch can be seen as an ‘optional’ upgrade in other areas, but here it would seem essential. Even slightly over-scale plastic parts would be preferable to nothing. Hasegawa supplies photo etch in some of their other ‘Limited Edition’ kits, so why not here. In my opinion, to include it would turn a very good kit into an excellent one.
DecalsDecals are provided for four schemes, three late and one early version. They are well printed, in register and have a matt finish. Instrument dials are provided which will further enhance the already excellent cockpit. Three of the schemes are Mitsubishi dark green over IJN Grey and one, the early version, is in overall IJN Grey.
ConclusionDespite my grumblings regarding the non-inclusion of the wing bracing wires, this really is a very good looking kit. The interior just begs to be built and painted and I shall certainly be moving it up in my build schedule.