Hasegawa 1/72 A6M2a Type 11 Combo

KIT #: 02002
PRICE:  $22.50 on sale ($44.95 SRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2012 limited release. 2 complete kits


The A6M's history mirrored that of the Empire of Japan in World War II. When it was introduced, the Zero was the best carrier-based fighter in the world and it was greatly feared by Allied pilots. The IJNAS also frequently used the type as a land-based fighter. A combination of excellent maneuverability and very long range made it one of the finest fighters of its era. In early combat operations, the Zero gained a legendary reputation, outclassing its contemporaries. Later, design weaknesses and the increasing scarcity of more powerful aircraft engines meant that the Zero became less effective against newer fighters. By 1942, new tactics and techniques enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on more equal terms. By 1943, American and British manufacturers were producing fighters with greater firepower, armor, and speed, and approaching the Zero's maneuverability. The Mitsubishi A6M was outdated by 1944, but remained in production. During the final years of the War in the Pacific, the Zero was utilized in kamikaze operations.

The Model 11

While the Navy was testing the first two prototypes, they suggested that the third be fitted with the 700 kW (940 hp) Nakajima Sakae 12 engine instead. Mitsubishi had its own engine of this class in the form of the Kinsei, so they were somewhat reluctant to use the Sakae. Nevertheless, when the first A6M2 was completed in January 1940, the Sakae's extra power pushed the performance of the Zero well past the original specifications.

The new version was so promising that the Navy had 15 built and shipped to China before they had completed testing. They arrived in Manchuria in July 1940, and first saw combat over Chungking in August. There they proved to be completely untouchable by the Polikarpov I-16s and I-153s that had been such a problem for the A5Ms currently in service. In one encounter, 13 Zeros shot down 27 I-15s and I-16s in under three minutes without loss. After hearing of these reports the Navy immediately ordered the A6M2 into production as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 11. Reports of the Zero's performance filtered back to the US slowly. There they were dismissed by most military officials, who felt it was impossible for the Japanese to build such an aircraft. This type did not have the folding wing tips of the later type 21 and since it was mostly land based, often did not have an arrestor hook installed.


Probably because Hasegawa wore out the molds on the old Zero kit, they decided a few decades back, that perhaps it would be a good idea to go the 'multiple variants' route and do the entire series of A6Ms. Thanks to much of the airframe being the same, this was an easy to do endeavor. Basically, just the cowling and the wings are changed from version to version. As the Zero is probably the most sold model kit in the world, Hasegawa has done very well in this area and special boxings seem to sell out with great regularity.

This particular boxing is another of their 'combo' kits which provides two kits in the same box with a number of markings options. As Hasegawa tends to do only one new mold airplane kit in a year (this year it is the 1/72 V-22 Osprey), limited editions are their primary product and in the last few years, they have been doing more and more of these combo kits. For most builders, this is not a bad deal as they get two kits for less than the price of two single kits. However, the US retail price for any Hasegawa kit has become too much for many modelers, so we wait for their kits to go on sale, where the price is more in our reach. Such is the case for this one.

Typical of Hasegawa, the cockpit is a bit sparse, using a decal for the instrument panel. Fortunately, there are aftermarket sets to help. The one piece canopy is very clear. Inserts are used for the lower cowling and upper forward fuselage. The two piece engine is very nicely done and looks the part once in the cowling. The only optional bit is the belly tank, something not always carried on defensive missions, though it would be appropriate for longer patrols. All markings options will need the tail hook well filled in and smoothed over.

Instructions are Hasegawa's usual fare with Gunze paint references. The four planes on the decal sheet are all in the overall greyish scheme with a black engine cowling and silver spinner. There are four options provided. Two are from the 12th Naval Flying Group and two are from the 14th Naval Flying Group, all from late 1940 and early 1941 and probably based in China.

The box art shows two of these options. 9-182 is with the 14th NFG and has a blue band on the fin. The other option is without color and is aircraft 9-172. The lower box art plane is in a two tone grey/grey-green scheme and with the 12th NFG, coded 3-183. The other option has a single red tail band and is coded 3-163. The decals are nicely printed and are not the usual 'japanese decal' type so should work well with your favorite setting solutions.


I doubt if there are many out there who have not built a Hasegawa Zero in any scale. These are basically trouble free builds and can quickly be made into very nice models. Enough so that many of us have a bit of a collection of them! When one can find them on sale, they are well worth picking up.




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