Tamiya 1/48 Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Fighter

KIT #:



$12.50 MSRP


Five options


Rick Reinbott


51 parts on 2 sprues; 6 clear on one sprue


The Zero Fighter (Zeke) was the main fighter of the Japanese Navy throughout the Pacific War during World War II.  The development of this fighter started in 1937 when Mitsubishi design staff led by Horikoshi Jiro proposed a model that would meet the strict requirements issued by the Japanese Navy for a fighter capable of high-speed, excellent maneuverability, long range, superior climbing and lethal armament.  Drastic measures were taken to meet these big demands and lighten the plane as much as possible.  Features employing new techniques such as lightweight duraluminum alloy main beam, a constant speed variable pitch propeller, a tear drop canopy and a streamlined drop tank that allowed it to fly over 3000km were used.  The armament consisted of two 7.7. machine-guns in the nose and two 20mm Type 99 cannons in the wings.   

Zeke’s prototype was completed with a Mitsubishi Zuisei Type 13 engine in March 1939 and made its maiden flight the following month.  In July 1940, the engine was replaced with a 940hp Nakajima Sakae Type 12 engine, giving birth to the Zero Type 11, which overwhelmed the Chinese Air Force’s Soviet built I-15 and I-16 fighters.  The Zeke was modified to be a carrier borne fighter in December 1940 with the employment of 50cm folding wingtips, hook and homing equipment.  This was the birth of the new Type 21, which became the main Japanese fighter of the Pacific War.  This version took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippine Islands invasion, and the Indian Ocean campaign where it clashed with countless allied fighters.  Besides Mitsubishi, Nakajima also built the Type 21 Zero under license.  A total of approximately 3,600 Type 21 Zero were produced.   


 Upon opening the box, you’re presented with two bags each containing one sprue of parts.  A separate sprue, also bagged, contains the six clear parts.  The clear parts include canopies in both the opened and closed positions.  All parts are molded in light gray.  There are some ejector pin marks on the cockpit and engine cowling interior, inside of the landing gear strut covers, and the landing gear itself.  Though the kit contains some flash, it is kept to a minimum.  Detailing is of the recessed variety and is quite good. 

The cockpit interior, while somewhat sparse, is good, with the instrument panel consisting of a decal.  The wheel wells are very nicely detailed and should look great with a light wash and some drybrushing.  There are no gun barrels included for the wing mounted 20 mm cannons; however, some type of tubing should work just fine.  Although the seat contains molded-on harness, the detail is not very good and it would be better to replace it with scratchbuilt, resin, or photo-etch harness.  A nice touch is that, should the modeler wish to finish the model with the landing gear retracted, the kit provides the option to do this. 

 The instructions are well laid out, with the construction being broken down into 8 parts each containing various sub-parts for the cockpit, engine, fuselage, etc.  The painting guide contains numbers for Tamiya Paint colors.  Markings are provided for five aircraft; which are:

Akagi Aircraft Carrier Fighter Group, Hawaii, December 1941

Tainan Air Group, Denpasar Base, Bali Island, February 1942

3rd Air Group, Kendari Base, Celebes Island, March 1942

253rd Air Group, Tobera Base, Rabaul, January 1944

261st Air Group (Tiger Corps), Kagoshima Base, February 1944  

The decals, although a little thick, are well printed.  The box art is also very nice and should provide some assistance in weathering the model.


Although being around for quite a number of years, this kit can be made into a nice model of an early Zero.  It will look good straight out of the box and the detail is enough so that, by adding some scratch-built and/or aftermarket details, it can be made into a very impressive model. 

April 2005


 Kit instructions.      

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