|KIT #:||FP 34|
|PRICE:||4800 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Two complete kits|
There are few enthusiasts who do not know about the A6M 'Zero'. It was built to a rather rigorous specification that not only required speed and maneuverability, but also very long range. This was eventually accomplished by providing a very light airframe with the most powerful engine available. What makes the aircraft truly remarkable, was that not only did it meet and exceed these specifications, but it was an aircraft that had to withstand the rigors of carrier based operations.
Thanks to ignoring warnings from the Chinese and not paying attention to US intelligence, the A6M was a real shock to those pilots who first met it in combat. In fact, the aircraft was considered unbeatable until tactics were developed to overcome the disadvantage of Allied aircraft and to take advantage of the light construction and lack of pilot/fuel armor that was typical of Japanese planes of the time.
It is great that Fine Molds are producing A6M kits and especially that they have chosen to do the prototype. Fine Molds kits have a deserved reputation for accuracy and these are no exception. There are differences between the prototype and first production models as are kitted in this box, and those are provided for by inserting different sprues where applicable. This is most noticeable in the engine, prop, and fuselage of the two types.
A nicely detailed cockpit is provided that rivals 1/48 kits of this aircraft. That includes sidewall details and various separate control boxes. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and while no belts are included, the instructions show the installation of aftermarket ones. Once the fuselage halves are joined, trapping the cockpit, then there are inserts for the area around the guns in the nose and the section behind the pilot. I like that this latter area is a separate piece as that means no seam to deal with.
There are also inserts for the lower wing and the kit provides separate wing tips. Undoubtedly so these can be modeled folded in later boxings. The prototype and Model 11 did not have folding wing tips. You are provided with separate ailerons and there are inserts for the wing gun openings. The kit also provided separate flaps so you can model those deployed. Tail planes are also different depending on the kit you are building.
When building the engine/cowling combination, there is an option for open or closed cowl flaps. While most of the cowling is split vertically, the front is a single piece. For the model 11 the engine assembly is a bit more complex as it provides a full intake and exhaust instead of just a half-engine and stubs to attach to the cowling as with the prototype. The production plane also offers a drop tank if you wish to install one. Neither aircraft uses a tail hook.
Landing gear is well done with the main wheels being trapped between the gear and the gear door. There is no option for raised landing gear, though I'm sure you could do so as the wheel wells appear deep enough. The canopy is a single piece and the prop is simply attached to the engine where it is held in place with a polycap.
The kit instructions are excellent. There are two full construction sets included; one for the prototype and one for the model 11. The prototype is in overall grey-green while the model 11 is shown as being in IJN grey. There are two nearly identical options for the model 11, both with the 12th Koktai in China during 1941. The decals are nicely printed and experience has shown them to be quite thin.
One may well wonder if we need another 1/72 A6M line of kits. Well, we did need these variants as they have not been kitted before. Given the nice detailing in the kit, these are a step above the Hasegawa offerings and building them will determine if the engineering is as good as Tamiya or not. Inexpensive these kits aren't, but they are of a high standard and I look forward to giving them a go.
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