Hasegawa Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero of Shoichi Sugita in 1/72 Scale

Shoichi Sugita was credited with his first arial victorie on 01DEC42, a B-17 Flying Fortress.  He formed part of the escort for the transport carrying ADM Isoroku Yamamoto on the day he was shot down.  T2 190 was an A6M3 Type 32 assigned to the 204 Kokutai at Rabaul in May, 1943, and wears a field applied mottled camouflage.  In August of 1943 he was himself shot down but escaped by parachute, although badly burned.

Chief Petty Officer Shoichi Sugita flew the Kawanishi N1K2 Shiden-Kai with the 343rd Kokuti operating from Matsuama, Japan in March 1945.  CPO Sugita was credited with approximately seventy victories, including seven in the Shiden-Kai.  He was killed on 15APR45, shot down while attempting to take off by US Navy F6F Hellcats.  His Shiden-Kai is modeled here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/hasegawa-kawanishi-n1k2-shiden-kai-%e7%b4%ab%e9%9b%bb-violet-lightning-george-in-1-72-scale/

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Hasegawa Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of Tetsuzo Iwamoto in 1/72 Scale

The second leading scorer of the Imperial Japanese Navy with 80 victories, Tetsuzo Iwamoto fought throughout the Pacific War and survived.  During his first combat on 25FEB38 he was credited with five Chinese aircraft downed over Nanking.  The model depicts the aircraft he flew from the carrier Zuikaku at Pearl Harbor and the Coral Sea.

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Hasegawa Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of Hiroyoshi Nishizawa in 1/72 Scale

The highest-scoring Japanese naval aviator was Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, credited with 87 victories.  A Japanese photographer shot several in flight photographs of UI-105, which was flown by Nishizawa while assigned to the 251 Kokutai operating out of Rabaul in May of 1943.  On 25OCT44 he led the escort group during the first Kamikaze mission in the Philippines, claiming two American aircraft.  The following day he was flying as a passenger on a transport plane when it was attacked and shot down by two US Navy F6F Hellcats.  Nishizawa died in the crash.

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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.

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

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These are the A6M2 kit engines from the three manufacturers – Hasegawa (upper left), Fine Molds (upper right), and Tamiya (lower). Push rods from 0.010″ round stock were added to the Hasegawa engines. The cases were painted RLM 65 blue-grey, the ignition ring is light gull grey. Ignition wires are roughed in with very fine Copper wire. The Hasegawa engine is definitely smaller when seen with the others, but looks the part inside it’s cowling.

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The Fine Molds kit comes with separate flaps, a nice option. I decided to drop the flaps on one of the Hasegawa A6M3s (top) and the Tamiya A6M5 (bottom) as well. The Tamiya A6M2 is engineered with the entire flap molded into the upper wing piece, while their A6M5 flap is split into halves with the upper & lower wing parts, so I went with the easier job of the two.

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The underside of the wings of the Hasegawa kits were cut out for the resin castings. A bit of a gap on this one, but nothing which can’t be filled and the wheelwells are much deeper now. I like the deep wells a lot better. In this picture you can also see the boattail where the wing underside joins the fuselage. The Hasegawa kits all had small gaps at this joint, and even the Fine Molds & Tamiya kits needed some smoothing there.

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A “conversion” from a Type 22 to a Type 32 – cut off the wingtips and reshape the ends to represent the aerodynamic fairing. I had managed to acquire three Type 22 kits but no 32s, easy enough to fix.

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Construction is almost complete, just have to add the canopies and mask. Now is a good time to mention some of the considerations involved in doing a batch build. The main advantages lie in the efficiencies gained in building kits of same construction and / or color pallet, but that can also lead to confusion in the detail differences between the individual models if you’re not careful. The key is establishing a system to account for the differences between the models. Organization is crucial, just come up with a system which makes sense to you, and stick to it. In this case, I have used the kit boxes as trays, and arranged the model variants in chronological order, from left to right. A post-it note also helps to remind me of the final markings for each kit. This is important, as details such as spinner colors and other painted markings often vary between aircraft. The airframes on the stand are arranged in the same order.

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Sub-assemblies and other parts prepared for painting are kept in front of their respective boxes. Where there are important variations in the camouflage or markings, good notes or pictures are very useful. Notice that the post-it for Tiger 110 says “Nakajima” – many of the colors on Nakajima-made Zero components are different than those manufactured by Mitsubishi.

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The small cards contain parts specific to each model, and are labeled with the pilot’s names like the post-its. They will be sprayed with Alclad lacquers and contain the parts which will be black, silver, or Aotake. The engines are in order on their card, left to right matching the sequence of the boxes. The drop tanks and landing gear covers all get the same color, four are identical parts from Hasegawa kits, the ones on the right of each group are Tamiya.

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

This is a resurrected work-in-progress build log of a batch build comparison of seven kits from Hasegawa, Fine Molds, and Tamiya.  For me the gains in efficiency from building in batches outweigh the burdens of repetitive construction.  It also helps keep the number of kits in the stash down to reasonable levels.  Thanks to a few “deals I could not refuse” at the shows I discovered I had managed to accumulate several Hasegawa Zeros.  Added to a Fine Molds A6M2 and a couple more from Tamiya, there was a small pile of Zeros waiting to be built.  This is also a good opportunity to compare the kits.

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Fine Mold’s kit is spectacular. It is incredibly detailed, and includes options such as dropped flaps and folded wingtips. It comes molded in four colors approximating the finished colors of the different components. FM produced three variants, an A6M2, A6M3, and an A6M5. Each was distributed by bundling half the sprues with an issue of Model Graphics magazine. The magazines featured references, a gallery of finished Zeros, a build article, kit instructions, and even a cut-out for those wishing to make their own box! All in Japanese, of course, but still useful.

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Here is a comparison of the interior components of the three kits. At the top is Hasegawa. While not as detailed as the Fine Molds or Tamiya offerings, the older Hasegawa kits offer every Zero variant except the -K trainer, and are generally accurate in shape. The liabilities are typical for Hasegawa – Spartan cockpits and shallow wheelwells. The middle components in the green plastic are from Fine Molds, an outstanding kit in every respect. At the bottom Tamiya’s Zeros, are some of the best kits ever produced in 1/72 scale.

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The lower wing parts are finely engraved and feature recessed panel lines on all three kits. The Hasegawa offering at the top has shallow wheel wells molded into the part, the other two have deep wells which go all the way to the upper wing part. Note the cut-outs on the Fine Molds wing in the center which allow for variations.

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The lines of FM and Tamiya’s A6M2’s are a very close match, with just a few differences in engineering. Here is a shot of the FM (near) fuselage taped up with the Hasegawa. The vertical stabilizer is a bit too broad on the Hasegawa Zero, but this is easy enough to correct.

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To update the Hasegawa kits, I decided to substitute castings of superior components from the other two. Here are the wheelwells cut from the Fine Molds kit and prepared for casting.

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The borrowed components are ready for the pouring of RTV rubber molding material. The frames are made from Lego blocks, with masking tape underneath. The masking tape seals the bottom of the molds, and allows the masters to be fixed in place. I mainly used FM parts because the cockpit floors were slightly narrower than those in the Tamiya kit, which fit the Hasegawa fuselage better. The Tamiya kit parts would also work. The white assembly in the upper left corner is made from Evergreen stock, and will fit behind the horseshoe-shaped frame aft of the pilot’s seat. When the castings are completed I will have the parts needed to update the Hasegawa kits, and add a little more detail to the visible area behind the pilot’s seat on all the builds.

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Once the RTV molds have cured, the actual casting doesn’t take much time. Pour, wait, pop, repeat. In between pours, stringer detail and other details can be made from 0.010″ square Plastistruct and added. Here is a shot of the progress on a Hasegawa, Fine Molds, and Tamiya cockpits, from top to bottom. The Hasegawa kits will get a whole new cockpit, the others get a few enhancements.

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Here are the basic colors in place, which allows some of the detail to show. The interiors were first primed with Alclad black. The Aotake translucent protective coating could vary in shade from blues to greens, mine is a 50 / 50 mix of Alclad transparent green and transparent blue over Aluminum. I used Model Master Interior Green FS 34151 for the Mitsubishi cockpit green. This was misted down over the black primer to leave a shadow effect in the nooks and crannies. Two additional lighter mixes were sprayed from directly above to enhance the highlights.

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Here’s all seven cockpits in the basic colors, no washes or detail painting have been added at this point. These assemblies are about 1.25 inches long (32 mm), much smaller than shown in the picture. The cockpit in the upper left was painted with mixes of Model Master Interior Green, Light Gull Gray, and Radome Tan to represent the early Nakajima color. From above, the effect of misting the color layers on to leave the black shadowing is more subtle, but still provides the definition needed to show detail.

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I have added pads for the seats, painted as either canvas or leather. Seat belts are Eduard PE, and Eduard provides different style belts for each manufacturer. Most of the wire detail was added with 32 gauge beading wire from the craft store, levers are 0.010″ & 0.015″ Plastistruct rod. Instrument decals are from the kits and the spares box, Fine Molds provided the most comprehensive decal sheet of the three.

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This is a tub posed with the sidewalls from a Hasegawa kit. Everything was sealed with Future (Kleer), then given a wash of thin black enamel. Switches were drybrushed with silver to bring out details.

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111H-20 of Dietrich Kornblum in 1/72 Scale

This is the 2004 Hasegawa He-111H-6 kit updated to H-20 configuration.  The model represents the aircraft of bomber “ace” Oberleutnant Dietrich Kornblum, Staffelkapitän of 4./KG 53, located at Piastow, Russia in June 1944.  Kornblum was awarded the Knight’s Cross after completing 400 missions.  The aircraft has been overpainted with RLM 76 “clouds” and black undersides over the standard Luftwaffe RLM 70 / 71 splinter scheme.  The dorsal turret transparency was formed using the “plunge mold” technique.

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Hasegawa Heinkel He 111 Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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With major assembly complete I sprayed the model with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws. Given the size of the underwing crosses I decided they would look best if painted. I painted these areas white and masked off the crosses with Tamiya tape.

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The uppersurfaces had a standard factory RLM 70 / 71 splinter scheme. The masking tape here is regular household tape.

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Here is the splinter scheme with the masks removed. Two hours of masking, fifteen minutes of painting. I laid this pattern out as it is shown in the Monogram Guide.

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The aircraft I’m modeling had black undersides for night missions. I have pre-shaded the panel lines with a scale black mixture, the same mix will be oversprayed in a light coat to bring out the highlights.

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Here it is with the black applied and the insignia masks removed. The panel highlighting is subtle but you do get some tonal variation between panels.

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This aircraft had “clouds” of RLM 76 Light Blue applied over the uppersurfaces. This photograph shows the colors used.

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Decals are in place and have been sealed with Future (Klear) in preparation for panel line washing and weathering. Decals are from Aims sheet 72D010.

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The kit pitot tube is easily broken off, at least by me. I have learned to replace this sort of thing with metal parts. I made this one with Albion Alloys tube and 0.005” Nitenol wire for the tip. The Nitenol wire does not break or bend, but returns to its original shape if bumped.

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There is a lot of glare from the lightbox in this photograph but even so you can still see much of the interior of the nose compartment. With the hatch open even more of the detail is visible.

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The finished model represents the aircraft of bomber “ace” Oberleutnant Dietrich Kornblum, Staffelkapitän of 4./KG 53.  Kornblum was awarded the Knight’s Cross after completing 400 missions.  The dorsal turret transparency was formed using the “plunge mold” technique.

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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I’ll be modifying this model to H-20 standard, the most obvious difference is the dorsal gun position of the H-20 was replaced with a turret mounting a 13.1 mm gun. Here I have inserted a section of PVC pipe to build up the base for the turret.

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The gaps in the opening were filled with superglue and the area smoothed with Mr. Surfacer 500.

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The turret ring was fabricated from various bits of Evergreen stock using the ring from a Revell of Germany He 177 kit part as a template.

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There is a tricky area on the Hasegawa kit which I have learned to respect from previous builds. The bomb bay at the heart of the aircraft is the junction of seven different parts and the fit is not optimal. There will be noticeable seams here if one is not careful. It is best to address the seams in stages to get the best result. Here you can see the wing to fuselage to bombay joint has been filled using superglue and Mr. Surfacer and smoothed.

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For my build the external racks are needed. Test fit these parts carefully, as the backs of these will need trimmed to get the best fit. Gaps at this point are filled with Perfect Plastic Putty and the excess wiped away with a damp swab.

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The Eduard canopy mask set is a big time-saver. The kit provides an overhead instrument panel with a decal for the dials but does not have the panel next to the sliding hatch, which is a PE part here. The canopy curtains were made from rolled up sections of masking tape.

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Aside from the bomb bay area the rest of the parts fit well. I use MEK from the hardware store which is the equivalent of the various “thin” cements on the market but vastly cheaper. This tends to melt any minor imperfections along the joining surfaces and results in a tight fit.

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Here is the canopy in place with the seam filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. The PPP is ideal for this application.

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The underside of the canopy join was not as tight as the upper side but close enough to fill with putty.

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The other major difference between the H-6 and the H-20 is the H-20 had fewer transparencies in the area of the ventral bathtub. The excess windows were simply sanded smooth. The fit of this clear part is extremely good.

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Here the RLM 66 interior color has been sprayed on the exterior of the canopy.

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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This is the Hasegawa He-111H-6 kit which was first issued in 2004. This will be my third time building this kit (fourth if you count the He-111Z as two) so this time I’ll be modifying it to H-20 standard, a rather simple conversion.

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The kit has been criticized in some circles for having over-emphasized panel lines. There is some justification to this, although there are many examples of kits with panel lines which are worse. They are not far enough out of scale to bother me so I plan on leaving them as they are.

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The detail sprues contain a few options. Hasegawa has provided three different types of exhausts which I believe covers all the major options. There are bomb bay doors or alternatively two different types of external racks which could be mounted in their place.

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I also have on hand some Eduard PE frets. These were intended for the He-111Z Zwilling boxing, but I got them at a discount several years ago so there is enough to outfit two standard He 111s. I’ll be using the parts which are useful, but PE can be a pain to work with and many parts do not offer a significant advantage over kit parts so I’ll only use some. PE can be helpful as it gives you a choice but I don’t feel every part should be used every time.

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Here is one application where the PE has some advantage. The kit wheelwells are a little on the shallow side and have some really inconvenient ejector pin marks. The top of the well is removed with a Dremel tool which deepens the part and then the interior is replaced with PE parts.

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Not much of the interior is visible on this kit. The front cockpit greenhouse is the exception, and well worth the effort to add some extra detail. The clear parts have minimal distortion, also there is a sliding hatch over the pilot’s position so much of the interior in this compartment can be seen.

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Here is the cockpit with several selected PE parts to enhance the detail. The most easily visible additions are the seat belts and the yellow wiring for the instruments.

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Throttle levers are 1/700 ship railing, this allows for several levers to be installed at once and ensures that they all point in the same direction. I find this much easier to deal with than the separate levers on the PE fret.