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N1K2-J Kit

Bandai 1/24 N1K2-J Shiden (George) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2007 Manufacturer Bandai
Subject N1K2-J Shiden (George) Scale 1/24
Kit Number 8522 / 34044 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detail, easy construction Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit
N1K2-J Kit

In September 1940, the JNAF issued a requirement for a high-speed seaplane naval fighter that did not need land airfields, but could maintain air superiority during island invasions. The result was the formidable N1K1 Kyofu (Mighty Wind), produced by Kawanishi’s Naruo plant and code-named “Rex” by the Allies.

It was from this central-float seaplane that Kikuhira’s team very quickly devised the N1K1-J land-plane (Allied code-name “George”). Though a hasty lash-up, it was potentially one of the best of all Japanese fighters. Its maneuverability, boosted by automatic combat flaps, worked by a manometer (mercury U-tube) that measured angle of attack, was almost unbelievable.

Drawbacks were the engine, plagued with snags, the poor view with the mid-wing and the complex and weak landing gear (legacy from the mid-wing float plane and big four-blade propeller). Naruo therefore produced the N1K2-J with low wing, new tail and drastically simpler airframe that could be built in half the man-hours than previously. The unreliable engine still kept Shidens (the name meant “Violet Lightning”) mostly unserviceable, but they were potent and respected adversaries. They were encountered on all fronts from May 1944.

Total production was 1,440. Huge production was planned from four companies and four navy arsenals, but none produced more than ten aircraft, other than Kawanishi which delivered 543 of the 1-J’s and 362 of the 2-J’s from Naruo and 468 of the 1-J’s and 44 of the 2-J’s from Hemiji. At Okinawa, both versions were used in the Kamikaze role.

The kit comes in a large tray and lid type box. The box art shows a “George” attacking a formation of B-29’s. A side panel shows the box arts of three other 1/24th scale aircraft kits that Bandai markets. A P-51D Mustang, a Zero Type 52 and a Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4. I never bought those two, because I already had the Airfix 1/24th scale kits of them. I do have Bandai’s Zero, but that’s another review.

The writing on the box is almost all in Japanese. There is a short history of the aircraft on a side panel, and Bandai does not miss a beat telling us how wonderful the George was.

The box contains three huge trees of dark green parts. Two of these trees are individually cello bagged and the third tree is bare. There is a tree of clear parts inside one of these three bags. There is a bare tree with two fuselage halves on it and a full-span lower wing half that is also without a cello. Two upper wing halves are in a cello. These later parts are also dark green. There is a small cello with two black vinyl tires, some wire sleeving and a single engine exhaust pipes piece in it. The final huge tree is molded in silver. The instructions and large decal sheet complete the kit’s contents.

Parts are held down inside the bottom tray by a length of cardboard that spans the width of the tray. It has profiles of three of the marking options printed on it.

The instructions consist of a 12 page stapled booklet in eight ½” x 11” format. The first two pages, and the last two are printed in full color on slick paper. The rest of the pages are in black and white and printed on uncoated stock.

Page one shows a three view illustration of a N1k2-J with the tail-marking of 343-33 with the letter A above it. I cannot tell you what outfit this represents because the whole instruction book is in Japanese only.

Page two has six wartime black and white photos of George’s and two line drawings of them. These all have long captions below each of them, but – alas all in Japanese…sigh.

Page three is the parts tree drawings.

Pages four through ten give a total of 23 assembly steps.

Page 11 gives a generic top and bottom view, a side view of aircraft tail number 343-A15 that has a gold and white diagonal fuselage stripe and six kill marks on it and five illustrations of just the tails of some George’s. The markings on these five tail illustrations are: backwards letter E followed by –105, 5243, 343-33, 343-10 and 343-32. All these illustrations are in black and white.

Page 12 gives full color side profile illustrations for tail numbers: 5243, backwards letter E followed by –104, 343-12, 343-A15 and 01-131.  Again, it’s a darn shame that Bandai couldn’t have included enough English to tell us what units these represent.

Letter A parts tree holds all the engine parts and the engine in this kit is a model in ITSELF ( very very detailed) and the four wing guns. (42 parts)

Tree letter B holds: the wing spar, fuselage bulkheads, landing gear doors, cockpit floor etc. (47 parts)

Tree letter C holds: The four prop blades, pilot figure, drop tank, landing gear struts etc.(57 parts)

Tree letter D holds: Horizontal tail surfaces (it appears there are two different types), cowling parts etc. (24 parts).

Letter E tree is the clear parts for cockpit canopy and wing lights etc. (9 parts)

Finally, is the tree with the two fuselage halves on it, the single lower wing half part and the two upper wing halves.

The large decal sheet completes the contents of the kit. It has the Japanese red circle national markings, the gold and white fuselage stripe, white tail numbers and wing leading-edge markings.

This kit is very detailed with beautiful engraved details and lots of detail parts. Only some seat belts are needed to dolly it up more. I don’t know if any of the after-market boys ever came out with any add-ons for 1/24th scale kits??

Highly recommended to modelers with a few other aircraft kits under their belts, because of the complexity of this model. Definitely a kit for those of us, like me, that wear tri-focals.

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