Eduard 1/48 A6M2 type 21

KIT #: 82212
PRICE: $53.18 delivered from the UK
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2022 release. Profipack


While the navy was testing the first two A6M prototypes, they suggested that the third be fitted with the 700 kW (940 hp) Nakajima Sakae 12 engine instead. Mitsubishi had its own engine of this class in the form of the Kinsei, so they were somewhat reluctant to use the Sakae. Nevertheless, when the first A6M2 was completed in January 1940, the Sakae's extra power pushed the performance of the Zero well past the original specifications.

The new version was so promising that the Navy had 15 built and shipped to China before they had completed testing. They arrived in Manchuria in July 1940, and first saw combat over Chungking in August. There they proved to be completely untouchable by the Polikarpov I-16s and I-153s that had been such a problem for the A5Ms when in service. In one encounter, 13 Zeros shot down 27 I-15s and I-16s in under three minutes without loss. After hearing of these reports, the navy immediately ordered the A6M2 into production as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 11. Reports of the Zero's performance filtered back to the US slowly. There they were dismissed by most military officials, who thought it was impossible for the Japanese to build such an aircraft. All Model 11 aircraft were land based.

After the delivery of the 65th aircraft, a further change was worked into the production lines, which introduced folding wingtips to allow them to fit on aircraft carriers. The resulting Model 21 would become one of the most produced versions early in the war. A feature was the improved range with 520 l (140 US gal) wing tank and 320 l (85 US gal) drop tank. When the lines switched to updated models, 740 Model 21s had been completed by Mitsubishi, and another 800 by Nakajima. Two other versions of the Model 21 were built in small numbers, the Nakajima-built A6M2-N "Rufe" floatplane (based on the Model 11 with a slightly modified tail), and the A6M2-K two-seat trainer of which a total of 508 were built by Hitachi and the Sasebo Naval Air Arsenal.


Despite there being good kits of the A6M from both Hasegawa and Tamiya, Eduard has taken the plunge into doing this aircraft. It is probably because they see the opportunity for good sales as the Zero is one of the best selling WWII aircraft kits. Eduard is also doing a Wildcat later on so it seems their focus is turning to the Pacific War.

As you would expect from Eduard, the kit is highly modular so that one can do all the variants. For instance, on several sprues there are parts that are not used on this particular kit, something that is particularly evident in regard to the clear sprue.

The cockpit is quite complete, with all the various sidewall items being separate, some that consist of several pieces. As this is a Profipack boxing, there are alternate p.e. items. For instruments, p.e. replaces the decals. You can, however, use the decals if you so desire. You also don't have to use all the p.e. as some items will be easier for the builder to install without it. Note also that there are differences in some interior items between the various markings options so if using kit decals (and I see no reason not to), you need to know which one you'll be building fairly early in construction.

All of the control surfaces are separate, but looking at period photos of operational A6Ms on the ground, the only surfaces I saw deflected were the ailerons. Flaps, elevators and rudders were all in the neutral position. There are also two different aileron options. There are holes in the lower wing that you might want to open up so check instructions to see which are appropriate. Once the fuselage halves are assembled, the interior sub-assembly can be installed from the underside.

The gear wells are all made up of separate sections. There are also lower wing inserts for the shell ejection chutes. I was somewhat surprised that there is no wingtip fold option, even though the tips are engraved on the inside to where you could cut them off to install a folding mechanism. This is probably for the clipped wing A6M3 model 32.

The engine is nicely done with pushrods on both sets of cylinders. The cowling is seven pieces, eight if you count the exhaust outlet. However, Eduard has provided a form over which you can assemble this so it won't be the nightmare it initially appears to be. The main wheels have separate inserts so you can paint the tire separately from the hub. There are two different hub options provided so you can use the ones you want. No indication of if one is specifically for a certain markings option or not.

You are provided two tail hook options, one raised and one lowered. Note that some land based planes had this removed to save weight. For things under wings, you are provided a drop tank and bombs depending on the markings option you'll be using. Also an option are wing mass balances and prop spinners. When attaching the canopy to the cockpit greenhouse, you are provided two options here as well. One for open and the other for closed. Eduard has included one of the canopy mask sets to help deal with the greenhouse. Another note is that not all options use the radio mast as Japanese radios were fairly unreliable and were often removed.

Instructions are the usual color Eduard booklet. The paint options are all in Gunze paints. All of the options are in a base ameiro (a brownish grey) with black engine cowlings. Some aircraft were painted with green upper surfaces. Props were aluminum with prop color (a dark brown) rear sides. One has an overall prop color propeller. The decal is nicely printed and provides all the requited stripes. A full stencil suite is provided with a placement guide in the instructions.


Typical of Eduard kits, this one looks as if it will be a fussy build, especially if you use all the photo etch. If you don't care about the p.e. or the canopy mask, then wait for the weekend version and save yourself a few dollars. Those who build a lot of Eduard kits are quite pleased about having this one as an alternative as it does provide a bit more detail. Now Zero modelers have another choice and having choices is not a bad thing. 


May 2022

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