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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

You Don't know Jack: 1/48th Tamiya J2M3 Raiden

This 1/48 J2M3 Raiden from Tamiya is one of their oldest aircraft kits (that is still available) dating back to 1973. The kit plastic was re-released as late as 2008. Simple but effective could best describe this Tamiya model.

Notable Kit Features:

  • Simple construction with few parts

  • Nicely done engraved panel lines combined with raised detail

  • Well fitting parts

  • Inexpensive

Build Inspiration:

This old Tamiya kit included markings of a successful Japanese pilot with distinct markings on the side of the aircraft. Lt. Yoshihiro Aoki scored 2 victories on October 12, 1944 against US Navy units during the defence of Formosa. Aoki was transferred to Kokutai 352 based at Knoya in December 1944 as leader of Units 3. Buntai (Division). The two lightning bolts on the fuselage identify him as the Buntai leader.

Aoki is pictured 2nd from the left briefing some of his fellow pilots.

Heads-Up Report:

  • The cockpit is very sparse (and quite wide, so you may want to add details or a pilot to fill things out a bit)

  • No engine detail, however all you can really see is the fan and radiator on the narrowed in nose (similar to the Fw190)

  • Exhaust stacks are molded into sides of fuselage

  • One-piece canopy (which was a tad distorted in my example)

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Drilled out the holes in the structural member behind the pilot's head

  • Added pilot seat belts


The base colours of this aircraft were the standard Japanese Navy Dark Green (FS34092) over Light Gray (FS36496). I used a base coat of Aluminum underneath everything, with a overcoat of clear to protect it, as I intended to do some weathering right down to the bare metal in certain sections. So spray, spray, spray /mask, spray, spray, spray yellow leading edge stripes and then again and then again and then again, chip here chip there, here a chip there a chip and the painting got done. When I put the decals into water, the real trouble began. The Hinomaru markings pretty much disintegrated and the Buntai lightning bolts broke up in several places. The Hinomaru national markings were replaced with spares and the Buntai bolts were pieced together and paint patched as best I could at the time and temperament (and to add to the headache, I was painting yellow over dark green!) I eventually got things cobbled together, added a bit of weathering and gave it an over-spray of clear matt to seal everything in.

The After-Build Report:

For the age (and typical low cost) of this Tamiya J2M3 kit, it is still a good bargain build that can produce a nice shelf display model for any experience model maker. It makes a good quick build or you could spend the time to enhance the box contents. For comparison the 1/48th Hasegawa kit, produced originally in 1996, has more detail and a good fit as well. (As I recall it has a one piece canopy as well.) Either way you can get this interesting Japanese kit in your collection.

Completed build #147 - March 2012 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #MA118 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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