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Hasegawa 1/32 scale Raiden

Kit:ST32 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$74.99
Beautifully molded and engineered; multiple options; interesting markings
Cowl gun-port plugs necessary for this version are hard to install
Injection-molded, 175 parts (4 vinyl), decals
It’s hard to believe the Mitsubishi’s burly Raiden, Allied code name “Jack,” came from the same manufacturer as the agile and sleek Zero fighter. But in homeland defense during the last year of World War II, it was a deadly adversary of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

Hasegawa’s 1/32 scale Raiden ends the long wait for a successor to the 30-plus-year-old Revell kit. This new kit is beautifully molded and engineered, with crisp, clean parts in neutral gray plastic. Features include full engine detail, a detailed cockpit, a pilot figure, a drop tank, two propeller versions, and a posable canopy.

I really like Hasegawa’s approach to the parts breakdown, which usually lets you work on several assemblies at the same time. I started construction with the nicely detailed cockpit and well-designed wing assembly concurrently. The cockpit takes quite a bit of time to complete; there are a lot of parts.

The wing assembly glides together. Hasegawa has provided for a sturdy structure with a three-piece wing-spar box and two outer wing supports.

For strength, the fuselage assembly is designed along the line of the wing, with no fewer than five cross-member supports! After installing the cockpit module and all the supports, I was pleased to find the fuselage halves joined together neatly.

The wing attached perfectly to the fuselage. Glue carefully and you won’t need any filler at the joint.

The engine assembly is complete, from the intake fan through the air-intake tunnel, finishing with the twin-row Kasei 23 radial engine and exhaust system. The cowling can be attached without glue if you wish to display the engine.

Judging by the parts breakdown and covered-over areas, future versions of the Raiden are planned. Given this, I did not like the cowl gun-port plugs necessary for this version. They were hard to install and blend in. One cowling should not be used for handling multiple versions, in my opinion.

A beautifully molded pilot figure is included; three optional heads and sets of arms allow variations for a more candid appearance.
I painted my Raiden using the Gunze Sangyo Hobby Color range of Japanese naval air colors.

Decals are given for two Raiden schemes. I went with the lightning bolt. The decals applied well to a gloss base coat, but be careful — they’re fragile!
My primary reference was Famous Airplanes of the World: Navy Interceptor “Raiden,” edited by Ichiro Mitsui and published by Bunrin Do (no ISBN). I also found useful Mushroom Model’s special Mitsubishi J2M Raiden: Jack, by Robert Pęczkowski (ISBN 978-83-916327-7-2). The completed model looks good against these references’ photos and drawings.

I completed my Raiden in 27 hours, and it was an enjoyable build. Hasegawa’s well-thought-out design can be handled by modelers at all experience levels. If you are into large-scale WWII Japanese fighters, don’t pass this one up!


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