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Tamiya 1/48 scale Mitsubishi Isshikirikko Type 11 (G4M1 "Betty")

Kit: No. 61049
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $69
Comments: Injection molded, 166 parts, decals.

The Mitsubishi G4M was designed to meet the Imperial Japanese Navy's need for an extremely long-range, land-based attack bomber. To achieve its 2,600-mile range, the G4M1 (code named "Betty" by the allies) was designed as light as possible. To fly so far (and at speeds topping 250 mph), it sacrificed defensive firepower and armor. Carrying 1,320 gallons of gasoline in unprotected wing tanks made the "Betty" extremely vulnerable.

Betties were best known for being part of the force that sank the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser HMS Repulse during the early days of the war in the Pacific, and for carrying the ill-fated Adm. Yamamoto when his flight was ambushed by P-38s over the Soloman Islands in April 1943.

Tamiya's Betty is molded in light gray plastic with crisp, recessed panel lines. The landing gear, gear bays, engines, cockpit, and fuselage interior are well detailed. The clear parts are thin and accurately re-create the intricate framing patterns of the Mitsubishi bomber. If you build the bomber version, leave the bomb-bay doors off; carefully trim an opening in them if you model the torpedo-carrying version. It's not mentioned in the instructions, but only Betties in transit or on reconnaissance missions carried the bomb-bay doors.

The cockpit, interior, and bomb bay require quite a bit of time to assemble and paint. The instructions recommend painting the interior RLM gray, but my research shows IJN aircraft had light gray/green (bamboo green) or dark gray/ green cockpits, crew compartments, bulkheads, and walkways. I used Floquil British interior green. Landing-gear bays, the bomb bay, and access compartments had a protective coating applied to prevent corrosion that ranged from vivid translucent blue to an intense translucent green.

Construction is straightforward and you will find few fit problems. Take your time and align the fuselage halves and you won't need to fill or sand the long seam. Attach the port-side rear-fuselage windows (F8 and F9) and waist guns before gluing the fuselage halves together. The guns will be protected by the masked gun blisters when painting. The forward fuselage windows can be attached through the forward opening during the final stage of construction.

After attaching the wing and stabilizers, I carefully masked the large transparencies with Scotch Magic tape and temporarily attached them with white glue. I carefully filled the inside of the forward fuselage, tail turret, and wheel with tissue to prevent overspray.
I painted my Betty with AeroMaster's Warbird IJN green for the upper surfaces and Floquil's IJN light gray for the lower surface.

Tamiya's decals include markings for two dark-green and red-brown-camouflaged aircraft, and a choice of four airframes painted dark green over light gray. Mine represents a Betty from Misawa Naval Fighter Group's 3rd Squadron, stationed at Rabaul during the summer of 1942. The decals went on without problems.

I spent about 20 hours building this kit, most on painting, assembling the detailed interior, and masking canopies. The completed model scales out accurately to the specifications in Bill Gunston's Aircraft of World War II.

For a large model, the Betty is relatively straightforward, presenting no problems for experienced modelers. I welcome this long-awaited addition to my Pacific warbird collection.

Randy Fields

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