Mitsubishi F1M2 Type Zero Observation Seaplane (PETE) Model 11 "934th Flying Group"

Published on
February 3, 2020
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/48
MSRP
$42.99
Product / Stock #
07397
Company: Hasegawa - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Hobbico
Box Art

History Brief

Code named ‘Pete’ by the Allied Forces the Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 Observation Seaplane Model 11 was originally built as a catapult-launched reconnaissance seaplane. In essence, the Pete was a two man crew, single-engine biplane with a main central float and two auxiliary outrigger floats.

In June 1936 trials and flight testing of the first prototype Ka-17 (F1M1) aircraft were performed and evaluated. The tests showed that the seaplane had several serious design flaws, mainly with poor directional stability and lack of power. The F1M1's shortcomings fueled concerns about its seaworthiness. The following two years were spent in a major redesign. An improved version of the seaplane, designated as the Type 0 Observation Seaplane Model 11 (F1M2) included replacing the Nakajima Hikari engine with the more powerful Mitsubishi Zuisei 13. Also gone was the Nakajima E8N1 hydroplane float used on the prototypes. A new central float was built for the F1M2 and full-scale production began in 1940. The F1M2 was armed with two synchronized fuselage-mounted 7.7mm Type 97 Model 3a machine guns and one more 7.7mm Type 97 machine gun was mounted in the turret in the observer’s cockpit. It also carried two 60-kg, or two 30-kg, or six 20-kg bombs.

When considering seaplanes, the F1M2 was a pretty good aircraft. It had a top speed of 230mph, long range and three machine guns. The seaplanes were launched from floating bases and later from battleships, cruisers and coastlines and they were considered an essential part of Japanese naval strategy before long-range radar became perfected. Their primary specialty was gunnery spotting for battleships and heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. They were also enrolled in other activities such as scouting, light bombing, maritime patrol, convoy escort, and anti-submarine warfare. Throughout WWII, the Imperial Japanese Navy used seaplane tenders (early aircraft carriers) to discreetly dispatch airplanes for long-range recon missions. The highly-favored F1M2 was frequently sent out from Imperial Japanese Navy tenders because of its incredible versatility. In June 1942, they were used as dive bombers over the Aleutian Islands; they also covered the Japanese positions there from the air as sea fighters. At the beginning of the Pacific War the F1M2s took part in the Battles for the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and even fought at later battles like Leyte Gulf. The aircraft remained in service until the end of the war. A total of 1,118 F1M2s were built between 1936 and 1944.

The Product

My sample arrived in a typical 1/48 scale Hasegawa prop aircraft box. The box art features a Pete splashing through choppy waves towards a tropical island beach. Inside the box, I found a neatly packaged bag of several grey sprue and one clear sprue, a standard fold out instruction sheet and a medium sized decal sheet. Taking a closer look, the parts exhibit the fine detail that we enjoy from Hasegawa.

This kit has been re-boxed several times over the years and while some earlier releases came with a much-desired photo-etch set, this release, did not. The instructions are clearly printed and easy to understand. The decals are a throwback to earlier times, they are overly thick and they lack the thinner quality found in the other newer Hasegawa releases. The decals offer 2 options from the same unit; 934th Naval Flying Group (34-001 and 34-002) Ambon Island March 1944.

The Build

After reviewing the instructions, I began this build by removing the needed parts from the sprue and prepping them for the cockpit and rear gunner’s station. After carefully test fitting all the pieces, I began to set everything with glue, except the sidewall pieces. I detoured from the instructions by gluing the sidewall pieces to the inside fuselage locations instead of gluing them to the cockpit assembly. I did this to negotiate a painting advantage. After I completed the paint work, I added two sets of aftermarket photo-etch seat harnesses and closed up the fuselage halves. Everything thus far fit well and looked great. And while the fuselage seam did require some putty, it really wasn’t that bad.

The wings were next, bottom wing first; if you plan on adding the bomb racks you will need to drill out the locator holes in the bottom wing bottom half. The wing fit together pretty good but needed a little cleanup. The bottom wing also has two small observation windows; I only mention this because in my photos I forgot to remove the masking tape. The top wing has several navigational lights; in addition to the two wingtip navigation lights there are four more atop the wing. They are very small blister styled lights and even though I added the larger wingtip lights (to blend those in) during the construction I waited until all the painting and decaling was completed before attaching them. The top wing required a bit of seam filling and sanding to make it presentable.

Attaching the wings. First I added the lower wing and found the fit is not all that great where the bottom side mates to the aft portion of the fuselage, and this was very hard to hide. In addition, the two small support rods that link the fuselage sides to the top side of the bottom wing just don’t fit. The part numbers E15 and E16 are small rods with root fairing on each end. They need to be modified, and I did this by removing approx. 2mm of the rod just under the top rod fairing and reattached it. I then added the horizontal tail, they have two piece construction each and fit nicely together and on the fuselage. Moving on, I decided to add the top wing after all the painting and decaling was finished so once all the test fitting was completed I set with glue all the support structures to the top wing.

Next were the floats, the two auxiliaries are two piece construction featuring the main supports as a unit, and two additional supporting struts are attached when mounted on the wing. The main float requires a 20g ballast that’s not included in the kit. The two piece unit has excellent fit and features a snap lock connection on the fuselage pillar. Two more aft support struts were then set and glued in place.

Detouring from the instructions again, I didn’t at this point add the exhaust stubs or bombs and racks, all of which build up quite nicely. Skipping ahead the instructions again, I didn’t attach the canopy and windscreen glazing.

I began working on the nose. The tricky three piece engine cowling proved challenging just to keep together while the glue was setting. The engine, the prop and spinner are very basic and it all fits together pretty well. I added the engine and cowling to the fuselage without any problems.

This is where I did all the paint and decal work and then went back, added the top wing and all the rest of it. Leaving only the dolly. The dolly is truly a mini-project in itself and builds into a little gem.

The Bottom Line

This is still an awesome kit even without the photo-etch rigging, braces and guy-wires.

I did not add any rigging for this review so there would be no confusion.

That said: It’s a solid 8 out of 10 on the Greg-o-meter. I would like to thank Hasegawa, Hasegawa USA and IPMS for the opportunity to present this fine model kit.

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