The Kawanishi N1K2-J was designed during the service trials of the N1K1-J as an advanced version. The primary reason for the redesign was to eliminate the need for the long and complex main gear of the earlier version. To achieve this goal the wings were moved from the mid position to the lower fuselage. Conventional main gear legs of reduced length were adopted and the fuselage and tail surfaces were redesigned. The result was a virtually new aircraft retaining only the wings and armament of the N1K1-Jb. In its prototype form the aircraft featured a cleaner cowling for the Homare 21 engine, but to achieve standardization, this was replaced on production aircraft by a cowling similar to that fitted to the N1K1-J. The prototype was flown for the first time on December 31, 1943 and successfully completed it manufacturer trials within fifteen weeks before being handed over to the Navy in April 1944. Despite continuing problems with the Homare engine the Navy realized it had a winner on its hands and authorized quantity production prior to the completion of the service trials. Unfortunately for the Japanese production fell considerably behind schedule due to bombing raids which led to shortages of engines and equipment. In operation the N1K2-J revealed itself as a truly outstanding fighter capable of meeting on equal terms the best Allied fighters. However against the high flying B-29's it was less successful as its climbing speed was insufficient and the power of its Homare engine fell off rapidly at high altitudes. Including prototypes a total of 431 N1K2-J's were produced by the end of the war.
The Hasegawa N1K2-J comes in a large top open box befitting the scale with the usual high quality artwork on the top. Inside the box are two large and two small cellophane bags containing eight sprues of medium gray plastic and one sprue of clear plastic. The largest of the bags contains four sprues which make up the fuselage, wings, horizontal stabilizers, engine and landing gear. The second largest bag contains three sprues which have the tail, interior detail, drop tank and a pilot figure. The smallest bag has the engine cowling and the last bag has the clear parts. While I don't like to see multiple sprues in a bag, at least in my kit everything survived with no damage or parts knocked off the sprues. If you have purchased any of the more recent Hasegawa kits you will find the same quality of molding and detail level in this kit. The only thing I found in the way of surface defects were some slightly sunken spots near the ends of the horizontal stabilizer parts from a large hole molded on the inside of these parts, the purpose of which is unknown. The holes are deep enough that the top surface is very thin, so thin that you can easily see light through it. It may not be an issue once painted. The parts are nearly flash free and cleanly molded with minimal parting seams and the surface has a glossy finish. Hasagawa has done a good job of keeping ejector pin marks away from areas that can be seen. The surface detail consists of fine recessed panel lines with a few recessed fasteners where applicable. The fabric control surfaces are well done with very petite rib tapes molded on. The flaps can be positioned up or down but if you choose the up position some cutting is required. A nice beefy looking wing spar is provided so obtaining the correct wing dihedral should not be a problem. The balance of the control surfaces are molded in the neutral position. The tail is a separate assembly that plugs into the rear of the fuselage. I'm always leery about set ups like that so I hope Hasegawa's engineering is good. The cockpit is well appointed and should please most except those with AMS. It is built up as a separate assembly then install in the fuselage after the fuselage is assembled. A decal is supplied for the instruments. The instruments are raised detail with interiors that can be painted or dry brushed if you have the talent.The engine is also very complete lacking only an ignition harness to set it off.The propeller blades are individual but are keyed so you don't need to worry about setting the blade angle. The kit comes with a drop tank. The wheels are not weighted but do have separate inner and outer hubs that eliminate masking. The kit has a nicely done multi part pilot figure that has a choice of two different heads with different head gear. I don't do parts counts anymore, I'm not convinced anyone cares but if it is that important to you count them on the sprue photos below.
The clear parts are crystal clear and thin and the frame line are well defined. There are separate back pieces to use depending on whether you display the canopy open or closed. See below.
The decals are in register and look a little thick to my eye but not nearly as bad as many Tamiya decals. They do appear to be opaque.There are a bunch of stencils supplied. The sheet supplies markings for two aircraft, both from the 343rd Naval Flying group the 301st and 407th Fighter Squadrons. The stripes are supplied for both of these but I personally would prefer to paint them on. See below.
The instructions are in the form of a 12 page booklet that is stapled together. Page 1 has the history in Japanese and English. Page 2 has a parts map and color chart with Gunze numbers and generic names. Pages 3 through 9 are the assembly steps, pages 10 and 11 have the painting and marking instructions and page 12 has decal instructions and the usual safety warnings. The assembly steps are all very clearly illustrated with the various options marked.
After Market Goodies
At the time of this review the kit was still fairly new and no after market was available as far as I know. I'm sure Eduard will do masks and PE for it in time. If I decide to get any I will post it here at that time.
This is another really lovely kit that should provide not only an easy build fit wise but a nicely detail model right out of the box, highly recommend to all but very beginners.
Links to kit build or reviews
None that I have found at this date.
Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by R.J. Francillon