A6M Zero Aces Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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A metal rod in the nose makes a good place to handle the model while painting and a convenient way to keep it off the bench while drying. The camo on all these Zeros utilize the same color palette which makes painting more efficient.

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For some reason I always feel “almost done” after the decals are on, but that’s not really the case, is it? Maybe it’s because you can finally start to see something which resembles the finished product developing from the mass of parts. The major sub-assemblies are all complete but there are several smaller parts still on the sprues.

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Decaling is completed here. Quite a few decals, actually. The Tamiya and Fine Molds kits both included extensive stenciling, the FM sheet especially. I purchased a few of the Hasegawa kits at shows, one of the decal sheets in those was ruined, a few more were the older type with the light reds and ivory whites. I used TechMod sheet 72116 for the Hinomaru and Aviaeology sheets for the tail codes to provide the needed replacements. Additional codes were made from an HO scale train sheet from the LHS.

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Here’s the underside of one of the Hasegawa Type 22s, showing the incorporation of the replacement wheelwells. Brake lines are 32-gauge beading wire, tow hooks are HO scale lifting pad eyes. The brake lines run down between the main gear leg and the covers, between the attachment points. The Tamiya covers are molded with a space between the points, the other covers were slotted with a razor saw. The Tamiya kits also came with parts for the U-shaped retraction arms for the inner doors, arms for the other kits were fabricated from wire.

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I used a “sludge wash” to bring out the panel lines, which is just thinned acrylic paint mixed with a small amount of dish soap. I generally like just enough contrast to get the panel lines to show up. A medium grey was used on the underside, but black was used on the uppers because the green is so dark.

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A group shot of all the kits together.

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SUMMARY:

Hasegawa – While they do not have the detail nor refined engineering of the other two manufacturers, these are still good, solid kits.  The main strength of the Hasegawa line is the variety of types offered – from the A6M1 to the A6M8, and everything in between.  Weaknesses are the very basic cockpits and shallow wheelwells.  Overall the shape looks good.  The vertical fin is a little too broad in chord, but that is easily fixed.  The cowling on their A6M2 is a bit small, which is noticeable when compared directly to the other manufacturers (see photo above, Hasegawa kit on the left).  For many of the versions, a Hasegawa kit is still the best place to start.

Fine Molds – These are great kits, some of the best offered in our scale.  Fine Molds kit the A6M2, A6M3 Type 32, and A6M5.  They offer great detail and outstanding engineering.  Their A6M2 kit has several options including open cowl claps, lowered landing flaps, open canopy, and wing tips which can be posed folded.  The main drawbacks are price and their unique distribution method as bundles with two issues of Model Graphics magazine.

Tamiya – The Tamiya kits are every bit as nice as the Fine Molds kits, but in different ways.  Asking which is best is like trying to figure out which Victoria’s Secret supermodel is the prettiest.  The details are superb and the engineering allows the kits to just fall together.  If I were looking to purchase new Zero kits today, the Tamiya A6M2 or A6M5s would be my first choices.

Aftermarket – I used three aftermarket parts on these builds.  The Hasegawa kits all got True Details resin wheels, the Tamiya and Fine Molds wheels looked fine to me.  All the kits received Eduard photoetch seatbelts, from set 73001.  Eduard provides different style belts for the Mitsubishi and Nakajima-built aircraft – something I would not have caught otherwise.  The center section of the canopies are all Squadron vacuforms, the other sections are kit parts.  The front section of the Squadron canopies will not fit any of these three kits, even though they are intended to replace the Hasegawa parts.  I also used the Eduard canopy mask set CX006, which saved a lot of time.  Aviaeology supplied tailcode numerals, and Techmod supplied Hinomarus where needed.

18 thoughts on “A6M Zero Aces Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

    1. A sludge wash is a heavily-thinned acrylic with a few drops of dish soap. Flow it into panel lines, then wipe off the excess with a wet Q-tip. Best applied over a gloss finish as it is difficult to remove the excess on a dull finish.

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  1. Another nice aspect of the Fine Molds kits, if memory serves, is that they offer two different spinners on the A6M2 kit as Mitsubishi and Nakajimi used spinners of slightly different lengths.
    I still love looking at this batch build Jeff.

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      1. Jeff, your FM survey is incomplete and slightly inaccurate. Incomplete – FM also issued a A6M3 Type 22 and recently an A6M1. Slightly inaccurate – FM after doing the magazine releases, released the series in a subscription scheme. Weekly IIRC FM would issue Sprues so you could collect various parts without having to buy half or full kit. The subscription also included figures, airfield accessories, and the Hasegawa airfield trucks. Each issue also included a several page flyer/magazine. I used to buy issues in bookstores when I lived in Japan. I later found it easy to buy on Amazon.co.jp. Good times!

        Regarding your survey, I agree with your assessment. I think the FM kits more detailed than Tamiya. I do enjoy the Tamiya more as they less fiddly.

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      2. Tamiya also kitted an A6M3. I originally posted this WiP on the 72nd Scale Aircraft forum a few years back, but it didn’t weather the hosting changes and PhotoBucket shenanigans well. I should track down a kit list and add it to the post.

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      1. Jeff, while we’re talking Zeroes, no survey of the Hasegawa kits is complete without mention of the Gartex short run releases. These were basically Hasegawa plastic with resin additions to make more.obscure variants. ISTR an A6M8 and maybe a 2-seater. These were released in the mid-80s and were horrendously expensive at around $80 then. Needless to say I never purchased any. Way out of my price range. I still wonder what they were like.

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      2. I remember the Gartex A6M1 and a later mark that they produced. I’ve never heard of or laid eyes on the trainer/K-version. I’d like to build the latter, and I believe an Eastern European manufacturer (Pavla?) makes a resin conversion.
        I looked for years for a reasonably priced Gartex A6M1, but when FM came out with theirs I snatched it up.

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  2. So, would this be a “Warren” of zeros or maybe a “horde”? We will have to figure that out. Otherwise I am very impressed with your focus and results. The last time I did a multiple build I found I was treating the models like an assembly line. As in- just enough to get to the next step but not putting in the care I would with a single build. Not so for you – these planes all look great.

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    1. Thanks Chris! I’m partial to a “clowder” or “glaring” after the Big Bang episode! I typically build in batches, I’ve done several groups of Fine Molds Bf 109s, and may yet do another.

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