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Tamiya 1/48 Nishikisuisen Rufe Aircraft Kit

Item #: TAM61017
Tamiya 1/48 Nishikisuisen Rufe Aircraft Kit
Suggested Retail: $16.50
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In 1939, the Naval Aviation Headquarters conceived a plan of trial manufacturing a floatplane fighter, a new type beyond all precedents in the world. On the assumption of landing and invading the Southern regions, the Japanese Navy intended in those days to station float planes in waterways and bays near the landing places until the completion of land air bases for the purpose of defending those under construction and occupied territories. Since the floatplanes might have to fight with enemy fighters in the air, they were required to be pure fighters comparing favourably with enemy fighters in performance. The Navy firmly believed that sufficiently armed floatplanes would be able to fight on equal terms with fighters considering that Type 95 Scout Seaplanes shot down Chinese fighters as successfully as did land based fighters at the early stage of the sino-Japanese incident. In 1940, the Naval Aviation Headquarters decided to trial manufacture floatplane fighters and ordered Kawanishi Aircraft, which was well experienced in manufacturing floatplanes, to trial manufacture them under the name of 15- Shi Floatplane fighter (later called Floatplane Fighter "Kyofu").

In the meantime, relations with the United Sates, Britain, etc. were gradually deteriorated and the possibility of rushing into war with them became larger day by day. Considering that war with the United States and Britain would be inevitable, the Department of Operations of the army mapped out a plan of campaign and requested the Aviation Headquarters to immediately develop and complete floatplane fighters which, in case of incading the Southern regions, were to take charge of air defence for advanced bases under construction and at the same time demanded that temporary floatplane fighters should be made available apart from the 15-Shi Floatplane Fighter which was then under order and was expected to be delivered to fighting units as late as 1943 (three years from then). The Naval Aviation Headquarters proposed remodelling the Type O Ship-Based Fighter Model 11 of Mitsubishi Aircraft, which exercised its power in the Chinese Continent and was recognized as an excellent plane, into floatplane fighter. This proposal was officially accepted at the beginning of 1941. The remodelling was to be conducted by Nakajima Aircraft which was also in charge of the mass production of the Zero Fighter. Like Kawanishi Aircraft, Nakajima was well experienced in the manufacture of floatplanes. Nakajima designers including Shinobu Mitsutake, head of Designing Department, had already designed the Type 90 and 95 scout Seaplanes of single-float type, the superiority of both having been fully recognized. Nakajima engaged in the remodelling work at Koizumi Plant night and day under the leadership of Shinobu Mitsutake, then chief engineer, and young designers including Atsushi Tajima. The remodelled version was tentatively named No.1 Suisen (A6M2-N). The remodelling work had to be made immediately, and three used Zero Fighters Modell 11 were utilized and remodelled into the first experimental planes.

The shape of the main float was accepted after model tests repeated at the Naval Air Technical Institute. Only about one year after the start of the plan, the first flight was successfully made at an aquatic base in Kasumigaura on 8th December 1941, i.e. the very day when the Pacific War began. After utility tests were repeated by seaplane units of Yokosuka and Oppama, the remodelled plane was officially accepted for mass production under the name of Type 2 Floatplane Fighter on 6th July, 1942. It was slightly lowered in performance as compared with the original Zero Fighter Model 11, e.g. the maximum speed was decreased from 534 km/h to 436 km/h and the cruising range from 2,220 km (when carrying no auxiliary fuel tanks) to 1,778 km. This was because the large float increased plane weight and air resistance. They Type 2 Floatplane Fighter still inherited excellent manoeuvrability from the Zero Fighter and had good taking off and landing ability and sea kindliness. The Type 2 Floatplane Fighter was a well-timed superior plane to be used for the purposed of defending isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean and air bases under construction until the completion of the 15-Shi Floatplane Fighter which was then being manufactured by Kawanishi. Powerfully armed with two 20 mm and two 7.7 mm machine guns, the Navy's hoped for new Type 2 Floatplane Fighter came to be sent to isolated islands in the South Seas and small islands in the north Seas in mid 1942 when the Japanese were still making brilliant drives on the enemy. In spiete of the handicap proper to a floatplane, it fought desperately with large bombers and fighters of the Allied Forces and rendered distinguished service. Even the Americans praised the Floatplane Fighter for its high performance on a level with the Zero Fighter. At the last stage of the war, most of floatplane fighter units on the front lost their planes and pilots, meeting with a glorious end.

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