Hasegawa 1/48 A6M2-N 'Rufe'






Two aircraft of 802nd Flying Group


Scott Van Aken


1999 release.


The history of the A6M Zero-Sen has been well documented in other reviews. The floatplane fighter version, Allied code-named 'Rufe' was developed by Nakajima in response to a request by the Japanese Navy for a float fighter based on the A6M2. This was mainly due to the Japanese inability to quickly build runways. There was no Japanese equivalent of the Seabees to do this. Therefore the need for defending fighters that could take off from and land on the water to defend any newly acquired ocean-front property. Like their seaplane buddies, many 'Rufe' units operated from a tender.

While a new fighter specifically designed for this purpose, the Kawanishi N1K1 'Rex' was being developed, it would be years before it was operational. Undertaking the job of converting the A6M2, Nakajima had a prototype flying in less than a year from initial development, first flying on 7 December 1941. There were  327 'Rufes' built and they saw action in nearly all theaters of the war in the Pacific, being used right up until the end of the war. The first deployment of the type was to a sleepy little bug-infested island in the Southwest Pacific called Tulagi, across a strait from a larger, even more inhospitable place that no one ever heard of called Guadalcanal.

Where enemy fighter opposition was light or weak, the 'Rufe' did well. Even against more advanced types, 'Rufe' pilots were able to score well and a few 'Rufe' pilots became aces. This particular boxing is dedicated to the pilots of the 802nd FG. The only information I have been able to find on the unit is that they were aboard the Akitsushima as their tender. 


Many of the sprues for the 'Rufe' are common to the earlier A6M2 kits that Hasegawa has produced. However, about half of the kit is new, consisting of a new fuselage (the 'Rufe' had a larger rudder), new lower wing, center float and stabilizing wing floats. There is also a nice beaching trolley for you to display your new kit upon. Most of the trolley is on the sprue with the new lower wing while the wheels are on the sprues for the floats, bombs and racks. The third new sprue is for the main float. You'll need 16 grams in this float to keep it from 'tail sitting'.

The rest of the kit is up to the same standards as the rest of Hasegawa's A6M line and you will have quite a few spares, especially landing gear parts.

As one expects from Hasegawa, the molding is superb with the usual finely engraved panel lines and flash free parts. Buying an aftermarket cockpit for this kit is like gilding the lily as everything one expects is in there, similar to the Ki-84 and other newer kits. The decal sheet is quite good and provides markings for two aircraft. One is is the overall grey scheme as flown by Lt.JG Keizo Yamasaki and has three kill markings in the form of hatchets on the tail. The the other in dark black-green over grey that was used later in the war. The instruction sheet is also typical of Hasegawa in that it is superbly done with no doubt as to what part goes where.  This sheet is 'old school' with the off white whites and a long soak time to get the decals fro the sheet.


I decided to build this one as I was pleased with how quickly the recent A6M8 built up. I'd had this kit since it was released and figured I should at least give it a go. As often happens with kits, I started with the cockpit. The parts were painted on the sprue then assembled and touched up. It takes a while to properly install all the instrument decals and I used a set of Eduard color belts for this one, which look a lot better than the tape I used in the A6M8, but I didn't have the set at that time. Next Zero, I'll probably use a resin seat or drill out the holes in it.

While I was fussing with the interior, I assembled the engine, wings and fuselage halves. I was rather surprised at the fairly poor fit of the fuselage halves and the wings. The fuselage in particular did not want to match up perfectly without small 'steps' along the half length. Not sure why this was the case and it isn't a catastrophe as it is easily sanded/filled away, but it was unexpected. I had to use plastic card to fill the gaps at the wing roots and get the wings properly level with each other. Having built other early A6Ms without this issue, I have to assume it is something I did, though I don't know what.

Anyway, that did suck out some of the enthusiasm for the project and it was put on a slow track for construction as the box inched close to the shelf of doom. However, it did not make it that far and I spent some time building up the floats. I put 20 grams of weight in the main float tip so that it would sit properly and I built up the beaching dolly.

The engine was painted and installed in the cowling after I painted the latter item the obligatory blue-black. The fit is not as positive as I'd like, but eventually I got it in where it looks good. I had painted the prop with 'prop color' then realized it was supposed to be bare metal so repainted it with Alclad II aluminum along with the spinner parts.

With all that weight in the main float, attaching it was a bit of a challenge. The support struts were a bit on the wiggly side and to be honest, this kit could have benefitted from some tab/slots for these items. I then masked the canopy using an Eduard canopy mask set designed for the Hasegawa A6M5. It really makes no difference what model Zero you get masks for as the windscreen/canopy were the same in all of the variants. It was fairly time consuming to attach these but it does take the guesswork out of finding the frame lines when doing this the 'old' way. Of course, I did not need the wheel masks and in fact, have a goodly number of spares from that area as the Rufe didn't need them.


This particular scheme is overall IJN Grey and for this I used AK Interactive acrylic paint. The paint was not thinned and used straight from the bottle. Once dry, the airframe was given a clear coat using Testors spray can lacquer clear. I was not that jazzed about how it covered so will not be going that route again. What works great on car bodies does not always work well on planes.

The grey option was for the plane with the kill markings on the fin and I used the kit decals. These are old school Hasegawa decals, but since I wasn't using any white markings, their off white color was not an issue. These decals really need hot water as soaking them in cold water means a 10-15 minute wait for them to come loose. But loose they get and I used Mr Mark Softer to get them to snuggle down.

Meanwhile, I decided to try a set of Pacific Monograph wing tip lights. These are pre cut and simply pop out of the carrier. I smoothed out the mounting area and glued them in using standard cement. Once dry, it was about 5 minutes of trimming and sanding to get things to looking right. Much easier than cutting tooth brush handles and no worries about little Hasegawa clear thingies shooting off into another dimension. The tips were masked and the airframe areas which were sanded were rapinted. Then the overall airframe was given a coat of clear semi-matte.

As is often stated by modelers too lazy to weather (like me), the airframe was kept clean. Actually, operating from the water pretty well negated grit and grime and they had to be washed with some frequency to prevent salt water corrosion.

Once the masking was removed, the engine was attached along with the prop and a couple of smaller items (pitot tube and wing floats) were attached. I popped off the rear transparency (which had been tacked in place) and installed the radio mast. A bit of exhaust stain was all the weathering I did on it.


It is a real poser as to why I had such an issue with the wings. I'm going to put another early A6M on the bench in the near future and see if this was just an aberration. Anyway, the end result is a very nice looking model and one that I think every fan of the type needs to build. The kit has been Limited Editioned a couple of times since the first boxing so should be fairly easy to find.


Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, by Rene J Francillon

Camouflage and Markings of IJN Fighters, Model Art #510

30 November 2018

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