KIT: Hasegawa 1/72 G4M1 'Betty'
KIT #: 00736
PRICE: 2800 (about $25) at Hobby Link Japan
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Reissue of an old favorite

HISTORY

The G4M was specifically designed to replace Mitsubishi's own G3M that was in service in the mid 1930s. What was needed was a twin engine bomber with a speed of 400 kph, a war range of 3,700 km and able to carry 800 kg in ordnance. It was to have a crew of 7-9 and be able to carry a torpedo as well. Heavy stuff for 1937, especially the range part, but by putting 5,000 liters of fuel in the wings, Mitsubishi was able to carry it off.

The result was one of the more outstanding twins of the war. It went into service in mid 1941 and served in all theaters throughout the war. Of course, all that speed and range came at a sacrifice. That was the lack of protection for both crew and fuel. The Betty was well known to Allied pilots as the 'flying lighter' for its propensity to burst into flame upon even the most innocuous hits in the wing fuel tanks. I'm sure that these traits were not lost on the crews and it must have taken great bravery to fly into combat with an aircraft that was so easily brought down by machine gun fire. Nevertheless, the Betty was able to carry out some amazing feats of bombing and torpedo work in the early months of the war and was a threat to the end.

THE KIT

Hasegawa has never met a kit that it couldn't rebox and this early Betty is one of them. When I was stationed in Japan during the early 1970s, the Betty was one of those models that brought me back into the hobby. What was even better is that at the time, they were molded in dark green so I didn't even have to paint the upper surfaces!

So how has this old friend fared over the years. Well one thing that I immediately noticed upon opening the box is that there aren't as many parts as one finds in today's kits. This alone makes it quite a pleasant surprise if you are one of those who sometimes gets tired of building kits with seemingly hundreds of teeny pieces. The other is that the years have been kind to the molds as there is minimal flash and then only on a few parts.

Of course, you get the full rivet treatment on this one as well as raised panel line detailing, but we are talking about a 30 year old kit. Sprue attachment points are thicker than what comes with newer kits so sawing off the parts might not be a bad idea, especially on the clear sprue. Then, of course, there is the situation with ejector pin marks. These are all over the inner gear doors, landing gear struts, seat tops and some other places, but again, these were not considered a problem back then.

As you might expect, interior detail is not up to current standards with a floor, three generic seats, a control column and a space in front of the pilot to put the instrument panel. Wheel wells are not boxed in and there is no cabin detailing. You do get three crew members to occupy those cockpit seats. The engines are well molded and believable. Cowl flaps are molded in the open position. Transparencies are well done with the smaller side windows being a bit thick. You might want to put in some Crystal Clear for these little windows after the kit is built as it will probably look better.

Instructions are fully up to current Hasegawa standards, as you would expect from a reissue. Decals are provided for two aircraft, both from the 752nd Flying group. Both aircraft are in black-green uppers with light grey undersides and large yellow wing ID areas. These ID markings are provided as decals. In fact, the decals look quite good. Gone are the brilliant red Hinomarus, ivory colored white markings and thick decals. The general impression is of Hasegawa's newer brand of decals and that is good news indeed.

CONCLUSIONS

It is nice to see these older kits being reissued from time to time. The Betty has held up well over the years and thanks to its more simple design, builds rather quickly into a good looking model.

October 2004

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