Hasegawa 1/32 Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden (Jack) Type 21
The lack of advance warning in China led the Japanese to needing a fast, quick-climbing interceptor to challenge incoming bombers. While the Mitsubishi A6M took priority, the design team there eventually came up with that dedicated interceptor, the J2M. This plane, given the name Raiden (Thunderbolt), put its large 14-cylinder radial engine deep inside a tapered cowling, in an attempt to minimize drag. Initial problems with engine cooling and visibility resulted in an engine change that shortened the nose and improved cooling. After a bit of prototype work, the J2M2 entered service with the Japanese Navy.
The J2M3 was the first upgrade to the Raiden, and this variant saw the removal of the cowling machine guns and extra cannons added to the wings. This variant was the most produced variant, and while it was a popular aircraft for bomber interception, its technical problems and the advent of the superior N1K Shiden interceptor kept the Raiden's role in the Second World War to a minimum.
Switching ends, Hasegawa has provided the modeler with two types of propellers: a standard type and a high-performance type. Apparently these were interchangeable, so you can use whichever type of blade strikes your fancy. Either way, you get separate propeller blades that fit onto a rear hub piece, with a separate front hub. The propeller shaft is also a separate piece.
Moving on to the canopy, it is here that we see the final example of alternate variants. The kit comes with two windscreens, one for the J2M2 marked not for use, and the other for the J2M3. There are two sets of rear cockpit panels as well, depending on whether you will be modeling your aircraft with the canopy open or closed. There are two styles of antenna aerial mounts as well, denoting the different styles employed there.
Despite the small issues with trying to get multiple versions out of a single mold, this is definitely the best choice for a 1/32 Raiden. Not only is it significantly cheaper than the old Revell kit, it is better detailed and easier to build. My thanks to Hasegawa USA for the review sample.