Old Man Blog No. 38 : Uhu Edition, Episode 1

Happy New Year!

In this new year, Zoukei-mura's SWS will steadily advance to draw ever closer to your modeler spirit!!
We humbly ask for your regard and support this year as well.

- Contents -
  • * An actual Super Merlin engine has arrived at Volks headquarters!!
  • * For all of our SWS fans and Uhu fans, I have an apology and an announcement!
  • * The problem became clear at the final prototype stage.

Look, look, look!! An actual Super Merlin engine has finally arrived at Volks headquarters!!
Just look at its strength! Perhaps it's the sense of sheer presence carried by the real thing, but the way that it seems to press in on you is just unbelievable~!!
It's so cool that I just don't have words, so utterly cool it's almost scary! All of my staff members were practically drooling!
If you should ever have occasion to venture near Volks headquarters, please do come and see the engine. It will definitely make you want to build the SWS Mustang!!

* For all of our SWS fans and Uhu fans, I have an apology and an announcement!

I'm sure that right about now, your mind is filled with thoughts of the Uhu.
Or perhaps your sight is preoccupied 24/7 by visions of the Uhu, flying about right before your eyes.

My sincerest sympathies. Please bear with this state of being just a little while longer!

After all, this is me writing this – I, who as usual, from morning until evening, no matter what I see and no matter what I think about, am afflicted to near torment as everything begins to resemble some portion or part of the SWS Uhu. Or rather, on the contrary, perhaps I should regard it as a pleasure instead?! And so I enjoyably pass my days.

I want to have the 1/32 Uhu finished as an SWS kit and send it openly out into the world as soon as possible, but even now as we are in the final stage of kit development, I have discovered a section of the kit that I wish to improve no matter what. As a result, there is a possibility that the sales availability of the Uhu may be slightly delayed.

"I want to see the SWS Uhu with my own eyes, as quickly as possible."

Trust me, I feel the same way, and understand your feelings completely. I beg you, for just a short while, please indulge my selfishness and forgive us the time we need to make this improvement.

Therefore, in this entry in my Old Man Blog, I would like to show you all, in my own way, what needs to be improved on the SWS Uhu.

It is a critical section, both as a scale model and also as a recreation of the Uhu, so please allow me your attention and follow along with me as I explain.

* Photo①:Smithsonian Uhu, left side of the nose
Please direct your attention to the glass at the upper end of the front canopy section.
It appears to be wedged into the frame quite tightly. The shape also appears to be pointed toward the rear.

* Photo②:Smithsonian Uhu, right side of the nose, shot from above at an angle
Please direct your attention to the curve of the canopy's leading edge.
The glass shows itself in a beautiful curve, but you can tell that the edge is just barely mounted onto the the armored deck (front part) of the nose.
Also, please take note that when compared to the photographer standing next to it, the nose construction is surprisingly compact.

* Photo③:Smithsonian Uhu, right front side of the nose, shot from even further above
Please take note of the fact that the fuselage cross-section is unexpectedly slender.
The glass is mounted so that it runs cleanly along the nose, but doesn't the fuselage appear somewhat long? Perhaps this is caused by the camera lens, but this picture gives a slightly different impression than what I remember of the actual aircraft.

* Photo④:Front of the nose, shot from slightly above
Please direct your attention to the slender fuselage nose, which gives the impression of being perhaps just slightly wider than the width of the pilot's shoulders or so? If you only look at this photo, it appears as if the front of the nose is composed almost entirely of glass. Truly, the more photos are taken, the more this glass begins to look different to me.

* Photo⑤:Photo of the improved canopy section
This is the entire canopy part, shot from an angle similar to that of Photo ③.
We settled on this as the final shape, judging that this line was the closest to that of the actual aircraft when it came to the presentation of the SWS kit.

* Photo⑥:Photo of a slightly opened canopy section, shot from an angle similar to that of Photo ③
Please take note that although there is bulletproof glass inside the window frame, the frame itself is nonetheless quite thick. Furthermore, the SWS kit has two different part options, one in which the glass and window frame are built as separate parts, and a more traditional option in which the frame and glass are integrated into a single part. Please build according to your own preference.

* Photo⑦:Front of the nose, shot from slightly above
It appears to differ considerably from the actual aircraft pictured in Photo ④, but whether that can be called a trick of the camera lens, or an optical illusion, or just truly difficult to express in model form, I believe that the proof of the Development Team's hard work can be understood from this photo.


* The problem became clear at the final prototype stage.

Now, for the SWS Uhu, in order to completely recreate that unique shape which is so complicated and mysterious, we had to use a sliding metal mold technique for many sections.

That method worked well for the majority of parts, so development was progressing well, but when we came to the final stage, it was the strangest thing – the leading edge of the canopy section, the most conspicuous part of our Uhu recreation, appeared to have been cast into a shape that we had not intended for that mold.

For SWS development, we use the actual aircraft as the foundation to plan and execute the most beautiful design we can, as close to our many reference photos as possible. We faithfully followed that design to produce the metal molds, but this time, due to a peculiarity in the upper half of the metal mold used to recreate the complex curves of the unique Uhu, the curves of the upper and lower edges of the critical canopy part ended up being cast in shapes slightly more pointy than originally designed.
(If you are one of the people who viewed the finished prototype model at the SWS Regular Meeting or other occasions, it may be that, just like myself, you already bore concerns regarding this section.)

And thus, due to the nature of my personality, I reached the conclusion that there was no way that we could possibly offer this kit for sale as it was. (My sincerest apologies to everyone who already pre-ordered!!)

As a result, we wiped the slate clean on the metal mold for the canopy, and once again used our reference pictures of the actual aircraft to remake the part from scratch. (Boohoohoo...)

When I think of all of the time and effort, as well as great cost, that we had already invested, I feel truly heartbreaken. However, this kit is literally epic in scale, and whether it's simply as a scale model, or as a symbol of our challenge for the title of greatest aircraft model ever, it will surely make its mark on history – it's no time for trifling indecision!

Even if we are struck by a storm of boos, we must show our Zoukei-mura spirit!

That's right!! Everything is my fault!!

And so it came to be that the surfaced parts for the new canopy are displayed before you in the photos above.

What do you think?!
With this, we have achieved a canopy nearly approximate to that of the actual aircraft that we researched.
From here, we will once again produce new metal molds for the kit.

Due to these circumstances, and this is ultimately only an estimate, I anticipate that the expected release date will be delayed by approximately two weeks.

Goodness. If you are someone who has researched actual airplanes, then this is something that you have already known for a while, but in the confined (?) space within a museum, it becomes necessary to photograph huge structures such as airplanes from a very short distance away. No matter how we tried, we were forced to take pictures from very close to our subject, and whether it's a subtle distortion due to the camera lens, or just a different perspective from the human eye, the photographed object came to differ in appearance from the actual object.

I say the following being already prepared for misunderstandings: if you want to take a picture of a model that was produced in 1/32 scale under the same conditions in which you took a picture of the actual aircraft, then, just like with the aircraft itself, it becomes necessary (?) to take the picture with a tiny camera that has been reduced to 1/32 scale (if such a thing even exists in this world).

Particularly if your subject is a mass of eccentric design like the Uhu, it's not unusual for shapes to look different no matter how many pictures you take, and it can only be called a hard nut to crack stuck in a pile of hard nuts!

Therefore, although the Development Team takes an extensive number of photos from as many different angles as possible, the reality is that there is naturally a limit to the range of photos that we can take.

Areas like this nose section, where the entire nose is constructed in a series of complex curves, are especially tough nuts, and quite tricky.

However, even saying that, for a 1/32 scale kit, somewhere along the line a decision must be made regarding the design of such areas.

And although we have finally become unable to adhere to our crucial release date, we feel this section is one that we simply cannot overlook. We will be very happy if you could please allow the Development Team just this short amount of time.

Moreover, I feel in my heart the sincere belief that due to this improvement, we have been able to create an Uhu that is even cooler than before, and twice as appealing.

On top of your expectation for the improved canopy, please look forward to the finished SWS Uhu, and please wait for it just a little while longer.

Furthermore, as an apology for the delayed release date due to the canopy improvement, in addition to the crew figure set that I told you about before, we will be including the extra parts for an Uhu wingtip navigation light set as a special free present to everyone who pre-ordered.

These parts were produced as the result of a request from a passionate Uhu fan who lives in France, and were made by dissolving red and green pigments into transparent resin, resulting in very realistic wingtip navigation light parts.

The parts are still in the prototype stage, but our present to you will consist of parts finished to a high standard of quality. Please look forward to it!!
(I plan to show you photos of these wingtip navigation light parts in my next blog entry.)

Of course, this free present will be given to everyone who pre-orders the Uhu within the pre-order period.

This is good news to all of you who were considering placing a pre-order soon!

I think that this blog entry appears to contain only somewhat unfortunate news, but this is by no means bad news at all – rather, it's good news!
(This is the point where I imagine the sound of applause from all passionate Uhu fans!!)

As proof of that, I myself have fallen even further in love with this SWS Uhu, so I firmly believe that you will surely also give your approval for this improvement.

With that, in my next blog entry, I would like to give you the details regarding these wingtip navigation light parts, as well as show you the highlights of the SWS Uhu kit.

Please do look forward to it!!

And for all of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere, where it continues to be cold every day.
Please take care to avoid illness.


Hideyuki Shigeta
President, Zoukei-Mura


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