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Tamiya 1/48 J2M3 Raiden w/Type 95 Kurogane Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2008 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject J2M3 Raiden w/Type 95 Kurogane Scale 1/48
Kit Number 89759 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Limited edition with two nice kits and extras for a VERY reasonable price! Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Around $20 (see text)

First Look


The J2M was a purpose-built interceptor built by Mitsubishi to provide protection against high-altitude bomber attacks. The aircraft named Raiden (Thunderbolt) and codenamed 'Jack' was a relatively small airframe with an 1800 horsepower engine and a loaded weight of under 7700 pounds. The result (once the inevitable bugs were worked out) was an aircraft that could effectively attack high altitude bombers with its four 20mm cannons.

Its Mitsubishi MK4U-4 engine was a twin-row, 14 cylinder engine that had a three-speed supercharger to provide consistent power through its operational flight envelope. Translating that much power into thrust from a small airframe meant that a large three-bladed propeller was out of the question. The Raiden turned a four-bladed propeller to keep the propeller short enough not to plow the airfield during take-off and landing. Nevertheless, the aircraft must have been a handful during take-off and at low speed-high power to keep that engine torque from rolling the aircraft out of control.

The J2M's first flight was a mere month before Doolittle's B-25s made their appearance over Tokyo. The threat of enemy bomber attack had gone from theory to reality. By the time B-29s started appearing in the Pacific, the Raiden was online, but still not available in sufficient numbers to effectively blunt the Superfortresses attacks.

J2M3 Raiden

Here is an interesting mix of old and new. I'm not certain if this really is a Raiden kit with a free Kurogane or a Kurogane kit with a free Raiden. Either way, this kit is a limited edition bargain worth noting!

First the old: This 1/48 J2M3 Raiden kit is one of Tamiya's oldest toolings still in production. The kit is a model of simplicity with only six steps in the instructions needed to complete the build. The exterior detail is scribed, which is impressive for a kit of its age, yet that exterior detailing will hold its own against contemporary toolings.

The cockpit is sparse, consisting of only nine parts. I should have looked inside the Planes of Fame Raiden to see if the real aircraft is as spacious as portrayed in the kit. Somehow I don't think so. Detailing out this cockpit wouldn't be hard to do with the variety of aftermarket details that are out there and a little scratch-building skill to pull it all together. While you're at it, you'll need to modify the kit canopy as it is one-piece with the windscreen. You can open it, but you may want to vac the clears. You can also simply build the kit with the canopy closed and the pilot figure seated inside and nobody would be the wiser!

There is no engine detail, but that is just fine for this aircraft. Like the Fw 190D and its Jumo engine, all you can see down the front is the fan and radiator. The exhaust stacks are molded into the fuselage sides which is also fine for most modelers, though the AMS modeler will want to replace these. Again, not rocket science.

The kit comes with the option to build the model gear-up (one-piece gear doors) or gear down; and a centerline drop tank.

Markings are provided for three examples.

Type 95 Kurogane

Tamiya has been expanding its selection of 1/48 scale armored and soft-skin vehicle offerings and the latest gem is the Type 95 Kurogane. This vehicle entered production in 1937 as the world's first practical four-wheel-drive vehicle and was used throughout the Pacific and Asian theaters during the war.

This kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on one parts tree, plus a separately molded body, and a tree of clear parts. Like the other vehicles in this series, the Kurogane has nice detailing under the chassis as well as around the body and inside the interior. This will become more impressive when the completed model is given an effective paint and weathering session.

One of the interesting twists in this kit is the convertible top. This kit does not have a part to depict the soft top down, that is available in the stand-alone version of this model. The kit does have the covertible top up and this assembly consists of three parts molded in clear which allows the rear windows to be molded integral into the top and simply masked off during painting. I don't think this version of the top is available in the stand alone version of this kit, but I may be mistaken here.

The kit is rounded out with a standing figure with his ceremonial sword. The stand alone version of the Kurogane kit also includes a seated driver figure, but not in this release. Instead, we have extras!


This kit is rounded out with a single tree of parts molded in dark gray styrene and comprise six figures standing and waving, a not-uncommon formation when a pilot departs on a difficult combat mission.

Tamiya has a pair of gems in this box and at a serious bargain. HobbyLink Japan lists this special edition at under $20 USD, where the Kurogane alone is around $12.75 USD and the Raiden alone runs under $15.00 USD. Add those figures and you have an inexpensive vignette in a box.

If you're looking for a colorful subject that centers around that impressive muscle fighter, grab this limited edition bargain while you can!

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!