The first flight was on 20th March 1942. Production of the J2M2 began in October 1942. Because of technical problems, service entry was delayed to December 1943; at this time, development of the J2M3, a derivative with upgraded armament, had already begun. All in all 476 (including prototypes) aircraft were produced.
The J2M Raiden (=Thunderbolt) recieved the allied codename "Jack" and was first used in 1944. But only at the end of the War the performance of the Raiden was realised. It was a at high altitude operating interceptor, that was first used against the American B-29 bombers, if they attacked at low level flight. It had an aerodynamical design and with its 20-mm machine guns it was able to break through the armor of the B-29. But with the capture of Iwo Jima, the B-29 were escorted by P-51 Mustang, so that the Raiden had to fight the Mustangs and from this point the AA guns and other Interceptors like the Kawasaki Ki-45 had to intercept the Superfortresses. The J2Ms, which defended Japan in 1944-1945 against the bombers of the USAAF, achieved 676 kills.