Kit: Mitsubishi F1M1 'Pete'

Scale: 1/72

Kit Number: ??

Manufacturer: Hasegawa

Price: Don't remember

Media: Injected plastic

Decals : None

Date of Review: 16 November, 1996

Comments: Probably Japan's last operational front-line biplane, the Pete was a common site during the early days of the war.  Japan was not able to build airbases as quickly as the now famous Seabee's, so relied a great deal on seaplanes and floatplanes to provide air cover in forward areas.  The Pete was the last in a line of successful Mitsubishi floatplanes and served until the end of the war in a variety of missions.  Initially developed to provide reconnaissance and spotting for the cruisers and battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Pete was also used as a fighter, bomber and night intruder.  Its sturdy biplane construction made it an extremely difficult target as it was quite capable of outmaneuvering any adversary.

This particular kit is purported to be Hasegawa's first plastic model.  I would not be surprised.  It has a good basic shape, but it is lacking in several amenities.  For instance, there is no cockpit accommodations at all; just a couple of holes.  The attachment points for struts are very large as are the struts themselves.  While this makes for a very sturdy kit, it is not very scale.  The kit itself scales out to 1/75, not exactly standard.  Another area of concern is the engine.  There isn't one.  Just a pseudo-spiders web engraving on an engine cowling that is far to conical in shape to that of the real Pete.  The only engraved parts on the kit are the wing ailerons and flaps.  All the other parts and panels are represented by raised lines.  While there are no rivets as on European and American kits, the effect is the same.  

The kit itself is simplicity to build.  The wings and horizontal stabilizers are one piece.  The fuselage halves and float halves fit very well and require only a bit of sanding and putty to look seamless.  As mentioned earlier, all the attachment points are large and quite positive.  The two transparencies are thick, but clear.  Assembly goes quickly and then it is time to chose a paint scheme.  I chose not to modify the kit in any way other than the addition of instrument panel decals.  I do this to show how far one of the world's better modelling companies has progressed.  

For a paint scheme, I chose the popular IJN dark green over IJN medium grey and used Tamiya acrylics for the job.  Before applying the camo colors, I painted an area on the upper wing leading edge an orange-yellow to represent the ID band.  Thanks to Thorpe's book on JNAF schemes, I had no trouble with the band placement.  The next step was to chose a unit.  The Pete served with a surprising number of units and I chose one from one of the seaplane tenders (who's name escapes me), but had the tail code of P3-16.  These number and the hinomaru's were gleaned from the spare decal box.  The final step was rigging, which is simplicity itself requiring very little in the way of rigging.  In fact, the total rigging is three sections per wing.  I used clear stretched sprue for this and it does an admirable job.

One last thing.  The propeller that comes with the kit is just a shape and poor at that.  It was painted a rust brown as typical of JNAF aircraft and had a yellow decal stripe on each blade.  While an accurate and convincing Pete could be made from this kit.  It would require a great deal of work.  Other than the very nice, but almost as old Tamiya kit of this aircraft, this is the only other Pete that I know of.  It is surprising that an up-to-date version has not been done.  It amazes me that Hasegawa would do a J7W1 Shinden that only flew a few times, but not a Pete.

An interesting and amusing kit.  If you find one, have a go at it.  It makes a great conversation piece.