Arriving in a standard box adorned with a dramatic painting of a pair of Shindenkais engaging U.S. B-29s, Hasegawa's kit comprises:
120 x grey styrene parts (43 not needed)
3 x clear parts
3 x resin parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The first thing to make clear is that, despite the startling increase in the number of parts compared with the original J7W1 prop-version of the Shinden, this is not a new, or even re-engineered kit. The basic parts are unchanged (you could still build the prop version, if you so chose) - the difference is that Hasegawa have included a pair of sprues from their Zero series to provide an assortment of underwing stores (hence the large number of unused parts), plus new resin parts as a kind of "conversion kit" within the kit.
So, this being essentially a late 1970s kit, you won't be surprised to find predominantly raised panel lines. Don't all run and hide! - these are neatly done and the overall impression is just how well the moulds have stood the test of time. There's not a trace of flash and everything is as crisp as in the original-release kit which I bought second-hand back in the '80s. The only design change which I can see is that there are now flashed-over locations for the new external stores - plus, the kit is now moulded in a grey styrene (as against the original dark green) that is slightly softer and easier to work with.
Some modellers will probably be disappointed that this isn't a totally re-tooled kit, but I think we need to recognize that it's likely to appeal to a fairly limited specialist audience and the extra expense could hardly be justified - so, chin up, you can always reach for the scriber if those raised lines are too upsetting...
So, if the basic kit is for a prop-driven fighter, how does the jet option fit in? Well, the three resin parts provide new extended air intakes and a jet outlet. How much artistic licence is involved, I haven't the faintest idea! - my primary reference for the Shinden is the excellent 1982-vintage Japanese language "Famous Planes Of The World #1 (picked up years ago for the princely sum of 99p!) and it makes no mention of the jet variant.
For anyone unfamiliar with Hasegawa's Shinden, the basic fit of parts is very precise - a real credit to the original designers - and the kit builds into quite a large and impressive kit that's simple to build and doesn't look out of place alongside much more modern kits.
The 12-part cockpit is very reasonable for a kit of the period and should look fine with the addition of a seat harness. The controls are unchanged from the prop-version and, presumably, there would have been at least some modifications in real life, but we're into "Luftwaffe '46" territory here (in more ways than one - see below) or its Japanese equivalent.
The main wheel wells are rather shallow, but have some detail and the tricycle undercarriage captures the stalky look of the Shinden nicely. The instructions advise that 1g of weight is needed in the nose to keep the completed model from being a tail-sitter. The original kit was unusual for the period in including a well sculpted standing pilot figure. Admittedly, it's not up the standard of the best modern day figures by Tamiya and ICM, but it still doesn't look at all bad 30 or so years on.
The additional "Zero" sprues provide a choice of large or small rockets and launch rails, plus drop tanks.
The new resin parts are very crisply cast with no bubbles or other flaws and fit very well. The resin is quite soft and easy to work with, so this would make an excellent choice for a simple first conversion for anyone new to using resin parts.
Last (but certainly not least) is the canopy, which is actually quite amazing. I can't remember how often I've been disappointed by re-boxed old kits with over-thick and sometimes unclear "transparencies" shot from damaged moulds. Not so, Hasegawa's Shindenkai - despite their age, the parts are crystal clear and thin enough to put many modern kits to shame.
Instructions & Colour Schemes
The main assembly diagrams are taken straight from the original kit (with appropriate modifications for the new parts) and, with such a simple kit, there's little scope to go wrong. There are some additional info diagrams and much more comprehensive colour notes keyed to Gunze Sangyo paints. In fact, the first clue that this is a Japanese subject "with a difference" comes when you spot RLM paint references(!) and, sure enough, when you get to the main painting guide, there's a Luftwaffe option!
Both schemes provided are obviously speculative:
1. "3D-148", 302nd Naval Flying Group, Japanese Navy, 1947.
2. "Red 13", an unidentified unit, Luftwaffe, 1947.
The decals appear to be excellent - nice and thin with precise registration. The Japanese machine machine features a spectacular lightning bolt on the forward fuselage, while the Luftwaffe option includes Swastikas and the fuselage crosses are sliced up to help them conform to the air intakes' contours.
Given the Luftwaffe markings, it's a bit disappointing that Hasegawa didn't also include some German stores from one of their kits, but this is "Luftwaffe '46", so perhaps it's an example of extended technology-sharing, with the Luftwaffe adopting Japanese weaponry as well as aircraft. Alternatively, you could always raid the spares box for some R4Ms and drop tanks...
Hasegawa's Jet Shindenkai is guaranteed to be a conversation-piece in any collection! Purists will probably cringe at the very idea of it, while the "Luftwaffe '46" brigade will grab it with open arms! Somewhere in the middle are the rest of us who just appreciate it for a classic model that still builds well and has been given a new lease of life with the addition of well designed resin parts and extra weaponry. Heartily recommended for anyone who likes Japanese WW2 aircraft and isn't afraid to let their hair down a little and just have fun!
Hasegawa's Kyushu J7W2 Jet Shindenkai was kindly provided for review by HobbyLink Japan. Visit HLJ for Japanese kits at Japanese prices.
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