Friday, July 8

Preview: Border Models new Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" in 35th scale

Border Model's third release of an aviation kit in 1/35th scale. The Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" was the standard carrier-based torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for much of World War II. A good subject, then, for border models to replicate inside and out in detail for eager modellers. We look at the CAD model designs in high res in our preview...


Preview: Border Models new Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" in 35th scale

Nakajima B5N2 "Kate"
From Border Model
1/35th scale
Photo-etch parts included.
Price: TBA
Expected: TBA
The Subject: The Nakajima B5N2 "Kate"
The Nakajima B5N "Kate" was the standard torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy for much of World War II. Although the B5N was substantially faster and more capable than its Allied counterparts, the TBD Devastator, Fairey Swordfish and the Fairey Albacore, it was nearing obsolescence by 1941. Nevertheless, the B5N operated throughout the whole war, due to the delayed development of its successor, the B6N. In the early part of the Pacific War, flown by well-trained IJN aircrews and as part of well-coordinated attacks, the B5N achieved particular successes at the battles of Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Midway, and Santa Cruz Islands. Primarily a carrier-based aircraft, it was also occasionally used as a land-based bomber. 

B5N2 taking off from IJN Zuikaku at Coral Sea, May 1942
The B5N carried a crew of three: pilot, navigator/bombardier/observer, and radio operator/gunner. The B5N was designed by a team led by Katsuji Nakamura in response to a 1935 specification by the Navy for a torpedo bomber to replace the Yokosuka B4Y. Internally designated Type K by Nakajima, it successfully competed with the Mitsubishi B5M for a production contract. 

Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" carrying 250 kg (550 lb) bomb.
The first prototype flew in January 1937 and was ordered into production soon afterwards with the full designation Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber. The B5N soon saw combat, first in the Sino-Japanese War, where combat experience revealed several weaknesses in the original B5N1 production model. These were mainly concerned with the lack of protection that the design offered its crew and its fuel tanks. Keen to maintain the high performance of the type, the Navy was reluctant to add weight in the form of armour, and instead looked to obtaining a faster version of the aircraft in the hopes of outrunning enemy fighters. The B5N2 was given a much more powerful engine, and various modifications were made to streamline it. Although its performance was only marginally better, and its weaknesses remained un-remedied, this version replaced the B5N1 in production and service from 1939. 

Nakajima B5N ‘Kate’ surrender aircraft (photo from the RAAF Museum)
It was this version that would be used by the Navy in the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The B5N2 Kate carried Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander of the attack on Pearl Harbor, with one from the carrier Hiryu credited with sinking the battleship Arizona. Five torpedo bombers were shot down in the first wave. Apart from this raid, the greatest successes of the B5N2 were the key roles it played in sinking the United States Navy aircraft carriers Yorktown, Lexington and Hornet. 

Nakajima B5N2s making a torpedo attack at Santa Cruz on October 26, 1942
The B5N continued to fly in secondary roles, such as training, target towing, and anti-submarine warfare. Some of the aircraft used for this latter purpose were equipped with early radars and magnetic anomaly detectors. B5Ns were also used as bombers during the unsuccessful defence of the Philippines in October 1944, suffering severe losses. Later in the war, they were also used for kamikaze attacks.

Nakajima B5N2 Kate reconstruction at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in 2019.
None of the 1,150 production B5Ns survived World War II intact. Only two partially recovered B5Ns are known to exist, neither of them airworthy. Replicas of the B5N2s were made using stretched fuselages from U.S. Canadian Car and Foundry "Harvard" - a variant of the North American T-6 Texan trainers, which were modified to represent Japanese aircraft for the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, and have been used in a number of movies and airshows since to depict the aircraft.

Another shot of the Kate with the torpedo and 800kg bombs used in this kit.

The Kit: Border Model's new Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" in 35th scale
The third release in the 1/35th scale aviation series, Border Model's new "Kate" takes off from the same place as their latest kit of the Ju87 Stuka in more ways than one. 
Both of the kits are of a light bomber from WWII, both have riveted and textured aircraft skin, and both have a very busy cockpit, with space and equipment fully fleshed out for their aircrew. The radio-operator/gunner operated the flexible 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 92 machine gun at the rear end of the cockpit. 
The radio-operator/gunner position was equipped with one of the standard-issue radio sets for navy three-seater aircraft that was mounted in front of the radio-operator/gunner's seat and behind the navigator/bombardier/observer's seat. You can see the kits full internal framing for the cockpit here in this shot. 
A full view from the starboard here, with the three crew positions all opened up. No news on if there will be a transparent side of the kit's fuselage available, but that would be a great addition for some modellers.
The reverse position here from the port side of the aircraft. The middle navigator/ bombardier/ observer's seat and pilot's position are just as well detailed in this CAD image.
The kit, as all good naval fighters should do, has fully folding wings as an option and of course extendable or retractable undercarriage.
You can see here the posable flight surfaces of the kit. Another bonus for modellers wanting to show such a detailed kit in each of its options.
The full internal detail of the wing folds are on display here and it is great to see that modellers won't have to be scratch-building everything on the kit.
We did not realise how much of the gull-wings folded over the canopy, but it is shown to full extent here.
The multi part canopy can be posed opened or sclosed, no word yet on if there are any masks provided for the kit. They would be helpful!
The canopy opened, and the floor of the cockpit and crew stations shown to some extent in this photo. You can see the gunsight in the photo-etch here. The use of metal looks restrained on this kit which is nice!
The wheels-up option of this kit showing the fine rivet detail of the wings and fuselage to effect.
Another shot of the wings, you might have seen in some of the earlier photos not only fine riveting but also control surface texture is present on this Border Model kit.
The big Nakajima Sakae 11 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine and 3-bladed constant-speed metal propeller are on display in this photo. The wiring harness looks like it is also provided, one does knot know yet if this is a wire, a plastic or photo-etch option.
Not only can the engine cowling be shown on, but off the aircraft in a maintenance diorama setting if the modeller likes. 
We did not realise how canted-up the gull-wings were until we saw this shot across the wing profile. It is juxtaposed with the downward attitude of the torpedo the kit comes with.
The heavily detailed Japanese 800kg armour-piercing bomb is included. Named the "Navy Type 99 No.80 AP bomb". These bombs had an armour penetration of 8-inches (or 200mm) of deck armour. These were the bombs that were used in the attack on the USS Arizona.
 Type 91 torpedo is also included so you can make a bomber, or torpedo bomber mission with your new kit. 
We do not have pricing or expected date confirmed yet, but we will update you as soon as we know.
 Check out the Border Models website for more information...