The Nakajima C6N Saiun, known to the Allies as “Myrt”, was designed as a high-speed naval reconnaissance aircraft. With such long ranges of trackless ocean to cover and so many potential enemy vessels to encounter, the IJN had its head in the right place when it decided that a long range, high-speed recon bird would be an invaluable asset to its fleets.
Unfortunately, the development of the Myrt was not as fast as the airplane it eventually produced, and the first one didn’t fly until mid-May, 1943. Apparently, the Homare 21 engine that powered the very streamlined machine wasn’t up to snuff in the performance department, and further development was required. By the time the 18 development and pre-production machines had flown and the bugs had been worked out, it was September 1944. Entering service at this time, the Myrt and her pilots found that they were operating from land bases most of the time; nearly all Japan’s carriers had been sunk.
Despite this, the Myrt was still a valuable asset. With a top speed of about 380 mph (about 330 kt), the C6N was able to keep pace with the Allied fighters in the theater, and proved very difficult to intercept. Because of this, there was a night fighter variant for taking on the B-29’s that harassed the Japanese population regularly. While apparently effective, the fighter version carried no radar, and so while it couldn’t be intercepted by Allied fighters, it had a hard time actually finding its prey!
Given that the Myrt was not produced in huge numbers (only 463 or so), it has been kitted a surprising number of times. There is a 1/75 Nichimo kit, as well as a 1/48 from Hasegawa and a few 1/72 offerings, including one from Fujimi and the newest incarnation of a styrene Myrt, the one from Sword. However, there is a far older Myrt out there, and of course, that’s the one that gets my engine going! The kit I’m referring to is the old Aoshima 1/72 Myrt from the mid 1960’s; quite possibly the very first Saiun to be offered in plastic form. Even more interesting is the “export version” of this kit, the “Farpro Japan” boxing that was sent out to North America with cut-rate box art. Let’s check THAT one out, shall we?
From what I can tell, the Farpro Japan brand is the “export version” of Aoshima. If you’ve read the OOB review on the Farpro Zero, then you already know how Farpro boxes are not the epitome of flash and pizzazz. While the Aoshima boxes for these kits are beautiful, if not heavy, pieces of aviation art that ooze a certain zeitgeist, the Farpro boxes are… not.
The Saiun’s box, like the Zero’s, is a top-opening affair, with a green border and a white or off-white background. The photo below shows exactly what you get. It isn’t much, but it has its own charm. Unfortunately, the less-than exciting black and white box art more or less mimics the excitement you’re going to find in the box! The drawing isn’t particularly good, but it gives you a feel for the general shape of the plane you’ll be building. There’s nothing, though, to really make the box stand out, except, of course, that it doesn’t stand out! BRILLIANT! Well, maybe it wasn’t intentional, but on a shelf of colourful kits, which can be a bit overwhelming, the stark green of the Farpro boxes does call attention to these little chestnuts.
All the Farpro kits are from the early to mid-1960s, and it shows. Man, does it show! These are not high-precision kits like the Mania and LS releases, but are more akin to the Monogram and Revell aircraft of the 1970s and early 1980s, although slightly cruder still. There’s a lot going on on the kit’s surface, with Airfix-like rivets all over everything. All the panel lines are raised, and building this thing promises to require a LOT of patience.
The model is moulded in what appears to be almost an Intermediate Sea Blue, and there are very few pieces. The cockpit is non-existent. Pilots sit on posts sticking out from the cockpit walls. There’s no floor, no head rests, no decking, no NUTTIN’. There’s a one-piece cockpit, which is somewhat foggy and looks like it will be atrocious to mask, as well as nigh-impossible to see through. This is a good thing, though; you won’t miss the un-detail in the cockpit! See, THAT’S thinking ahead! Good job, Aoshima!
Because of the age of the original kit, there are gimmicks galore. The model doesn’t look strong enough to take up to any kind of handling, but nevertheless, the gear does retract, and the Myrt’s folding wings are replicated, too. The wings fold at roughly mid-span on what are very delicate, and not superbly moulded, hinges. Like all gimmicks, this is going to make building harder, not easier. Add to the fact that the exhaust stacks are moulded into the body, and you’ve got a real little beast of a kit on your hands. If that doesn’t make me want to build it, I don’t know what will!
Oh, wait, yes I do! Like so many Japanese kits before the 1990s, this one comes with a tube of glue! I’m sure it’s still good, right?
The instructions are all written in English, since this is an export kit. The illustrations are all hand-drawn, by the looks of things, and are fairly clear. The instructions are written on a surprisingly thin sheet of paper, folded into six box-area-sized panels. There’s less to this kit than the zero, even though there’s more airplane in the box! The instructions are large, difficult to handle and generally annoying, but they’re also fragile and terrifically interesting as a historical artifact. The good thing is that they plane’s not too tough, so you’re really not going to need the instructions that much!
Like all of its brethren, the Saiun is only given Hinomarus on the decal sheet. This means there aren’t any choices in aircraft markings. Whether or not these decals work remains to be seen. After all, they’re over 50 years old, but they are sealed in plastic, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’re going to go. If I ever build one of these things, I’ll be sure to let you know.
This kit, like all the Farpros, is a brutal little landmine of a kit waiting to go off under the foot of an inexperienced modeller. The kit is rough, with raised rivets, panel lines and a level of unrefinedness that makes crude oil blush. However, it’s a neat little artifact from the early days of the Japanese model makers, and for that it’s really, really cool to have.
Sure, there are better Myrts out there, and I would recommend almost all of them before I did the Farpro. Unless, that is, you feel like really putting it all on the line and taking a run at the Stone Age of modelling. Well, okay, maybe the Iron Age is more appropriate; you don’t have to hew this one out of wood, and it’s not vac-form, so that’s something. Thus, unless you are completely crazy for a challenge, I’d say steer clear of this kit. This is NOT one for little hands or short tempers. However, if you can get it cheap, it’s a great starter kit in that you’re really not ruining a good kit if your modelling apprentice gets gluey fingerprints all over it!
Of course, you know that I am dying to build this little monster, simply because it screams “I’m unbuildable!” at the top of its lungs. I guess this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, eh?
With a kit like this, what you see is what you get. It looks like a pretty harsh mid-‘60s model, replete with too many rivets and too many gimmicks; and that is precisely what it is! To say it’s rough would be an understatement, but to say its junk wouldn’t be fair either. It’s exactly like a cross between a Heller (finely raised surface detail) and an Airfix (Rivets! Rivets everywhere!), with the plastic thickness and quality of a FROG. Thus, for me, it’s the perfect kit! Well, it’s another day at the front, at least.
While the box art is not that great (okay, it sucks) I will admit that it has its own appeal, and it’s more so when it’s piled onto others of its kind. I got a bunch of them all at once at one of my local hobby shops, and I must say that when you put all the blandness together, it looks kind of cool!
Sure, it needs work, but think of it like Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree. Either you put a lot of work into it, or just leave it for someone else to pick up!