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Kyushu J7W1 "Shinden"

by Norman A. Graf

Kyushu J7W1 18-shi "Shinden"




Desperate for a high performance interceptor to combat the heavy bombers used by the Allies late in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Navy placed an order with Kyushu Aircraft for a fast and manoeuvrable fighter capable of mounting large-calibre armament. 

The resulting design was radical to say the least. The "canard" configuration (i.e. the elevators are positioned at the front of the airplane) and pusher prop, although used by the Wright brothers in their first aircraft, was unique for fighter aircraft of the time. The design led to a great savings in weight as the lift of the canard enabled smaller main wings to be utilized, boosting performance. 

The pusher prop also allowed the main armament (four 30mm cannons, similar to the German Me262) to be grouped in the nose, ensuring greater stability and aiming performance and concentrating the firepower. However, the design came too late in the war for full production. Only two prototypes were completed. 

The first prototype flew on the 3rd of August, 1945, just days before the Japanese surrender.

Although at first glance the topside photo (below) seems to indicate a standard single-engine fighter with slightly forward-swept wings, the plane is facing down. The undersurface photo faces up, exhibiting the aircraft's unique planform.



The Kit

The kit is Hasegawa's 1/72 Scale Kyushu J7W1 18-shi Interceptor Fighter "Shinden" (Kit No. AP36:1200). It is composed of 45 parts molded in hard light grey and clear plastic featuring fine recessed lines and no significant ejector marks. It builds into a model 134mm long with a 153mm wingspan. 

I did not know about this airplane before seeing the kit in my local hobby store. Normally such exotic prototype aircraft are relegated to short-run injection or vacuum-formed manufacturers, and the extra work such kits require would have prevented me from purchasing it. 

However, the combination of a unique aircraft and the quality which Hasegawa is known for made this kit irresistible.




This was another weekend project built straight out of the box using kit decals and paint scheme. The only items added were:

  • paper seatbelts

  • radio antenna made of very thin wire

  • formation lights made of dyed epoxy on wingtips and wing upper surfaces. 

Building the kit presented no problems whatsoever, practically falling together; I used no filler. It's what I've come to expect from Hasegawa.



Painting and Decaling


I still use enamels for my painting. I find the quality of the finish and the speed of drying worth the extra effort dealing with petroleum-based thinners. The simple paint scheme (single dorsal and ventral colors with a hard-edge separation) made airbrushing easy. Note how the upper color wraps around the wing leading edge. Upper and lower colors were Floquil's IJN Green and IJN Sky Gray, respectively, while the cockpit interior was primarily Testor's Interior Green. The instruction called for "propeller color" on the props and spinner; I used Aeromaster's RLM 70. I masked and painted the yellow wing leading edges and propeller tips, putting down a coat of flat white, followed by the yellow. This needs to be done carefully, so as not to build up too thick a layer of paint, which can be very noticeable in this scale. However, I find it worthwhile, as the yellow decals are rarely opaque or bright enough. The gun barrels are Humbrol's Gunmetal, with a rub of pencil graphite.



The decals went on without a hitch, nicely conforming to the finely recessed panel lines. I didn't apply the wing-walk decals as a single large decal because of the running lights on the upper surface of the wing. I cut the carrier film from the interior and applied them very carefully. (If the decal becomes snarled it's almost impossible to untangle it.)

As the prototype aircraft flew only three times for a total of 45 minutes flight time, it did not seem appropriate to weather the model.


Models, Description and Images Copyright 2000 by Norman A. Graf
Page Created 11 January, 2000
Last Updated 26 July, 2007

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