Hasegawa 1/48 J7W1 Shinden
KIT #: 1189
PRICE: $15.00  (auction)
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Dale Rannals
NOTES: Minicraft boxing


The “Alternate” History:  “It is a big ocean…..” Isoroku thought as the Shinden screamed over the wave tops.  He and his wingman left Rabaul thirty minutes after the main attack group.  Being the damage assessment flight, they stayed low, cruising at 2000ft until they spotted New Guinea. After dropping his fuel tank and signaling his wingman to do the same, they dropped down to below 200ft.  The throttles were pushed forward as the coastline flashed past….. for this part of their journey they would need all the speed the big radials could deliver.  Two pair of eyes never stopped moving, looking up, forward, back, and down of course…….the trees and ground would be as unforgiving as the enemy pilots. 

            Even though they stayed right above the trees, altitude continually increased as they neared the Owen Stanley  mountain range.  Once over the rugged peaks they spotted smoke in the distance.  The strike force had marked their target nicely….fires were burning fiercely at Port Moresby.  Keeping an eye on the treetops while scanning for enemy fighters was exhausting for the two pilots, but they continued unseen as they closed with the destination.  Isoroku quickly scanned the damage for he knew they couldn’t afford to make a second pass.  Fires were raging all around with huge plumes of smoke coming from the main target…the fuel stores.  As they neared the airfield he spotted a shape just above and in front of him.  It was an aircraft coming in to land…..a fighter, one of the big Lockheeds.  He smoothly nudged his fighter up under the Chain Lightning.   Its rear gunner spotted him and began slewing his turrets around as Isoroku pressed the button on his throttle and the four big cannon sounded off.   A few hits were all that was needed.  The big fighter lost a wing and tumbled out of control.   By the time it hit the ground Isoroku was already past the airfield.  Time to head home. 

            The pair turned northeast and left the area as fast as they came in.  Isoroku was, as always, impressed with their mounts.  The Shinden, ungainly and awkward looking on the ground, was magnificent in the air.  They would have never had attempted this mission in the Hayabusa’s they flew just mere months ago… or if they had, would already be dead.  Now their speed kept them alive in this hornets nest.  As they cleared the area Isoroku signaled his wingman to climb a few hundred feet to make the trees a bit less menacing.  Starting he climb, he just about jumped out of his harness as two dark shapes roared past just above them, heading south.  Leveling off, he turned slightly to get a look.  Two Republics…..the fast ones…. Ultrabolts.  Isoroku cursed himself for getting caught off guard ….that’s how you get yourself killed.  Apparently the Americans were just as surprised as he, for it took a second before they responded.  He was hoping they would just keep going; he really didn’t want to fight these two.  Getting back to base with his report was far more important. But as he watched they began to turn back around.....Isoroku noticed one of them had a jagged wingtip….damaged?   It would be a long chase, but the Republic fighter would catch them undoubtedly.  Halfway thru their turn they apparently had a change of heart and turned back south.  It seemed getting back to base was important to them also.

            With the Owen Stanley behind them and the coastline passing beneath them, Isoroku breathed a small sigh of relief.  The ocean was always a danger…she was relentlessly unforgiving…. but at least home was just a short time away.

The Reality:

The J7W was developed for the Imperial Japanese Navy as a short-range interceptor in a specific response to the B-29 Superfortress raids on the Japanese homeland. For this type of mission, the J7W was armed with 4 forward-firing 30mm cannons in the nose. It was to be operated from land bases.

The canard configuration was chosen by Captain Masayoshi Tsuruno from the technical staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy in early 1943. The idea of Captain Tsuruno was that the aircraft could easily be fitted with a turbojet engine in a later stage of its production life.

Captain Tsuruno's ideas were worked out by the First Naval Air Technical Arsenal in April 1943, by designing three gliders with the canard layout, designated Yokosuka MXY6; one of the gliders later being fitted with a 22 hp Semi 11 (Ha-90) 4 cylinder air cooled engine.

The feasibility of the canard design was proven by both the powered and unpowered versions of the MYX6 by the end of 1943, and the Navy were so impressed by the flight testing, that they instructed the Kyushu Aircraft Company to design a canard interceptor around Captain Tsuruno's concept. Kyushu was chosen because both its design team and production facilities were relatively unburdened, and Captain Tsuruno was chosen to lead a team to aid Kyushu's design works.

The construction of the first two prototypes started in earnest by June 1944, stress calculations were finished by January 1945. and the first prototype was completed in April 1945. The 2,130 hp Mitsubishi MK9D (Ha-43) radial engine and its supercharger were installed behind the cockpit and drove a six-bladed propeller via an extension shaft. Engine cooling was to be provided by long, narrow, obliquely mounted intakes on the side of the fuselage. It was this configuration that caused cooling problems while running the engine while it was still on the ground. This, together with the unavailability of some equipment parts postponed the first flight of the Shinden until 3 August 1945, when Captain Tsuruno himself took to the air at Itazuke Air Base. Two more short flights were made and all in all a total flying time of 45 minutes was made by the end of the war. Flights were successful, but showed a marked torque pull to starboard, caused by the powerful engine and its six-bladed propeller, some flutter of the propeller blades themselves and vibrations in the extended drive shaft.

Even before the first prototype took to the air the Navy had already ordered the J7W1 into production, with quotas of 30 Shindens a month given to Kyushu's Zasshonokuma factory and 120 from Nakajima's Handa plant. It was estimated that some 1,086 Shinden fighters could be produced between April 1946 and March 1947. In fact only the two prototype aircraft were ever completed. After the end of the war the second prototype was shipped to the USA, while the first is reported as being scrapped.


  This is one of Hasegawa’s older kits, easily 30 years old or so, with fine raised detail.  The kit has been re-released several times over the years with different decals.  There is also a J7W2 jet version released recently…this is the same kit with resin intakes and exhaust pieces and an external stores sprue.  My kit was one of the earlier releases.  It was molded in dark green plastic, nice crisp detail and do flash to speak of.  The cockpit is well detailed, especially for the time, and still holds up today.  In fact, I was very impressed with the over-all parts fit of this kit.   I could dry fit the nose to the fuselage pieces, attach the wings and vertical stabs to it and hold the assembly up by one wingtip and it all stays together.  That’s pretty cool!

The instructions consist of four 8 ½ x 11 pages.  The first page contains a small history with specifications, a complete parts list, and external colors with FS numbers.  Pages two and three deal with seven assembly steps; all very clear with a fairly complete set of generic color call-outs.  The last page has a final assembly step and a five view painting and decal guide.  Decals are for the prototype, I assume, but in any case it is a very generic green over gray.  My decals looked old, yellowed, and water damaged, so I tossed them away.


  Construction started at the cockpit, with several small sub-assemblies glued together and then painted a dark olive green.  I have no idea what Kyushu interior color would have been, so I just went generic here.  The instrument panel got a very dark gray paint and then a lighter gray dry-brushing to highlight the details. While these were drying I glued together the main wings.   I then headed back to the cockpit assembly, gluing together the components, adding some Eduard PE seat belts, and gluing it to the fuselage. 

The fuselage halves were joined and allowed to dry.  Before I added the canard/gun port insert to the nose, I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy, poured some into the open nose, and added some lead weights (small fishing sinkers) to keep this from being a tail dragger.  Then on went the insert.  The fit here is quite good, but not perfect.  I applied putty and surfacer to the joint lines here and along the fuselage halves and sanded everything smooth.  As this is a raised panel line kit so you will lose detail here.  One needs to accept it or re-scribe.  Since I am not much into re-scribing, I moved on.  

After I installed the fuselage side intakes, the wings were mated to the fuselage.  A bit more puttying and sanding occurred.  The engine fan was installed in the aft end.   I built up the propeller, set it aside for painting, and then installed the  rudders on each wing.  Both were a nice tight fit with no alignment problems.  I masked the canopy at this point and installed it on the airframe.


   My inspiration here was the paint scheme I had in mind.  I had seen pictures of Japanese fighters with what looked like lighter colors forward but blending into a darker color aft.  I do believe the actual aircraft pictured could have been suffering from late war issues of paint flaking off, with the dark green paint mostly gone from the forward area of the plane, but it gave me the idea.  So for this attempt I decided on IJN green-gray base with IJA dark green mottling. 

First color on the plane was more olive green on the canopy frames.  I followed this with the IJN green-gray, spraying it on the entire plane. Then I shot lighter and darker shades of the same paint on panel centers and panel lines to give it some life.  The dark green mottling came next, and I did this in stages.  First pass was over the entire top of the airplane, giving it an even overall pattern of green splotches.  After this came a second round of mottling, starting from the canards working aft…i.e., I left the nose mottling as it was.  I continued in this fashion for about three more passes, each time starting further aft than the last, and I also started decreasing the spacing between mottles as I worked aft.  I was pleased when I finished as this gave me the effect I was looking for.

After a coat of Future to gloss things up a bit, I scrounged the decal dungeon for suitable markings.  They ended up coming from an Aeromaster Hayate sheet (hinomarus) and the unit emblems from a Super Scale sheet (I combined two different fighter group emblems.)   They weren't very opaque, but it ended up giving it a grungier, weathered look.


 The landing gear were attached here, and this is the only area I had issues.  The gear on this kit are very long and spindly.  Though accurate looking (the original looked very awkward on the ground) it makes for a wobbly model.  Problem here is I think I added too much nose-weight, for the nose gear kept leaning over to one side.  I ended up cutting two small blocks of plastic from some sprue and glued these up in the wheel-well on either side of the nose gear to give it some extra support.


  This is a great old kit which seemed to pre-date the Luft '46 thing by a decade or two.  Detailing out of the box is quite good and the fit was excellent. Highly recommended to anyone into wanting something different in the display.  Paint it as the prototype or let your imagination run wild.  Have fun!!


 Wikipedia & the Internet in general

Dale Rannals

May 2011

 Kit courtesy of me and my love for something different.

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