Pacific Rex by Briney ()
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Now for something not-at-all different... Perhaps some of you remember AliceFromLake's Kawanishi N1K2 model, once in the Rendo store? This is the "prequel"- the N1K1 Kyofu or "Rex." The differences were so great I had to build the model from scratch. It has been a rather addictive WIP lately, spurred on by the task of making a more memory-friendly Aichi, which I displayed in my previous post.
Japan's increasinly bellicose regime in the late 1930s saw the logic of having a powerful floatplane fighter to support amphibious landings in the undeveloped Pacific- where airfields were rare and usually owned by the people who would be shooting back! So they awarded a contract to their flying boat manufacturer of choice, Kawanishi, for the mother-of-all fighting floatplanes, and as an interim step asked the Nakajima company to equip the promising Mitsubishi A6M with floats (see Motokamishi's model in the store). But General Tojo jumped the gun didn't he? By the time the N1K1 entered service in 1943, entire armies of Japanese soldiery were either dead or marooned upon said Pacific islands and the outraged world was rotating bombers over the airfields and industry of his crumbling "economic prosperity zone." Japan needed sleek interceptors now, not aircraft designed to support amphibious landings.
Yet, just under 100 of the type were completed. They needed good pilots. The mighty engine generated so much torque on take off that the N1K1 handled like someone had put wings on a bear. The apparently huge prop "spinner" is a carry-over from that, when the factory abandoned an idea to use contra-rotating props. Some N1K1s were moved to Balikpapan, Borneo to bolster the fighter defences of the oil fields and others were kept on the home islands. Yet the company liked their 20 mm cannon-equipped "Little Mermaid" so much they'd already spent their own money to trial versions with "legs"- or at least undercarraige. Finally appearing in early 1944, the N1K2-J Shiden-Kai ("George") proved quite a match for modern Allied fighters of the day but was not built in the numbers needed to make a telling impact.
I had to look really hard to find an occasion where the rare "Rex" float-plane fighters were probably encountered in combat. The USAAF 380th Bombardment Group, based at Fenton air base near Darwin in Australia, was unusually, a USAAF unit tucked into the RAAF command hierarchy. One of their roles was ahem "mentoring" the RAAF crews who'd replace them once the unit relocated to the Philippines. But it seems the men of the 380th were a very "hands on" bunch of teachers. For example, their B24 Liberator raids into the occupied Dutch East Indies were amongst the longest missions of the war- and those targetting the Oil facilities on Borneo surpassed the infamous Ploesti Raid in distance travelled... Of course, the Liberator model is Neiwil's - from ShareCG.
Rendered in Vue 8 Esprit
Thanks for viewing and comments
Image Comments (6)
UVDan () 11:16PM | Sat, 23 March 2013
Awesome scene and great modeling. It is hard to imagine float planes dogfighting. Where did I put my sunglasses?
steelrazer () 10:19AM | Sun, 24 March 2013
Nice job on the "Rex". Fighting planes with floats does sound like a military oxymoron of sorts, but when they are coming down on you, guns a blazing it's all about the guns. I kind of like the cross directions of the Liberators and the N1K1's...makes for a nice dynamic in the picture.
AliceFromLake () 4:40PM | Sun, 24 March 2013
Nice picture. Seems to keep a lot of islands under control without many airfields floats were the best way.
neiwil () 5:52PM | Sun, 24 March 2013
We remember the Zero and the Val, but after the almost total destruction of anything Japanese after the war, it is often not realised what a huge range and variety of aircraft the Japanese turned out. This looks like another excellent addition to the ' well I never.." airforce.. Thanks for the mention mate, always appreciated..
Osper () 10:57PM | Mon, 25 March 2013
Nice job on the floaters. Take the floats off and you have.......
debbielove () 9:13AM | Fri, 29 March 2013
Great looking job, excellent history of a fighter built at thre wrong time.. As you say the George was a damned good fighter, the match even of the corsair and Hellcat.. But, as always to little to late! Brilliant render mate, any chance of this beauty going on that other well known site or for sale? Rob