Hasegawa 1/72 A6M2b Type 21
KIT #: 51314 (AP14)
PRICE: 500 yen when new
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1993 release


After the delivery of the 65th aircraft, which were all basically land based, 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.


When Hasegawa released its 1/72 second-generation A6M kits in 1993, they provided kits of the Type 11,21,22, and 32 at about the same time. These all replaced their earlier toolings from the early 1970s. These new kits were completely up to modern standards with engraved panel lines, a fair cockpit and they were accurate in shape.

Typical of 1/72 kits of the day, and even those newly tooled, decals were used for the instrument panel. There is no sidewall detail and one can install the cockpit after the fuselage halves have been put together. The upper forward fusealge is an insert and this is probably the most fussy fitting part of the kit.

A nice engine is provided though it does not have pushrod housings and it is something that the modeler might want to add. A single piece cowling has an insert for the lower oil cooler intake and the exhaust stubs are butt joined to the cowling. Prop has separate blades. Once the wing is assembled, this along with the engine, cowling, and tailplanes an be attached. Next the interior head rest and external aileron balances can be attached. The rest of the construction concerns the landing gear, gear doors, drop tank, tail hook and the canopy.

Instructions have the usual Gunze paint references and three markings options. Two are in the overall ight grey scheme as flown by Sigeru Itaya as shown on the box art and Saburo Sakai with the Tainan Flying Group (code V-107). Note that since this kit was released, research has shown that the color of these planes was not a light grey by a more khaki shade called Ame-iro. This shade is now available in several paint lines and should be used instead of light grey. The third option is one of the 261st Flying Group with a field applied dark green over the base shade. This one was operating in the South Pacific (Rabaul/New Guinea). Note that often times the radio masts were removed along with the radios as Japanese electronics of the day did got get along well with hot and humid climates. The decal sheet is very nicely done and surprising for the period, the white areas are actually white and not the usual off-white.    


Since the release of this series of kits, Tamiya and others have produced their own 1/72 A6M kits, yet these still build into very nice models. I've built several of these over the years and have been pleased with the results of every build. Well worth picking up.



June 2022

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