by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
One of the first dozen models I built was Hasegawa's G8N1 Rita. The big bomber in the vivid orange paint with the exciting the box art was fascinating, and as the the only 1/72 offering even today, still holds a unique appeal to aircraft modelers of Imperial Japan.
Nakajima G8N RenzanThe Nakajima G8N Renzan (連山, "Mountain Range") was a four-engine long-range bomber designed for use by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Navy designation was "Type 18 land-based attack aircraft" (一八試陸上攻撃機); the Allied code name was "Rita".* Four 2,000 hp Nakajima NK9K-L "Homare" 24 radial engines with Hitachi 92 turbosuperchargers driving four-bladed propellers powered this bomber that was ordered in 1943. The design of the Renzan borrowed heavily from the Douglas DC-4 airliner. The first prototype took to the air in January 1945. Aside from problems with the superchargers the aircraft performed well. The aircraft was roughly comparable to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator in warload and range. Rita was fast with a maximum speed around 370mph.
Quick as she was, Rita couldn't outpace contemporary fighters. She defended herself with powered fuselage turrets mounted on top and bottom, and the tail; each had pair of 20mm Type 99 cannon. A pair of 13.2mm Type 2 machine guns defended the nose, and a Type 2 armed each waist position. Three models of Rita were built, the G8N1 production version, the G8N2 to carry Ohka Type 33 Kamikaze aircraft, and the all steel G8N3.
Of the four built, one was destroyed by strafing Navy fighters, and one was flown to the USA. All were scrapped.
Hasegawa released this only 1/72 Renzan in the late 1960s; with subsequent re-releases the model has five kit numbers. It was also marketed by FROG and by AMT/Ertl. My model kit number is K003 ("K" for Hasegawa's Kingsize Series). A few years ago Hasegawa released a "what-if" Kaigun Koku '46 Rita set (Kit Number 00987). Presumably a G8N2 with an Kyūshū J7W1 Shinden escort, they did not arm the bomber with an Ohka, but the mysterious Goh guided bomb. While the model was not cleaned up and modified as a G8N2, the box art is exciting.
The model is molded with 98 dark green plastic parts and a clear sprue of 12 pieces. After the fashion of the day the bomber is festooned with raised rivets and raised panel lines. The parts have an annoying amount of flash, ejector and mold marks, and seam lines. Judging by the seam lines the mold halves did not always line up well. On the bright side, the exterior is free from blemishes. The control surfaces boast exaggerated fabric detailing. The clear parts have raised framing and distortion. Typical molding quality of the era.
While Hasegawa made a rudimentary cockpit and shallow bomb bay, there is not any real interior detail. Bomb bay doors, landing gear doors --all devoid of detail. The defensive armament has no detail. Three crewmen have rough detailing for the face and flight gear. Landing gear is basic.
Mating the fuselage halves will be tricky if you want the turrets to rotate. By and large the fit is fair. The shape appears accurate.
Painting and DecalsI regret that when I bought this then-collectible model at the 1991 French Broad IPMS show in Asheville, NC, the decals were MIA. When I brought the model back, my desire for it, and the seller's promises to send them to me convinced me to keep the model; after a few weeks of contacting the seller and promises to send them, I am still waiting for them. Suffice it to say that the markings were basic. Two or three painting and marking choices were provided, one for an orange IJNAF test aircraft, one for a camouflaged Renzan, and the unpainted captured USAAF Rita.
Finally...If you want a Renzan, while there are a few in 'other scales', the only 1/72 models are the Hasegawa releases (The same as the FROG/AMT/Etrl kits). There are many kit numbers. Cost will be collector pricing. The model will need work. Sanding will take off the rivets for an accurate surface. The big cockpit canopy allows good viewing of any detailing you'd like to undertake. Nowadays you can find 1/72 machine guns to replace the kit weapons.
That said, Rita was a good looking girl. Dressed in test-orange, battle colors, or in USAAF markings, the Renzan can be as impressive as a mountain range.
Please remember when contacting vendors an manufacturers, to tell them you saw this here--on Aeroscale.
Rod's WarBirds, WWII Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Photos, G8N Renzan Mountain Range (Rita)
Click here for additional images for this review.