Kit No. JS-055:250
Decals: One version – Imperial Japanese Navy
Comments: Older kit; raised panel lines; early World War II Japanese reconnaisance seaplane
In 1932 the Imperial Japanese Navy sought a replacement for its Type 90-3 Reconnaissance Seaplane, which had been built as the Kawanishi E5K. The resulting three-seat Kawanishi E7K1 was an equal-span biplane of conventional design, powered by a 462kW Hiro Type 91 engine. First flown on February 6, 1933, the prototype was delivered to the Japanese Navy three months later for service trials, being flown in competition against the Aichi AB-6 developed to meet the same requirement. The E7K1 was ordered into production as the Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane in May 1934, entering service in early 1935, and quickly proving popular for its ease of handling.
However, the Type 94’s in-line Hiro engine was unreliable, and although late production E7K1’s had a more powerful version of the Hiro 91, this offered no improvement. During 1938, Kawanishi built an E7K2 prototype which, generally similar to the E7K1, replaced the Hiro engine with a Mitsubishi Zuisei 11 radial. Flown for the first time in August 1938, the E7K2 was ordered into production three months later under the designation Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 2, the original version then becoming the Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1. Production of the E7K1 totalled 183 (57 built by Nippon), and of the E7K2 about 350 (some 60 built by Nippon).
As a type the E7Ks saw extensive use from 1935 until the beginning of the Pacific War, when the E7K1s were relegated to second-line duties. The E7K2s, however, continued in first-line service until 1943, and both versions were used in kamikaze operations in the closing stages of the war. During the second half of 1942, when Allied codenames were allocated to Japanese aircraft, the E7K2 became known as “Alf.”
The Kawanishi Type 94 E7K1 is molded in white and consists of 47 injection molded parts. It also includes a display stand, a choice feature of some older Hasegawa kits. The cockpit is basic with three crew figures and seats, but no control sticks, instrumentation, or decals that might be used as a substitute. It is apparent from the cowling that the E7K1 has the older, in-line Hiro engine mentioned in the history above, as opposed to the later, more reliable Mitsubishi radial engine that served as the powerplant for the E7K2. There are a pair of windshields for the two forward crew stations, and a machine gun for the rear gunner’s position. In addition, there are two windows for the mid-section of the aircraft for the observer’s use. There are two large pontoons and what appear to be two bombs to be mounted on the belly that are in the 250 lb. range.
- Virtual Aircraft Museum (www.avistar.org)