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Tomy 1/32 N1K2-J Shinden-Kai (George) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review July 2008 Manufacturer Tomy
Subject N1K2-J Shinden-Kai (George) Scale 1/32
Kit Number HP-2 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat large kit of the Japanese George Cons Motorization holes and gizmos to eliminate; Decals
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The N1K2-J was a complete redesign begun only four days after the “Shindens” first test flight, to address the N1KI-J’s major defects, primarily the mid-mounted wing and long landing gear. The wings were moved to a lower position, which permitted the use of conventional landing gear legs. The fuselage was lengthened, the tail redesigned, and the whole aircrft was made much simpler to produce and to use fewer critical materials in short supply at the time. The Homare engine was retained, since there was no alternative, even though it’s reliability problems had not been fully corrected. A prototype flew on 1 January 1944 and was rushed into production after Navy trials in April. The aircraft was named the “Shinden-Kai”, Kai standing for “modified”.

The aircraft entered service in early 1944 and proved highly effective against American fighters, though mechanically unreliable. The engine was difficult to maintain and, like the complicated undercarriage, plagued by frequent failures. N1K1-J aircraft were used effectively over Formosa, the Philippines and later, Okinawa. Before production was switched to the improved N1K2-J, 1,007 aircraft were produced, including prototypes.

Problems resulted in very few aircraft being produced, but the Shinden-Kai proved to be one of the best dogfighters fielded by either side. Along with high speed, the fighters were very agile, with a roll rate of 82 deg/sec @ 240 mph (390 km/h). Their weaponry was very effective, comprising of four 20 mm cannons in the wings and a pair of machine-guns in the nose. As a bomber interceptor, it was less successful, because of a poor rate of climb and reduced engine performance at high altitude.

Because of production difficulties, and damage caused by B-29 Superfortress raids on Japanese factories, only 415 fighters were produced. Consequently, N1K-J fighters were mainly used by units like the elite IJN 343rd Air Group (343 Kokutai) commanded by Minoru Genda. The new Shinden was principally involved in the battles fought in the last year of the war. The 343 Kokutai (343rd Naval Fighter Group) was constituted on 25 December 1944 by Captain Minoru Genda, the veteral naval aviator who had previously masterminded the attack on Pearl Harbor. Another unit bearing the 343 number had previously existed, but was disbanded in July 1944. The new 343rd Kokutai consisted of the best pilots and the best fighters available. One of the more prominent 343rd Kokutai pilots was Kaneyoshi Muto, reputed to have single-handedly shot down four Hellcats. The unit was also equipped with the new C6N Saiun “Myrt” long-range reconnaisance aircraft.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a “George” of the 343rd Kokutai downing a Hellcat. It is camouflaged in dark green above gray with the white code 343-15 on the rudder with the letter A above that, all in white. There are 5 white kill marks below the rear of the cockpit transparency on the side and a diagonal fuselage band in yellow, white, yellow. One side panel shows this same aircraft in profile, with various tabs pointing at things on it with Japanese captions. I haven’t a clue what it’s telling us here. The other side panel has color illustrations of 3 aircraft: a Oscar, a P-51D and a type 21 Zero. Below these is more Japanese and 1/32nd. I assume that these are illustrations of other kits that TOMY markets in 1/32nd scale?

Inside the box are 2 dark green trees of parts, loose dark green wing halves, fuselage halves, an alternate propeller and the cowling. There is a tree of clear parts and a tube of glue, some wire and some brass parts. These are all pretty much individually cello bagged in unsealed cellos. The decal sheet, instructions, a sheet of full color marking instructions complete the kit’s contents.

The instructions consist of a stapled booklet of 8 pages in 13 ¾” x 7 ½” format.

Page one has the history of the George in Japanese only, with a black and white repeat of the boxart. Pages two through 6 give a total of 10 assembly steps. These are all accompanied by Japanese text only.

Page 7 is the parts trees illustrations.

Page 8 has a listing of the names of all the parts in the hit and the individual amounts of each part. (again, in Japanese). This is followed by TOMY’s address and phone number.

TOMY also markets this kit as a motorized one. This means that assembly steps 3 and 4 show how to mount the electric motor, battery box, wires and brass switches. Since this is the static version of the kit that they market, switch holes will have to be filled with putty and motorization parts discarded. Because the battery box goes below the cockpit, the cockpit part has been abbreviated. The floor of it sits very high and there is a pilot figure molded from just his chest on up to mount to the seat. Some extra scratch building is needed to better detail this area for sure. There are 2 alternate 4-bladed propellers in the kit. One is for the aircraft if it is motorized and the other is for a static model. However, with the wording on the assembly step that shows this being in Japanese, I haven’t a clue which is which to use…sigh.

The good news is that this model has engraved panel lines and rivet detail. Very petite and well done.

The part trees, on the sprues and also the parts tree drawings are not alphabetized, but they are numbered.

The first tree illustrated on the parts tree drawings holds the two fuselage halves.

The second tree holds: the pilot figure, main wheels, engine parts, cockpit floor, 20 mm wing cannon barrels, bombs etc. (51 parts)

The third tree holds the wing halves. The lower wing half is full-span. (3 parts)

The fourth tree holds: one of the propellers (as mentioned, there is also a loose one in the kit), the dashboard, a drop tank, the horizontal tail surfaces, main landing gear legs, cowling, tail wheel, main gear doors, battery compartment, joy stick, wing flap balances etc. (32 parts)

The clear parts tree holds 3 parts of the canopy. This means that the canopy can be posed open or shut as preferred.

There is a large sheet in the box that is folded in the center to fit the box. It has full color illustrations for 4 painting and marking schemes. One scheme is just shown as a side profile and the other three are profiles and illustrations split down the center to show one half as the undercarriage colors and the other half as the top surfaces. Three schemes are in all dark green upper surfaces. One of them has darker green patches over the dark green and 3 have all gray undercarriages, the fourth one having bare metal below.

Two of the schemes are for what I believe were with the Yokosuka Naval Air Group. One has the tail code of a backwards letter “E” followed by III in white. The second one has the tail code of a backwards letter “E” followed by –104 also in white. I have been told that the backwards letter “E” symbol is “Yo” in Japanese (per Thorpe’s book on Japanese markings). This is the aircraft with the bare metal undersurfaces.

Two schemes for the 343rd Kokutai. One is the boxart subject, already described above. However, the tail code is shown differently here. The letter A is not above the numbers. Instead it is shown as 343A15 all in a row. This same aircraft is shown in Profile no. 213 book that I have, as a 4-view. The tail code appears as being yellow in this illustration and is 343-A15 there. On the kit’s decal sheet, this last arrangement is how the decal shows it, but in white and not yellow.

Makes me wonder which is correct??? The profile says that the white kill marks on this aircraft are for 5 confirmed kills and one as a probable.

The final scheme is for an aircraft of the 343rd , with the tail code 343-C-41 in white. This is the one with the 2 colors of green on the upper surfaces.

All the schemes have the leading edges of the wings as yellow.