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Guillow's Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Kit #507
Wingspan: 40"

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The Nakajima A6M2-N (Navy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber) was a single-crew float seaplane based on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 11. The Allied reporting name for the aircraft was Rufe.

The A6M2-N floatplane was developed from the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Type 0, for the purposes of supporting amphibious operations and defending remote bases. It was based on the A6M-2 Model 11 fuselage, with a modified tail and added floats. This aircraft was the brainchild of Shinobu Mitsutake, Nakajima Aircraft Company's Chief Engineer, and Atsushi Tajima, one of the company's designers. A total of 327 were built, including the original prototype.

The aircraft was deployed in 1942, referred to as the "Suisen 2" ("Hydro fighter type 2"), and was only utilized in defensive actions in the Aleutians and Solomon Islands operations. Such seaplanes were effective in harassing American PT boats at night, and they were very difficult to detect, even with primitive radar. Close misses killed officers and crews of boats such as PT 105. They could also drop flares to illuminate the PTs which were vulnerable to destroyer gunfire, and depended on cover of darkness. Since the boats left a phosphorescent wake which was visible from the air, they would leave their engines in idle to minimize this. It was primarily for this reason that John F. Kennedy's PT 109 was caught off guard in idle and rammed by the destroyer Amagiri, unable to maneuver out of the way in time.

The seaplane also served as an interceptor for protecting fueling depots in Balikpapan and Avon Bases (Dutch East Indies) and reinforced the Shumushu base (North Kuriles) in the same period. Such fighters served aboard seaplane carriers Kamikawa Maru in the Solomons and Kuriles areas and aboard Japanese raiders Hokoku Maru and Aikoku Maru in Indian Ocean raids. In the Aleutian Campaign this fighter engaged with Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The aircraft was used for interceptor, fighter-bomber, and short reconnaissance support for amphibious landings, among other uses.

Later in the conflict the Otsu Air Group utilized the A6M2-N as an interceptor alongside Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu ("Rex") aircraft based in Biwa lake in the Honshu area.

The last A6M2-N in military service was a single example recovered by the French forces in Indochina after the end of World War II. It crashed shortly after being overhauled.

The large float and wing pontoons of the A6M2-N degraded its performance by about 20%, enough that the A6M2-N was not usually a match for even the first generation of Allied fighters.

Japan was the only nation to produce and deliver into service float-equipped single-seat interceptor fighter seaplanes (the British Spitfire float adaptation did not progress beyond the experimental stage). When in 1940 the Japanese navy initiated the design of a new interceptor seaplane (the Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu, or 'Rex'), the need was also expressed for a stopgap aircraft and the Nakajima company was instructed in February 1941 to develop a float-equipped version of the excellent Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero naval interceptor. As evidence of Japan's long-standing plans for territorial expansion through the Pacific, it had been recognized that in the inevitable 'island-hopping' war there would be few ready-made air bases from which to provide air cover during the occupation of the smaller islands, and that the construction of runways would be impractical. Although equipped with almost a dozen aircraft-carriers, the Japanese would be unable to use them in support of every single island invasion.

After removing the wheel landing gear and fairing over the wheel wells of a standard A6M2, Nakajima mounted a large float under the fuselage by means of a forward-raked central pylon and a pair of V-struts below the cockpit; two cantilever stabilizing floats were also mounted under the wings. The standard Zero gun armament was retained, and the first prototype was flown on 7 December 1941, the day on which the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor. Entering production as the Nakajima A6M2-N and codenamed 'Rufe' by the Allies, the new fighter still displayed a creditable performance, being first issued to the Yokohama Kokutai and deployed to Tulagi in the Solomons where the Japanese had first landed during the Battle of the Coral Sea. However, almost all the 'Rufes' were destroyed in a strike on the seaplane base by 15 Grumman F4Fs from USS Wasp on 7 August 1942. Better success attended the 'Rufes' which fought in the later Aleutian campaign, but losses soared as soon as American fighter strength could be built up. During the final year of the war, when American heavy bombers and naval aircraft opened their great attacks on the Japanese homeland, 'Rufes' of the Otsu Kokutai, based on Lake Biwa, were thrown into the battle as interceptors in defence of Central Honshu but suffered very heavy losses. Total production of 'Rufe' amounted to 327 before being halted in September 1943.

[IMAGE The Japanese had a great deal of difficulty getting good quality pigments and binders for paint during the war and their aircraft finishes were not very durable. Many of the references to green camouflage jobs with silver or grey oversprayings that were actually from pictures of solid color aircraft with the paint flaking off! The Rufe on the box art, (Actually a Zero on floats. The tail is wrong.) has a Kana "Ko" at the beginning of the tail number, indicating that it was assigned to the "Koku Gijitsu Sho", the naval Air Technical Arsenal at the Yokosuka Navy Yard. This was a sort of Japanese version of Wright Field or Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Any Japanese aircraft used for experimental purposes would have been all over orange with a black cowl until US Carrier aircraft began strafing airfields on the home islands in late 1944 and early 1945 when they would have had green or blue camouflage paint applied to the upper surfaces.

[IMAGE NOTE: There were never any mauve/purple colored A6M2N's (Rufe's). I have no idea where that story surfaced but it isn't true. A6M2's were primed with a russet red on exterior surfaces and then color coats put on top. Now, if top coats wore off, as they most likely did in the South Pacific, then the red would probably show through in spots/areas. Add in the sun fade factor and it would turn a shade of light red/pink...but not mauve or purple and certainly not over the entire aircraft.--KittyFritters, famous aircraft historian, Model designer, builder and manufacturer...

And then from:

http://modelscale.free.fr/profils/Rufemauve_P/

Voici la queue d'un Zéro retrouvé il y a quelques années dans une île du Pacifique . L'apprêt rouge brique est très résistant car il est encore là après 50 ans de moussons et autres intempéries. Notez que l'immatriculation de l'appareil -176 est encore visible alors que le camouflage gris N10 ne persiste guère que par endroits.

TRANSLATION: Here's the tail of a Zero discovered several years ago on a Pacific island. The brick-red primer is very resistant because it's still there after 50 years of Monsoons and other weather effects. Note that the ID number (176) is still visible, whereas the the Camouflage Grey No. 10 is hardly hanging on except in a few places.

The author on this site calls this his hypothesis as to the origin of the widespread stories about the existence of a mauve version of the "Rufe". He concludes that this belief began by witnesses seeing old Zero wreckage.

The Build: CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE...

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Junkers JU-87B Stuka Guillow's Kit #508

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