Mitsubishi J2M Raiden 雷電 Lightning Bolt “Jack” Build in 1/72

This is a re-boxing of the old Hasegawa Mitsubishi J2M Raiden tool from 1977.  All the Hasegawa kits use the same tool, it has the typical limitations of basic cockpit and shallow wheelwells like most of their kits of the era.  The engine on this one is hidden behind a forced cooling fan, similar to the FW 190.  This is another model show find, the box was a mess as it had gotten wet and the kit had been started.  The original builder had thrown in some spares from other kits and had detached many of this kit’s parts from the sprues so initially I was not even sure everything was there, but it was had for a give-away price and who doesn’t want spare parts?
One of the bits in the box was this nice sheet of Eduard PE.  I figured even if the kit was missing enough parts to be unbuildable this fret alone was worth what I paid.  Besides, if the main assemblies were all usable there are enough bits in my spare box to fill out the kit.
The kit cockpit was basic and without any form of detail so I set it aside and began building up a replacement.  The guts of this one are castings of the Tamiya Shiden cockpit modified to better represent what should be in a Raiden, along with an aftermarket resin seat.  The seat is probably the most visible item in a cockpit so getting that & the belts to look convincing goes a long way.
Here is the cockpit painted and glossed with a Tamiya wash to add depth.  Belts and console faces are printed from photographic paper.
I hate shallow wheelwells and usually re-build them when I can, even though they are obviously on the underside of the model and therefor hard for the casual viewer to see.  They were rebuilt with the Eduard photoetch fret and the seams filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.
Here is the model primed with Mr. Surfacer.  In spite of the kit’s age, Hasegawa did a fine job with the surface engraving and the fit is pretty good overall.  I have added gear down indicators from bronze rod and navigation lights using clear plastic from a CD case.
These are the wheelwells under primer.  The Raiden has the transparent blue primer finish in the wheelwells which unfortunately will obscure most of the fine relief etched into the PE.
One problem with modeling Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft is you wind up with the same basic scheme over and over.  Here is the Raiden with Mr. Color paints matched to the Iliad design paint chips.  Manufacturing was done at several different plants and the Japanese manufacturers each used their own paint mixes – if you wanted to devise a plan to perpetually confuse modelers that is an excellent way to go.  The Mr. Color Nakajima Dark Green was a great match for the Iliad Design Mitsubishi chip, but Raidens were produced by both Mitsubishi and Koza Air Arsenal so be skeptical if anyone claims to know the actual colors with certainty!
At this point everything began to go wrong and the build became “snake bit” as we say here in the U.S.  I used Print Scale decals for the lightning bolts and the tail codes, but the lightning bolts looked way too pale when on the model (the Print Scale Hinomaru were not used for the same reason).  In addition, the carrier film was laughably flimsy and the decals tended to fold and ball up given the slightest opportunity.  Even worse, I had a “senior moment” when I was removing the excess panel line wash and reached for the lacquer thinner instead of the much slower standard paint thinner which I use for that purpose.  The result is I stripped off the gloss coat and got down into the paint and the ink on the decals before I caught the error, as you can see on the port side of the fuselage.
The lightning bolts were the wrong color anyway, so I re-painted everything as best as I could with a fine brush.  It looks okay from a distance, but this one is now destined to skip the shows and go directly to the display case.  On top of all that, one of the Master replacement gun barrels pinged off into the quantum realm, never to be seen again.  Tubing is standing in until a another arrives from Hannants.  I’d still like to build a nice Raiden someday, so if I find another at a show maybe I’ll have another go!