Hat tip to Zegeye who kindly brought a forthcoming Aoshima Shiden-Kai release to Aviation of Japan's attention. At first assumed to be just a re-release from their earlier very commendable family of 1/72nd scale Shiden kits, Zegeye pointed out that although the kit is simply labelled 'Kawanishi Shiden Kai' at HLJ the box art appears to show the NIK4-J Model 32, also known as the 'experimental Shiden-kai 3'. This was a final development of the Shiden-kai modified from a standard Model 21 that added two synchronised 13mm machine guns to the nose by extending the engine mounting 15cm forwards together with the installation of a low-pressure, fuel-injected Homare 23 engine. Two such prototypes were built and the box art depicts one of them in combat with a Hellcat, although no production examples were ever manufactured. If the kit really represents this variant it should have new fuselage halves and a new cowling, but it remains to be seen whether Aoshima considered it worth re-tooling the fuselage parts for a scale 2mm! A similar kit, titled 'Kawanishi Shiden Kai 2 Shinano Team' is also due for release. However box art and sprue pics here suggest that the new kits actually represent the Model 31 NIK3-J which featured the additional armament only and of which an unknown number were manufactured.
Continuing the IJN theme Rising Decals have also issued a compact 1/72nd scale set for the pugnacious late-war warriors Raiden and Shiden as RD72006 'Japanese Sea Eagles' with markings options for 7 aircraft as follows:-
- J2M3 of Tainan Ku, Formosa, July 1944 - as flown by Lt(jg) Yoshihiro Aoki
- J2M5 of 256 Ku, Shanghai, December 1944
- J2M3 of 302 Ku, Atsugi, Japan, April 1945 - as flown by Lt(jg) Ei Fukuda and equipped with a 20mm oblique-firing cannon
- J2M3 of 302 Ku, Atsugi, Japan, December 1944 - another oblique-firing cannon armed Jack
- NIKI-Ja of Saikai Ku, Omura, Japan, August 1945
- NIKI-Ja of 341 Ku, Tateyama, Japan, Spring 1944
- NIKI-Ja of 341 Ku, Philippines, 1944
The non-Japan based subjects on this sheet are welcome, especially the Lunghwa-based "Thunder Corps" Raiden option. Also included although not shown here are a pair of fuselage Hinomaru with over-painted dark green borders for Shiden. All the aircraft are otherwise in standard factory finish. Recommended kits for the Jack are from Sword or Hasegawa but not mentioned for the Shiden options. However, good 1/72nd scale Shiden kits are available from Aoshima and Tamiya. For those who enjoy a challenge there is also the older limited-run MPM kit from 1992 (shown below).
With thanks to Mirek of Rising Decals for kindly providing the sample sheet.
Image credits: Box art © 2014 Aoshima Bunka Kyozai Co., Ltd. via Hobby Link Japan; All images © 2014 Rising Decals; Box art © 1992 MPM