Modelling Nirvana: Building the Hasegawa 1/48 Kawanishi N1K2-J SHIDEN - KAI (GEORGE) 'EARLY VERSION'

by Dave Burke



The Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden - Kai was developed from the 'Kyofu' floatplane fighter. In modifying the floatplane to a land fighter, the Japanese first developed an aircraft with long landing gear to accommodate its original mid-wing design. Later, to the relief of Japanese pilots, the design was again modified to a low-wing configuration; shortening the length of the landing gear struts, which were originally so long as to be structurally weak.

The Shiden-Kai had formidable armament: 4 x 20mm cannons, two to each wing. When its Homare engine was functioning correctly, it boasted performance that was a threat to any allied aircraft in the sky.







Some folks refer to it as to the 'Japanese P-47', due to its outline (It did bear a resemblance at a distance of a bubble-top P-47 due to its fairly short and squat fuselage) ­ though it was nowhere nearly as large as a P-47.

Have you had an itch to do a box-stock kit? I mean, absolutely ADDING NOTHING to it? This is your baby! First, start out with what is in the box: grey plastic with molding to Hasegawa quality. No flash and ultra-crisp detail! A sprue of clear parts - excellent in their casting and fairly thin too!. A decal sheet of excellent register. An instruction sheet of the usual Hasegawa format. Now, I also recommend the Aero Detail Book #26 on the Shiden-Kai. This has some interesting information on the aircraft, as well as being an incredible reference for the cockpit. See for yourself ! These guys did their homework! If you don't feel like spending an extra $30 bucks on an Aero-Detail book, then just go ahead and follow the painting instructions that are there in the assembly instructions - I noticed that there wasn't much that WASN'T covered in the painting guide.

The pics in the AeroDetail book show a cockpit color of dark green. For my model, I used ModelMaster Forest Green. Other components of the cockpit were painted in similar shades of dark green. A following wash of Windsor & Newton Grey drafting ink and Future Floor Wax toned the difference in the greens down and added a huge amount of visible detail. There is so little that one could add to the detail of the kit!

Cockpit assembly is as per usual. Lots of individual levers to add. What one should appreciate here is the level of detail. I used the Aero Detail book on the Shiden-Kai (#26) as an aid, and the reproduction is incredible! I would merely have to do some strategic detail painting and the cockpit would look incredible! I carefully dry-brushed the instrument panel with ModelMaster Dark Gull Grey after painting it black, then I dry-brushed again over the instruments with a very light grey. I then picked out dials as per the AeroDetail pics and later added drops of epoxy for dial faces. I chose to paint the molded on seat harness. It looked pretty good, even though I normally add paper or tape seatbelts. On this model, however, I resolved to add nothing to it! I am quite proud of the results, if I do say myself, and have to say that along with Accurate Miniatures' TBF/TBM kits, this has the most complete box-stock interior I have had the pleasure to build! It is almost worth the kit price to get the cockpit alone on this kit, and the engineers didn't stop there, as all of the etched detail and rivets are just beautifully done. And it goes together oh so well, but read on!

The engine is a nice little kit unto itself. Granted, the cylinder blocks are molded together, the crankcase gets an ignition ring, prop pitch control mechanism, and ignition doo-hickey. Painted Floquil Old Silver, and washed with a grey ink and Future wash, it looks really good! It's a pity that most of it is hidden inside of that deep cowling! But it looks great. This is the same engine that was on the Ki-84 Frank, another current release by Hasegawa (I have 2 of them that I'm working on currently - perhaps I'll remark on them later).

Assembly is all-too straightforward, and the fit is superb! I have to declare that this a shake-and-bake kit! I bought it at the Huntsville contest one Saturday, and 5 days later, it was done! The trailing edges are acceptably thin and no fit problems were evident. Anywhere. At all. The scribed detail on this kit is really nice! You should lose hardly any on the major seams as all of the parts line up to perfection. Follow the instructions and you can't go wrong! A very easy build. Appreciate it, drool over it! If you can, BUY THIS KIT!!! It has been engineered to perfection! Iím sure that you could do a crappy job building this kit - BUT YOU WOULD HAVE TO TRY REALLY HARD!! It is that well mastered. You are rewarded with the ultimate in fine surface and interior detailing.

For my finish, I first sprayed the entire model (after masking the canopy off, of course) with Floquil Old Silver. This acted as a primer coat as well, so that any seams would be apparent. None were. I then sprayed Tesors ModelMaster IJA Dark Green on the uppersurfaces of the aircraft. To replicate a weathered Japanese aircraft, I then 'chipped' the paint finish by applying masking tape and sharply popping it up. The Green really adhered to the silver to the point where it was actually difficult to chip, and that afforded control over where I wanted the chipping to be. I then added a Raw Sienna ink and Future wash to the panel lines. It was translucent enough so that when it got into a panel line, it was visible, but that which was outside the line was clear.

Decals were fairly straightforward. I used Solvaset, and they really snugged down tight! That stuff is dangerous, and you had better be sure that you have that decal positioned correctly before you use it! An overspray of Future sealed everything nicely, and later, a spray of AeroMaster flat acrylic. The exhaust staining was done with RLM 66 and other greys and browns.


This was an unexpected joy to build. It was an aircraft that I initially had little interest in, but now I really dig the Shiden-Kai! It almost built itself, and comparing it to photos in the AeroDetail book, it is remarkably accurate in its reproduction. I repeat: REMARKABLY ACCURATE. Especially in the cockpit. I score it a 10 out of 10 on all aspects, and anyone who has ever slapped plastic together can build a superb model out of this kit. I give it an A+++

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