The Story of the Gekko (Moonlight)
It was to be another long-range harassment of the Japanese outpost of Rabaul, New Britain Island. In the early hours of May 21, 1943, the B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 43d Bombardment Group moved inland, putting themselves in range of Japanese fighters. The gunners scanned the darkness of the night sky for enemy aircraft, but it seemed clear. Then, just before the bomb run could begin, enemy fire pierced the underbelly of the bomber and struck the engines, sending the B-17 crashing into the sea. The fatal shots came from the 20mm guns of fixed-angle, oblique-firing system mounted on a Japanese «Gekko» (Moonlight) night fighter, that the US would later name, «Irving». Its development goes back to 1938, when the Japanese Navy was planning a twin-engine fighter to support its long-range bombers. The aircraft was required to be capable of higher speeds and longer range than the «Zero», and equal to it in terms of maneuverability. The Nakajima Company brought forward a prototype, the 13-Shi Twin-engine Land-Based Fighter (J1N1), which used two 1000hp «Sakae» engines, one on each of its sturdy main wings. Since it proved inferior to single-engine fighters of the time, it was adopted as a Type 2 Land-based Reconnaissance Aircraft (J1N1-R). However, the need to counter the nocturnal B-17 bombers in the Southwest Pacific led to its conversion into a night-fighter. This transformation came about by positioning the armaments to fire at an oblique angle from the line of flight, allowing the fighters to swiftly strike the bombers while maintaining a parallel course and speed with a target either above or below.
- 1/48 scale recreation is ideal to appreciate the delicate curvatures and subtle detailing of this legendary IJN aircraft.
- Oblique guns and ammunition cases recreated with stunning accuracy. Gun inspection hatch can be modeled in the open or closed position.
- Model comes with markings for two aircraft and two finely sculpted figures.
The Type 99 20mm No. 2 Fixed Machine Guns
The Type 99 20mm No. 2 Fixed Machine Guns were mounted obliquely on the Gekko. These fearsome weapons could be loaded with about 100 bullets each (but usually, only 90 were loaded due the rigidity of the springs). Two of these guns were mounted on the upper fuselage and two on the lower fuselage for a total of four. However, there were some aircraft with three guns on top but without the lower guns.