IntroductionShiden-Kai N1K2-J 'George' Late Type
was released by Platz
in 2006. This iteration was released in 2018 as kit PDR-2
, and the molds are none the worse for wear.
is known for high quality 1/144 aircraft of the Second World War and Cold War, automobile kits, and for models of the Anime/Manga/Gundam genre.
When 1/144 aircraft began to debut in the early 1980's, I bought some Revell Japanese twin-engine planes. One look and I returned them. Though I knew this scale has been making strides and is comparable with larger scales, I had no interest in 1/144. This model has changing my mind!
Graceful as a sumo wrestler, the N1K1-J Shiden
was a private development by Kawanishi of their air superiority floatplane fighter, the N1K Kyofu
(Strong Wind) "Rex", into a land-based interceptor (hence the "-J" suffix). A unique feature was the aircraft's automatic combat flaps that adjusted automatically. Shiden
is widely considered the best Imperial Navy fighter of the war. Built around the powerful 1,990 hp (1,480 kW) Nakajima Homare
NK9H 21 eighteen-cylinder radial engine, extremely maneuverable, packing devastating firepower ( up to two Type 97 7.7mm machine guns and four Type 99 20mm cannons), and able to withstand heavy damage, Shiden
was as threatening as its thunderstorm allegory...
...when it could fly. Shiden’s Homare
NK9H was unreliable. The aircraft retained the mid-mounted wing of the floatplane and the large propeller necessitated long, stalky landing gear. The gear was complex and prone to failure – both before flight and, particularly distressing, upon landing!
Just four days after the Shiden's
first test flight a redesign was begun to remedy defects, primarily repositioning the wings to the bottom of the fuselage to solve the long, complex landing gear issue; the fuselage was lengthened, the tail redesigned, and the whole airframe was made much simpler to produce, eliminating some 18,000 (!) parts. The troublesome Homare
engine was retained because there was no real alternative. Thus came to being the redesignated N1K2-J Shiden kai
, ‘kai’ being short for kaizou 改造 meaning 'modified'.
entered combat for first time in spring 1944. They proved to be excellent dogfighters at low to medium altitudes. N1K-J fighters were mainly used by few units including the elite IJN 343rd Air Group (343 Kokutai), Japan’s "Squadron of Experts" similar to Germany’s JV-44, commanded by Genda Minoru. 343rd Kokutai pilot Muto Kaneyoshi reputedly shot down, by himself, four Hellcats in one dogfight. Had reliable Shidens
been available, the Allies would have had a tougher time over the Pacific. However, the powerful Homare
rapidly lost performance in the rarefied air of the B-29's domain, thus "George" was not useful at the high altitudes the war had moved up into.
Like lightning, Shiden
was a beautifully dangerous flash, then gone. Production problems slowed production and air raids ended it with only 1,435 built. Unknown numbers failed to get airborne. Impressive as Shiden
was, those that got into action only brought obsolescent pre-1942 low to medium altitude performance into an arena moving higher and faster and only eclipsed by the dawning jet age. Shidens
that did engage the enemy eventually ended in the shattering boom of thunder that follows all lightning.
In The Box
The kit includes two N1K2-J Shiden-Kai
model kits. This is a simple kit with few parts. Each "George" is held on one sprue, except for the canopy. Including the "greenhouse" there are 30 parts. Molding is marvelous with crisp fine molding, recessed panel lines, and finely sized parts. Visible ejector marks, seam lines, sink areas, and flash are absent. The surface is smooth. Colorful marking for N1K2-Js are provided on the big silk-screen printed decal sheet by Cartograf, including canopy framing.
Assembly is conventional with left/right fuselage halves with a one-piece canopy, a bottom wing and left/right top wings, a cowl with engine insert and propeller, separate horizontal stabilizers, three-piece cockpit, landing gear (struts, wheels, gear doors), tail wheel, and a four-piece drop tank. The model is about 65mm in length.
Note this is the late type Shiden-Kai
. You can see in the photos that the fuselage has a guide molding into it for cutting away the empennage, presumable for an 'early' aircraft.
Perhaps the most impressive detail are the thin parts. Finely engraved panel lines detail the airframe. Cockpit detail is simple: seat, instrument panel, stick. The seat sides are remarkably thin. Inside the cowl is a simple face of a 1,990 hp (1,480 kW) Nakajima Homare
NK9H 21 eighteen-cylinder radial engine. The main landing gear struts have good contours.
For those of us who do not want to risk painting the fine canopy frames, two decals are provided for the framing. Great idea although one must consider that the ink may not match one's airframe paint.
Fit is very good. I assembled the airframe with tube glue applied with a toothpick. The parts a left no gaps; later I followed up with liquid glue to ensure a tight weld. The wings popped into the fuselage nicely. One model had a slight step at the bottom wing-fuselage junction. A dab of liquid glue and clamping filled it.
I highly recommend magnifiers and precise tweezers (look up those by Wilder reviewed here on KitMaker Network) for handling the parts. Flush-cut sprue nippers are important, too. A minuscule burr will be a big problem on some parts.
The main gear assemblies were most challenging. The struts attach to the gear covers with two very fine pins and holes (about the size of my #80 drill bits [.0135 inch]). The pin/hole size of the wheels are a but bigger.
Tiny as it is, I notice there is a notch at the leading edge of the stabilizer-fuselage attachment on one of the models.
Assembly is straightforward but I recommend good lighting, magnification, and good tweezers.
I painted the operational "George" with Tru-Color TCP-338 SAL Dark Green over TCP-412 Steel. For the prototype ou-shoku
I used Polly Scale Reefer Orange.
Decals and InstructionsPlatz
instructions are clearly illustrated and smartly arranged. The parts are keyed to their sprue number and to color codes.
Look at that decal sheet! You have five choices for these two models:
• Prototype No. 6 Naval Air Technical Arsenal 1944, Yokosuka
• 701st Fighter Squadron, 343rd Naval Flying Group, S/L Oshibuti, April 1945, Matsuyama Air Base
• 407th Fighter Squadron, 343rd Naval Flying Group, S/L Hayashi, April 1945, Matsuyama Air Base
• 301st Fighter Squadron, 343rd Naval Flying Group, August 1945, Omura Air Base
• No. 5243, Kawanishi Factory
The decals are by Cartograf, which is synonymous with high-quality.
The decals are excellent. They do depart the carrier paper quickly and do not curl, they are opaque yet thin, and settle into all surface detail crisply. Micro Sol & Set did not hurt them, not did Solvaset.
Recall that the models have canopy frame decals? Platz
does not include such a decals for the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal prototype, which is clad in ou-shoku
( - yellow colour); you are on your own painting those orange-yellow frames. I simply (and unsatisfactorily) hand-painted the ou-shoku
over the green decal frames and applied the decals.
released a gem with Shiden-Kai N1K2-J 'George' Late Type
. For its age the molds have held up well and the detail and molding are excellent, offering fine crisp molding and detail, with excellent fit. Five airframe decal options are provided, including canopy frame decals (except for the prototype aircraft).
Assembly is simple and fit is about 98% excellent - and that plus or minus 2% could be a flaw in your reviewer, not the model.
"George" is a favorite of Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force modelers and Platz
is a favorite of 1/144 modelers. Now that I have assembled one of these models, I understand why. These are marvelous kits and I happily recommend them.