Cybermodeler Online

Celebrating 24 years of hobby news and reviews




The appearance of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, or NASA imagery or art does not constitute an endorsement nor is Cybermodeler Online affiliated with these organizations.


  • Facebook
  • Parler
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • YouTube

J7W1 Shinden

Zoukei-Mura 1/32 J7W1 Shinden Build Review

By Rob Pollock

Date of Review November 2013 Manufacturer Zoukei-Mura Inc.
Subject J7W1 Shinden Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32001 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best Shinden kit in any scale Cons See text
Skill Level Experiened MSRP (Yen) ¥9800 (under $120.00 USD)

Build Review

For a look at this kit out of the box, look here.

Here is Zoukei-Mura's J7W1 Shinden (Magnificent Lightning) in 1/32. For an aircraft that reached only prototype stage (the only remaining airframe languishing in pieces in the Smithsonian Museum), it has attracted a surprising level of interest from model manufacturers over the years. Zoukei-Mura themselves have recently released the Shinden in quarter-scale. ( Click here for a look at our 1/32 J7W1 Shinden First Look)

The 1/32 version was reviewed here in December 2010, and the strengths of the kit were noted. Having built the kit, I concur that there are many fine details that nonetheless can still be further enhanced with judicial use of simple cables and wiring effects. A case in point is the engine, which builds into a wonderful mini-kit itself; there are several dozen parts. As well as wiring the engine, I also added further detail to the wheel wells, cockpit, and gun bays. There are now available several aftermarket sets to enhance detail across the scope of the build, but frankly I believe one would simply be 'gilding the lily'.

In promotional photographs, Z-M show the kit in its skeletal stage, with the frames, braces, and engine. This part of the build is in fact straight forward if the modeler exercises caution and patience, and the engineering associated with this early part of the build is first-rate. However, as noted by several modelers, the complex curvatures and inter-linking details of many of the panels can prove a frustrating modeling experience.

Because of the wealth of detail in the engine compartment and gun bays, I chose to leave off three panels, to better view the details beneath. Two of these panels would have dropped into place without issues, had I chosen to set them, because of the time I'd spent preparing them. That said, I had some difficulty reconciling panel-to-panel fit in other areas, even though individual units settled in their respective rebates well enough. It's paramount that the modeler follows the carpenter's mantra: measure twice, cut once. Patience and care applied to each panel should result in clean lines. The Cybermodeler rating of 'experienced' for this kit is correct.

For painting, I used White Ensign IJN grey underside, and the rest of the model was painted using Vallejo Olive Green with a touch of Vallejo Burnt Umber to take down the OG a little, with other details picked out as required. To note, the decals aren't good, which was a surprise and disappointment for a kit of this detail (and expense).

The Cybermodeler review referred to the kit instructions. These are in Japanese, with the occasional English word appearing at odd places (not necessarily helpfully). The instructions are diagrammatic, and while this should 'translate' into a universally understood set of instructions, it's not always the case. I used the Concept Notes #1 book (purchased separately), which was helpful in the explanation of certain details, and also included a walk-around of the Smithsonian airframe and a gallery of builds by Japanese modelers. Oddly, I noticed that some sections of the CN build differed from the kit instructions, but they got there in the end.

At a model show recently, where this build was on display, I overheard one modeler's comment to another, that, 'It's nice to see one of these actually finished!'

A great kit? Yes, in parts. The best Shinden? Yes, definitely.

J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden J7W1 Shinden