The Jack was a capable interceptor designed to bring down heavy bombers.
Join me for a brief look at an atypical Japanese fighter.
Early in the war the Japanese Navy discerned that they may eventually need to defend against heavy aircraft like the B-17. So the order went out for a pure interceptor that would be fast, with a high rate of climb and heavy firepower. This would be a next generation aircraft built around a newer 1400 HP engine.
The winning design came from Jiro Horikoshi, the same designer who had delivered the A6M Zero. On paper it was a very promising aircraft, but there were issues that lengthened its development. Many of these were the normal sort of things any design goes through, but significantly, the Mitsubishi Kasei engine was very unreliable. The Japanese also failed to get an adequate supercharger for this engine, which meant it would fall short against B-29s and other very high flying types.
But it did meet design goals and proved effective when it saw action. Ultimately the type’s biggest shortcoming was just the overall shortage of skilled pilots Japan was faced with in the later part of the war. It saw service from the Marianas campaign to the end of the war.
The Jack also highlights some of the Japanese struggle with more advanced technologies. It was clearly an improved type compared to much of what Japan started the war with. But Japanese engines advanced from about 1000 HP at the start of the war, to 1400 HP for this advanced type. While US aircraft designers went from from having about 1200 HP for their early war designs to over 2000 HP for their late war types. Basically, American advances in this area were well beyond the Japanese. This does not translate into a horribly deficient aircraft. But it does mean the Japanese went from having fully competitive aircraft at the start of the war (arguably superior, they got extraordinary performance from the available engines) to being at a bit of a disadvantage. A J2M could do many things better than a Zero, but it only achieved partial parity with a Hellcat or Thunderbolt.
This is the Hasegawa kit with Aeromaster decals. It is an aircraft based in Japan during the last year of the war for homeland defense.