by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Hasegawa sprang a very welcome double-surprise last autumn with the release of a quarterscale “Dave”. A double-surprise? - well, firstly, it’s been so long since the company brought out a new (as against re-boxed) WW2 aircraft kit in this scale that there was an understandable fear that they’d abandoned the genre and, secondly, the E8N1 is quite an unexpected subject for a mainstream producer. It’s certainly one in the eye for those who moan that all we ever see are the same old done-to-death aircraft.
BackgroundComparable to the Royal Navy's Fairey Seafox as a catapult-launched fleet spotter, the Nakajima E891 was a more capable aircraft than its British counterpart. As well as fulfilling its intended role, it served as a light bomber during the Japanese invasion of China and even proved quite capable of looking after itself in dogfights against defending fighters. But by the advent of WW2, the “Dave”, as it was known to the Allies, was increasing relegated to second line duties such as training, in which role it soldiered on until the end of the war.
The KitHasegawa’s new “Dave” arrives in a typically stylish conventional box - very much in the fashion they’ve used for the last 20 years. Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it - so the style of the packaging, parts and instructions are all “classic Hasegawa”. The main sprues are in one bag, while the clear parts and poly-caps are in another, with the decals right at the bottom of the box, safe under the instruction sheet. The kit comprises:
113 x grey styrene parts
2 x clear styrene parts
A set of poly-caps
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The moulding is excellent, as you’d expect with a new kit from Hasegawa. There’s basically no trace of flash or other problems, and most of the ejector pin marks have been kept out of harm’s way. There are still a few to deal with, but they are small and easily fixed.
The surface finish comprises very crisply engraved panel detail on the metal areas of the airframe, with lightly embossed rivets and some appliqué panelling. The fabric areas are a bit overdone for my taste - fairly taught, but with what I presume are meant to be rib tapes running right ‘round the leading and trailing edges of the wings and tail. From my hunting online so far, clear shots of the full-sized aircraft’s flying surfaces aren’t exactly legion, but I’ll knock back the effect to a best guess of what I think more likely.
Test FitHasegawa have broken the main components down in a rather novel way. The two fuselage halves have a separate top decking that runs the full length from nose to the base of the fin. The seam runs through the fabric effect behind the cockpit, but follows a stringer on each side and should be invisible if you’re careful. The lower wings have distinct “gull wing” roots, and are moulded as butt-joints within indented outlines. This is a little bit more complex than having a full-span wing, but it does away with any awkward filling on the fabric belly.
The top wing is full-span, and the strut locations look good and sturdy; similarly those for the floats. The main float itself fits together beautifully, while the tailplanes slot in solidly.
All in all, the engineering seems well thought out for a straightforward build.
A Few DetailsThe cockpit is quite simple, with only 19 parts, but the sidewalls feature plenty of integrally moulded detail. I'd have liked to see the trim wheel as a separate part, because it does look a bit heavy moulded-on but, otherwise, it should all look pretty good and will repay careful painting. There are two styles of decals provided for the instrument panels, plus neatly detail dials in the bezels if you prefer to paint them. Hasegawa don’t include any seat harnesses (an etched detail set is available separately), but do provide a pair of well sculpted multi-part seated crew figures.
The engine is, again, quite simple, but very effectively moulded. The 5 parts show subtly depicted cooling fins and moulded-on ignition wires. The intake pipes are moulded integrally with the back of the engine, while the exhausts are separate and feature lightly hollowed-out ends. While you could undoubtedly add more detail, most of it will be hidden by the cowling front-plate, so what Hasegawa have included will be more than adequate for most modellers.
The struts for the wings and floats have good, solid, locating points which should make alignment straightforward.
The 4-part bombs have nicely thin tails and attach to well moulded racks with separate sway-braces.
The windscreens are crystal clear, but it’s a shame the transparent parts don’t include the prominent navigation lights on the wingtips, as these bulbous lamps will be a little bit awkward to make from scratch.
Unless you intend to mount the finished model on a sea-base, it'll tip over on its floats, so a nice final touch is the inclusion of a nicely detailed beaching dolly and stand on which to display it.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly guide is very clearly laid out and illustrated, breaking the construction down into 12 logical steps. Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are given for most details.
The one thing really lacking is any form of rigging guide beyond the boxtop painting. The reason for this is clear – Hasegawa sell a separate etched detail set which includes rigging wires, but it's a bit mean not to at least include a diagram in the standard kit for those who prefer to do their own rigging. Where it does get plain crafty is that one of the colour schemes selected has a water-rudder on the float, and this isn't among the kit parts – it's only on the etched fret – and not even a template is provided with the kit. Naughty, to say the least.
The actual colour schemes are very attractive, with two variations on tan and green topsides over grey-green undersides:
1. E8N1, B1-3 on the battleship Kirishima, 1938
2. E8N1, 5-55 from the seaplane tender Kamoi, 1938
The decals look excellent quality, with perfect register and good colour depth on the sample sheet. Extra numbers are provided on the decal sheet, but there's no mention of them in the instructions.
ConclusionHasegawa's new “Dave” is a great little kit that should really appeal to fans of Japanese WW2 aircraft. Looking at Japanese hobby shops' websites, it's well priced domestically, but it really does suffer badly due to very high import prices overseas, which is a great shame because it will almost undoubtedly put off many potential purchasers.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.