|KIT:||Jo-Han 1/72 A6M2/-2N Zeke/Rufe|
|PRICE:||$1.00 when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
It is difficult to come up with something new to write about the Mitsubishi A6M Zero series. Especially when it is probably the most built aircraft model in the world. Well, I can tell you that when the A6M2 hit the streets, it was the hottest thing since sliced bread. Here the Japanese had a real world beater. No other opposing power had anything like it. The plane was highly maneuverable, well armed with two machine guns and two cannon, and had superlative range. It also had some of the most highly trained pilots in the world, many of whom were combat veterans of the China campaign.
The aircraft also had a few weaknesses. To get that great maneuverability and range it was lightly constructed and had almost no armor protection for the pilot or the fuel tanks. That meant that a relatively minor hit on an Allied plane would bring down a Zero. It was also not the fastest thing in the world. The controls would get stiff to the point of being nearly frozen by high speeds so the best area of combat for the Zero was a bit low and a bit slow, where the light weight and excellent controls were fully effective.
When it came time to develop a float plane fighter, the aircraft of choice, the N1K1 'Rex' was undergoing some development problems so it was decided to make the A6M2 into a float plane fighter. This was done by Nakajima, who was already building A6Ms under license. The result was a very effective little plane that was able to operate in areas that didn't have a proper air field. They did sterling service in the Aleutians as well as other places in the Southwest Pacific.
Jo-Han produced several kits from which you could build one of two distinct variants. Besides the Zero there was a P-47, Me-262 , F4U, and Bf-109. Allegedly there was to be a P-40B/C, but that kit was never on the market. The Zero is the most complex of the series as it provides not only a new lower wing center section, but also all the floats and a new aft lower fuselage section. Despite being older than many modelers, this one has engraved panel lines and no problems with ejector pin marks or flash. Only a few sink areas could be found and those opposite alignment pins. The cockpit is a joke with naught but a pilot molded onto a seat. The rest of the kit is nicely done though if building the land plane version you'll have to deal with the lack of any sort of boxed in wheel wells. The kit does provide a nice three part canopy in case you do decide to trick out the interior. A flight stand is also given should you decide to use it.
Instructions are three construction steps. One for the main aircraft and the other two to be used dependant on whether you are doing the Rufe or the Zero. No beaching dolly is provided nor is there any call for weight in the large float, though I'd put some in there. Interestingly, the color callouts do tell you to paint the inside of the gear doors and interior in a 'metallic blue', so they were ahead of things in that respect. Other color information is strictly generic names. The two planes are a 'violet' Rufe with blue-grey undersides and an overall light grey A6M2 as flown by Saburo Sakai. We all know by now that there were not any violet colored Rufes so I'd go with regular Nakajima Black-Green over Nakajima Navy Grey for that one and with Mitubishi Grey-Green on Sakai's plane. The decals have not withstood the test of time well, but perhaps all that 'gunk' will disappear when put in water.
Overall, this is a very nice kit. I've built some of the others and you really can't get much more of a no-hassle kit than this one. Though not fully up to modern standards, the engraved panel lines will fool many into thinking that it is!
Review kit courtesy of your editor.
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