The Aichi E13A1 "Jake" was manufactured in larger
numbers than any other Japanese floatplane. It was built to a 12-Shi
specification issued in 1937 calling for a high performance three seat
reconnaissance aircraft suitable for use from both catapults and shore
bases. The first prototype was flown in 1938. Aichi's design, known as
the AM-19, was accepted for production in December of 1940. It was of
all metal construction and was powered by a 1,080 h.p. radial engine.
E13A1 floatplanes operating from the cruisers Chikuma, Kinugasa and
Tone supplied the information concerning the disposition of the U.S.
Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor on which the J.N.A.F. acted for its
surprise attack on the naval base and made the first contact with the
U.S. naval forces in the Coral Sea and Midway battles. Aichi only
produced 133 of the E13A1's due to the need to concentrate on the
production of the D3A and D4Y dive bombers and production was
transferred to Kyushu (Watanabe) who produced 1,127 and the Naval Air
Arsenal at Hiro who built approximately 90 more. A modified version
appeared in 1944 the E13A1a had different radio equipment and a
principal change to the floats that had two additional pairs of inward
sloping struts and many of the bracing wires were eliminated. At the
same time another version was introduced, the E13A1b which was equipped
with airborne search radar. Several modified versions of the A1a and
A1b were also introduced including a night reconnaissance model with
flame dampers on the exhausts, an anti-submarine version with magnetic
anomaly detection gear and an anti-patrol boat version with a flexible
20 mm. cannon mounted to fire from the fuselage belly. The E13A1 was
extremely popular with its crews who preferred it to the more powerful
Zui-un and among the tasks performed by this floatplane in addition to
its primary role of reconnaissance were air-sea rescue, liaison, coastal
patrol, convoy escort and shipping attack. It remained in active service
throughout the Pacific war.
The Nichimo kit comes in a top open two part box with nicely done art work on the top. Inside the box are two bags containing all the parts. The parts are molded in a medium gray plastic and feature raised detail, mostly in the form of rivets. The rivets are about the same size as those seen on older 1/72 scale kits but I'm sure they are still a bit over sized. There was some light flash on the large parts but the smaller parts seemed to have a lot more along with the usual parting lines. Many of he parts on my kit had come loose from their sprues. My kit was pot marked with sink marks, primarily where there were locater pins or sockets molded into the opposite side. There was one on each side of the fuselage just below the wing trailing edge, on both top and bottom halves of the inner wing sections and some lighter ones on the wing outer sections. These are problematic if you want to retain the existing rivet detail, otherwise no worse than on any other kit. The flight control surfaces including the flaps are separate pieces and have very light renditions for the fabric surfaces. The wings have a sturdy mechanism that allows the wings to be folded if desired.The kit has only the barest amount of interior detail and what is there is compromised due to the fact that the kit was originally intended to have a prop spinning motor and the cockpit needed to be made very shallow to accommodate the battery and motor. Note that the motor is not included on newer releases of the kit. Crew figures are included but they are very out of scale as one of the photos below will illustrate. The kit comes with a beaching dolly to display the model. It also comes with two bombs. Altogether there are 80 parts by my count in gray. The clear parts are a bit thick and mine had some scratches due to being bagged with the rest of the parts but were reasonably clear. The canopy is in two pieces with the rear gunners position being separate. altogether there are three clear parts for a grand total of 83 parts. See photos below.
This shot illustrates how out of scale the figures provided in the kit are.
The decals include marking for two aircraft with the only difference being the tail number. The decals appear thin to the point of being translucent and the set in my kit was badly out of register. There is no stenciling included but the wing leading edge segments in yellow and various other stripes are include but I wouldn't recommend using them. See below.
The instructions are on a long sheet that was folded to fit the box. The folds don't correspond to the division of the assembly instructions and the instructions are oriented down the long direction of the page much line Japanese text is done. Included on all this is a brief history, a parts map, assembly instructions and one panel with painting and decal instructions. Colors are described by name only and there is a photo of the completed model.
After Market Goodies
It's a shame that this relatively important aircraft has not been given more attention and a better kit state of the art kit from Hasegawa or Tamiya in this scale would be most welcome. Unfortunately this is all we have now. It would benefit greatly from a nice interior detail set. Lone Star announced it was working on one but recent announcements from them would lead one to believe that it is not going to happen any time soon if ever. With that I decided to take a hint from Swanny's review of this kit and picked up CMK's resin set for the Aichi Val. I'm not sure how much of the set can be used but anything would be better than what the kit offers. The CMK set  is molded in a light tan resin. The parts are all nicely molded with sharp detail and little flash. It includes a floor and two side walls, two seats, radio rack and various other pieces. There were no pin holes or short shots to be found. The kit also includes a fret of photoetch with harnesses and belts, instrument panels, levers, trim wheels and other goodies. It also includes a vacuformed canopy which won't be of any use on this kit. See photos below.
This kit should be a challenge. The surface detail will most likely need to be redone either by scribing or using a rivet wheel. The Val cockpit will need to be modified and at best will only be a guestimate. Some drawings need to be found to help in this process. What ever I end up with it's not likely that any one I would show it to would know the difference any way. As a basic kit it should not provide any great challenge for most modelers but could require more skill if you wish to correct some of its inherent short comings. Unfortunately if you want a Jake in 1/48 its the only game in town.
Links to kit build or reviews
A review and build can be found here.
War Planes of the Second World War, Volume 6, Floatplanes by William Green
Back to the Floatplane pageUpdated 5/13/08