Finemolds are (I believe) an off-shoot of Hasegawa, and the Reppu displays all the good qualities we've come to expect from the latter company. The kit is beautifully moulded in hard pale grey plastic., with finely engraved panel lines and subtly represented fabric control surfaces.
Finemolds' instructions are printed in English and Japanese and parts' names and colours are clearly indicated.
Interior detail is very nicely done, with a 16-piece cockpit, which should look excellent when painted. No seat-harness is provided, but Finemolds market a range of after-market extras including etched belts and a detailed gunsight.
The undercarriage and engine are equally nice and should look good with the addition of brake lines and an ignition-harness.
A seated pilot is supplied, plus 2 standing figures - a ground crewman and an officer. These are nicely moulded and their inclusion is a neat touch.
The kit includes optional open and closed canopies, which are very clear and distortion-free.
Since the Reppu never saw service, colour schemes are obviously limited. However, Finemolds supply decals for 3 aircraft; an overall orange prototype, plus two speculative camouflage schemes.
The decals are nicely printed, with separate white backgounds for the Hinomarus - so opacity and registration should be no problem. Orange stripes are supplied for the wing leading edges of the camouflaged aircraft, but these seem rather translucent, so painting will be a better option. Finally there are a number of stencil markings and a decal for the instrument panel.
This is a fine kit of an unusual aircraft. It will stand out in any collection of Japanese types, and should have a few people scratching their head as they try to guess what it is!
The Mitsubishi A7M1 Reppu (Allied code named Sam) was the intended replacement for the famous Zero. Design work began in 1942 for a new fighter powered by a 2,200hp engine. Strangely, the Navy decided to fit a far less powerful engine, and when the first prototype flew in 1944, it was badly underpowered. Allied bombing and a devastating earthquake caused constant delays, but when the aircraft finally flew with the originally intended powerplant it demonstrated excellent climb and manoeverability, combined with a top speed of almost 400mph. But it was too little, too late. When the war ended, only eight prototype Reppus had been built and none had flown in combat - while the Zero soldiered on to the end.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...