Hasegawa 1/48 A6M2a Type 11

KIT #: 09142 (Jt 42))
PRICE: €15 on offer
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" was a long-range carrier-based fighter aircraft operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. Combining excellent maneuverability and very long range, it is considered to have been the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II. It was also used as a land-based fighter by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS).

In early combat operations, the Zero gained a reputation as a vivid dogfighter, achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on generally equal terms. By 1943, the Zero was less effective against newer Allied fighters due to design limitations, lacking, among others, hydraulic boosting for its ailerons and rudder, rendering it extremely difficult to maneuver at high speeds.

By 1944, with Allied fighters approaching the A6M levels of maneuverability and consistently exceeding its firepower, armor and speed, the A6M had largely become outdated as a fighter aircraft. However, as design delays and production difficulties hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft models, the Zero continued to serve in a front-line role until the end of the war in the Pacific. During the final phases, it was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations. 10,939 were built, more than any other model of combat aircraft during the war.

Sub-Lieutenant Saburō Sakai (25 August 1916 – 22 September 2000) was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. By official Japanese records Sakai had 28-64 aerial victories (including shared), however some diligent historians have estimated that Sakai’s actual tally probably was more like 15.

On 8 August 1942 he was seriously wounded after his skull was penetrated by a SBD-3 machine-gun bullet. Upon returning and blind in one eye, he insisted on making his mission report before accepting medical treatment! This wound left a permanent partial blindness, which, together with his “militarist” heritage, would prevent him from returning to military service after the war, so he started a printing business.

Sakai was not reluctant to speak out against Japanese militarism. He wrote numerous books that were controversial in Japan, owing to his criticism of Emperor Hirohito, who cooperated with the “militarists”, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, for flawed strategy in dispersing his forces. Sakai also decried the kamikaze program as brutally wasteful of young lives.
A recurring topic in Sakai’s conversations was leadership, as the IJN relied heavily upon non-commissioned aircrew, often commanded by relatively inexperienced officers, with the Japanese aces taking pains to look out for the good leaders while sometimes ignoring the other kind.

Whereas Sakai’s public statements were resented by many, including a number of Zero veterans, he nevertheless was a gifted pilot and a person with a contained personality, by no means reluctant to raise his own voice.


The very nice quarter scale Hasegawa A6M2 first hit the shelves in 1996 and has been reboxed almost 40 (!) times ever since. My version was the first (1996) edition, bought in 2005 at a very good price, featuring a beautiful Koike Shigeo boxart of #3-112 Zero flown by Lt Minoru Suzuki. All parts were beautifully molded and totally flash free. Clear parts were also excellent, my only minor “complaint” being that some clear sprue gates interfered a tad with the transparent part at a few areas (like the windscreen’s side windows).

Apart from their yellowed carrier film, the 27 years old decals look to be in excellent condition. Interestingly, all four kit provided schemes feature no white signs whatsoever, otherwise I would put a safe bet that the “white” color would actually be represented as “ivory”, per the Hasegawa trend of past times (which has recently stopped, with newer Hasegawa decals' "white" actually being white).

A detailed description, as well as an excellent build of this kit, has been performed by our Editor and can be read 
here. Always keen to build a Saburo Sakai’s plane, I decided to give this seemingly very good kit a go.


I started by putting together the 12-piece cockpit, which consisted of instrument panel, gun sight, machine guns rears, stick, rudder pedals, sidewalls, port side console, seat with its adjustment lever and rear bulkhead. Everything was well appointed and adequately detailed. Basic cockpit color was Hu78 interior green, with black sidewalls details, gun-sight body and stick gaiter. The machine guns were painted gunmetal. For the instruments I used the very nice kit-provided instrument decals. The seat had its holes completely drilled out for added realism, whereas seat belts were added from masking tape.

The barely visible fuselage sidewalls fore and aft of the cockpit received a coat of my home made Aotake (essentially a coat of clear green on top of clear blue), then the two fuselage halves were joined together, with the cockpit afterwards inserted underneath. To obtain a perfect fit I had to trim the area flat, where the cockpit rear bulkhead touches the rear anti-glare panel. The machine guns top fuselage cover was attached at this time, as well.

Kit instructions want you to glue the top wing halves onto the lower wing, then attach the assembled wing to the fuselage. Since I have experienced nasty wing-to-fuselage gaps at many kits quite a lot of times by doing so, I have established the following technique that most of the times works better. First I attach the lower wing half onto the fuselage. Then, having beforehand removed all locating pins, I attach the top wing halves, opting for a solid/positive wing-to-fuselage joint, letting the wing halves “rest” towards the tips. Should a tips area mismatch arise, it is far easier dealt than a gap at the root.

Of note is that the wheel bays are not fully contained into the lower wing half, with a small part of them molded with the fuselage halves. This means that upon attaching the wing to the fuselage, a seam will appear at both bays. Thankfully, it was not that noticeable, otherwise dealing with it would not be that easy with the bay raised detailing "surrounding" it...

Continuing with basic assembly, I attached the 2-piece oil cooler, the single piece tail planes and the tail hook underside cover. The 2-piece fuel tank was assembled at this time, as well. Some filling and sanding took place, mainly at the rear underside fuselage-wing joint (something that has been noted by many builders of the same kit. so it probably is a kit issue and not builder induced). In order to liven things up, the elevators were sawed off  and posed lightly drooped (with the control stick correspondingly angled forward). 

After an all-around 1500 grit sanding, I attached the fragile looking aileron top mass balances, blanked the cockpit with wet tissue and took the model to the paint shop!


Hasegawa want you to paint Saburo Sakai’s plane IJN “Mitsubishi” gray, which is supposed to have a greenish hue, so I applied to the whole model, including doors and the external tank, a coat of Hu28 Camouflage Gray that looked greener than Hu196, which is my "usual" IJN gray choice. Instructions wanted you to paint wheel wells and doors innards Aotake, however some credible research revealed that Mitsubishi built Zeros of the time had those areas painted fuselage color, so fuselage color it was!

After a coat of Future, I went on to apply the decals. As expected, they took ages to detach from their backing paper, but once detached, they behaved really wonderfully, snuggling down onto every tiny detail, without needing any decal solution whatsoever! The yellowed carrier film was minimal and, aided by the fuselage color shade, was to a good degree unnoticeable. As stated above, no white shades were featured in this scheme, so no Hasegawa ivory drama took place here! A coat of Future sealed the decals.


The nice 4-piece engine was assembled (with the famous poly cap trapped inside) and attached in position. It had steel crankcase, black push rods and burned metal exhaust collector, whereas the cylinders were painted black and heavily dry brushed with silver. The only thing the highly visible beautiful engine was crying for were ignition wires, which were fabricated from stretched sprue.

The one piece cowling had its prescribed exhaust marks filled and sanded (possibly correct for some other version), then the two tiny exhausts were attached at the position indicated by the instructions and had their innards hollowed for added realism. The cowling was externally painted with my home made “blue-black” mix (few drops of black with a drop of metallic blue), whereas its innards were painted Aotake and the exhausts burned metal. It was then carefully attached in position.

I decided to add brake lines onto the main legs. This was done by routing stretched sprue, following the clearly visible pattern of the many net available pics (isn't the internet a wonderful modeling "tool"?). The legs, together with the wheel rims and auxiliary doors retraction levers were painted black and lightly dry brushed with silver. The wheels were lightly sanded to look weighted (the effect is not that pronounced at the Zeros) and had their tires painted black. All landing gear parts, including doors and the tiny rear wheel, were then attached in position and left to dry.

I attached the headrest supporting frame and painted the complete front and rear anti-glare areas black (Hasegawa wanted you to paint them cockpit color, but my research concluded that this Sakai’s Mitsubishi built Zero had good chances of having those areas black). The headrest cushion was painted “leather” and attached, as well.

Though the 5-piece prop had separate blades, it was a breeze to assemble. It was painted silver, with the back of the blades partially painted “propeller color”, for which I used my preferred shade of Hu113 Rust. Again, Hasegawa instructions want you to paint the complete rear blade faces black, but research “offered” me this partially painted “option” with good chances being accurate and which I gladly went for!

After attaching the external tank, I went on to apply some weathering. First I gave it a coat of black wash (more heavily inside the wheel wells), which nicely brought out all details. Then I performed some chipping by silver dry brushing at key places, like cowling lips, hinges, prop tips, airframe/wing areas where personnel would step onto etc. Finally, I used dark brown/black shades of dry pastels in order to represent dirt, grim and soot at affected areas. I assumed (with good odds) that the specific plane was properly primed and painted, thus no extreme paint peel-offs here!

A final satin coat sealed everything.

The transparencies had their well-defined frames hand painted and attached in position, with the distinctive antenna mast having beforehand been painted and installed. The wingtip lights were attached with Clearfix and painted with red and green clear colors. A wire antenna was fabricated from steel colored stretched sprue and was run from the mast to the fin, then tightened with hot air from a hairdryer, before calling Saburo-san’s Zero done!


Not a lot can be said for this kit that has not been said before: it is a now classic but very good kit, with accurate shape, sufficient details and good fit (apart from the - easily manageable - rear underside wing/fuselage joint). Kit decals performed well, despite being elderly (if you are patient to wait ages for them to detach from their backing paper) and, in my case, they did not contain white sections that were represented as annoying “ivory” by Hasegawa back then.

In my specific build, I dared to deviate from some “standard” color callouts stated at the instructions, by implementing guidelines of credible research results offered by a fellow modeler. Thus, the bays and door innards were painted underside color (not Aotake), the cockpit fore and aft anti glare areas black (not cockpit green) and the blades rears were partially painted with the brownish “prop color” (not fully with black).

Despite the recent release of this aircraft by Eduard, the Hasegawa kit is a great kit, by no means obsolete, offered at very sensible prices and easily turned into an impressive model. The easiness of construction and simple scheme makes it an ideal choice for even an inexperienced modeler, who will come up with a great result. It has been reboxed numerous times with a wide variety of versions and scheme options available. If you own one, or come across one, do not hesitate to tackle it. You will be granted with a very pleasant construction and a great result

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas


Spiros Pendedekas

7 June 2022

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