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Tamiya's 1/48 Mitsubishi G4M Type 11
Dressing Betty

by Michael Novosad

Mitsubishi Isshikirikko Type 11 (Betty)


Tamiya's 1/48 scale G4M Betty is available online from



Tamiya's 1/48 scale Mitsubishi Betty kit is a large model when completed, and represents a historically significant aircraft from World War II. I recall reading that before the war Luftwaffe officials toured the plant where the Betty’s were being built, and commented to their Japanese hosts they could not believe the Betty fuselage was for a twin engine bomber.

The early models of this aircraft were not equipped with armor plating for crew protection, or self-sealing fuel tanks, perhaps due to the Japanese military contempt for their enemies. The military specification called for an aircraft with a high speed and great range. To meet those requirements certain sacrifices were necessary. The criteria was later changed when better Allied aircraft and skilled air crews came onto the scene. The early Betty was soon called the “Flying Cigarette Lighter” for its propensity to burn when struck with incendiary ammunition.

The aircraft that I decided to build was instrumental in the sinking of the British warships Repulse and Prince of Wales in the opening days of the Pacific conflict. I liked the looks of the two-tone color camouflage, plus the poor quality of Japanese paint would offer a weathering challenge. This article is more about painting rather than building.


One of the first things that I did was the research. This task resulted in a checklist of sorts for the features and details that I wanted to include in the build. I also created a separate checklist for the painting of the model starting with the interiors, and culminating in the exterior painting phases. I listed the paints and mixes, along with thinner information, and used a checklist format to track my progress. Next, I traced the outlines of the wings, stabilizers and fuselage halves on white paper, and created the camouflage patterns. Each color was noted on the stencils to avoid confusion later. Complicated? Not really. Necessary? You bet!

Tamiya paints were used throughout this build, with the only exception being Testor's Model Master Non-Buffing Aluminum for certain exposed metal parts, including propellers and weapons. I used 91% isopropyl alcohol to thin the Tamiya paints. The Model lMaster went on straight from the bottle.




Cockpit Assembly

The interior compartments were assembled per the kit instructions. A base coat of Tamiya Deep Green, XF-26 was applied to all surfaces. Next, Tamiya XF-22, RLM-2 was misted over the surfaces. allowing the deep green to be just barely covered in the recessed areas. This, in my opinion, creates “shadows” and scale depth to the components. After a 24 hour drying time an oil wash was applied to add further depth and to blend the colors even more. A very light dry-brushing with Rub-n-Buff Silver was applied to the various high points of the metal surfaces.

Seat cushions were painted with Tamiya Deep Brown, and then dry-brushed with Model Master Leather. Photo-etched seat belts were then added to the crew seating.

Clear Parts

The clear parts were first dipped in Future floor wax and allowed to dry for 48 hours. Tamiya tape was used to mask the clear portions. The clear parts were fixed in place using Krystal Kleer applied with a round tooth pick. I left the clear nose and tail cones off for now, but closed off the opening with tape and paper toweling to protect the interior surfaces from paint over-spray.

Engines Assembly

The engine parts were first airbrushed with Tamiya Flat Black, and when dry were dry-brushed with Rub-n-Buff Silver. After a 24 hour drying time an oil wash was applied. Ignition wires were added by using fine copper wire.

Fuselage Assembly

Care must be taken when assembling the two fuselage halves: the top and bottom seams are quite long and must be properly aligned to avoid filling and sanding. Some rescribing is required to restore various panels line lost during the assembly. The bomb bay can be configured with a closed set of doors, or with the configuration of the torpedo attack aircraft the closed doors include a center portion that must be removed.

After repeated scribing the center portion of the doors can be removed, and the weapons bay can be completed. Care must be taken when fixing this part in place to avoid steps between the parts, which would of course require filling and sanding.

Wing Assembly

The wings and engine nacelles are comprised of eight parts per wing. The interiors of the engine nacelles were painted earlier and assembled per the kit construction. The only deviation here was the addition of rear bulkheads in each engine nacelle to eliminate the unfinished areas. Wings were assembled less the flaps which would be painted and installed later.


I planned to install the flaps in a dropped configuration and wanted to paint the normally concealed surfaces with a bare metal finish. I also added lightening holes in the ends of the flaps for added realism, plus this allowed me to insert tooth picks in the flaps to be used as holding tools during the process.

The wing-tip navigation lights were cut out by scribing with a sharp #11 blade. These lenses would be replaced later in the build.


The kit comes with a full compliment of hand-held machine guns and cannon, plus a load of bombs and a torpedo. Since I was modeling a torpedo attack aircraft the bombs were relegated to the parts box. The machine guns and cannon were first painted Tamiya Flat black, and when dry I tried something a bit different (for me at least). I used a soft graphite pencil and by sanding the graphite created a fine dust. Using an old paint brush I dry-brushed each hand-held weapon with the graphite dust. The graphite created a shiny metallic surface which what I was after. I believe that Jack Stutting offered this idea to me some time ago, and this was my first opportunity to apply this technique. Thanks, Jack!

The torpedo components were painted unassembled. The fins, propellers and warhead were painted flat black, whereas the body was painted Model Master Non-Buffing Aluminum. After everything was dry the various parts were assembled.


Painting and Markings



First, the entire assembled model was primed with PlastiKote, white sandable primer. All panel lines were preshaded with Tamiya flat black. There are lots of panel lines and this task was quite time-consuming. I applied flat white in the area of the fuselage band, and when dry masked this band with Tamiya masking tape. The aircraft undersides were first airbrushed with Tamiya Medium Grey XF-54, then a mottled application of IJN Grey XF-12 was applied in a very random manner. Once this had dried for 24 hours a thin wash of burnt umber and sienna was applied over the undersides to blend the acrylic paints. After this had cured for another 24 hours the undersides were masked completely.

I applied all the masks to the topside of the model to assure the proper alignment. I first removed the brown mask and applied the red-brown paint. The first application of this color was thinned with a few drops of flat white. The next application was further thinned with flat white and applied to the center area of the various panels. Next, this final mixture was reduced with thinner at a ratio of about 1:20 (paint to thinner) and applied to the brown areas to blend the first two applications.


After the red-brown had dried for 24 hours the masking was reapplied to cover this first color and the green masks were removed. The IJN green was applied in a similar manner, being cut with flat white. All masking was removed from the topsides. National markings were then airbrushed onto the wings and fuselage. See below.

Tamiya Deck Tan XF-55 was thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol at a ratio of 1:20 (paint to thinner) and random streaking was applied across the wings from front to rear. The fabric surfaces were also sprayed with this thin mixture to lighten those surfaces. This results in a very subtle affect.

Chalk pastels were applied to the panel lines with a paint brush. I wanted to keep this affect rather subtle so I scrubbed the dark grey pastel stick with the paint brush bristles and rubbed the panels parallel to the lines. A small amount of pastel dust was distributed in the panel line and along the edges of the recess.

Exhaust staining was done first by airbrushing highly thinned deck tan and light grey near the outlets of the four exhausts, then a similarly thinned flat black was airbrushed from the exhausts backwards. This effort requires several sweeps of the airbrush to properly build up the staining. Once completed the exhaust stains are subtle, but noticeable.

Decaling and Weathering

The only decals used in this build were the tail aircraft numbers. The white fuselage band and all Hinomarus were painted using Tamiya tape or Frisket masks. A base coat of flat white was used below all Himomarus, then a mixture of red, yellow and brown was airbrushed over the white base.

Once the model had been completely painted and allowed to thoroughly cure I began the weathering process. Using a Prismatic silver pencil I began to add scratches and scuff marks at several of the panel junctures and areas where ground crews may walk while servicing the aircraft. This was a very time-consuming process. The silver pencil was sharpened frequently.


The last step was to use a silver paint marker with a fine point to add “new” paint chips. This was carefully not over done. The silver marker was also used to apply the silver base to the wing navigation lights located on the top of the wings.

Problems and Solutions

1. Light grey paint and masking tape.

The first problem I faced was self-inflicted (I should have known better!!). In the past I have always sealed the lighter paints with Future before applying the masking. In this build I decided to forego that protection. When the drafting tape was removed the light grey undersides exhibited a light etching (for want of a better term). I reapplied the IJN Grey in a random manner, and most of the etching seemed to disappear. I do not know what it is, but the lighter colors (in my experience enamels and acrylics seem to react in the same manner) are affected by the masking tape, both lo-tack drafting and Tamiya.

2. Wing Flaps Installation

The flaps were dry-fitted during the build process and seemed to match up quite closely, but I took care not to insert the three flap-mounted tabs fully into the respective wing slots as the fit appeared to be tight, and I wanted to paint the flap separately from the wings. During the final assembly the tabs proved to be quite tight, and even with trimming the fit took some effort. I managed to break all three tabs on one side and resorted to applying liquid cement with a Touch-n-Flow applicator and left the model upside down while the cement cured.



As always it should go without saying, but the Tamiya kits for me are always a joy to build and paint. The fit is normally quite good, and the details are adequate for my tastes.


Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko “Betty” units of WW II-Osprey Combat Aircraft #22.


Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Michael Novosad IPMS Number 36721
Page Created 31 July, 2007
Last Updated 01 January, 2008

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