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Saiun - Japanese Navy Type Carrier Reconnaissance Plane

  • Kit Manufacturer: Tamiya
  • Major Material: Plastic
  • Scale: 1/50
  • Rarity: High
Model Specifications:

Judged by the Tamyia trade marks printed on the box, this kit must be produced in the early 1960s. Similar to the Phantom Mustang produced by Monogram in 1961, this kit also has clear parts to expose the engine and the interior of the cabin and the cockpit. This kit can also be motorized as indicated in the instruction sheet, the electric wire and hardware for wiring the switch and the battery compartment are provided. However the only moving part is the propeller and no motor is included in the original kit. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find a suitable motor at reasonable price on eBay.


Historical Notes:

With her 630km per hour speed well above those of Grumman and Hellcat, the main strength of enemy U. S. carrier based fighters during the Pacific War, Saiun is the last master piece plane produced by the Japanese Navy. It was in the middle of 1942 that the designing and trial manufacture of this plane, which at the time was called No. 17 Trial Carrier-based Reconnaissance plane, has begun. But the work proceeded very fast and only about ten months later, at the end of the next April, the first mass produced plane was completed on the production line. At the first glance, the plane looks very easily built. But on second sight, it will be found out that the plane is worked out in detail with utmost care. Many examples will be cited, such as semi-integral tank to increase cruising power; thick outer board structure advantageous for mass production; rocket system exhaust pipe for super high speed; adoption of usually high wing load - 176.5 kg/m^2 - for a Japanese carrier-based plane. In short, it will be recognized in every place as the result of an immense amount of labor in order to improve its capabilities. Especially outstanding are the following features: adoption of strata-streamlined wing; equipment of high power, small size Homare (good fame) engine and its fuselage, which is streamlined as best as it could to be adjusted to the small diameter of that engine. 

All these modifications have contributed much to the improvement of its power, not only in its service ceiling but also in its cruising performance. This plane was proud of its world record, as a carrier-based reconnaissance plane. And when it added large capacity tanks just like torpedoes under its wings, its cruising distance was extended as far as 5310 km. Well matched to that of the 1st-type Land-attack planes.

It participated in actual fighting for the first time in Mejuro, performing super-high altitude reconnaissance. The participation took place before the sea battle off the Mariana Islands on June 5, 1944. The plane had since been active fulfilling many reconnoitering missions over Saipan, Ulsea and many other spots in the South Pacific.

When the plane joined the line of battle, aircraft carriers of the Japanese Navy had been almost wiped out. In fact, there were not enough carriers left for those planes to base upon. So they had to be based mainly on land fields instead. However, their superior capabilities were often prominently exhibited in spite of that handicap and story was told at the same time how well one of this type planes freed herself from a hot enemy chase and that the pilot the plane cabled to his base. "There were no Grumman fighters following him around." The story was acclaimed as brightest news by the Japanese Navy carrying out a desperate battle under the supremacy of enemy U. S. Fighters.

  • Number of the planes produced: 398
  • Type of engine: Homare, 21st Type, 2,000HP x 1
  • Overall width: 12.50 m.
  • Overall length: 11.12 m
  • Wing Area: 25.2 m^2
  • Overall weight with full equipment: 4,450 kg.
  • Maximum speed: 630 km/h
  • Service ceiling: 10, 800 m

by Tamiya


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