Kawanishi E7K1 Type 94 Model 1 Reconnaissance Seaplane (ALF) w / Catapult.
Decades ago Hasegawa released three floatplane models with catapult bases, including this Kawanishi E7K (E7K is a floatplane, not a seaplane). While the detail is either simplified or lacking, it makes a nice model of "Alf". This is the only injection kit of an Alf, except for a 1/100 E7K2 by YMC.
In 1933 the first of an eventual 530 Kawanishi E7K single-engined, fabric covered all-metal structure, twin-float reconnaissance seaplanes was delivered for evaluation. It was a sleek, good looking airplane with the inline-engine. E7K was also designated the Type 94 in the Imperial Navy and code named "Alf" by the Allies. A crew of three operated the E7K. Different powerplants resulted in two models:
* 500 hp (early production E7K1) or 600 hp (late production E7K1) Hiro Type 91 twelve-cylinder W liquid-cooled engine
* 870 hp Mitsubishi Zuisei 11 fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial (E7K2)
Type 94s mounted three 7.7 mm Type 92 machine guns and up to 120kg of bombs. Production ended in 1941.
Alf was an important scout plane for the IJN. Launched from cruisers, battleships and seaplane carriers, Type 94s could reach out some 600 nm in search of prey for IJN battle units. With good performance and handling, thus popular with crews, the engines were unreliable. Inline-engine Alfs were active over China but regulated to the rear after the Pearl Harbor attack. E7K2 suffered front-line service into 1943, during which they were occasionally encountered by Allied notables in the Solomons and central Pacific campaigns.
The KitThe Aircraft
This is the only injection kit of an Alf, except for a 1/100 E7K2 by YMC. Hasegawa reissued the model several times so kit number 51831 might no always work if you search for it. The model is boxed in a top and tray box. Each sprue is bagged. Forty-two gray plastic and four clear parts build the aircraft, while 40 build the catapult.
Molding is typical of this 1970s kit. Clean, relatively crisp, without serious flash, sink marks, ejector marks, or seam lines. Type 94 was built with raised rivets and fabric, but the real thing's panel lines weren't raised as they are on the model. All detail is simplified and surface detail is mainly raised.
There is no interior other than a trio of oversize seats and a trio of doll-like figures to occupy them, not that you could see much through the cockpit openings.
The four-blade propeller is molded with the spinner. It looks awful.
Fit is decent although you will need gap fillers.
This is a pretty nice model. It is simple to build, reasonably detailed, and sets off the kit. That's about all I can say about it.
Paint and Markings
Alfs sported aluminum doped fabric and natural metal airframes. They were also painted with both brown and green topsides and solid green topsides. The underside could be gray, gray-green, or aluminum. There were even some overall trainer orange ones. Some Type 94s also boasted bright red tails. The model can definitely be an eye-catcher.
Two nicely printed decals options are provided:
1. IJN heavy cruiser Nachi
2. Kashima Air Group
Funny that both are silver Alfs while the box art depicts a green/gray Type 94.
When one talks of the Pacific air war, E7Ks are not often mentioned. However, hats off to Hasegawa for kitting this rare but important player. It is a decent kit that is not to the standard of today's models. With the available markings and paint schemes, it can be an interesting subject, especially setting on the catapult.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE
René J. Francillion. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War
. 1979. Putnam.