Tamiya 1/72 A6M2b Zero 21
KIT #: 60780
PRICE: $1,120 yen (about $14.50) from Hobby Link Japan
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


Japan went to war with what many consider to be the finest fighter and the the best trained pilots in the Pacific. The A6M2b equipped all of Japan's carrier fighter groups and in the hands of highly trained pilots, many of whom were veterans of combat in China, proceeded to clear the air of their opponents. This all came at a price. The planes, while very maneuverable and with great range did so without the benefit of armor protection for the pilot and fuel systems. Since the training regimen was so long and strict, Japan was unable to replace aircrew losses and their aircraft industry was unable to match the pace of its major foe, the United States.

But in the early years, the A6M was pretty much the king of the skies, and while the aircraft was steadily improved over the years, many of these early models served as home defense aircraft, advanced trainers or were still used in areas leap-frogged by US forces during the island campaigns.


This is the first I have seen of Tamiya's 1/72 Zero line and I have to say it is quite well done. One expects much from Tamiya and this one certainly seems to fulfill that expectation. There are two major sprues with Tamiya's finely engraved detailing and quite a few small parts. Another tiny sprue holds the cowling, there is a nice clear sprue and a pair of poly inserts.

Tamiya is one of those companies that does not provide a parts layout, but I did notice that there are some redundant parts in the box, including a different instrument panel and a few other interior bits. The two sprues presented are an A and D sprue with the clear bits being the B sprue. All of the sprues are separately bagged including the cowling, which is part of the D sprue.

The detail in the cockpit is worthy of a 1/32 kit with a goodly number of small boxes. While there is also a decal for the main instrument panel, you will need to break out the 10/0 brush for the others. There are the usual inserts for the lower intake, just like Hasegawa. The only option is for an open or closed canopy. The kit provides two of them, one for those who wish to model the aircraft with the canopy closed and the other with a separate sliding canopy section. A drop tank is also included. Engine detail is nicely done for this scale as well.

Markings are for three planes that participated at Pearl Harbor. Oddly, the box art plane is not one of them. From the Akagi is the aircraft of Lt. Saburo Shindo, coded AI-102. With a BI-151 code from the Soryu is the plane of Lt. Fusata Iida. Finally, from the Zuikaku is the plane of Lt. Masao Sato. This one is coded EII-197. The decals are superbly done and provide all the markings you will need to do one of the three options, including the fuselage bands. I also like that Tamiya includes a seat harness decal. Typically, Tamiya has you mix paints, including the one for Aotake. I also found it odd that Tamiya still thinks these planes were green-grey instead of the browner Ame-iro, a shade that has been known for many years. It is up to you to decide how to handle that. An excellent set of Japanese WWII colors is provided by Colourcoats and others.  


If you were happy with the Hasegawa A6M series, then you will be more pleased with these, if for no other reason that the more detailed cockpit. Of course, it will cost a bit more, but it is well worth it.

October 2012

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan  for the preview kit. Get yours today at the link.     

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