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Project Notes

#634 Nakajima B5N2

Building the Airfix 1:72 Nakajima B5N2 Kate - an exercise in weathering, no electronics.



In 2020 Airfix released a special Airfix Club Limited Edition of their Nakajima B5N2 Kate No. A73012, 1:72 and it has been sitting in my stash ever since.

The kit is a relatively new tool (2015) and builds beautifully. The main distinction of the special edition is the inclusion of two unusual end/post-war schemes. I’ve never built a Kate before, so didn’t do anything unusual here. I even went for a convention marking scheme over one of the special.

About the Nakajima B5N2

The Nakajima B5N (中島 B5N, Allied name “Kate”) was the standard carrier-based torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for much of World War II.

At the outset of the Pacific War, the B5N was more capable than contemporary Allied counterparts such as the Douglas TBD Devastator, Fairey Swordfish and Fairey Albacore torpedo biplanes. The delayed development of its successor, the B6N, lead to the B5N being operated throughout the whole war despite the fact that it was nearing obsolescence by 1941.

The B5N was designed by a team led by Katsuji Nakamura in response to a 1935 specification by the Navy for a torpedo bomber to replace the Yokosuka B4Y. The first prototype flew in January 1937. It was ordered into production with the full designation Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber 九七式艦上攻撃機.


Marking Options and Paint Details

There are four schemes offered in the kit:

  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate IJN Carrier Shokaku, Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941
  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate 553rd Kokutai, April-October 1944
  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate Surrender markings, 1945
  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate Technical Air Intelligence Centre, 1945

While the Surrender markings and Technical Air Intelligence Centre schemes are very unusual, I went straight for a traditional scheme for 553rd Kokutai, April-October 1944. Main paints used:

Feature Color Recommended Paint Used
tires Black Humbrol 33 Vallejo Model Color 70.950 Black
n/a (other payloads) Pale Grey Humbrol 40 Vallejo Model Color 70.991 Dark Sea Grey
torpedo body, under-carriage struts Aluminium Humbrol 56 Vallejo Model Color 70.864 Natural Steel
machine gun, cowling Coal Black Humbrol 85 Vallejo Model Color 70.855 Black Glaze
propeller, forward cowling Chocolate Humbrol 98 Vallejo Model Color 70.872 Chocolate Brown + 70.870 Medium Sea Grey ~6:1
torpedo tip Radome Tan Humbrol 148 Vallejo Model Color 70.917 Beige
lower body Hemp Humbrol 168 Humbrol 168
upper body Satin Dark Green Humbrol 195 Vallejo Model Color 70.975 Military Green
Cockpit gas bottles White Humbrol 34  
Cockpit equipment Dark Green Humbrol 149  
Cockpit floor Forest Green Humbrol 150 Humbrol 78

Construction Log

Initial clipping of the sprues..


The cockpit has a moderate level of detail. Perhaps good enough for this scale especially if built with canopy closed.

build01b build01c build01d

All primed in black..


Basic body color:


Pristine paint job:


Dirtying up the underside:


Some initial chipping, hand-painted…


Some more heavy weathering of the upper surface, and with HF antenna attached:

build04a build04b build04d build04d


Not particular happy with this build - uninspired and I think the weathering doesn’t quite fit the scale very well. An interesting subject and well engineered kit. Very well detailed by Airfix standards.

Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.