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Thunnus

1/32 Hasegawa N1K2-J Shiden Kai 343-45

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I was going to slot this build in AFTER the Bf109G-14 and Fw 190D-13.  But with the completion of the Ta152H-0, I really wanted to take a break from Luftwaffe subjects and try something new.  So I'm going to slide the D-13 to the right and work on this one alongside the G-14.  This will be my first large scale Japanese fighter build but I have some references and Dennismcc and Bdthoreson's builds to inspire and guide me. Here is the kit...

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I'm planning representing Lt. Takashi Oshibushi's N1K2-J "343-C-45" as depicted in this profile found in Osprey's Aircraft of Aces #129...

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The model comes in a larger than expected top-opening box.  The box is bigger than other Hasegawa kits that I'm used to including the Bf109s and Fw190Ds.  The primary reason is that this fighter was a BIG BEEFY aircraft.  The majority of the typical Hasegawa grey parts are packed into a single plastic bag.  I prefer separate bags for each sprue to protect the parts but I didn't notice anything broken.

The fuselage is noticeably deep and wide... reminds me of the P-47.  Molding is typical of Hasegawa, very fine with very little flash.
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Panel detail is primarily recessed with a few raised features where appropriate.  Rivets are restricted to a certain areas and are not universally represented.  I like this approach.  It gives the option to the modeler and I find that manually applied rivets using a tool such as RB Productions Rivet-R are much more scale appropriate than can be achieved with the injection molding process.
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The wheel wells are inserts that are appropriately deep but not too heavily detailed.  I'll have to check my references to see if any additions are warranted.
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This sprue is large because the wings are huge.  They accommodate twin 20mm cannon on each side, which offered devastating firepower.
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The detail is beautifully molded.  Check out the thin piece of wing on the trailing edge at the wing root... the proverbial "accident waiting to happen".
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The cockpit is a tub configuration comprised primarily of the floor and two sidewalls.  I like this modular approach to the cockpit as it simplifies the painting process instead of having details molded into the fuselage interior.
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The molding is of the highest quality but the main cockpit components are not heavily detailed.  Again, I'll refer to my references to see if any additional details can be added.  The cockpit is pretty big and spacious, judging by the width of the floor panel but the sidewalls curve narrower at the canopy opening and the view into the interior from the outside might be very restricted.
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The engine seems to be represented quite well.  I'm looking forward to working on the 2,000 HP Nakajima Homare engine because it is a radial and I've been working on inline engines that are hidden from view.  The aerodynamic spinner will hide some of the engine but you should still be able to peek into the cowl opening and see the powerplant.
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I think Hasegawa reserves its best work for Japanese subjects.  The exhaust pipes, which are no bigger than what you'd find on a Bf109 or Fw190D-9, feature hollowed openings, which I don't typically see on Luftwaffe kits by Hasegawa.  These were accomplished most likely with slide molding.
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The landing gear legs feature molded on hydraulic lines, which appear to be round in cross-section... again, a nice touch that I've not seen on Hasegawa Luftwaffe kits.
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The single bag approach scratched up the spinner but the damage looks to be superficial only.
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Similar to the 109 and 190D series of kits from Hasegawa, the N1K2-J features a separate tail.  This allows Hasegawa to release another version of the N1K2-J that featured a smaller tail without creating a brand new set of molds.  Makes economic sense for Hasegawa but creates more work for the modeler.
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The engine cowling is impressive molded in a single piece.  Hasegawa protected this unique feature by packing it in its own bag.
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There is a curious "leftover" sprue that seems to catch all of the parts that Hasegawa couldn't fit on the main sprues.  Hasegawa took advantage of slide molding again to hollow out the cannon barrels.
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The clear parts wrap up the sprue tour of the N1K2-J kit.  Similar to Tamiya's F4U Corsair kit, Hasegawa offers two rear canopy versions to accommodate open or closed canopy positions.  This is a nice touch that takes into account the not-to-scale thickness of the clear parts.
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I'll probably not start in earnest on this build for a quite a while.  I want to get the G-14 further along and am also waiting for some things in the mail, like a new rivet tool that has been stuck in the postal system for months now. 

 

The aftermarket list for this build is quite short.  I have the Brengun Photoetch set for the N1K2.  As with most PE stuff, I usually pick and choose the things that I feel are worth the trouble.  It's got the seat harnesses but we'll have to see if I can get the metal belts to look somewhat natural.  The set also includes the instrument panel, which will be a good option to the kit IP.
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Although the kit cannon barrels might be perfectly usable, I ordered a set of brass barrels from RB Models in Poland.  Also stuck in postal delays.
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Besides the Eduard canopy masks, that's pretty much it for the aftermarket stuff.  As for references, I've built up a few key resources that I can refer to for this build.  I just got the Aero Detail 26, which is a nice publication...
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I've also got PDF versions of a few Japanese language publications including...

The Maru Mechanic 21
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Model Art 587
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Bunrin Do Famous Airplanes of the World 53
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One of the things that caught my eye as I was taking photos of the sprues was the pilot figure.  It is one of the nicest figures I've seen molded in injection plastic.  It comes with two heads with different head covering styles.
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The decal sheet even comes with an assortment of uniform badges and insignias.  Like I said, I think Hasegawa goes the extra step on these Japanese aircraft subjects.
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I'm a horrible figure painter but this one is so nice that I feel obligated to at least assemble it.  Looks as good as a resin figure doesn't it?  There are some injector pin marks on the arms and legs that I'm currently filling.  At this point, I'm committed to assembling the figure, cleaning up the glue joints and then giving him a coat of primer but will not promise anything further than that.
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Super cool.  Looking forward to following another build of this kit!  I may have to advance this one in the queue...

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Thanks for that excellent overview of the kit, one of the most useful reviews I've ever read. Looking forward to seeing you work your magic on this. 

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As with any new project, the inclination is to jump right in and start on the build but I can't do that yet.  Mr Hobby developed a lacquer paint set specifically for the N1K2-J and I've ordered the exterior Kawanishi Green as well as the interior beige green color.  So I don't want to get ahead of myself without the cockpit paint.
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So I played around with the seat today.  A pretty basic affair that can be easily spruced up.
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First, I drilled out the lightening holes which are represented as recessed circles, offering a good guide for the mini drill bits.
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The seat was then thinned.  Although some overall thinning was performed, most of my focus was on the edges.  Simply thinning the edges of an object can go a long way in making the entire object seem thin.
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As promised, I have assembled the figure, cleaned up all of the seams and shot the pilot with a coat of primer.
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He looks quite happy, he must've gotten clearance to go...either that or that seat is really comfortable now. :) 

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5 hours ago, Thunnus said:

As with any new project, the inclination is to jump right in and start on the build but I can't do that yet.  Mr Hobby developed a lacquer paint set specifically for the N1K2-J and I've ordered the exterior Kawanishi Green as well as the interior beige green color.  So I don't want to get ahead of myself without the cockpit paint.
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Good to know about these paints, how long have they been around and where did you find them? Looking forward to the green. 

 

Cheers Bevan 

 

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16 hours ago, Scale32 said:

Good to know about these paints, how long have they been around and where did you find them? Looking forward to the green. 

 

Cheers Bevan 

 

 

Bevan, I just stumbled onto these paints as I was doing internet research for the build.  I don't know their history but I'm guessing that they may have been released after Hasegawa released their N1K2 kit based on the shared artwork.

 

Shipping from Asia to US can take some time so it might be a while before I get the paints.  So in the meantime, let's concentrate on the seat some more!  Thanks to my lovely reference book, I've notice some more lightening holes in the sides of the bucket seat so I drilled those out.
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There are some seat enhancements in the Brengun brass set so I can add those.
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One of the biggest challenges is finding the right piece on the busy fret.
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Two bits of brass that will probably get covered up by the seat harnesses.
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Brengun proposes some very interesting origami challenges.  In such cases, I never remove or destroy the kit part until the replacement is satisfactorily assembled.
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Let's take a look at the landing gear legs.  As I mentioned in my spue review, Hasegawa thoughtfully included a brake line on the leg AND molded it with a round cross-section, which is pretty impressive.  Upon closer inspection, that round cross-section isn't consistent.  I guess there are limitations to the injection molding process. There are a couple of spots where this happens.  Here's one...
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A bit of careful carving renders the plastic into a more convincing brake line.
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Here is the other spot.  Ah, the things one can improve when you have the time and inclination!
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The wheels are comprised of four parts: the two tire halves, one inner wheel cover and one outer wheel cover.  Each component is keyed so that the outer wheel cover has a specific orientation to the gear leg.  Instead of using the keys and trying to guess the location of the tire flat spot in relation to this position, I'm going to remove the keys and glue the outer wheel cover last after I've oriented the flat spot on the ground.
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One tedious task that can be addressed now is the insert for the bottom of the wing.  I think, based on my reference, there are differences in this area between the N1K2-J and N1K2-Ja (Late Version) and hence the insert.  The wing itself gives an indication of the size of the Shiden Kai.
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The wing inserts are a tight but not quite exact fit.  Unlike Tamiya, who boldly mold external panels along actual panel line joints because they are confident that the fit will be good enough without having to use putty,  Hasegawa is more realistic and figures, "hey if you're going to have to use putty, you may as well fill the joint completely".  Tamiya's approach is the best but only Tamiya seems capable of pulling it off.  Without Tamiya's engineering and molding prowess, Hasegawa's alternative s an acceptable to this modeler.
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The ammo ejection chutes are doubly blocked by the insert itself and the wing.  
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I removed the first layer of blockage by opening up the chutes on the insert.
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That makes the chute less shallow but still blocked.
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I started to chain drill the second layer through the wing bottom but I stopped after one hole.
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Need to check my references first.  Obviously there is a gun body somewhere in that hole that I'm not going to represent.  Is it better to open up the hole completely or should I block them off somehow?

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