When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carriers had the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter, Nakajima Kate torpedo bomber and Aichi Val dive bomber. The Zero clearly was fr superior to the ill fated Brewster Buffalo and was superior in most characteristics to the Grumman F4F Wildcat. The Kate was clearly superior to the then standard USN torpedo bomber, the Douglas TBD Devastator. Only the Val was inferior to its contemporary USN dive bomber, the Douglas SBD Dauntless. Coupled with her superbly trained aircrew the Japanese carrier aviation ran roughshod over the allies for the first six months. The tide of course turned at Midway on June 4, 1942 when Japan lost four of her finest carriers at the Battle of Midway. The most consequential loss was not the carriers or the aircraft but the aviators. New aircrew would never come even remotely close to having the abilities of the lost aircrew of Midway. Also at Midway was the introduction of a new USN torpedo bomber, the Grumman TBF Avenger, which was superior to the Kate. By early 1943 the Grumman F6F Hellcat arrived, which finally was able to best the performance capabilities of the Zero.
Japan was far slower in development of new aircraft to replace the Zero, Kate and Val. Hellcats were tearing apart green Japanese aircrew flying inferior aircraft. Just as Germany took a pre-war design, the Messerschmidt Bf-109 and continued to create different variants throughout the war with an increasing diminution of improved performance, so to did the Japanese Navy continue to produce new variants of the Zero, code name Zeke. The Mitsubishi A6M5 was probably the best of the series. Designed to counter the Hellcat and Corsair with a more powerful engine and armament, the Type 52 was not up to the job, clearly under-performing the USN fighters. Still, the Zero flew throughout the course of the war as did the Messerschmidt.
The IJN aircraft carriers at Midway carried the Aichi D3A1 Val dive-bomber, which first flew in December 1938. Another dive-bomber first started its design process in 1938 and was destined to become the successor of the Val. This was the Yokosuka D4Y Suisei, code named Judy. The prototype flew in December 1940, two years after the Val. Development was slowed by unreliability of their liquid cooled inline engines, as it was one of the few Japanese designs, which did not have the much more common radial engine. The first model was the D6Y1 of which 660 were built, went into service in March 1943.The D6Y2 was introduced in October 1944 in time for the Battle of Leyte Gulf but only 326 aircraft were produced of this model. A third variant, the D6Y3, finally dumped the inline engine and substituted a radial engine.
The Nakajima B5N Kate had first gone into service in 1937 and it was the B5N2 model, which torpedoed the battleships in Pearl Harbor. Although it had maintained superiority for half a decade, the Kate too had to b replaced. The replacement was the Nakajima B6N Tenzan, code name Jill. The first prototype appeared in 1941 but the Jill was very slow in achieving production status. There were problems with stability, engine problems and landing gear strength. In 1943 the Jill finally debuted with 133 B6N1 aircraft produced. Late in 1943 the B6N2 appeared and 1,135 of these were built. Nakajima had another project, which produced an aircraft the resembled the Kate and Jill but was for purely reconnaissance missions. In 1944 the Nakajima C6N Saiun, Myrt, went into service for the surviving carriers of the IJN. The prototype flew in May 1943 and 463 were built.
With the Lion Roar 1:700 scale Late War IJN Carrier Aircraft set provides 18 of the late war IJN aircraft. Included are six each of the Judy and Jill and three each of the Zero and Myrt. The fuselage, wings, armament and propeller hubs are on plastic sprues. A separate brass photo-etch fret provides the landing gear, wheels and propellers. The set is rounded out with a decal sheet.