Nichimo Nakajima B5N2 (Kate) torpedo bomber
Photo & Review by Jason Aufderheide

I had never built a Nichimo kit before and I am always leery about building kits from unfamiliar manufacturers. I was mostly pleasantly surprised with Nichimo's Kate. It is almost two kits in one when it comes to detail. The exterior detail on this kit is among the best in the business. In contrast, the interior detail is average and somewhat toy-like.

Nichimo paid much attention to exterior details. The fabric surfaces have an interesting and realistic mesh appearance. Recessed panel lines and beautiful rivets are everywhere. The small number of parts included for the cockpit are thick and simple. The cockpit canopy consists of two thick clear parts.

The Kate's engine detail is good. It is cleanly molded and eliminates the need to look elsewhere for an engine.

The directions can be described as "an adventure" for the non-Japanese speaking model builder. The main kit instruction sheet is written in Japanese and a poorly copied translation sheet is included. One gets the impression someone at Nichimo called upon volunteers for the translation project one morning and the only person to respond met qualifications because they recently viewed a Hollywood movie. Although unintentional, the translation is actually humorous at times.

Decals are included for several individual B5N2s and the model can be configured with a torpedo or several combination of bombs. There are also instructions to include a battery so the prop will spin! If the spinning prop gimmick is chosen, the builder must forfeit the engine and all interior detail and realism.

Three crew figures are provided but they look cartoonish. In fact, if enlarged to life size, we would be confronted with pudgy semi-humans with heads three feet wide and cheeks to be envied by every squirrel and chipmunk in town.

I was very pleased with the overall fit of this kit. It went together pretty well despite a general lack of locator pins and many vague part locations described in the directions.

The highly detailed engine includes more parts than the lightly detailed cockpit space for the three man crew. The engine assembly is a challenge but it produces a nice, detailed result.

The fuselage and wing construction fit well and I didn't experience any warping or fit problems. I placed figures in my Kate. Doing so meant the rear-firing machine gun wouldn't fit unless I turned it to the side. I also had to remove the large torpedo fins because the its tail wouldn't fit between the ground and the fuselage if I didn't do so.

Nichimo uses a softer plastic than I am used to and I began this project thinking this might be a problem in construction. In reality, it never was an issue. It wasn't better. It wasn't worse. It was just different.


This kit is a classic example of a "diamond in the rough." A detail hound or experienced modeler can turn this beauty into show quality material. To do so means some modification or scratchbuilding in the following areas (listed by importance): Interior details; canopy; landing gear bays; and ordinance. This kit's fine exterior detailing is its strength. In fact, the exterior details are strong enough to carry the day to produce a nice result even if built straight from the box.

The confusing directions and vague part placement may be enough to scare off the novice builder but it can be done! I probably wouldn't recommend this
as a first kit but I do think a beginner could build it and feel happy with the result.

My experience with Nichimo's Kate was a positive one. I won't hesitate to build another Nichimo kit in the future.

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