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Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Floatplane

by Ian Robertson


Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Floatplane


 Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Rufe is available online from Squadron




The Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe floatplane was derived from the A6M2 Zeke fighter. The main changes in the Rufe were the elimination of the landing gear in favor of a large center line float and two small outrigger floats attached to the wings, and an increased rudder area on the tail. There was also a small fin added to the underside of the rear fuselage. The Rufe was intended as a practical solution to the reality of island-hopping warfare in the south-Pacific, where construction and maintenance of air strips was difficult.

In this simple vignette I depict a Rufe moored in the shallows of a lagoon in the south Pacific, sometime around 1942-43.



Construction and Painting


Hasegawa's 1/48 Rufe is based on their superb Zeke series, with a revised fuselage and lower wing, plus the floats and a dolly. The only additions I made to the kit were etched metal seatbelts from Eduard and a set of metal cross hairs to enhance the gun sight.


Hasegawa's box art (kit 09440) depicts a Rufe with green mottles sprayed over a base color of Japanese Navy Gray. This base color has been the standard interpretation for Japanese navy aircraft early in the war. However, I opted for an alternative interpretation of green mottles over Ameiro. Ameiro is often described as a light caramel color.

Using reference photographs of downed Zekes from j-aircraft.com as a guide, I mixed Tamiya Japanese Army Grey (XF-14) with Tamiya Khaki (XF-49) in roughly a 90:10 ratio to simulate Ameiro. The dark green mottles were sprayed freehand using Aeromaster's Japanese Navy Green acrylic.

The cockpit interior was painted in Polly Scale Weyerhaeuser Green, which is similar in color to Nakajima Interior Green.

The propeller and spinner were painted with Alclad II Aluminum.


Prior to adding decals a clear coat of Future floor wax was sprayed over the model. Most of the Hasegawa decals went on fine; however, the hinomarus on the upper wing did not settle well over the navigation lights. Normally I would tackle this problem with an application of decal solvent, but experience has shown that Hasegawa decals often react poorly to solvents. As an alternative, I dipped a cloth in near-boiling water and then pressed it firmly over the decals for a few seconds. The decals immediately conformed to the shape of the lights (thanks to Tom Gloeckle for the tip). Once the decals were dry I sprayed a coat of Polly Scale clear satin acrylic and clear flat acrylic in a 50:50 ratio over the model.



The Base


The base consists of two parts. A simple frame constructed from four strips of wood edging was attached with carpenter's glue to a wooden bread board. The entire base was stained and then treated with several coats of clear satin lacquer.

Within the frame I glued pieces of styrofoam to the bottom to create the relief for the groundwork. On top of the styrofoam I added celluclay mixed with water, white glue, and brown acrylic paint. A thin layer of sand was then sprinkled over the wet celluclay. Near the shoreline I added small stones and crumbled bits of dried moss to simulate debris washing ashore. The groundwork was painted dark greenish-brown in the deeper water, fading to light tan on the beach.


Water was simulated using EnviroTex Lite high gloss finish, a two part epoxy that dries crystal clear in 24-72 hours depending on temperature and thickness. I added the epoxy in several layers, letting each layer set before adding the next. For the lower layers I tinted the mixture very lightly with brown and green acrylics. (Be warned, just a speck of color goes a very long way.) To simulate mats of algae in the water, small drops of Tamiya clear green were added in patches once a layer of epoxy had been poured.

The finished Rufe was placed into the first layer of epoxy before the epoxy had set completely. Within hours the model was securely fixed to the base. Three or four additional layers of epoxy were then added over the next few days, using extreme caution to avoid any strings of wet epoxy coming in contact with the model.

To create the appearance of gentle waves in the water, the end of a paint brush handle was poked repeatedly into the top layer of epoxy as it set. Timing was everything here. Initially the dimples made by the brush handle simply filled in. Eventually, however, the epoxy had set enough that the dimples would not fill in completely, leaving a subtle rippled appearance on the surface. Drying time was accelerated using a portable space heater.


To give the impression of splashing waves around the floats I used 5-minute epoxy tinted with a very small amount of white acrylic paint.

Just as the epoxy mixture began to set (i.e., after about 4 minutes) I applied it with a toothpick around the base of the floats. The quick curing time allowed me to manipulate the epoxy so that it appeared to splash away from the floats.





Images of the completed model were taken outdoors on a bright overcast day with a SONY digital camera set at its highest picture resolution (2048 x 1536 pixels). Other camera settings were as follows: 200 ISO film speed, 400th/sec shutter speed, F-stop 8.0, and fixed focus distance of either 20 or 30 cm. I propped up a sheet of drywall as a neutral backdrop for the photographs. Images were cleaned up using Adobe Photoshop 6.0 for the Macintosh. Specifically, each photograph was sharpened using the "sharpen edges" tool. Sharpening images in such a way helps to restore some of the clarity lost during image compression.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

[file:///C:/Documents and Settings/Owner/My Documents/My Webs/features04/photogallery/photo23540/real.htm]

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2004 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 17 March, 2004
Last Updated 22 March, 2004

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