Aero Detail 31 Kawanishi H8K "EMILY" Type 2 Flying Boat

Kazuo Iinuma & Scott Hard
Dainippon Kaiga Co., Ltd., Tokyo
2003, ISBN: 4-499-228901-8
MSRP: $29.95

Reviewed by Jim Schubert

I don't know exactly how long, but it's been a long time, since the last Aero Detail - No. 30 on the Griffon engined Spitfires - was published. It's great to have them back and I hope there isn't as long a time gap to the next one. Wouldn't it be great if our own NASM would hire these guys to do an Aero Detail on every plane in our national collection? Just dreaming - but it has been a long long time since the NASM has published anything on its collection.

There are two big changes immediately apparent in this new volume: both the price and the format are reduced. My recollection is that we had gotten used to paying about $40.00 each for most Aero Details; this new one is "only" about $30.00 and is 8 1/4" x 11 5/8" (210mm x 296mm) versus 10 1/4" x 10" (260mm x 254mm). This distinctly vertical format does make the volume a bit easier to handle.

this volume, although reflective of the H8K type, relates very specifically to the sole surviving Emily, s/n 426. The narrative and picture captions tell, in detail, of the removal of this airplane from Japan in 1945, its transport to the US, its testing at Patuxent River, Maryland, its outdoor storage at Norfolk, Virginia, its return to Japan in 1979 and its subsequent restoration and display in the grounds of the Museum of Maritime Science in the Shinagawa Ward of Tokyo.

It took an act of Congress, passed in October 1978, to authorize this first ever, in the history of the US, return of a war prize.

In September 1945 General MacArthur's HQ sent an order to the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force, IJNAF, at Takuma Naval Air Station in Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island, to make an H8K ready for flight. Squadron Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tsuneo Nichitsuji of the 802nd Kokutai selected s/n 426 as the best of his three remaining Emilys. It was prepared for flight and flown by Cmdr. Nichitsuji, a Lt. (jg) Silver (USN) and a small IJNAF crew to Yokohama where it was loaded aboard an aircraft carrier and shipped east. It was offloaded and, at least, taxi tested, at Naval Air Station Oak Harbor on Whidby Island, Washington before completing its trip to Norfolk, Virginia by ship. It finally arrived in Norfolk in February of 1946, was reassembled, prepared for flight, tested and flown to Patuxent River. Enroute, two engines failed and the other two quit after landing during taxi-in. It never flew again.

In late 1946, s/n 426 was partially disassembled, trucked back to Norfolk, cocooned and placed in outdoor storage until 1979 when it was shipped aboard container ship New Jersey Maru to Tokyo where Ryochi Sasagawa, founding curator of the Museum of Maritime Science, and his team were ready to restore, preserve and display it. Restoration work started February 4, 1980. The Plane's interior was opened to the press on July 15 and then sealed. Public display of the restored but, as yet, unpainted airplane began July 20, 1980. It was subsequently beautifully repainted with its final 802nd Kokutai markings authentically restored with modern weather-resistant polyurethane paint.

A never before seen feature in an Aero Detail is the inclusion of six photos of large patches of origianl paint removed from the airplane. Each is shown with a standard Kodak Color Control Patches Card for reference. These are very interesting but of little real use to the casual modeler because of the well known wide variations in accuracy of color rendition in printing.. The modeler will be better off using Ian Baker's books on JNAF colors for reference to common current color reference standards - Fed. Stds., Methun, etc.

Here, quantitatively, is what you get for your thirty bucks:

Soft covers encased in a dust jacket bearing, on its front a beautiful painting (shown here) by Masao Satake and on its back a right side color photo profile,
104 numbered pages,
Three un-numbered fold-out pages,
232 color photos,
84 B& W photos,
46 line drawings/illustrations, of which seven are left-profiles tracing development of the various H8K types,
Seven full profiles in color,
Four partial profiles in color and,
Over and under wing color renderings.

That's a lot of book for $30.00!

The engrossing narrative focuses initially upon the odyssey of 426 then segues into the development and operational history of the H8K type. My only serious problem with the text is that is does not mention the important roles of enthusiast Dr. S. Saito, Mr. Yoshio Hasehiguchi - designer of the H8K, ex Emily pilot Tsuneo Hitsuji and enthusiast Mr. Fuyuhiko Okabe in the efforts to get 426 returned to Japan and restored.

A further, minor, quibble is that the text does not emphasize the fact this giant airplane, with an MTOGW of 72,000 pounds (~32,500kg) had only two external hard points for carriage of armaments and no internal capacity at all. These hard points were between the inner and outer engines on either side of the plane and had a capacity of just over 2,200 pounds each (~1,000kg), which could be used for bombs or torpedoes.

Now that we've got the book, what about the kit? I know of only two; the old 1:72 scale Hasegawa kit of the early 1960's vintage and a 1:144 scale kit by LS of the early 1980's. I have the Hasegawa kit and it looks as old as it is. I don't know the year of issue but recall that I first saw it at Marshall Field's in Chicago in the early 1960's. Typical of the time, it has raised panel lines and zillions of rivets, imported from Airfix, along with moveable control surfaces and flaps. Other crudities of the time include large hooks molded external to the underside of the wing for rigging the brace wires for the wing tip floats and large bars at either end of the paired float struts that set into slots in the float tops and the underside of the wing; these will be hard to fill and sand out. The framing for all of the clear parts is raised on the inside. This will present some interesting problems in painting. Interior detail is sparse. The kit is generally accurate in outline and dimensions and is quite buildable but it will take a lot of work. In my EMILY file I have a 1960's review of this kit from MODELERS' JOURNAL wherein the reviewer lauds the kit butcomplains of importer Scale Craft's high price of $6.00.

The kit purports to be of an early H8K2, Model 12. The biggest configurational error in this kit is in the location and detailing of the waist gun blisters. The kit has the semi-teardrop blisters completely clear of the wing root trailing edge and fillet. These blisters were actually a bit forward of where Hasegawa put them and are blended into the wing root fillet. Correcting this would be a major job. It would be a lot easier to build the kit as a late H8K2 Model 12 which had flush windows over the waist guns rather like a Boeing B-17. The kit quite incorrectly provides two hardpoints under each wing between the inner and outer engines. As configured this would put each hard point in the middle of a large fuel tank service hatch. The plane had only one hard point on each wing centered between thse hatches. There are several other minor, easily corrected, glitches - such as the ommission of the gun positions in the underside of each wing root. For its day it was a great kit; for today it is just barely ok. The radar antennae provided are not correct for any version of EMILY.

I don't have a copy of the delightful 1:144 scale kit by LS, which is now available under the Arii label.


It may seem odd to list references in a book review but although Emily is such an important type she is still a bit of an exotic mystery to most of us, so here's a list of what I know of and have:

Air International magazine for April 1983.
Maru Mechanic No. 24 of September 1980.
Famous Airplanes of the World No.68 of December 1975 (second series).
Profile No. 233 (Blue Series) of January 1972.

My personal file also contains cuttings, mostly undated, from Air Classics, Koku-Fan, Modelers' Journal (1976) and flight Journal relating to Emily.

If you know of any other "must have" references please contact me.

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