Furthermore, I want a “plastic model” worth dreaming about, one where you can finish construction using the same process as if you were building the real aircraft!
I wonder exactly how much time has passed by since I embraced this longing.
Through the act of construction, it's possible to study the airframe structure, and understand the configuration and workings of various parts as they're being assembled. It's also possible to understand what kind of uses and tactics the strongest reciprocating engine fighter was designed, manufactured, and deployed for, simply from the equipped weapons.
Why the engine, the cockpit, the landing gear and the propeller took the forms that they did, why it was implemented in the season that it was, why it vanished so quietly. The time for these dreams of mine to be realized has finally arrived.
The time has finally come for all of the yearning feeling that has been poured into Tank's 152, all of the burning longing, to be fulfilled.
The first time in my life that I laid eyes on a plastic model airplane, I was still in elementary school. There were two, a twin engine light aircraft called a Piper by a toy maker called Marusan, and a Douglas B-66 jet bomber of which scale I don't know even to this day. A childhood friend of mine, a doctor's son in the same neighborhood, received them from someone as a present, and they were extremely detailed model airplanes, the like of which had never been seen before in those days.
For an elementary student of that time, when speaking of model airplanes, making light planes using wooden dowels, bamboo strips, and paper was the utmost, so just the fact that they were made from a high-tech material such as plastic was a surprising thing in and of itself.
A Piper Cherokee made of colorful yellow plastic, and a Douglass B-66 in coolly shining silver. Although they were small, their existences were so overwhelming that even to this day, I can vividly remember nearly losing myself in the shock that I felt.
After that, whether waking or sleeping, the head of my childhood self was filled with nothing else. Even when I went to school, my textbooks were filled with doodles of airplanes.
I'm sure that my friend took pity on such a severely addicted victim as myself, because one day, “Here!” And he gave me a plastic model assembly manual.
If I recall correctly, it was the assembly manual for the “Hayabusa.” In those days, plastic model assembly manuals were called blueprints, I think.
Of course I thanked him reverently, trembling all the while..
I was an elementary student, and all of a sudden, a blueprint depicting many detailed airplane illustrations! From that day on, tracing over those illustrations became my daily routine. The cowling, the body, the bombs on the wings. The propeller, spinning with a thunderous roar.
I don't remember exactly when it started, but ever since, even now when I look up into the blue sky and see the cumulonimbus clouds, it's become as if I can see the shadows of the airplanes passing between them, one by one.
When you entered middle school, it was possible to get a part-time job delivering newspapers or milk. By that time, I was collecting “Maru” and ”Senki Gahou (Illustrated Military Chronicles),” the most outstanding publications of those days, and I had begun to make rounds of the used bookstores with a friend.
Every day I would lose myself in military chronicles of “Oozora No Samurai (Samurai of the Heavens)” and “Katou Hayabusa Sentoutai (Katou's Hayabusa Squadron).” Information from special interest magazines such as “Kokuu Fan (Aviation Fan)” and “Kokuu Jouhou (Aviation Information)” would all come together to fuel a young boy's dreams of the sky.
At the same time, the age of plastic models' rise to popularity had begun. Weekly magazines called boys' magazines, such as “Shounen Magazine (Boy's Magazine)” and “Shounen Sunday (Boy's Sunday),” were also filled with military chronicles. Battleships and fighter planes abounded all over the place. And one day, I discovered some unfamiliar airplane packages displayed in the shop window of a model store that I always visited.
It was the package for what was the ultimate unobtainable prize for model fans in those days, a new release from the American company Revell Inc., the carrier fighter plane called the Skyraider.
Vividly depicted was the heroic image of a dark blue fighter in the very moment of landing on an aircraft carrier.
The image on the box burned itself into my eyes with such transcendent intensity it was as if I could even hear the roar of the aircraft. Even now, I can clearly recall the shock and burning impatience that I felt at the time.
The P-51 Mustang, a Monogram kit by the same American company, also loomed over me.
Waking or sleeping, those two planes continued to fly around the inside of my head. It was also around this time that jet airplanes began to join the reciprocating engine planes in the doodles in my notebooks.
Little by little, I also began to understand that many, many airplanes existed in the world. Japan, America, Germany, Britain, France, the Soviet Union – and the varied, individual aircrafts that represented each country. Each one filled to the brim with personality, and each one also full of unique appeal.
Japanese planes, elegant and beautiful. German planes, truly practical and exuding persistence. Luxurious and gorgeous American planes, and British planes that embodied British nobility. Even the rustic Soviet planes had their own unique flavor. Whichever plane from whichever era of whichever country, I never got tired of looking at the pictures.
And if possible, someday I wanted to try and create my own plastic models of these airplanes. This dreamlike feeling naturally guided me down the path of managing my own model store.
Besides managing my shop, I don't recall exactly when I started, but I began to build up my model airplane collection little by little, and it currently numbers around 7,000 pieces.
Starting with special interest publications and magazines, things like English books, decals, posters, and even real aircraft parts were, “Ta-da!” enshrined quite spectacularly in the “Gunroom,” the workshop that I built next to my home.
It's already been 50 years since then!
And now, my own company is producing model airplanes. In other words, one by one we are turning my long-cherished dreams into realities.
That is the SWS (Super Wing Series).
To start with, No. 1, a 1/32 scale model of a Japanese aircraft, “Shinden,” has been completed.
Zoukei-mura was originally established as a sculpting company to produce figures, but members who liked mechanics showed understanding of my interests, and after researching the latest documents, made the best Shinden in the world into a reality.
My dream, itself embodied in “Using plastic, that magical material, I want to create a real airplane,” had magnificently taken a 1/32 scale “form” called Shinden.
Furthermore, this Shinden was so substantial that it was as if the actual plane had turned into a plastic model, as the true details of this famous aircraft were successfully expressed, when previously all but the exterior was unfamiliar. Always encouraging and supporting each other, we continued development for two years. To that extent, the fact that we were able to make a model worth seeing and building was a great relief.
The truth about Shinden. It was popular all along within Japan, but starting with Britain and America, we have received many rave reviews from airplane modelers worldwide. In spite of difficult circumstances even obtaining the model, we have actually received words of praise from many hobbyists. It is something we are truly grateful for. And now, again, another part of my dream is finally, finally about to be realized.
That is the SWS No. 2, “The Blade of the Blue Sky,” Tank's Ta 152.
Ever since the planning began to progress, my old familiar fever has returned yet again. Whether waking or sleeping, I am assailed by the heroic figure of Tank's Ta 152 flying through the sky in my head; the gallantry of a Ta 152 in a nosedive, wanting to protect loved ones in its homeland.
And now, the launch date for the Ta 152 is finally drawing near.
Every members of every department is engaged in a monumental effort - rechecking the workmanship of each part, the decals, the instruction manual, and above all, aiming for the ultimate reproduction of the Ta 152.
Isn't it so very promising!! Isn't it so very delightful!! My heart is shrouded with such joy that I find it difficult to breathe from the excited shivers. I believe with no doubt that my dream is the same as the dream of airplane fans worldwide. It will truly be possible to get your hands on the Ta 152!
To all the fans of German airplanes, to all the fans of the Ta 152, I entreat you from the bottom of my heart to pre-order the Ta 152 with all due haste.
Hideyuki Shigeta, President, Zoukei-mura Inc.
|Product Name||Focke-Wulf Ta152H-1|
|Price||9500 JPY (+fee)|
|Model||Injection Plastic Model Kit, molded parts in 4 colors including clear (estimated).|
|Parts||182 parts (estimated)|
|Size||Length 338mm, Height 133mm, Width 452mm|
|Note||Glue is required for assembly.|
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