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Revell 1/32 J2M3 Raiden (Jack) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Revell
Subject J2M3 Raiden (Jack) Scale 1/32
Kit Number H268 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great engraved surface detail and flush rivets for a 37 year old kit. Only 1/32nd scale Jack ever produced Cons Nothing noticeable
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Very rare kit that demands a high price if one is found

First Look


In 1939 the Imperial Japanese Navy issued a specification calling for a new interceptor aircraft, the main consideration being speed and rate of climb. The requirements were a minimum speed of 373 mph at 19,685 ft. and a climb rate to reach this altitude in 5 ½ minutes. The armament was to consist of two 20mm cannon and two 7.72mm machine-guns.

The designer of the now legendary Zero-Sen fighter aircraft, Dr. Jiro Horikoshi, chose as a powerplant for this new aircraft the air-cooled Mitsubishi Ha-32 Kasei Model 13, a 14-cylinder radial engine and work started on the design detailing of the airframe.

Due to shortage of supply, plus serious teething problems with the Model 13 cooling system, the first engines did not become available for the interceptor until early 1942. The prototype J2M1 made it’s first flight in March 1942 and showed great potential although the engine did not perform to expectations in speed or rate of climb.

Subsequent aircraft were fitted with modified engines, and the J2M3 entered service in 1944 with the Mitsubishi Mk. 4 R.A. Kasei Model 23 Ko, a 14 cylinder radial, driving a four-bladed propeller. Armament was also made more effective in the J2M3 and this now comprised four 20mm cannon mounted in the wings.

The J2M3’s first combat engagement with the Allies came at the latter end of 1944, over the Marianas, where a small unit was operating from the island of Guam. However, their main role was in the defense of the Japanese homeland, as interceptors of the big B-29 bombers, with which the Americans were carrying the war to the heart of Japan.

The Allies had assigned the code name of “Jack” to the J2M3, while the Japanese had already given it their own nickname of Raiden or Thunderbolt.

This kit was released by Revell, back in 1971, when they were still based in Venice, California. The kit comes in a tray and lid type box.

The boxart shows a Jack that has just attacked a B-29 and set it on fire. It is in the markings of Flying Officer Aoki, operating with the Tainan Naval Air Group, No. 2, in 1945. This was the first Jack to see combat. It displays yellow lightning flashes on the fuselage, which was a very rare practice within the Japanese Naval Air Force. It carries the type S3 camouflage scheme that is solid dark green above light gray undersurfaces. The leading edges of the wings are yellow. The tail has two Japanese characters in white followed by –101.

A side panel has the history of the Jack next to 3 color illustrations of some features offered in the kit: a detailed cockpit interior, retractable landing gear and a highly detailed engine. On the other side panel is an application blank to join the Revell Master Modelers Club for a buck. That dollar brought you a set of hobby tools consisting of a cement applicator, body putty, a spatula and some holding clamps. Also, a membership certificate and card, subscription to the club’s quarterly magazine, a 32 page color Revell kit catalog and an iron on club emblem to put on your t-shirt. Talk about BANG for your buck!! This club no longer exists. Too bad.

Inside the box are five olive drab trees of parts, a tree of clear parts, the decal sheet and the instructions.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 10” x 8” format.

Page one begins with a black and white repeat of the boxart, followed by the history of the J2M3 Raiden “Jack”

Page two begins with some general instructions and illustrations of hobby tools to use to construct the kit. This is followed by the first 2 assembly steps. Each step has the parts called out by their names, which I find very helpful. Colors to paint things are called out in each step too. Very thorough instructions.

Pages three through 6 give a balance of a total of 9 assembly steps.

Steps 3 & 4 are for assembly of the engine and its extensive exhaust system, and – BOY – is this puppy detailed. Only some wiring would be the only thing more to add to it.

The bottom of page 6 has the painting and decaling drawing.

The first large olive drab tree of parts holds: the engine parts, exhaust pipes, four-bladed propeller and its backing plate and spinner, main wheels, engine firewall and seated pilot figure. The pilot is in two parts: his front and back...(31 parts)

The second large olive drab tree of parts holds: one half of the fuselage, cowling parts, top half of a drop tank, landing gear doors, landing gear legs, etc. (37 parts)

The third large olive drab tree of parts holds: the other half of the fuselage, the horizontal tail surface parts, the bottom half of the drop tank, the pilot seat, cockpit floor, interior bulkhead, dashboard, foot pedals, joystick etc. (13 parts)

The fourth large olive drab tree of parts holds the two parts of the upper wing halves. One wing has an open panel to display the breeches of the 20mm cannons. The last olive drab parts tree is the full span wing bottom part.

Detail on the wings and fuselage is of the engraved variety with very petite flush rivets, excellently done. The fabric work on the wing and tail flaps is very good too, considering this is a 37 year old kit. None of the part trees are cello bagged in the kit and because of that the clear parts tree suffered. All 3 of the canopy parts broke off the tree, due to friction against other trees.

Next is the tree of clear parts. It holds a three piece canopy and cockpit armored glass.

The decal (already described above) and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.