legend and history
A legend in model aircraft lore is the story of George, Jack and Tony Revell, a trio of 1/32 Imperial Japanese fighters: Jack, the Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden “Thunderbolt,” Tony, the Kawasaki Ki-61-I Kai Hein "Swallow" and George, the Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden “Violet Lightning.” Revell created and released these for the Japanese market via their Revell-Japan subsidiary in the early 1970's. After several production runs the trio’s molds were shipped ( by ship ) to another Revell subsidiary. The ship sank, the molds lost at sea! We can only hope they are enjoying Model Valhalla with the Aurora molds bought by Monogram and destroyed in a train wreck.
Revell also issued two other 1/32 World War Two Japanese fighters, a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, and a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa "Oscar." Neither is considered remarkable.
The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the incredible Mitsubishi A6M ReiShikiSen. It was strictly a local-defense interceptor intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of ( by Japanese standards ) maneuverability. The J2M was a sleek but stubby craft with its over-sized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with a long extension shaft. Pilot visibility was poor. A total of 621 aircraft were built by Mitsubishi, and 128 J2M3 were built by Koza Naval Air Arsenal. The Raiden made its combat debut in June 1944, during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Several J2Ms operated from Guam and Saipan and a small number of aircraft were deployed to the Philippines. The Raiden is best remembered for intercepting B-29 Superfortress raids over the Japanese home islands.
found in the box
Eighty-seven olive green plastic, four clear parts and a decal sheet make up this model. Some kits were issued with vinyl tires. Surface detail is engraved with subtle rivet and fastener details. The engraving is subtle and fine. Students of the Jack note some panels and lines are missing, while others are inaccurate. Also noted are shape inaccuracies with the vertical stabilizer, rear fuselage top, and fuselage between the cowl and canopy. Otherwise, the kit scores high on profile accuracy.
Many mold marks and flaws will bedevil you. There is also some flash. There is a great deal of latitude for detailing. This kit was a transition between the model as a toy, and as a historical miniature.
The landing gear retracts but the wheel wells have no detail aside from the inside of the top wing. The landing struts need help. The gear doors have good detailing on their insides, though marred by mold marks.
The 20 mm Type 99 cannon are represented by full and partial weapons.
You build the cockpit with a floor, instrument panel, a mockery of a seat, rudder pedals and control stick. Inside the fuselage halves are molded sidewall details. Not up to today’s standards, but pleasingly detailed. It begs for extra detailing as the cockpit is cavernous and visible.
The kit’s 17- part Mitsubishi MK4U-4 Kasei 26a 14-cylinder 1,820 hp radial engine features great detail, including individual exhaust pipes. The cylinders are very well detailed. It is a shame you cannot see any of it when the cowl is on. The cowling flaps are molded individually and can be positioned open or closed.
All of the decals appear thin and well printed. I have read that the provided codes are wrong.
Acclaimed as one of old Revell's best efforts, you can build an impressive Raiden. The size of the model and accessability to the cockpit, gun bay and wheel wells afford immense potential for super-detailing. I built this bird when it first came out and fondly remember it. Be warned, it is a rare kit and will probably be expensive. I was $80 lighter attaining it a few years ago.
For reviews of Revell's other legendary 1/32 Imperial Japanese fighters mentioned above, please see:
1/32 Kawasaki Ki-61 1Kai Hein
1/32 N1K1-Ja Shiden 11 "George"