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Hit the Road Jack

Tamiya's J2M3 Raiden In 1/48th scale

By Valentin E. Bueno

Check Out Club Meeting: September 2008 Meeting

Featured In: September 2008 Newsletter

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale


Having finished my Monogram 1/48th scale P-40B in a record time of two months, I decided to build Tamiya's 1/48th scale J2M3 Raiden (Code Named Jack). This decision was based on the availability of the kit and my ability to appropriate the required funding. In other words, I saw it on the shelf at Weller's and I had enough Cash in my pocket. This kit has a copyright date of 1973. Goodness, I was just a wee little pollywog back in '73. In 1973 Elvis played a concert at the Blaisdell and the Watergate Hotel was still just a hotel.

For those who have never built this kit (like me since I usually build 1/72 scale), let me give a quick review of this ancient kit. The model is molded in rather hard light gray plastic, a lot lighter in color and harder than many of Tamiya's recent releases.

The panel lines are a mix of raised and recessed lines. The fuselage has a mix of recessed and raised lines whereas the wings have all recessed lines. It looks like Tamiya gave the kit new wings between 1973 and today. Included in this kit, much to my surprise, were two pilot figures, one standing and one seated. Though not as good as current generation figures from Tamiya, they are good enough for a mall model.

Construction Commences

Construction commences with painting. The kit instructions call out for the cockpit to be painted Aotake. Considering the recent builds that I have seen of Mitsubishi Zero's, I disagreed with the directions. Opening my 1996 Famous Airplanes of the World (FAOW) #61 on the J2M3, I noticed in the color art that the cockpit interior was painted green. Just as I thought. So I got some German NATO green and DAK Dark Yellow, mixed them up and plastered it all over the inside of the airplane's fuselage, all over the cockpit parts and the pilot's seat. The wheel wells and inside of the cowling was painted with Metalizer Aluminum and later over coated with Tamiya Clear Blue. Niiiiice Aotake if I might say so myself.

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

The instrument panel and the side consoles were painted RLM 66 Scale Black. These were then highlighted with a Berol Silver pencil. While these were drying, I taped the fuselage together and inserted the cockpit floor and rear bulkhead. This was to ensure the cockpit parts were situated centered in the cockpit opening.

After allowing these to set up hard overnight, I added the rest of the cockpit parts and closed up the fuselage. While this was curing, I glued the upper and lower wing halves together. These parts fit so much better and have no flash, unlike the similarly aged Monogram kit. Don't you just love that Japanese high quality?

Foot in Mouth Disease

After these had set, I offered the front cowling piece to the assembled fuselage. Argh!!! Here for the first time in my modeling career, a Tamiya kit had a step between two parts

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

Gaah! A very un-Tamiya mismatch between the cowl front and fuselage.

Drats, it looks like I will be doing some sanding and rescribing on the cowling. Then I test fitted the wing to the fuselage. Arghghghghghgh!!!??? There was a little gap at the wing root and a larger gap on the undersides, front and back. I guess back in 1973, quality control wasn't a prime importance for any of the model manufacturers, US or Japanese!

I test fitted the wings to the fuselage many times trying to figure out how to attach the two assemblies in such a way as to minimize the gaps all around. Once this was determined (it might be different on your kit which is why I am not describing how I did it), the gaps were filled with plastic strip and coated with CA glue. The CA was allowed a few minutes to solidify before having any excess glue wiped off with a fresh cotton bud (aka Q-tip).

The non-gap seams were dealt with pretty quickly with 180, 600, and 3000 thru 12000 grit sand paper and sanding pads. The filled gaps were sanded and sanded and sanded some more until they were as smooth as a porn star's bottom (only those who have changed their children's diapers know how smooth a baby's bottom is; I can only write from my own experiences…not that I've ever had the chance to feel a porn star's bottom).

Once the step at the cowl is dealt with, the front end certainly looks the part.

Beatings Will Continue until…

Now that all the seams have been addressed, it was time to apply some color to this bird. Perusing the FAOW #61 mentioned earlier, I was so very tempted to do the all natural metal finish in the captured American markings, but as a mall model representing what country flew what, I ended up going for the Japanese markings using the same old IJN green over IJN gray. The fun part will be when I peel the paint off of this sucker! Hahahahahahaha! IJN green paint was known for not sticking to the aircraft very well.

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

The first thing I did was to blast the entire model with Metalizer Buffing Magnesium. Why Magnesium and not Aluminum? Simple, that's all I had on hand! Then I blasted it with Tamiya's IJN Green and IJN Gray from the rattle can.

The paint was then buffed a bit with 3000 and 4000 grit sanding pads. The kit decals were applied directly to the buffed paint and drowned in Solvaset. This snuggled the decals down very well and only two out of ten decals silvered, and only slightly. Another application of Solvaset sorted all that out.

After the decals had a chance to dry overnight, I sanded the decals down a bit with 600 grit to get through to the paint layer underneath. Actual worn down markings!

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

Wear and tear was simulated with actual chipping of the top layer of paint, exposing the metallic undercoat.

I used a #15 scalpel to chip the paint off of the model. I used the round edge to make the larger chips and the tip to do the scratches. I also used some Dymo tape to pull up the largest chips.

The model was given a clear flat coat in preparation for further weathering. I used a moistened cotton swab and those Tamiya weathering sets (you know the ones that look like women's makeup kits) and added some post shading to the panel lines. A heavier application was used to depict the exhaust staining. I used a brown color first, followed by white and topped off with soot. The soot was also added to the wings to simulate gun gas staining on the wings. Some post shading was also added over the decals to make sure the decals looked weathered.
A white filter was applied using the non-toxic version of turpentine and white oil paint. This was applied with a soft ¼" wide Tamiya brush in the direction of the airflow. This helped break up the monotony of the single upper color paint scheme and unify the look of the bright decals with the rest of the aircraft.

The yellow on the leading edge of the wings and on the spinner were hand painted and sanded down with the rest of the paint. This allowed some of the underlying green to peek through. On the spinner, I covered the worn areas with silver paint and pencil to represent chipped off paint. The rest of the spinner was painted according to the instruction (red brown and silver) and likewise weathered.

A few more paint chips were popped off and scratches added along with more chips and scratches using the Berol silver pencil.

…the Model is Done

All the leftover bits and pieces such as the landing gear doors, wheels, guns, pitot tube, canopy and so forth were added to the model and painted, and much to my surprise, another 1/48th scale model was finished on my desk.

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

Almost there! Weathering is complete and only the canopy and a few other pieces remain to be attached.

I had always wanted to build Hasegawa's 1/72 scale Raiden. I have the kit unbuilt in my stash, but building this ancient Tamiya kit has satiated that urge. I will probably give this model away as it doesn't fit in with the rest of my collection, but at least I know now what weathering methods I can use on the 1/72 scale kit!

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

Tamiya J2M3 Raiden In 1/48thscale

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