On the Bench: 1/48 Hasegawa N1K1-Ja Shiden (“George”)


After screwing the pooch on Tamiya’s Ki-84 Hayate, I had to make a decision. The Japanese Group Build over on the FSM forums fired my interest to build something Japanese, and with the loss of the Ki-84, I had several options. Currently in the middle of a 1/32 build and staring down the barrel of another, I narrowed on a 1/48 plane fairly quickly, and of the three Japanese kits in the stash, I chose the N1K1-Ja Shiden as a great testbed for chipping techniques. That, and I want to save the Hasegawa Ki-84 until I have at least one meatball-laden bird under my belt.

The Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden

The Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden was an evolution of the N1K1 Kyofu floatplane, built with landing gear to make it useful for landing on surfaces that weren’t water. Compared to the aging A6M Zero, which was increasingly floundering against U.S. Navy Hellcats and Corsairs, the George was a highly capable dogfighter, evenly matched with the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang. It’s armament of four 20mm cannons could devastate anything that crossed its line of fire, though its less-than-amazing climb rate limited its effectiveness as a B-29 interceptor.

As with most mid-to-late war Japanese fighters, the N1K1 George was fiercely capable, but suffered from crippled production capacity (just over 1,000 N1K1-Ja Shidens were produced) and declining pilot quality. Oh, and fragile landing gear struts that tended to collapse on landing, which are said to have destroyed more Georges than actual combat. Oops.

The Hasegawa Kit

Believe it or not, this will be the first Hasegawa kit I’ve tackled since returning to modeling. I’m looking rather forward to it. Detail on the sprue is nice and crisp and refined, fit seems overall decent (there’s a gap at the wingroots that may call for a spreader if the cockpit tub doesn’t do the job for me), and it looks like a simple-yet-satisfying kit. Sadly…very few interesting aftermarket markings exist, so I’ll be risking using the kit decals.

Stay tuned for the build log!

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