The Battle Of Midway project is now under way. But not without snags. Getting this right is not easy. It is clear that even if the Battle Of Midway was pivotal to the Pacific conflict it seems to be caught in between the Pearl Harbour and Guadalcanal when it comes to models and decals. In some cases there actually is some kits that specifically depicts Midway planes, but even them might not be the ones you are really after.
The different Facebook groups about model building is good sources with people that can help you get it right. Unfortunately for me not until I've made some bad buying decisions. First I bought the Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless "Midway" US Navy from Academy. Anyone would consider this to be a safe bet. Well in one way it was. The SBD-2 Dauntless saw service at Midway at the time but on the Island, not on the carriers. It was not the SBD-2 that made the fatal attacks on the Japanese carriers, it was the SBD-3's that was based on USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise and USS Hornet. OK, after some hunting I found a Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless from the USS Enterprise issued by Hasegawa on Ebay (the link shows another issue of the same kit but with other markings). When I'm writing this I'm still awaiting delivery. So now I'll have two Dauntless to build.
Next snag came when I was made aware that the Brewster B-339 Buffalo from Tamiya, that I had bought, wasn't the Buffalo used at Midway. Apparently the Buffalo used at Midway with such a bad result was the Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo. This was a later version slightly longer between the engine and the wings with a heavier engine, witch made it even more cumbersome than the earlier versions. I could have smacked some decals on the Tamiya kit and called it a F2A-3 and it would have fooled 99% of anyone watching. But that's not who I am. After some searching I found a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo "Battle Of Midway" from Special Hobby at Kits For Cash, a website that sells old kits.
To find the right markings for the A6M2 Zero was difficult. You'd think that they'd be the same planes as in Pearl Harbour as the battles took place just six months apart. But things happened in between. At least I found that Lt. Cmdr. Shigeru Itaya that led the Zero wing of the Akagi at Pearl Harbour also participated at Midway having to ditch his plane near a cruiser after the Akagi was sunk. Now I've already built Itaya's Zero from Tamiya when I did a Pearl Harbour build. Or so I thought. It turns out that Tamiya had been guessing that Itaya had flown AI-101 as his wing man flew AI-102. But if you dig in you soon realize that he flew AI-155. Now there's no such decal set but I dug into what I had. Having the D3A1 Val, the B5N2 Kate and the A6M2 Zero with extra decals I did have some. I was saved by Hasegawa. In both their kits the Val and the Kate they've included full number series with four items of each number and the Kate decals fit the bill.
The Wildcat was another issue. No special decals for Midway available. So again I dug into the sources and found that Jimmy Thach, the inventor of the Thach Weave that saved so many Wildcats from the Zeroes, flew at Midway. He flew number 23 and I had 28 available so some careful cutting and puzzling and the problem solved. He also had the 'Felix the cat' insignia under the wind shield and luckily enough it was on the extra decals 'Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat - USMC aces over Guadalcanal Part 2' that I had bought.
Somewhere you have to draw the line. To build all the naval vessels and aircraft that partook in the Battle Of Midway in scale 1:48 is of course an impossible task. Leaving out the ships even building all the aircraft types that was there is a bit hard. Not only because there are so many but also because some are not available as kits (well not in 1:48 at least) and also to get the right markings as decals might be a tough task. And of course there is a limit to what you can afford. At the beginning I drew the line at eight kits and two display bases.
But as you go along you find more and once you've started it's hard not to want to go further. I've bought two display bases, one depicting an American carrier deck the other a Japanese. But then I realized that I would build planes based at Midway. So off and away to find a base depicting the ground of a typical WWII airfield. Then the afore mentioned SBD-3 and F2A-3 Buffalo. The Avenger made it's combat début at Midway, with a disheartening result. So when I stumbled upon a Midway edition of the Grumman TBF-1C Avenger from HobbyBoss it became a must.
This is were I stand now. I have my eyes on the B-26 Marauder and the B-17 Flying Fortress who both participated from Midway. The Marauder carried torpedoes and as there is no such version available it can be hard to convert one without the proper parts (and decals). The B-17's were B-17E and the only available kit in 1:48 in a B-17F so some research and probably conversions together with decals would also be a challenge. Also there is the Nakajima E8N2 'Dave', a reconnaissance plane based on Japanese cruisers and the Vought SB2U Vindicator. Both are available but only at some steep pricing on Ebay. Well, we'll see what the future might bring.
But the other Japanese reconnaissance aircraft that partook in the battle seems to be harder. I have still not found any kits in scale 1:48 of the Kawanishi H8K 'Emily' which is not surprising as it would be enormous (there is a kit in 1:72). Neither have I found any Aichi E13A1 'Jake' in 1:48 which is a shame because it played a prominent role in the events.
I'll be back with further progress and I'm also doing reviews of the kits I build so be sure to keep an eye open.
Hi. I found your post really interesting as I am just about to embark on my first IJN Zero in 1/48. I have built all of the US aircraft involved at Midway but feel I should build an example of Japan's best fighter of the Pacific campaign. As you point out, the Hasegawa Zero markings are inappropriate so I would like to source some aftermarket decals of a Zero at Midway. I understand that I could by the Hasegawa Kate but this would be an expensive way to source the relevant decals. Are you aware of any aftermarket decal sets that will allow me to complete my kit as that flown by Lt. Cmdr. Shigeru Itaya at Midway. Also, if you have any images of your completed kit that would be really helpful. Kindest regards. Steve PS. I am in the UK
I saw your comment regarding the Zero today (I’m afraid I neglect my webpages some).
When it comes to decals there’s a set for AI-155 on the “Zero over the Pearl Harboour” aftermarket decals from ROP o.s. product number MNFD48016 (for scale 1/48, they’re also printed in scale 1/72 with product number MNFD72007) I’ve noted that they’re on back order at most places but they might turn up on Ebay or an extensive Google-search.
If you want pictures, you’ll find them on my The Battle Of Midway 75 years page (https://plasticfantastique.com/projects/battle-midway-75-years/). Pictures of the Zero is on the page Combat air patrol - The 'Zero' (https://plasticfantastique.com/projects/battle-midway-75-years/combat-air-patrol-the-zero/).
It would be fun to see what you’ve built. Have any pictures?