Fujimi 1/72 B6N2 Tenzan (Jill) Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||December 2007||Manufacturer||Fujimi|
|Subject||Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan (Jill)||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||72059||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat subject with lots of ordinance options||Cons||Next to nil interior detail|
|Skill Level||Novice||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Nakajima B6N Tenzan (Japanese – “Heavenly Mountain”), Allied reporting name “Jill” was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s standard torpedo bomber for the final years of WWII. It was a development of the Nakajima B5N and replaced that aircraft in service.
Although a highly-effective torpedo bomber, by the time it reached service, the U.S. Navy had already achieved air superiority over the Pacific, and the type never really had the opportunity to display it’s full potential.
The B5N’s weaknesses had shown themselves in the Sino-Japanese War and as well as updating that aircraft, the Navy began seeking a replacement. In 1939, it issued a specification to Nakajima for an aircraft that could carry the same weapon load as the B5N, but do it faster and over a longer range. The design was restricted at first that it had to fit into the flight deck elevators of existing aircraft carriers – which the B4N already almost filled. This latter restriction resulted in the characteristic shape of the B6N’s tail fin with the forward-sloping rudder.
Unlike it’s predecessor, development was long a fraught with problems, including serious instability shown by the prototypes after flight testing began in early 1941. Engine problems, and problems associated with carrier take-offs and landings, were these. Rectifying these issues would mean that two years would pass before the aircraft was finally ready for squadron service. Even then, the aircraft’s weight meant that it could only operate from the largest carriers in the fleet.
The B6N1’s combat debut was nothing short of disastrous. The Battle of the Philippines Sea had them operating in an environment where the U.S. has such air superiority that they failed to inflict any significant damage whatsoever whilst taking massive loses from the U.S. Navy’s new Hellcat fighter. Following this debacle, the Japanese Navy ordered several changes to the design, most notably replacement of the NK7A Mamoru 11 engine with the Mitsubishi MK4T Kasai 25, resulting in the B6N2.
By this point, small improvements in the B6N’s performance were amongst the least of the Japanese Navy’s problems. When the new model became available in mid-1944, it had already lost most of it’s large carriers, and was becoming desperately short of experienced pilots. The most majority of B6N2 operations therefore took place from land bases, and failed to achieve any major successes. They were extensively used in the Battle of Okinawa, where they were also used for kamikaze missions for the first time With the Japanese Navy’s priorities now shifting to the impending defense of the home islands, a final version of the aircraft was produced for land-only use, sacrificing its carrier operations features in exchange for a little more performance due to weight savings. Two B6N3 prototypes were completed, but Japan surrendered before this variant could be put into production.
A total of 1,263 B6N’s were completed, almost all of them B6N2’s. Today, only one remains, preserved at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a B6N2 parked on the ground in the markings of the 1st Koku Sentai, carrier Zuikaku, June 1944. It is overall dark green above and light gray below, with a black nose from the windscreen forward and yellow leading edges on the wings. Tail code (in white) is I2-385, with the 2 being half the size of the other numerals. This is the ONLY marking option provided in the kit.
A side panel has a color side profile of this same scheme. Next to it is illustrations of the various weapons loads that the B6N2 carried and a history of the aircraft in Japanese only. Another side panel shows the color box arts of 4 other aircraft that Fujimi markets: two other boxings of the “Jill” and two boxings of the “Judy”.
Fujimi and Hasegawa are notorious for re-releasing the same kits in different box arts and with different decals. They like to get the most mileage they can out of their molds.
Inside the box is one large stapled shut cello bag with 3 medium gray parts trees in it, and a smaller stapled shut cello with another medium gray tree and a clear parts tree in it. The decal sheet is also in a stapled shut cello. The instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single 14 ¾” x 6 ¾” sheet that is printed on both sides. It is accordion folded along its length 4 times.
The face side of the instruction sheet begins with data about the B6N2 and a very short paragraph telling it’s history, in Japanese and English. There is a black and white repeat of the box art shown and “read before construction” advice.
Below this is painting and decal application drawings for the one scheme offered in the kit (already described above) followed by a listing of the names of all the kit parts, in English and Japanese. The bottom of the page has some rather tiny parts tree drawings.
The reverse side of the sheet gives a total of 7 assembly step drawings. In step 7 you can opt for bombs, drop tank or torpedo (although the torpedo is not illustrated). The cockpit interior has next to nil detail. Only a floor, with 3 “Lazyboy” recliners molded into it, a joystick and a dashboard are provided. More is needed, especially with as big a “greenhouse” that the cockpit transparency is.
Large letter A parts tree holds: the horizontal tail surfaces (mine is missing the left one, and I will have to contact Fujimi’s customer service department for a replacement), the propeller spinner, air intake, upper wing halves, one fuselage half, the landing gear legs – with wheels molded on, landing gear doors – of wheels up or down variation (one small door has a lot of flash on it) (15 parts)
Large letter B tree holds: the cockpit floor, engine front, the other half of the fuselage, the lower wing half (full span), the torpedo, bombs, instrument panel etc. (17 parts).
Medium size letter C tree holds: the cowling parts, exhaust pipes and propeller. (7 parts)
Medium size letter D tee holds: radar antennas, the drop tank, more bombs and their pylons and wing gun barrels (27 parts).
Detail is of the engraved type and all control surfaces are molded solid.
The small clear parts tree holds: the cockpit greenhouse transparency, the belly bomb-aimers window and some fuselage windows (5 parts).
The decal sheet completes the kit’s contents. It includes a decal of the instrument panel gauges and the markings for the one scheme already mentioned above.
This is a rather neat Japanese aircraft. I recommend it.