Tamiya 1/72 Aichi M6A1 Seiran
By Allan Wanta
Holy Toledo! I bet that was what the occupying Allied forces said when they came across the massive I-400 series submarine the Japanese had developed late in the war. Designed with the idea to bomb the Panama Canal with three Seirans that were stored aboard each sub. The idea had merit, surface outside the Panama zone, launch the three aircraft, each with a single 800Kg bomb, bomb the locks and return to the submarine. The aircraft were to have to means of being salvaged after the raid, but instead had the pilots ditch the craft or bail out to be recovered. The Seirans were to have no floats attached for the mission, but are shown with them for training purposes. One submarine was en-route when it was instructed to turn around due to the Japanese surrender; thus sealing the fate of what was no less than a strike against the morale of the American people.
What an absolutely wonderful kit! Full of detail, even for this scale, and it assembles with a minimum of fuss and filler. Having done resins and vacuforms for a good part of my career, this was like taking a holiday! All parts are protected by the poly bags, decals and clear parts in one, the main sprues in another.
The floats are quickly assembled and seams are lightly sanded ready to paint. Cockpit details are super and can be seen from the long greenhouse type canopy, so pick out the details with washes and dry brushing. Time here will pay dividends.
Pop the fuselage halves together and sand lightly, the lower radiator bath was lightly tacked and overall camouflage painted over all surfaces, it was removed later when I added the little details to install the radiator. This kept the radiator from getting messed up with over spray. Those things called wings and tail planes literally snapped into place and required nothing in the way of attention.
The overall scheme of things was to leave the floats off till the end; this made the painting and detailing much easier. Colours used were overall IJA green on top and light grey on the undersides simple, yet effective. The decals were applied without problems although they tended to be a bit on the thick side, they are at least very opaque.
Glue the canopy on after being masked and painted to match the upper surface. After that you just attach the floats and fiddly bits and in no time a Seiran appears! I understand the 1/48th scale version is just as simple to assemble even thought its detail level is much improved over this scale.
The display dolly is perhaps the most difficult aspect of this kit; it has as many parts as the aircraft almost. But it went together as easily as the subject matter.
Without a doubt, this kit was a vacation from really serious modeling skills and at the same time was very rewarding. My hat is off to Tamiya; I can't wait to assemble the new Do-335 and anticipate very similar fuzzy feelings when I'm through!