OUT OF THE BOX
Hasagawa s 1/48 scale Grace is a highly detailed, beautiful kit. If this isn t already apparent from Hasagawa s reputation, it quickly becomes obvious when you open the box. It sports crisp, recessed panel lines and many tiny parts. Most of these smaller parts are for the beautiful cockpit. It is as highly detailed as any kit (lacking photo etched or resin parts) I have ever seen. After-market resin seems to be overkill on this kit. There is a detailed bomb bay and doors intended for building it open are included but the directions do not even hint at this. They only provide instructions for a closed bomb bay with an external torpedo.
Since only 111 Graces were built and saw service, the obvious question is why would Hasagawa pour all this effort into an obscure footnote in the Pacific War? Regardless of the answer to that question, Allied ship captains should have been thankful the Japanese were unable to mass produce this plane in time for carrier service.
Hasagawa provides instructions in the form of a single fold-out sheet comprised of 10 exploded view steps. They are relatively easy to follow and I didn t notice any inconsistencies with them. The cockpit was a lot of fun. There are a lot of parts there and everything went together well.
The fun temporarily came to a halt when it came time for the fuselage halves and the engine cowling though. I experienced some very "unHasagawa-like" fit problems. I would actually rank the fit of these two areas as poor. The cockpit seemed to be in the right place but the fuselage halves took a lot of pressure to meet and the area between the cockpit windscreen and engine cowling never did meet. I had to fill it with Zap-a-Gap, and sand more than I ever have had to do on other Hasagawa kits. There is a choice between building the cowling flaps open or closed. When given this choice, I usually build kits with the flaps open which was more common when the planes were on the ground. Like the fuselage before it, the eight part engine and cowling assembly was tough to get on the model and I had to sand and apply more pressure than I prefer. I usually gush when intricate parts seem to fall into place on models. I was gagging more than I was gushing at this stage. This was a bit of a disappointment and a surprise. Despite the disappointment, these fit problems can be overcome and an intermediate modeler shouldn t have major difficulties. It was a frustration but it was far from a disaster.
I was also surprised to find out the tail of the torpedo did not fit under the Hasagawa Grace without dragging on the ground. I took mine off and shortened the brackets and placed it back on. This was truly a minor inconvenience but I was again surprised how an otherwise beautifully engineered kit could blow it on something so simple.
The kit instructions do not offer an option to build the five part canopy open. You will have to modify if you wish to do so. The good news is the five individual canopy parts fit so well that I simply did not glue the two sections over the seats. They behave almost like a snap together. When put in place they hold and appear to be attached but they can be easily removed to get a better view of that nice cockpit detail.
The wings fit nicely and went on without incident. The Grace s inverted gull wings are large. There is a fair amount of detail in the gear bays and in the landing gear itself. I used the kit wheels and they look a bit toy-like but I don t blame Hasagawa for that. If anyone is to blame, it is probably Aichi because the wheels also look plain and toy-like on the real thing based on pictures I have seen!
I used the kit decals. Three choices of very similar looking airplanes are provided. The decals are nice. They are thin so beware of the solvent you choose. I used the red-labeled MicroSol. If I had it to do over, I would have used the blue-labeled solvent which is not quite as strong.
The finished product is a first-class model. I started this project mostly wondering what Hasagawa was thinking producing a kit of this relatively obscure airplane. I was also wondering what I was doing building it when I am missing some better known planes in my Japanese collection. My doubts sort of melted away when I placed the Grace on my shelf next to other Japanese navy attack planes. The kit provides an impressive result and it makes for an eye catcher with its bent wings and it is a nice conversation piece. Based on the high number of small parts and the fit problems I encountered, I would not recommend this kit to a beginner. I would easily recommend it to intermediate and advanced builders though. It provides a nice challenge and a finished product that spurs a lot of thought provoking "what if" questions regarding the Japanese Navy in WWII.
Return to Kit Review Menu