Tamiya 1/32 A6M5 Zero




$99.95 MSRP


Three aircraft


Parker Ewing




 I won't rehash what's already been said on it's history other than to say the Zero is perfectly representative of the problems Imperial Japan faced. Their shallow industrial base forced this early WWII front line fighter to remain in that position throughout the war while facing third generation American counterparts. Still, in the hands of a capable vet, it remained a threat throughout.


Whenever you open a kit and it's got screwdrivers and tubes of grease included, you know you're in for it. This kit has it all. Decals aside, I cannot imagine any aftermarket products being produced. I mean none. Zip. Rubber tires, PE sheets (with belt buckles), brake lines, antenna wire, two pilots, mounting stand. I could go on. It's literally all there, folks. There is even a photo reference section in the instructions. (Editor's note: see Blair Stewart's excellent preview for more on what is in the box.)


  The cockpit is a work of art. The instrument decals are to be cut out singularly, and placed behind the clear dial faces. Genius. The cockpit misses nothing and is a complete model in itself. Tamiya also included alot of detail that won't be viewable. I was somewhat unhappy with the cut out seat belts provided, but after washing and flat coating them, they look okay.

 The model was surprisingly easy to construct with a few exceptions. The landing gear doors were difficult. I had concerns about the gear shutting correctly, so early on, I decided to leave it gear down and not sweat it. If you decide otherwise, be very careful, dry test them, and follow the manual to the letter. The flaps were somewhat tricky with all the PE hinge, but they fit and work very nicely. The only other problem was the fuselage fit to the wing. I talked to two other guys and one had the same problem while the other didn't. Based on how the rest of the kit was, I suspect it was my fault.

The engine was another model within itself and for guys who really like to detail the engine, the cowling splits in half so you can reveal your work. And yes, the cowling fit is perfect. The canopy masks were irritating to have to cut, but they worked wonderfully. Tamiya even provides the tiny lights on the wings. Paint these on the sprue and bust out your needle nose tweezers. They add a really nice touch. 


 I used the new paints they issued for the kit. The interior (XF-71) was nice, but I really loved the exterior Dark Green (XF-70). Gotta use that. After a base coat of the dark green, I lightened it up and faded the panels for effect. The wheel wells were done in the suggested mix of metallic blue and clear green and it looks ok I guess, but I may try another one next time. I like using Gunze's gloss b/c it doesn't darken the paint, so I did that and let it cure.   

Decals were good and they worked well with the micro-sol. They give you three options, but I've always liked the Hinomarus with the white border, so I went with that. I was less than thrilled to discover the top wing Hinomarus needed to fit around a protruding thingamajig on the wing in order to avoid setting up to close to the leading edge. It was too late to cut it so I just chalked it up to another small mistake I made. Life goes on. I added some Tamiya soot and pastels, flatted it with Pollyscale, attached the antenna, and it was all over.


Well, how can I properly say it? How about this....Tamiya has produced, without question, the best model ever made. Nothing else is even close. Combine the large scale, the meticulous accuracy, the depth of detail, and this kit just explodes off the display. I keep it on my deck in the office and just stare at it while I'm on the phone. Relatively new modelers like myself can really produce a winner, so I can't wait to see what some of the heavyweights can do. If the rumor is true that the Corsair is next in their super series....sign me up for the first one. I don't care what they cost.

Thanks to Robert Ferraro for his help during this build.

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