David Knights' Weblog

September 5, 2022

The Pearl Harbor Kates (Pt.1)

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 9:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Because I want to have a Pearl Harbor collection, I recently started a (mostly) out of the box build of the Airfix B5N2 Kate.  Little did I know that the markings of the Kate (particularly the torpedo carrying Kates) was such a confused area.

I figured that, given the many Pearl Harbor photos from the Japanese perspective, that there would be no questions as to the markings of these aircraft.  I was wrong.  Boy, was I wrong.

Let me give you just one example.  The photo below is a frame from a film showing the strikes of the Kido Butai in the Indian Ocean in 1942.  It is a fairly famous series of photos.  

Fuchida 1

Note that this reference book mis-identifies the aircraft as returning from the Pearl Harbor Strike.  As such there are some decals or marking references that suggest that Fuchida’s aircraft should look like this for Pearl Harbor.  This is not correct.  I believe that is should appear as an unweathered version of this aircraft.  Something like this.

Fuchida 2


Here is another Pearl Harbor strike aircraft. EII-307.  This is a famous one from a series of photos or film still grabs.

307 #1

This aircraft has been depicted in multiple ways in the Kate references.    Here is one way.


I don’t think this is right.  The Red on the tail does not match the photo.  In addition , I don’t see the two tone green and brown anywhere on the photo.

Here is another reference that depicts the aircraft in the same way.  Frankly, I think it is just copied from the previous reference.


Again, I don’t see evidence of the solid red tail, nor the two tone Brown and green camo.


307#4Again, another photo from the same series or stills from the same film of the same aircraft.  Do you see evidence for what is depicted above in the side-views?  I don’t.

I don’t think the tail is red.  I think the center section where the code is painted is solid green.  I think the rest of the tail used to be ame-iro (the taupe color similar to RLM 02 that quickly faded to a gray) and was overpainted in a not totally opaque green.

EII-307 isn’t a torpedo bomber, but I use it to illustrate my position that much of the info on the Pearl Harbor Kates is wrong.

Part 2 follows at some point.


  1. Most of Kaga’s Kates had brown tails, and I think Zuikaku’s EII-307 was a transfer from Kaga. Look through those files I sent you, they should be in there.

    Comment by Jeff Groves — September 6, 2022 @ 9:05 pm

  2. That is what I had heard.

    Comment by dknights — September 6, 2022 @ 9:40 pm

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