November 2022

Part 1 - Ki48-II Sokei (Lily)

Part 2 - J2M3 Raiden (Jack)

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Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden

Allied reporting name: Jack

302nd Kokutai, Imperial Japanese Navy, Atsugi Naval Air Station, 1945

Hasegawa 1/72 .

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Development of the J2M Raiden (Thunderbolt) began in the late 1930s.  In a departure from previous IJN philosophy of range and manoeuvrability, in its role as a local defence interceptor, the Raiden’s specification emphasised speed, rate of climb and firepower, even allowing for some armour plating. To improve aerodynamics, the engine was mounted relatively far back, with an extended shaft and cowling allowing a thinner nose profile with an engine cooling fan within the cowling.

Difficulties with the engine and the undercarriage, as well as competing priorities for the Zero fighter meant that the J2M did not enter service until 1943 and even then in limited numbers.  These delays, disappointment with under-par performance and problems of both reliability and logistic spares availability led the IJN to adopt the N1K2-J Shinden-Kai (George) fighter instead.  Nevertheless, low rate production continued and the J2M3 variant of the "Jack" finally came into its own in the defence of the Japanese mainland, although the lack of a supercharger limited performance at height against the massed fire-bombing raids by USAF B-29s in 1945.

Aircraft of the elite 302nd Air Group at Atsugi Air Base had notable success against allied bombers (300 official kills), whose track toward the main industrial centres of Yokohama and Tokyo passed close to Atsugi.  The proximity of the manufacturer's factory also helped with technical and logistic issues.

With a total of 621 J2M3 Raidens built by Mitsubishi from 1942-45,  "Shonenko" (child labourers) from Taiwan (Formosa) were widely used in the manufacture of the Raiden.  Though the Japanese Government’s stated target of enslaving 25,000 youths to produce war materiel was never reached, over 8,400 Taiwanese children aged from 12 to 14 were  separated from their parents and relocated to Mitsubishi plants in Japan, specifically to help build the J2M Raiden.

Building the Hasegawa Raiden Kit:

I always enjoy these smaller Hasegawa kits. This particular kit dates back to 1977, making it 45 years old, yet it remains fully up to modern standards in all respects.  It does have a rather bare cockpit, although this particular shortfall is still a feature of many more recent Hasegawa (and other) kits.  Lightly engraved detail, excellent mould engineering and easy assembly mark it out as a highly enjoyable and quick build with the potential for super detailing if you wish.  I did not need any filler, although the rear underwing fuselage joint wasn't the best I've seen.

Features and details such as the wing cannons are pre-moulded into the parts, making them very vulnerable to damage during the build, but apart from that, there is very little to say.

Two decal options are provided, one for the 352nd Kokutai at Omura near the city of Nagasaki, with colourful yellow fuselage lightning flashes as seen on the box.  Another less gaudy scheme covers the the high scoring 302nd Air Group at Atsugi air base near Yamato City and it is this option that I have chosen.

Paint is hand-brushed as always, Humbrol 75 for the upper surfaces and Humbrol 127 for the lower, followed by some Klear to help decal adhesion, then an oil wash and a matt acrylic top coat to finish.  

November 2022 - Part 1

Back to Part 1 - Kawasaki Ki48-II “Lily” >>

Part 2

With this month’s other model build, a kawasaki Ki48-II Sokei (Lily):

© IWM CF 893 - A captured Raiden is evaluated by Allied engineers in Malaya

© IWM CF 900 - A captured Raiden is evaluated by Allied engineers over Malaya

This is the Raiden represented by the Hasegawa kit, at Atsugi Naval Air base in 1945 immediately after the Japanese surrender.

Propellers were removed from aircraft as part of the surrender conditions to indicate that the aircraft and base was non-belligerent and effectively unusable.  This sign was particularly important at Atsugi as base personnel originally disregarded the surrender order and attempted to fight on.

Shonenko Child Labourers, probably Formosan (Taiwanese) working for Mistsubishi.

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