Mitsubishi A5M4-K "Claude"
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Mitsubishi A5M4-K was the trainer development of the first monoplane fighter to enter service with the Japanese Navy. The western code name for this aircraft was "Claude" (although it was sometimes referred to as "Sandy").
By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour, the single-seater A5M4 Claude fighter was in front-line service only with Vice-Admiral Kondo's Southern Force on the light fleet carrier Ryujo. The type was withdrawn shortly after Claudes from the Ryujo were used to attack a US seaplane tender on 8 December, 1941.
However, the A5M4-K two-seater proved a robust and reliable aircraft that continued in the training role for several years. Some sources claim that Claudes of training units were even used in suicide attacks during 1945!
Classic Airframes has once again come to the rescue of modellers in search of significant aircraft types that are unlikely to be released by a major manufacturer.
The Claude trainer comprises only 27 plastic parts on two sprues, plus 37 pale yellow resin parts and two sets of two vacformed windscreens.
Instructions are supplied on a single folded sheet in six steps with exploded view diagrams and helpful written construction tips.
A full-colour painting guide is also included with schemes for an all-orange machine of an unnamed training unit, and a green and orange aircraft of Kasumiguara Kokutai, Omura. It is interesting to note that panel lines on the colour, but I suspect that the panel lines on the kit are in fact correct. Decals are supplied on two small separate sheets (click the thumbnail to the left to view the decal image full-size). Mine are in perfect register.
The plastic parts will be familiar to anyone who has built a Classic Airframes kit. The styrene is a shiny light grey and slightly soft, but surface detail is admirably crisp. Panel lines are engraved and I like the fabric texture of the control surfaces.
There is a little flash present on parts but nothing that five minutes with the back of a hobby knife won't fix. Large ejector pins on the inner surfaces of parts will be equally simple to remove. Before assembly, major parts may benefit from a quick sanding with 1000 grit paper and a polish.
Cowl flaps are moulded shut as part of the engine cowl halves.
Classic Airframes' Claude looks like a fairly quick build for a moderately experienced modeller. You'll only use 23 plastic parts, and the resin parts primarily contribute to the cockpit and engine. In examining the parts breakdown of this kit, I would make the following recommendations when approaching construction:
Classic Airframes' A5M4-K Claude is another interesting subject. The parts supplied will render an accurate and detailed model.
Anyone with some experience of building limited run, multi-media kits should achieve a very nice result straight from the box.
Thanks to Jules Bringuier of Classic Airframes for the review sample. Classic Airframes kits are available in Australia via JB Wholesalers and worldwide through hobby retailers.
Review and Images Copyright © 2000 by Brett