Hasegawa 1/72 G3M2/3 Type 96 (Nell)

KIT #: 51211
PRICE: 2900 yen SRP (about $40-43 on the street in the US)
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Base boxing from 1998



The G3M flew for first time in 1935, taking off from a Nagasaki airfield belonging to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and landing at Haneda Airport on the outskirts of Tokyo. The G3M first saw combat in Japan's expansionist campaigns on the Chinese mainland in what became known as the Second Sino-Japanese War, where the G3M was able to exploit its long-range capability when, during August–November 1937, the "1st Rengo Kokutai" (a special unit) was established, operating alongside the "Kanoya" and "Kizarazu Kokutai" based in Taipei, Formosa, Omura, Kyūshū and Jeju Island. On August 14 of that same year forty-two "Nells" and seven Hiro G2H1s, escorted by 12 Nakajima A4Ns and 12 Mitsubishi A5Ms of the "2nd Rengo Kokutai" (a unit consisting of the 12th and 13th Kokutai), departed from their bases to cross the East China Sea, for the bombing of Hangchow and Kwanteh, and performed amongst others actions of terror bombing in coastal and inland targets in China, including the bombing during the Battle of Shanghai and Nanjing. Later, from bases in occupied Chinese territories, it took part in the strategic carpet bombing of the Chinese heartland, its combat range being sufficient to cover the elongated distances involved. Most notably, it was involved in the round-the-clock Bombing of Chongqing.

When the Pacific War erupted in 1941, after the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, the G3M was by this time considered to be antiquated but still 3 front-line units (the 22nd to 24th Koku Sentai) were operating a total of 204 G3M2s in four Kokutai (Naval Air Corps) in the central Pacific and of these 54 aircraft from the Takao Kokutai were deployed from Formosa in the opening of the Battle of the Philippines. On the 8th of December 1941, (7th across the International Date Line), G3Ms from the Mihoro Kokutai struck Singapore City from bases in occupied Vietnam as one of many air raids during the Battle of Singapore, resulting in thousands of British and Asiatic civilians dead. Wake Island was similarly bombed by G3Ms from the Chitose Kokutai on the first day of the war, with both civilian and US Navy infrastructure being heavily damaged on the ground.

The G3M was famous for taking part in the sinking of two British battleships with the more advanced Mitsubishi G4M "Betty", on 10 December 1941. "Nells" from the Genzan Kokutai provided important support during the attack on the HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse (Force Z) near the Malayan coast. Prince of Wales and Repulse were the first two battleships ships ever sunk exclusively by air attack while at sea during war.

A G3M of the Mihoro Air Group was involved in a dogfight with a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat of No. 205 Squadron RAF near the Anambas Islands on 25 December 1941, in which the Catalina was shot down.

The attack on Darwin, Australia on February 19, 1942, by 188 Japanese aircraft, included 27 G3Ms of the 1. Kokutai (1st Air Group) based at Ambon, in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). The "Nells" attacked alongside 27 G4Ms. These bombers followed an 81-strong first wave of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, Aichi D3A dive bombers and Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers.

From 1943, the majority of "Nells" served as coastal patrol aircraft,  glider tugs, aircrew and paratroop trainers and for transporting high-ranking officers and VIPs between metropolitan islands, occupied territories and combat fronts until the end of the war.

The difference between the G3M2 and G3M3 is that the latter had more powerful engines and was built solely by Nakajima. Externally, they were identical.


Those who have been around a while will know that this is not the first 1/72 kit of this aircraft with LS producing a version way back in the heydays of modeling during the early 1970s. While not a bad kit, it is crude by comparison and is undersize. Even this kit is not ultra new as Hasegawa has been producing this one sporadically for almost 20 years.

Like all Hasegawa kits, the external detailing is superlative. The interior detailing is not too bad either, but somewhat basic. There are decals for the instruments, which is somewhat standard stuff for most 1/72 kits. The cockpit has no sidewall detail with a pair of seats, control wheels and what I guess is a bomb release handle on the floor (since I do not think bombers have a parking brake). Platz does a nice Eduard-produced p.e. set to help the interior. Behind the pilot is the bomb aimer's position with a seat and sight along with a pair of bulkheads. The side gunner's position appears to only be able to be built with the guns stowed. This is not true of the upper gun positions. In fact, the forward upper turret can be built either extended or retracted.

One has to decide which markings scheme is to be done about a third of the way through the build and there are notes showing which bits are appropriate for which markings option. The kit can be built with the lower entrance hatch open or closed, with the upper cockpit hatch open or closed, though only as a torpedo bomber. The bits for the level bomber are not included. Apparently Nell did not have a standard bomb bay with doors so all loads are external of sorts. Prop spinners are also provided, but not used on either option.

The clear bits are quite clear so if one can find an aftermarket set to spice up the interior, it would not go to waste. Nell had long ailerons similar to what the Ju-87 had in that they protrude below the lower wing surface. These are molded in place so no worries on attaching these to the wing.

This is the base boxing so finding it will not be all that difficult. Limited editions sell out very quickly on the average, but unless you are fussy about markings, these are the ones to get. Markings are provided for two aircraft. One is the box art plane from the Genzan Kokutai that took part in the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse early in the Pacific war. It is in the green/brown/grey scheme of the time. The other is from the 951st Kokutai in mid-1945. It has upper surfaces in overall green and a nice, colored fin stripe. Decals are quite well done and you are provided with multiple aircraft number options for the first scheme. Decals are nicely printed and provide the white surround to the hinomaru where required.


As many have pointed out, Hasegawa kits tend to be pricey in the US. I shop all the time in Japanese stores and purchasing several items at one time really reduces the shipping cost per kit. In the end it is a very nice kit of this important early war Japanese bomber.


November 2017

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