Hasegawa 1/48 N1K2-J Shiden-Kai

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $Out of Production
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Dan Lee
NOTES: Decals from spares, Seatbelts, pitot tube and cannon barrels from Tamiya A6M5 Zero set and Vaccufom Canopy from Falcon. (This is the old Mania kit with raised panel lines. Ed)

HISTORY

The Shiden was a radial engine equipped land based fighter based on the Kyofu seaplane fighter.  It had excellent maneuverability based on an automatic maneuvering flap system and had a powerful yet unreliable engine as well as robust construction.  One critical drawback was that the N1K1 had an awkward landing gear due to its midwing design that complicated maintenance and manufacturing.  The N1K2 was the ultimate version of the Shiden (Violet Lightening) with four 20mm wing mounted cannons, a lower wing to accommodate a simpler more conventional landing gear and 1/3 fewer parts than the earlier N1K1 series of fighters.  This redesigned maneuverable, rugged and fast fighter proved to be a serious challenge to the Corsair and Hellcats especially in the hands of a capable fighter pilot.

 

 It would prove to be a matter of too little too late as the USAAF Strategic Bombing Campaign, submarine attacks on merchant shipping and fuel shortages would slow down production so that the Shiden Kai would be a meager compliment to the Zero rather than replace it in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force.  Only some 400 N1K2s were produced and given to elite fighter wings of the IJN including Minoru Gendaís 343rd Kokutai aka the Wing of Experts. 

 

After the war, most of the surviving Shidens and other Japanese aircraft were melted down as per MacArthurís orders with only a few planes surviving in museums (mostly captured evaluation birds or recovered wrecks.)

 

From Wikipedia and my older review of the N1K1-Ja

THE KIT

 

It is the older Hasegawa N1K2-J Shiden kit as reboxed by Minicraft.  It comes with a decent early 80s cockpit and those dreaded raised panel lines.  The kit was actually in fairly good shape except for a couple of items (detailed below) and the parts were pretty good for a 1980s kit except mold marks in very painful to remove areas (especially the landing gear.)

 

This is a review kit from DaBoss.  Being an old kit, I noticed several things.

1)   There were only three cannons remaining of the four

2)   The canopy was scratched up

3)   The decals were pretty old and I thought they looked like they would disintegrate in water

4)   There was a lot of dried tape gum from where someone test fitted the parts and left the tape on them for a long long time.

 

Being the adaptable sort, I figured out what I was going to do.  Fortunately, I found what I was looking for searching the web.  Tamiya has a a PE set that goes with their recent A6M5 kit.  Among the bits include a IJN seatbelt/harness, a pitot tube and machined 20mm cannon barrels.  I bought two of these sets for the cannon barrels but I donít think it is a waste of money as I can always use the extra metal pitot tube or IJN harness.  Also I picked up the Falcon IJN vaccuform canopy set to replace the canopy.  Again, I can always use the canopies in future builds.

 

The decals proved harder as I donít have flashes that can fit the Shidenís fuselage.  I would try to use the kit flashes and serial numbers if they held together.  Otherwise, I would cobble them together from my rather small Japanese decal stash/leftovers and planned to paint the stripes.

CONSTRUCTION

It all began with the cockpit.  I tossed the kit seat as I felt it was rather simplified as compared to the actual seat.  I rummaged through my spares box and found a seat from an earlier Zero build that fit the bill much better than the kit seat.  One very obvious feature about the seat is that it has holes in the seat pan.  A little bit of drilling and I had a decent representation of the Shidenís seat.

 

Initially I wanted to go to town on the cockpit as it was missing many of the levers and the rather large and obvious throttle.  After thinking it over, I passed which is rare for me as I didnít have the time or energy to do the work (at the time I was working weekends and my energy levels were still a bit low some four months after surgery.)  The cockpit/interior was painted with a mix of IJN cockpit color and Flat Green while the control panel was painted black, the details were painted using a dry brush of white and the dials were coated with Future to stand out.

 

The cockpit was glued in place and the fuselage was assembled.  The fit was very good and showed that Hasegawa really knew their stuff when they made this kit almost 30 (!) years ago.  When I glued the wings in place, I was not surprised that there was a rather noticeable gap of the wing to fuselage join which is a common issue among many Hasegawa kits.

 

I let the kit sit a couple of weeks to allow for outgassing of glue fumes so as to prevent those annoying phantom seams before I filled/sanded the seams.  One thing that had to go was the antenna as it got in the way of sanding.  Later, I replaced it with piece of plastic rod. 

 

I can understand why some folks donít like raised panel lines, but I donít find them to be a big deal.  All it takes is a few swipes of a knife to replace the lost panel lines (same as engraved ones.)  Some folks would prefer to rescribe them which is fine, but Iím lazy, get bored rather quickly doing it and would rather spend the ample amount of time that it takes to do other things.

 

One area that proved to be a pain to fill/sand was a certain area on the wings.  If you guessed the area between the cannon stubs then you guessed correctly.  Sanding in small areas is not really popular with me which is why Iíll spend money for intakes (if theyíre available) or not do it all if I can get away with it.  Once done, I drilled out the stubs for the replacement barrels.

 

The prop was easy to paint and assemble.  The spinner was painted flat white then red as my intention was to do the markings of Captain Oshibuchi of the 701st Squadron of the 343rd IJN Wing.

 

The last parts to assemble, fill and sand was the fuel tank.  The fit on this piece wasnít the best and required a lot of filling and sanding. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting

First thing I did was wash the model of plastic dust/sanding residue.  Next I sprayed the leading edges white and then Gunze Orange Yellow for the ID stripes.  When they were dry, I masked them and then sprayed Tamiya IJN Light Gray for the underside and on the landing gear doors.  The flaps and ailerons were painted dark grey to show tonal variation between the fabric and the metal areas.

 

Next I sprayed on Tamiya IJN Green and opted to freehand the demarcation lines rather than mask them.  To vary the color tones, I added in some flat green and gray to the IJN Green and lightly sprayed on a second coat.   After I sprayed on Tamiya Flat Green on the rudder, flaps and ailerons to show the tonal variation between the topside fabric and metal areas. 

 

Once these areas were dry, I removed the ID strip masks and masked the landing gear wells.  I used a combination of Tamiya Chrome Silver and Talon Aluminum.  Lastly I sprayed on Tamiya Gloss coat in preparation for the decals.

 

Decals

The first thing I did was put one of the flashes in water.  It promptly disintegrated and I threw the decal sheet into the garbage. (Your editor would like to point out that Microscale Decal Film will often be able to save old decals like this. Every modeler should have this in their inventory)

 

I wanted to paint on the fuselage stripes and discovered that it was a major pain in the butt.  One stripe I can do.  Two?  Maybe.  Two angled parallel lines?   Hahahahahaha, no way.  I laid tape down so many different ways it still looked crappy so I threw the tape ball of failure into the trash and opted for a less flashy aircraft.   So much for Capt Oshibuchiís plane and it was onto plan B.

 

The Himorus were from various kits, but I used the correct sizes while the serial numbers were a cut and paste job.  I used the (fictional?) serial 343-7 for a plane assigned to the  701st Sq of the 343rd Wing.  I even managed to snag some left over Japanese stencils and thankful in more ways than one that the Japanese (at the time) didnít go overboard on maintenance stencils. 

 

MicroSet was used as the decal setting solution while I saved Solvaset for the stubborn ones (it seems most if not all Japanese decals can be thought of as stubborn.)

 

Weathering and Final Coat

Strangely, I opted not to weather the plane much and pretty left it as is except some slight exhaust stains and staining around the cannon ejection ports.  The last thing I did was spray on two light coats of Vallejo Flat Coat for the final coat.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

The cannon barrels and pitot tube were glued in with CA glue and the external fuel tank and doors were installed with Tamiya Extra Thin glue.

 

Assembling the landing gear was straight forward except for noticeable ejection pin marks which needed to be sanded and filled.  After the gears were painted with a base of Tamiya Chrome Silver and a top coat of Talon Aluminum, I glued them in place but they needed some adjusting as the alignment wasnít right.

 

I have to admit that Iím not entirely comfortable using vaccuform canopies and tend to be rather paranoid when cutting them out which is why I took my time to carefully cut away the canopy from the vaccuform sheet using a brand new number 11 Exacto Knife blade and then sanded down the edges.  Next I washed the parts before masking with Tamiya tape.  The canopy colors were airbrushed with Aotake for the interior, Light Grey and the base color.  Why light gray?  The last time I used Aotake for the interior, I discovered to my dismay that the blue bled through the green top coat giving the canopy a different color than the rest of the exterior.  The light gray acts as a buffer to prevent that.  Masking was removed from the Falcon Canopy bits and secured to the model using white glue.

 

The last touch was painting the exhausts using steel and flat black.

CONCLUSIONS

 

The older Hasegawa N1K2-J kit makes a nice model with a bit of patience and some extra market details (if you want) and you donít need to be afraid of raised panel lines.  The cockpit could use a bit more detail (aftermarket pit probably), but you donít need to go overboard with it (again, unless you really want to.)

 

It makes for a cheaper alternative to the newer Hasegawa uber kit of the N1K2-J Shiden with a result that despite lacking in some interior details, looks almost as good.  I certainly had fun with this kit and recommend it for a builder of any level who wants a fairly easy build and decent representation of a 1/48 scale Shiden or Japanese aircraft in general.

 

Review kit courtesy of the DaBoss.

Dan Lee

August 2010

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page