Kit Review: Hasegawa 1/72 Mitsubishi G4M1 (Betty) with Ohka Bomb
Kit Numbers K002 and JS-069

by Michael Hays
Perhaps the most famous and familiar of all Japanese bombers to participate in World War II was Mitsubishi's G4M Type 1 Navy Attack Bomber. Used for horizontal bombing as well as torpedo attack, this twin-engine bomber was easily recognized by its cigar-shaped fuselage. Unfortunately for its crews it also had a propensity to explode into flames when under attack, due to lack of armor and unprotected fuel tanks in its earlier marks. This horrific feature contributed to the plane's opprobrious nickname as the "Flying Lighter." Nevertheless, because of its long range and fair speed, the Betty proved to be a deadly bomber in the hands of capable crews during the early months of World War II. The aircraft remained the primary land-based hauler of bombs and torpedoes for the Imperial Japanese Navy throughout the entire war. In fact, two all-white G4M1 Bettys, their hinomarus replaced with green crosses, carried the Japanese surrender delegation to Ie-Shima Island on 19 August, 1945.

Nearly 2500 G4Ms were built during the conflict, about half as the earlier G4M1 version, and the rest mainly G4M2s, with about 60 G4M3s completing the roster. Hasegawa's 1/72 scale kit of the G4M1 version of the Betty has been around for several years now. Released in several kit numbers and packaged in boxes with differing artwork, the model can still be found in local hobby shops. Primary changes inside have involved different instruction sheets and decal options, plus some of the kits have included a separate model of the Ohka Bomb to build along with the Betty. And now that Hasegawa is releasing a new line of the later G4M2 and G4M3 Bettys, interest is perhaps stirred once again in this older kit of the G4M1.
This kit review applies to Kit Number K002. However, it is identical with JS-069 except for slightly different printed instructions and decal options (and box art, if I'm not mistaken). Kit number JS 24 likewise contained different printed instructions but did not include the Ohka. My guess is that all the remaining kits of the G4M1 released by Hasegawa are identical except with respect to the way the instructions were printed, the decals provided, box top part, and whether an Ohka was included;--oh! and the price!
All these kits pertain to the Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 Model 11. Where the Ohka bomb is included, as here, it is of the Model 11. Instructions for Kit no. K002 are of the exploded view type printed in English on both sides of a single sheet of paper folded in half. Seven sub-assembly steps trace the construction process for the Betty, plus and additional four are used for the Ohka. Page once also includes a brief history of the Betty and the Ohka bomb.

The kit pieces are arranged on five parts trees sealed in protective bags.. One tree contains the clear parts: 18 for the Betty and a canopy for the Ohka. These are rather thick by modern standards, and the larger pieces feature engraved framework. Three trees molded in dark green contain the 56 parts for the Betty. The remaining light gray tree holds the 21 parts for the Ohka, six of which make up the carriage assembly onto which it sits. A separate sheet in the kit is printed in color on one side, showing profiles and markings for an Ohka and the four Betty's featured in the kit decals (one of which is in the surrender markings). Printed in black and white on the reverse side are illustrations of tail codes for 8 Betty's, a table of color schemes and dates of service for the Betty's shown, and three small photos of three completed models of the Betty. All text here is in Japanese. Decals in Kit No. K002 include tail codes for the four Betty's represented on the color sheet, plus three optional numbers and cherry blossom emblems for use on the Ohka. A decal for the instrument panel for the Ohka is also provided, along with three styles of hinomarus for the Betty. No yellow wing ID panels are included or any other markings. All parts are crisply molded and flash free. The Betty sports raised panel lines and thousands of raised rivets.
By contrast, the Ohka's panel lines are recessed. For modelers with the courage and patience to do it, I recommend sanding off all the panels and rivets on the Betty and rescribing them. Otherwise, the rivet work will be overbearing on light colored surfaces.
Construction starts primarily with the fuselage, the two main halves of which contain the vertical tail and rudder. The cockpit features a simple floor piece that stretches back almost to the side blisters. Three very crude, simple, and thick seats are provided into which go three crew figures, all posed identically. All my crew members were slightly flawed with deep depressions in their stomach areas. The cockpit gets two control columns and one instrument panel--the latter applied after both fuselage halves have been glued together. No other details are provided.
If you replace the kit canopy with a vacuformed substitute or a thinner piece, the lack of detail in this region will be pronounced. It begs for scratch built details or after market parts to complete the station. Moving forward to the bombardier's station, details once again go missing. Fortunately, not too much can be seen inside, since the nose area here does not contain as much glazing as did the G4M2 and G4M3.
However, the area is set apart by a bulkhead which opens to a gaping void in the fuselage. There is no floor. Thick clear pieces represent the small window panels on either side of the nose. No interior details are provided. The clear nose cap has a hole into which the stub of a machine gun barrel (part 36) is to be placed near completion of the model. Once more, this area begs for details, most of which will only be observable by looking directly into the nose. At the very least, an accurate Type 92 machine gun deserves to be put into the nose cone. A floor, ammo cans, and a bomb site would help, too.
Moving back to the rear half of the fuselage, you will find the turtle-back dorsal blister which is attached near the end of the construction phase. No gun, gunner, or interior details are provided for this station. The same applies to the two side blisters. Nor is there a floor for this half of the plane. Window ports here and near the tail turret are once again represented by thick clear plastic parts. You may wish to open the side blisters and make and add the Type 92 machine guns and other
Finally, the 20 mm Type 99 tail canon is represented by just the barrel portion which slips into a rod that is trapped between the fuselage halves so that the barrel elevates freely up and down. The one-piece tail turret fits over this in the last assembly stage, and the whole region is wide open once again. Make a new canon if you can, and put some details back there. No bombs or torpedoes come with this kit. The bomb bay doors are molded shut. I don't know if any G4M1s carried the Ohka later in the war, but if wished to show one mounted here, you've got a ton of scratchbuilding ahead of you. Or you could open the bays and mount a torpedo squirreled up from your spare parts.
Each wing comes in a top and bottom half. All flying surfaces and flaps are molded to the wing. The right and left horizontal tails are represented in single pieces, their flying surfaces likewise molded in. The landing gear bays and engine nacelles are constructed separately and attached later to the wings. Each of the non-bulged main wheels comes in two halves; these are glued together and slipped between the legs of the single piece main gear struts, the latter then being trapped between the two bottom nacelle halves. Four main gear doors feature internal ribbing. No further details are provided for this area, and much is therefore found wanting here. Whereas the main wheels turn, the tail wheel is molded to its strut and attaches to the depression in the rear fuselage.
Hasegawa formed the two engines as a single row of engraved cylinders and push rods on a bulkhead that slips inside the single-piece nacelles. The flaps on these nacelles are molded in the open position. The prop slips over a shaft (not shown in the instructions) which is sealed from behind by a retainer. This must be done before the unit is attached to the rest of the nacelle. Spinners are provided for the propellers. And four separate short exhaust stacks appropriate for the Model 11 complete the parts for this stage of construction.
A couple of radio masts, a pitot tube, and a radio direction finder are the final pieces needing attachment to finish the job. My decals proved to be a little translucent when applied. If not pressed down, they will wrinkle. The red for the hinomarus may be a bit too bright, but it's tolerable for a fresh aircraft. The Ohka Bomb comes with a flat floor panel (but this is inaccurate since the Ohka had no floor). A crude and thick seat is represented, along with an instrument panel that gets its own decal. The instructions show a pilot figure and call for cutting off his legs to mount him in the cockpit! However, no such pilot figure is included in the parts. Three rocket tubes attach to mating parts for the engine, which is sandwiched between to the two main fuselage halves. All flying surfaces for this little three-inch gem are molded into the wing and tails, with the aileron balance horns molded on as well. A simple six-piece carriage assembly is constructed on which to mount your Ohka.


Hasegawa's G4M1 is a bit long in the tooth when compared with their new releases of the G4M2 and G4M3. The latter have recessed panel lines and include more details and options. But they'll make excellent guides for upgrading your G4M1 Model 11. Better yet, grab Tamiya's 1/48 beauty of the G4M1 (if you can afford it) and use it as a model for improving Hasegawa's 1/72 kit. So to build a 1/72 G4M1, with its distinctive wing and tail tip shapes, you'll need to get Hasegawa's older model for now. But its quality parts fit together well, and the flying surfaces look appropriately thin for the scale. It's raised rivet surface detail and lack of interior details are the major flaws which date this kit, but whether these are corrected or left unattended, the finished model still looks good when done
well. And it matches accurately to scale dimensions.


Whether you use the kit supplied tail codes or after market decals, a good variety of paint schemes can be found for G4M1s that were involved in some of the famous conflicts early in W.W. II. Or you can build one of the famous surrender aircraft in its catchy overall white scheme. Extra details can make this good kit into a great kit. For this, good sources are always helpful.


I've used Rene Francillon's JAPANESE AIRCRAFT OF THE PACIFIC WAR (Putnam, 1979) and IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY BOMBERS OF WORLD WAR TWO (Hylton Lacy, 1969), plus Maru Mechanics 22 (1980) and 46 (1984/85), and Profile 210, Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty' & Ohka Bomb. Also of
great value is Donald Thorpe's JAPANESE NAVY AIR FORCE CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS, WORLD WAR II. So get your sources together and build that cigar; just don't smoke it!
Kit and photo by Bill Stratman
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