|KIT:||Sweet 1/144 Zero Fighter and Flight Deck|
|PRICE:||$12.00 at the Atlanta Nationals, MSRP higher|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
It was with a rather nasty surprise that the US military discovered some of the capabilities of Japan's newest Naval fighter, the A6M2 Zero-sen. It was on that December morning that what few US planes were able to get airborne were almost completely overcome by the Japanese fighter. Expecting to fight somewhat obsolescent 'copies' of European and US planes, the totally modern A6M, piloted by war experienced pilots generally devastated most of the US fighters that made it into the air.
Thanks to its long wings and light construction, the A6M2 could be flung around with great abandon. It was almost as maneuverable as the biplanes so cherished by the dog-fight loving Japanese airmen. However, this light construction, while giving it incredible range, also meant that there was basically no armor protection for the pilot or fuel tanks. Allied airmen learned not to dog-fight with the Zero and that it would burst into flames with relative ease if hit in the fuel tanks.
Nevertheless, the A6M was able to bear the brunt of IJN efforts in the first six months of the war, defeating nearly all the opponents it faced.
Sweet's Aviation Model Division has so far blessed the 1/144 WWII fighter crowd with four excellent little kits. Starting with the Macchi C.200, then the Hurricane I, the Wildcat FM-2 and now the A6M, those of us who have built these kits have been delighted with them. They are accurate, molded to current standards and are pretty easy to build. Generally they come two to a kit, but this particular boxing includes a section of flight deck, so only one aircraft is boxed.
Even in this tiny scale there are options and that includes the ability to have the wings folded or in the normal position. Some A6M2s were operated without the antenna mast so for those builds, it will have to be cut and the base glued in place.
In addition to the excellent mold of the kit, the flight deck section is quite large. It incorporates two deck and two elevator sections, which can be clipped together. I don't think you can pose the elevator in a lowered position, but I'm sure that some enterprising modeler will figure a way around that.
Instructions are well drawn and while there are lots of little bits of advice, the entire sheet is written in Japanese. Most of us have been around long enough to be able to make things out and determine what colors these bits and pieces should be painted. The other side of the instructions is a full color painting and decal guide. All six options are in the concrete green/grey shade of early IJN aircraft with various bands depicting the ship and unit. This information and the pilot's name are the only things printed in English. You basically get one aircraft from each of the 6 Pearl Harbor carriers. The decal sheet is superbly printed and works like a dream if it is anything like those I've used on previous kits. The back of the box gives information on assembling, painting and decaling the flight deck section. From what I can tell, the main deck is in shades of wood with the elevator in a dark grey. As usual, the little anime character and her cats are providing construction and painting advice!
A really great kit that comes with an accurate base. What more could you ask? If you have several other of the two-pack Sweet A6M2s, then you can easily do a full set of Pearl Harbor Zeros. Look for these at your favorite hobby shop or visit www.hlj.com as I know he carries them.
Kit courtesy of me and my digging through the HLJ's Sweet box at the Atlanta Nationals.
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