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Hasegawa 1/48 scale Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Type 21 ("Jack")

Kit: No. JT45
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Hasegawa, distributed by Marco Polo Import, 532 S. Coralridge Pl., City of Industry, CA 91746
Price: $69
Comments: Injection molded, 84 parts, decals.

The design of Japan's first pure fighter-interceptor focused on speed and climb rate rather than maneuverability. In fact, the J2M received a state-of-the-art laminar-flow wing at about the same time "Dutch" Kindelberger was designing one into the P-51.

Hasegawa's new "Jack" is beautifully molded and nearly falls together. Sharp recessed panel lines highlight the exterior, while the 17-piece cockpit will satisfy detail fanatics. The instrument panels and consoles have raised detail, and decals also are provided for them. A strong setting solution will be needed to get them to lie over the detail. Some modelers will choose to paint the panels.

Assembly is trouble free, but don't overlook part G-2 that fits inside the center line of the wing; it is shown in step 3 of the instructions but not labeled. Open the mounting holes for the bombs (if you use them) before closing the wing.

You get a choice of propellers, standard or high-performance, but the instructions don't mention which is correct for the airframes represented on the decals.

A nice touch is the cooling fan inside the cowling that can rotate with the propeller if you assemble it properly. The eight exhaust stubs are separate pieces, and you get a pair of 60kgm bombs and a drop tank as optional equipment.

The fit is nearly perfect and assembly took just six hours. I didn't use any filler, but the forward edge of the wing sits a bit deep in the fuselage, leaving a slight edge at the bottom rear of the cowl. There's a little gap on both sides at the bottom of the sliding portion of the canopy, too.

Six hours were spent masking, painting, and applying markings. The decals behaved better than I expected - I followed the instructions to the letter.

After allowing the decals to dry for a day, I applied Solvaset sparingly to make them snuggle into panel lines and around raised detail. No silvering appeared.

Because I didn't have faith that I could make the yellow fin-tip decals snuggle around the outer edges properly, I masked and painted the tip along with the ID panels on the leading edge of the wing. Now that the model is finished I see I applied the little colored stripes on the gear doors upside down. Murphy's law!

The instructions list Gunze Sangyo paints, but most colors also are described. However, four (such as "cowling color") are mysteries. I followed my references and painted the exterior with Floquil Classic Military IJN colors. My interior treatment deserves special mention. I first sprayed it Testor Metalizer non-buffing aluminum, then oversprayed that with a mixture of two drops of Testor's new Model Master interior metallic blue and a full half-ounce bottle of AeroMaster gloss clear.

The finished model scales just right based on information found in War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Three, Fighters by William Green. Beginners should be able to build this kit without problems.

Allan F. Jones

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