The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the A6M Zero, to meet the 14-Shi (14th year of the Showa reign, or 1939) official specification. It was to be a strictly local-defense interceptor, intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of manoeuvrability. The J2M was a sleek, but stubby craft with its oversized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with an extension shaft. Teething development problems stemming from the Kasei engine cooling system, and the main undercarriage members led to a slowdown in production.
The Raiden made its combat debut in June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Several J2Ms operated from Guam and Saipan and a small number of aircraft were deployed to the Philippines. Later, some J2Ms were based in Chosen airfields, Genzan (Wonsan), Ranan (Nanam), Funei (Nuren), Rashin (Najin) and Konan under Genzan Ku, for defence of these areas and fighting against Soviet Naval Aviation units.
Primarily designed to defend against the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the type was handicapped at high altitude by the lack of a turbocharger. However, its four-cannon armament supplied effective firepower and the use of dive and zoom tactics allowed it to score occasionally.
Insufficient numbers and the American switch to night bombing in March 1945 limited its effectiveness.
Released in 2011 the Hasegawa kit comes in a large top open box with the usual nice artwork on the top. Inside the box there are five bags. One large one contains most of the sprues molded in a light gray color. There are two small bags, one with a small sprue of gray parts and one with the large cowling. the clear parts are in a separate bag and as a bonus this kit includes a white metal standing pilot figure. As one might expect with a kit this new the molding and detail is state of the art. The surface detail consists of fine recessed panel lines and fastener detail. There are some raised detail where appropriate. There are some separate panels to be installed on the upper and lower wings. The finish is smooth and glossy and I could find to surface defects on any of the main airframe parts. The control surfaces are all molded in the neutral positions. The fabric surfaces are represented by rib tapes only, no sagging fabric effects. Parts with detail on both sides have only minimal parting lines to clean up. The only ejector pin marks that I found that will show are on the insides of the gear doors. These are light, will be partially covered and not all that easy to see and cleaning them up may damage raised detail in that area. The cockpit is well detailed and will suit most just needing some seat belts. As with many of their later kits a nicely detailed pilot figure is supplied. This one includes three heads, one with an oxygen mast, one without but with chin straps fastened and one with the chin straps loose. The engine is very detailed with push rods, exhaust stacks, intake manifold, engine fan and ducting but with the tight fitting cowling and the engine fan, very little of it will be seen. The kit will obviously be released in other versions and for this one the cowl machine gun ports must be filled. Pieces are supplied to do this but some seam filler will no doubt be needed in this area. The propeller blades are separate but keyed so they produce the correct angle. The tires are not weighted. A wing spar is provided to provide a proper dihedral as well as provide some strength to the thick wing. Due to the large diameter of the fuselage there are bulkheads supplied to maintain the fuselage shape and add strength as well. There is some cutting required on the leading edge of the wings for the gun installation. Poly caps are supplied for the propeller and mounting the wheels as well. As mentioned earlier some kits included a cast white metal figure of a standing pilot and that is shown below the sprue parts. See below.
The clear parts are thin and clear and free of distortions and the canopy can be displayed open or closed. Two windscreens are supplied and the differences between them are very slight but one is specifically called out for this kit. Also included are gun sight parts, what appears to be an armored glass and wing tip light lenses. see below.
The decals are the new Hasegawa style which features white that is white and not cream colored. They appear thinner than some Hasegawa decals but still look thick when compared to many of today's better decals. some stenciling is provided as well as instrument panel decals. The sheet provides marking for two aircraft. See below.
The instructions are a 12 page A4 sized booklet stapled together. page one has history and specifications in Japanese and English. Page two has a parts map and paint chart giving Gunze numbers and generic color names. Pages three through nine are assembly steps, pages ten and eleven are painting and marking diagrams and page twelve has decal instructions and the usual health and safety warnings. The kit with the bonus pilot figure also has a small sheet of painting instructions for the pilot.
After Market Goodies
First up is a set of replacement gear doors by Quickboost (#32075). Although the the photo doesn't show it they have a nice level of surface detail, are thinner than the kit parts and don't have ejector pin marks to clean up. See below.
Next is the Eduard Zoom PE set. While I feel that at this scale the IP is a bit one dimensional my shaky hands don't allow me to paint up raised detail to my satisfaction anymore and the lap belts and a few other items are useful as well.
Eduard makes several photo etched sets, an exterior detail set (32313) an interior detail set (32736) a color Zoom set (33105) and a big Ed set (Big3316) They also have a canopy mask set (JX137) and G-Factor makes a cast brass gear set (32023).
This is an excellent well detailed yet simple kit. By all accounts it an easy build but due to some of the cutting involved I would recommend it to modelers with a moderate and above level of experience.
Links to kit build or reviews
A build/review can be found here.
Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by R.J. Francillon
History from Wikipedia