Revell 1/32 A6M5 Zero

KIT #: 04717
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Joseph Palmersheim
NOTES: Baa Baa Black Sheep boxing from 1976

If you are reading this site, I am going to take a guess that you are more than a little familiar with the history of the Japanese Zero.

This kit, a boxing of the Zero from 1976 (for the TV series “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” a show which, upon reflection, was saved only by aerial photography) was picked up on eBay along with a Testor’s 1/48 Mustang. Unlike the Mustang, the Zero was simplicity itself, with lines that seem remarkable true to the original. There are less than 40 parts in the entire kit, and there is a neat feature on the wing that uses little hooks to ensure a close fit to the fuselage. I didn’t have to use any putty on these joints because they were so close, which was nice.
The engine was sparse, but serviceable and well hidden by the cowling so as to not necessitate any additional detailing.
I molded the ship with the landing gear up, and the gear bay covers fit well enough into the bays that I did not even have to glue them.
The cockpit was incredible sparse, and I beefed it up with not only more controls but actual leather seatbelts carved from the backside of a Perry Ellis belt. I found pictures of original seatbelts, and used narrow gauge wire to replicate the various buckles on the harnesses. I also drilled holes in the seat to replicate the original. The original cockpit was supposed to house a pilot figure that looks curiously ape-like, but we’ll overlook that, and blame it on poor molding.
The original markings for this aircraft were supposed to replicate the T-6 Texans that were used to replicate actual Zeroes on the show. Ironically, that is what is portrayed on the front of the box for this kit!
I tried using the original decals, which were inaccurate. In the end, I ended up scrapping the original marking scheme and saving only the “data plate” that went on the port side of the fuselage near the tail. I spray painted the “hinomarus” using marking tape and Testor’s red, and had to do it several times to ensure a proper circular appearance. You’d think it’d be simple to paint a red circle, but no, I guess I can find ways to make it difficult. Originally, I wanted to give this aircraft the markings of the A6M5 that is preserved in the Yasakuni shrine in Japan, but in the end, I went with a little artistic merit, forgoing the yellow leading edges on the wing and doing a white design on the tail. I like the way the tail turned out – it’s exotic yet aggressive looking.
The original decals from this kit wilted after being hit with a lacquer flat coat, so I painted the wing markings and circles with spray-paint.
I decided not to give this Zero radio aerials after reading in Saburo Sakai’s excelled book “Samurai!” that Zero pilots sometimes ripped out the radios from their airplanes to extend their range – a perhaps mixed idea when flying over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. I decided my pilot, whoever he was, did the same thing, and removed the radio mast and aerial. I think it really improves the smooth lines of the original design. (Apparently Joseph changed his mind. Ed)
I’m quite happy with the way this kit turned out. Review example courtesy of my wallet and my wife’s benevolent tolerance for hearing me prattle on endlessly about 1/32 leather seatbelts.
Joseph Palmersheim
September 2008 

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