When we left off at the end of part 1, the gun bays, cockpits and main airframe were done, and we needed to cover the engines and prepare the airframe for painting. Moving on to this round of the build, the sides and tops covering the engines are added. This is easier on the 1/48 kit as there are fewer parts, only 7 versus the 11 found on the 1/32 scale kit. In either case, hiding the engine below the covers is difficult, if only because it is so well done. The back is added along with the air scoops, top cover and a little putty, at which point we are done with the aft of the plane.
Next up is finishing the nose. To start with, add the canards, nose tip and front gun cover, and glue it all in place. I also added weight to the nose, and filled the open spaces with shot. Make sure the gun barrels slide through the cover. Fit is good, with only a small amount of putty needed on the sides. The gun bay doors are next, and here I discovered an error on my part. I had not seated the front in the bottom half of the fuselage properly on the 1/48 kit, so it was standing a few millimeters tall. Zoukei-Mura engineers their kits with precise fit, so this was a problem I caused myself. The gun bay doors were well above the fuselage. I decided to close them to preserve the lines of the plane by trimming the main bulkhead down, and the doors fit well. I want to emphasize here that this was an error I induced during the build. As you can see in the final pictures, I did get it right on the 1/32 kit, and that allowed the gun bays doors to be open.
The gear was prepared with no issues, and the tails were added. One note on the tails, they are specific to right and left, so keep the numbers straight. The prop was also assembled, and the flaps installed. I have them raised on this build, but there are options to lower them also. The windscreen was masked and added, along with the canopy. While the 1/32 kit contains masks, the 1/48 kit does not. In addition to the cockpit, I did mask the wheel wells on the planes as I didn't want to touch things up (wishful thinking). A good coat of primer on the seams was followed by sanding, and we are ready for the fun - painting.
Looking at photos of the actually planes, one thing I noticed is that they were very well kept and not weathered much, so I decided to go for the same look - minimal weathering. I did want some variation in the color, so I elected to preshade the kits. I used black in this case, highlighting the panel lines and rivets. I also wanted to paint the yellow leading edges (the kit does include decals), so these were painted deep yellow first, and then masked off with tape. The bottom was painted a very light gray (a mixture of camouflage gray and white), and was sprayed to allow some of the black to show lightly though. This is also the time to get the landing gear doors done. Once this was dry, I cut masks from Tamiya tape for the squiggle pattern of green that wraps around the canards and wing leading edges. As you can see, I used a lot of tape. I then used Mr. Color Nakajima Green to spray the upper surfaces, slowly building up color and letting it hide the black lines. Lastly, I lightened the green with a little gray, and concentrated on the center of panels to get some variety in color. This was set aside overnight to dry.
While that dried, I sprayed the propeller with Mr. Color Mahogany, and added it to the plane. I also added the landing gear to get it off the ground and prepare for decaling. The kit was gloss coated and the decals added. They settled well. In hind sight, I should have masked off the Hinomaru and painted them, but the kit decals look good. Decals are pretty minimal, especially after doing a few modern jets, so it went quickly. I then flat coated the kits, and used a little pastel on the exhausts and gun ports. I used a silver pencil to add some chipping around access hatches. After another flat coat it was time for final assembly.
The remaining antennas, canopy, wing tip and top lights, gun sight and armored glass were added without incident. I sat the 1/48 kit next to its finished big brother and was impressed. This is a great first kit from Zoukei-Mura. It is almost indistinguishable from the superb 1/32 offering except in size.
Most highly recommended. Great fit, excellent subject and as much detail as anyone could want in a kit, all wrapped up for a very good price - no modeler could want more. Get one; you will have a blast building this kit.
My sincere thanks to everyone at Zoukei-Mura for the chance to build and review this kit. It is truly special. My thanks also to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.
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