Continuing the retrospective of RAF Flying Review articles on Japanese aviation here is IJN Commander Hajime Sudo's account of his clandestine photo-reconnaissance flights in the Mitsubishi G3M2 'Nell' prior to Peal Harbor as published in the October 1959 issue of the magazine (Vol.XV, No.2). Also included in that issue was a handy cut out and keep Pictorial History of 'Nell' schematic illustrating and describing G3M variants.
The official designation of 'Nell' was the Type 96 Land-based Attack Aircraft - Kyu Roku Shiki Rikujoh Kohgeki-ki - 九六式陸上攻撃機, usually abbreviated to Kyu Roku Rikkoh - 九六陸攻. The type began very long range strategic bombing raids against China from Taiwan in August 1937 and continued to serve in the front line role throughout 1942 despite the introduction of the G4M 'Betty'.
Commander Sudo's account includes his observation that the clandestine aircraft had a 'slightly different grey finish to that normally applied to these aircraft', which is intriguing as grey is not a colour usually associated with the type, the depictions of which often present natural metal, either overall or as the under surfaces on camouflaged aircraft. But note the Hasegawa box art for the Kanoya Ku 1944 example カヤ-455 in the heading image which appears to represent the under surfaces in typical IJN amber tinted grey rather well (the instructions suggest Mr Color 128 [IJA] Gray-Green which is not quite right in appearance). Was Commander Sudo noticing the difference between standard J3 and the J3 'leaning slightly towards ameiro' introduced with the Zero?
The RAF Flying Review article preceded the appearance of the venerable LS series of G3M kits by seven years, but those ground breaking kits are still available 53 years later under the Arii Microace brand. Although superceded in detail and finesse by the Hasegawa G3M2 kit released in 1997 (and subsequently intermittently re-released in various colour schemes and markings), the LS/Arii kit is still a decent proposition and makes up into a good looking model, being both quick and easy to build as well as inexpensive. One advantage of the LS/Arii family of G3M kits is that it includes the earlier multi-turreted variants as well as the civil/transport variant. A comprehensive 1/48 mixed media kit of the G3M was released in 2007 by Koster Aero Enterprises consisting of vacformed, resin and white metal parts as shown here. Current availability of this kit is unknown but Resin2Detail has since acquired the Koster resources and is reportedly planning to re-release the kits. Another 1/48 vacform kit of 'Nell' is also available from UK manufacturer Sanger at £39.
Image credits:- Heading Art © 2016 Hasegawa Corp.; Others all © 1959 Royal Air Force Review Ltd.