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Tamiya 1/72 scale Aichi M6A1 Seiran

Kit: No. 60737
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $16
Comments: Injection molded, 63 parts (2 vinyl), decals.

Yes, the scale notation above is correct. In addition to a 1/48 scale Seiran (kit No. 61054), Tamiya now offers a 1/72 scale version, its first small-scale aircraft in decades (Tamiya's 1/72 scale X-1 was a rebox of the Hobby Spot kit).

The Seiran holds an interesting place in history. It was designed to be folded and stored in a waterproof hangar on the large I-400 and I-401 submarines. Four Seirans could be carried on each sub. Its original mission was to attack strategic targets in the Americas such as the Panama Canal, but the Japanese surrender in August 1945 occurred before any missions could be launched.

Tamiya's Seiran is beautifully molded with recessed panel lines, a 14-piece cockpit, and a highly detailed beaching dolly. You get your choice of two slightly different spinners and windshields with and without a hole for a telescopic sight, but there is no explanation for these options. The long greenhouse canopy is molded shut.

Construction is straightforward, although you must add weight in the nose to keep the Seiran from flopping over on its tail. The fit of the parts is good. The radiator fairing needed a little sanding to get a filler-free fit.

The wings fit best if you first glue the one-piece lower wing in place, then cut off the locating pins for the upper wings. After lightly sanding the roots of the upper wings, the fit is superb. The floats fit perfectly into depressions molded into the wing undersurface. The canopy required a little trimming at the rear gunner's compartment to fit on the fuselage.

I painted the model with Gunze Sangyo Aqueous IJN green lightened with a few drops of off-white, and IJN gray for the undersurfaces. I went back over the topside panel lines with IJN green straight out of the bottle, with slightly darker gray on the panels below. I weathered my Seiran with a black wash and silver-colored pencil.

The beaching dolly is a model in itself. I scraped over the deck and supports with 150-grit sandpaper to simulate wood grain, then painted and dry-brushed all after assembly.
Decal options are limited to five different tail numbers. The decals are well printed, with opaque red and yellow markings. They adhered well, but did not respond to Micro-Sol -- you may have better luck with Solva Set.

I'm impressed with Tamiya's Seiran. I spent 30 hours on mine, with more time on painting than on building. It measures to scale with the dimensions in René J. Francillon's Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War.

The quality of the moldings will satisfy experts, while the excellent fit will make it an easy build for beginners who have experience handling small parts.

- Chuck Davis

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