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Raiden

Sword 1/72 J2M5/6 Raiden (Jack) Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2012 Manufacturer Sword
Subject J2M5/6 Raiden (Jack) Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72060 Primary Media Styrene/Resin
Pros Easy multimedia kit Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $32.98

First Look

Raiden
Raiden
Raiden

The Imperial Japanese Navy issued a requirement for a point defense fighter that could be used to protect the homeland as well as forward operating bases from enemy bombers. The Mitsubishi Aircraft Company designed the J2M to meet that specification, pairing an airframe that was slightly larger than their A6M Zero with an engine that was roughly twice as powerful. With more armament, more armor, and less fuel, the J2M looked like the ideal solution on paper. First flown in early 1942, the Kasei engine was experiencing development problems along with the propeller pitch control mechanism and landing gear problems. These bugs would eventually be worked out by the time of the main production variant, the J2M3.

First entering service in October 1943, the J2M3 wouldn't see combat until June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Providing area air defense, the J2M3 would be deployed around forward bases in the Pacific as well as around northern bases to protect against Soviet incursions. In its homeland defense mission, the J2M3 was one of the better interceptors against the high-altitude B-29 Superfortress but the J2M3's main weakness was that the engine was normally aspirated and engine performance was degraded at those altitudes. Nevertheless, the J2M3's pilots were able to intercept the B-29s and make good use of their four 20mm cannons before the B-29s received P-51 escorts and their attacks were switched to nighttime operations. Once the J2M3's weakness was identified from combat experience, Mitsubishi set out to supercharge the Kasei engine but these aircraft didn't reach operational status in sufficient numbers before the end of the war to make a difference.

Sword has released a new-tool kit for the J2M Raiden in 1/72 scale. This kit represents the J2M5 or J2M6 variants of this interceptor, with other variants released in different boxings. Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on two parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts and one set of resin details.

The kit features some nice detailing in the cockpit but for some strange reason, the canopy is molded as one piece with windscreen. You won't see much inside once this kit assembled. Nevertheless, the kit provides some nice details rendered in resin with the cockpit sidewalls, gun sight, and pilot's seat, plus lots of features provided in styrene. There is lots of details in here and it might be worth risking some surgery to open up the cockpit.

Among the features and options:

  • Super-detailed cockpit
  • Two different gun barrel types depending on version
  • Two different propeller types depending on version
  • Choice of engine fan on propeller spinner (or no fan)
  • Choice of carburetor intake scoops
  • Optional drop tanks

Aside from the non-opening canopy, the only other odd thing that jumps out is the way the engine exhaust stubs are fitted to the cowling using scallop-shaped edges not representative of the actual aircraft.

Techmod decals are provided for three examples:

  • J2M5, 191, Kyushi Air Group, Bo Naval Air Station, Shanghai, China
  • J2M5, 32-124, 322 Naval Air Group, Naruo Air Station, Japan
  • J2M6, 3D-183, 302 Naval Air Group, Atsugi Air Station, Japan

The decal sheet has a complete set of airframe stencils in addition to all of the subject-specific markings.

This looks like another nice kit from Sword and should go together nicely in the hands of the experienced modeler.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!

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