A Brief History
The High Transfer Vehicle nicknamed “Kounotori” or “White Stork “was designed as an unmanned resupply module for the Japanese Experiment Module and for the International Space Station. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) began development and design work in the early 1990’s with the first flight of “White Stork” taking place on September 10, 2009. “White Stork” can dock with the I.S.S. and unload its cargo in a shirt sleeve environment. Cargo can also be unloaded through a large opening in the fuselage of the “White Stork” using the Canada2 arm. Cargo can be mounted on a retractable payload “sled” which simplifies the extraction of the cargo, and that “sled” is represented in this excellent kit.
A quick look at the Parts List shows 92 parts on 3 Part Trees. The “solar panels” are molded in a translucent blue color while the remaining parts are molded in a light gray color. The parts are without flash and have excellent surface detail. Of special note are the excellent reaction control rocket nozzles. As you can imagine, in 1/72nd scale these parts are tiny but, even though they are very small, their shape is superb and, for the most part, without any mold separation line to mar their appearance.
The instructions are contained within a small booklet of 8 pages, 3 of which are given over to the history of the spacecraft. These pages are in Japanese with no comprehensive English language translation supplied, although there are some English subtitles which serve to clarify the construction process.
Assembly is straightforward and without any “trouble spots”. A very nice feature about this model is that the seam lines created when assembling the “fuselage” halves are covered by panels which are attached over those seams. I did not worry about the seams in any case since I “foiled” my model. The kit instructions do not address the application of foil and a beautiful model can be built directly from the box if one does not wish to add this detail. The HTV can be displayed in 3 different positions in relation to its base, which is a representation of the docking port on the “Harmony” module of the I.S.S. The HTV can be displayed in a “flying” mode by using Part No. 39. That part is a small plastic rod which can be used to connect the HTV to the “Harmony” base.The kit also provides for a “captured” option by using Parts 35 and 36 (with Parts 12, 13, and 14) which represent the “Canadarm2”. The arm components allow for positioning of the arm which places the HTV in a variety of positions for display purposes. The range of motion of the Canadarm2 is fixed rather than variable, and the final orientation of the HTV above the “Harmony” base depends on how one inserts the hexagonal locating pins on the Canada2 arm into Parts 12 and 13. Testing the position and consequent center of gravity of the model is important when using the Canada2 arm. The footprint of the “Harmony” base is quite small and it is easy to get the center of gravity out of alignment making the model susceptible to failure and damage. The third option is the “docked” configuration. The HTV has a docking collar which can be hard-docked to the docking collar on the “Harmony” module and the model, of course, has those docking collars integrated into the kit. Using this hard-docked configuration will result in a well-balanced configuration for display purposes with little chance of a “tip-over”.
I recommend that the reaction control nozzles, as shown in steps 3 and 4 on the kit instructions, be attached to the vehicle after all other parts have been glued into position. These small nozzles are delicate and stand a good chance of being broken as one continues to handle the model throughout the construction process. Gluing them into position as the last step helps to minimize this concern. There are no decals, which is proper since the actual vehicle has no external markings.
The painting guide is keyed for Mr. Color or Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby Color paints. The symbols used throughout the instructions are for the acrylic paint by Gunze. The “painting key” printed just above Step 1 in the instructions cross references the Mr. Color paints to the Gunze colors. In the end I used Alclad colors, but one will have no difficulty in figuring out the painting guide.
As with many products with instructions which are translated into English, some very quaint and charming misinterpretations can be found. I do not consider these, in any way, shape, or form, a detriment. In my view, they make the construction of the model a more pleasant and enjoyable experience. For example, in Step 1 an English subtitle reads, “Put in the PayRoad”, when what is meant is, “Insert the Pay Load”. In Step 2 an English subtitle reads, “Fix the robot arm at the anlge you like. You can display the HTV up with the arm.” when what is meant is, “Use the robot arm to display the HTV at the angle of your choice.” “Anlge”, “PayRoad”….it’s all good.
There is one error in the instructions that should be noted, although it caused no difficulty. In Step 5, arrows are used to show the builder where to place the solar panels on the HTV body. The arrow indicating the location at which Part # 45 is to be attached was not included in the schematic.
This model is well detailed and produces an accurate representation of the “White Stork”. The kit is easy to build and is appropriate for modelers of all skill ranges. Caution is the order of the day so that those small reaction control nozzles don’t become “one with the universe”.
I highly recommend this excellent model. Thanks to the fine folks at MRC-Academy for the opportunity to review this very fine model, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to do this review build.
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