- Published on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 18:11 James Hatch
1:32 Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden ‘Jack’ Type 21
Catalogue # ST32
Available from Hobby Link Japan for ¥3,680 (approx. £30)
The rather dumpy looking Mitsubishi J2M was designed to attack slow overhead bomber formations, punching hard with its awesome array of wing-mounted cannon. Conceived in the late 1930’s, the prototype first flew in March, 1942. The huge and heavy Mitsubishi Kasei engine caused exceptional drag, and as a result was mounted much further back, meaning that the propeller needed to be mounted onto an extension shaft, running through the heart of the now sleeker cowl, and cooled via a fan mounted at the rear of a cooling tunnel, fore of the engine. Further problems dogged the Raiden, such as poor visibility, temperamental prop-pitch mechanism and a performance which was distinctly under-par. Despite issues, production of the J2M continued and the type was modified successively until the end of the war, with variation in weaponry and canopy type helping this beleaguered type. Pilots very much liked the Raiden, and it proved to be constant threat to the B-29 Superfortress streams. The version of Raiden which Hasegawa has chosen to produce is the J2M3 Type 21, which was fitted with four 20mm cannon.
This entirely new-tooled Raiden, as an initial production, comes with a bonus 20 page comic, fully illustrated by artist Seiho Tazikawa, called ‘Young Bloods on Lightning Bolt’. The comic is written in both Japanese and English, although is you read English, you’ll have to get used to the unusual style of starting at the back, and reading towards the front, as do the Japanese! Great comic though, and it won’t be included in subsequent productions of this kit.
Hasegawa employ their typical and easily recognisable style of top opening box with some great artwork of a lone J2M3 at high altitude. The box edges show a finished model in profile form, plus the rather good looking pilot figure supplied in this release. Yet again, Hasegawa have placed all but one of their regular sprues in a single bag. This does frustrate me no end, and as I expected, a few parts do have some minor scuffing that will need a little buffing to remove. The transparent parts are supplied within their own bag, and the first thing I notice are TWO versions of that large windscreen, more than hinting at other versions to follow. A quick inspection of the wings also shows drop-in panels, again, suggesting that we might just see this kit in another incarnation. Indeed, the instructions show one of the windscreens ‘greyed-out’. The large cowl is supplied within its own package too.
Ten sprues of medium grey styrene make up the bulk of the Raiden, whilst two clear sprues and one flexible polythene sprue complete the set. The first sprue out of the bag contains those rather bulky fuselage halves. The sheer breadth of the fuselage is immediately evident, and Hasegawa have thankfully designed this kit with a series of former/stiffeners at different locations within the fuselage in order to retain rigidity during construction. The fuselage exterior carries some extremely refined panel lining and other detail. As this is Hasegawa, no rivets are moulded. If you want them, add your own. I prefer this method. There is no fuselage cockpit wall detail as the cockpit itself is built as a module in its own right. The rudder is moulded integrally, and detail is crisp, although I can’t confirm the representation of this area.
The cockpit itself is very good, and built ‘out of box’ should provide you with a busy office. My references for a lot of the interior detail aren’t very good, but I can confirm that the instrument panel is spot on with the reference I do have. The instruments are well moulded and detailed, plus you get some excellent decals for them also. The seat however, looks a little thick and lacks some of the detail it should. No seatbelts are provided, so you’ll need to source your own. The cockpit sidewalls are very well detailed, and this level of detail extends to the broad floor, avionics, throttle quadrant, and over THIRTY parts which comprise this area. An optional seat cushion is supplied, in case you don’t use the pilot. The only oxygen hose supplied is designed to be attached to the pilot, so you’ll need to fix this issue if you leave him out. The rear structures within the glazed area contain lightening holes which also need to be drilled out in order to correct them.
The fuselage forward of the cockpit is a separate part, onto which the gun-sight and interior armoured windscreen are attached.
The wings of the Raiden are particularly well designed, plugging into a forward fuselage bulkhead in order to locate it properly and securely. This part of the wing design forms a spar module which is easily located to the lower wing half. The outer wing area also has a mini-spar to aid rigidity of construction. Hasegawa have really thought about the design of this kit, and it shows. Not being too familiar with the minutiae of the Raiden, I was a little sceptical about the design of the wheel well area, which simply looked like the old ‘jelly mould’ version you see on older kits, with a contained wall. My references do show the Raiden well to be just like that, with the exception that Hasegawa have given this wall no detail. To correct it, you need to cut a few holes in there. The rest of the well is pretty accurate, although the oleo are lacks some depth and would benefit from the plastic cut away from between ribs.
Wing surface detail is equally as good as the remainder of the exterior, exhibiting subtle panel lines and panel detail. The rear trailing edge, adjacent to the fuselage joint does have a sunken ‘dimple’ corresponding to a recess in the underside. Sanding and filler needed here. You must cut out the cannon ports on the leading edge of the wing, fit the barrels and add the fairings. This method perhaps hints at the other versions to follow, as the upper and lower weapons access panels are ‘drop-in’ style as previously mentioned. The tail surfaces are moulded with the elevators in position, with the same level and quality of detail as the rest of the airframe. Interlocking joints secure the tail surfaces together within the fuselage.
Two different propellers are included; one standard and one high-performance type. You have freedom to choose whichever you want, despite the scheme you use.
Detail throughout the model is everything we have come to expect from Hasegawa. The undercarriage is crisply moulded, with two-part oleo scissor, but there are no brake lines. At least this gives you the chance to add your own without the problem of removing a moulded-in one. The undercarriage doors are exquisite, BUT there are some fine ejector pin marks which will need to be removed, and they really aren’t in the best of positions to help you. A few parts have some of these marks, but apart from the aforementioned, they shouldn’t cause any issue. No flash or sink marks can be seen on any area (again, apart from the dimple mentioned above), and seams are very, very minimal. Generally, moulding is of the highest standard.
The clear parts are superbly moulded with wonderful framing and exceptional clarity. The fixed rear canopy is supplied as two halved, and there are two different versions depending on whether you intend to model the model with an open or closed canopy. The forward windscreen and sliding hood also have grab handles to be fitted within.
Hasegawa’s instructions are supplied on a 12 page, black and white publication, with fourteen construction sequences. Illustration is superb and clear, with sub drawings to clarify smaller construction areas. The two schemes are shown in black and white with excellent stencil and marking application drawings. Paint colours are given in GSI Creos and Mr Color codes.
A single decal sheet is supplied, carrying all national, individual and stencil markings. Printing is perhaps a little on the thick side, but it is in good and authentic colour, and in perfect registration. The two schemes given are:
- 352nd Naval Flying Group, Lt. J.G. Yoshihiro Aoki, 352-20 Omura A.F, March 1945
- 302nd Naval Flying Group, Lt. Susumu Ito, ƎD-152 Atsugi A.F, March 1945
So what do we think?
I do admit having some reservations over some areas of this kit, and I think they were unfounded. In the whole, I don’t think Hasegawa have done a bad job of this at all. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I want to push this further up my build-projects list. At HLJ’s prices, this is definitely reasonable value for money, and you should forget the hype as this really is a corking kit! Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review sample. To order this kit directly, click THIS link.