Mitsubishi A6M2a Zero Fighter Type 11 Combo
Called the most famous aircraft ever produced by Japan, the Zero fighter first appeared in 1939 and was arguably the best fighter aircraft – land- or carrier-based – in the world. It had great range and maneuverability, and its firepower was at least equal to any of its rivals. It had a wingspan of 12 meters and carried an offensive firepower combination of two 7.7 mm machine guns and two 20 mm cannons.
Development of the aircraft started in May, 1937, and the prototype delivered a speed of 491 km/h with its 780 hp Zuisei engine. In 1940, the Japanese Navy adopted the Sakae engine for the aircraft – a 14-cylinder, 940 hp radial engine.
What you get in the large box from Hasegawa are two complete kits; they have recessed panel lines, and there are decals for four airplanes, two each from the 12th and 14th Naval Flying Groups.
I started the builds with the cockpits. My first challenge was to figure out what color the interiors should be…the instructions stated only “gray green,” so after some online search I decided to use Gunze H312. Apparently, later Zeros had the bluish Aotake color, but not the early ones. After the cockpits were complete, I assembled the fuselages, which fit well, and their nice 3-piece engines.
The wings came next and didn't fit to the fuselages well at all. There was a gap on the top of both wing roots, and where the lower wing’s aft edge set into the fuselages, the fit was bad as well. I used CA to fix and fill the bottom gaps and used styrene strips to fill the upper ones.
I left the landing gear off until after the models were painted, and found that they had a sloppy fit, too. I found a three-view diagram, which showed them canted forward and perpendicular to the lower surface of the wings.
The canopy is molded as one piece, so I decided not to open it. I added masking tape seat belts and closed up the cockpit.
The kit supplies two different kinds of props and hubs, probably for different variants, but the blades are separate and needed to be assembled. Again, I had less than a tight fit but tried to keep equal distance between blades.
I used Gunze Sangyo acrylics throughout. Both models were painted overall H61 IJN Gray, and the center section of the one with the blue fuselage band was painted H62 IJA Gray. There's not much difference in color and I couldn’t find the reason for two different paints on the one particular aircraft. The cowls of both were painted flat Tire Black H77.
Next came the decals, and they went on with no problems. I clear coated them with Gunze H30 gloss clear and then used Dullcoat for the flat finish. Overall, two nice Zeros…except for the fit problems. Building two at the same time didn't take nearly as much time as building two at separate sittings would have done.
My thanks to IPMS/USA, Hasegawa, and Hobbico Distributors for the opportunity to review this kit.