Home > Valiant Wings Modelling > 'The Stash'

Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52

Scale: 1/48th
Manufacturer: Hasegawa
Ref No: 09351
Material: IM
UK Price: £OOP

Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52
Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52 Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52 Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52 Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Fighter Type 52
Kit Review
How old is this kit? It seems to me that Hasegawa have had a range of Zero kits in their back catalogue for decades. This one comes from 2000 but the original is somewhere around 1998 as far as I know. The thing is, it’s such a great piece of moulding that there’s no reason it can’t keep going for a long time to come. Hasegawa always get the most out of each mould with multiple boxings, limited editions and cross-pollinations with other companies such as Revell and their Zero’s are now available in at least 20 different boxes. Even though this version is a specific '261st Flying Group' edition, the parts are on the sprues that can allow you to make just about any of the late-war Type 52 Zeros.

It all starts with the interior and it’s made up of no more than thirteen parts. The detail is neatly moulded and the fit of the parts is faultless. You’ll need to get some seat belts for it of course and check your references for the colours as there are some differences depending on which manufacturer made the aircraft. This one is a Nakajima built machine, so the interior Green is a slightly different shade but there’s no physical difference yet. The breakdown of the parts in the box tells you just how Hasegawa had it planned to get maximum usage from the moulds. This means that the fuselage has a separate upper decking on the nose for the machine guns. Later versions had a bigger gun there so it’s a bit different. The fuselage closes up without effort and the joint line is really good, I only had to use a tiny bit of filler on some of the sprue attachment points which were a bit rough, other than that it’s plain sailing.
Next up is the engine, made of just 3 bits all stacked together. It’s not a complicated piece by any means but the detail there is good, needing only a little wiring to give it a boost. Most of it is going to be well hidden in the close fitting cowling anyway. Talking of the cowlings, this is moulded in a single piece and will need careful cleaning up, especially along the inner ring of the front section where the sprues attached. All of this fits onto the front of the fuselage without effort and is an accurate assembly, including the neat exhaust stacks and cooling flaps. There’s no option here for open or closed flaps but it doesn’t need it anyway.
Next is the wing assembly and it’s here that you some options, depending on the actual variant you want to model. This box will allow you to build either the Initial Type 52 or the slightly modified Type 52 Koh. The only real differences are in the wings, with altered gun panels and ejection ports, along with the little fairing at the root of the 20mm cannon. Choose your parts carefully for whichever version you need. Attaching the wings to the fuselage showed a little problem with large gaps along the wing roots. This is down to the fuselage being just a little too narrow. I opted to fit a small “spreader” bar to the base of the cockpit floor, which pushed the root fairings out but only by a fraction of a millimetre. However, there’s nothing that can be done with the little gap at the underside, where the wing meets the rear fuselage, the problem point for so many kits. This one isn’t too bad at all and a smear of filler had that covered up in seconds.
All the sticky out bits are all that’s left, so once the cockpit canopies were masked and put into place, it’s ready for paint.
Colour & Markings
In this particular box you get the very specific 261st Naval Flying Group machine 61-120. This one of the machines captured by US forces and brought back for evaluation and there are plenty of good photographs of these machines being transported across the Pacific on a carrier deck. There is some contention (when is there not?) about the paint on these machines, with many researchers claiming that the odd looking camouflage is nothing more than the paint randomly discolouring on exposure to the salt air and harsh conditions during the crossing. I have no comment to make here, other than to impress upon the modeller to do a bit of research and make your own conclusions. I only wanted the kit in the box and not the markings as this was my mate Dai’s kit and it was going to be marked out in the machine of Ensign Sadaaki Akamatsu, 302nd Air Group in February 1945. The specific tail numbers and fuselage kill markings came from the Kagero book 'Fighters over Japan Vol.2'. It has a neat decal sheet supplied with it, containing a multitude of aircraft and scales. Painting should be fairly straightforward with IJN Dark Green upper surface and IJM Grey undersides. As usual though, it’s never quite that simple. There are any number of paints, supposedly each one more accurate than the next, depending on which maker you believe. Normally I’d be using Mr.Hobby or Hataka but I don’t have anything Japanese in these paints, so I turned to one of my all time past favourite paints; White Ensign Colour Coat enamel. This range of paint, long gone now, has some wonderful Japanese paints, including no less than three of the IJN greens. So these were layered on, keeping to specific panels for specific colours, making a patchwork effect of the paint. I didn’t go too far on things like tearing great chunks of the paint off as I wanted this one to look mission weary and not totally clapped out yet. I also opted to paint on the Hinomaru, as they must be amongst the simplest of things to mask, just a couple of overlapping circles. This makes the decalling process pretty simple as well, with only half a dozen or so to add after the gloss coat has sealed everything in. Which was a good job really as the Hasegawa stencils were their usual selves, needing some attention but the Kagero decals were a nightmare! Not sure if it’s because the sheet was old, or if this is just the way they were but I only had three decals to use and all three instantly wrapped themselves up into a ball of decal film, the moment they came away from the backing paper. It took an hour just to do this few, so I’m glad it was nothing more than tail codes and fuselage kill markings.
Final Details
Getting this one finished is pretty simple, even though there’s still plenty to do. The fact is that Hasegawa seem to put just a little bit more effort into their Japanese aircraft kits and why not, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of national pride. Which makes the fit and finish of most of the parts very good indeed. The main undercarriage is the first to go on and the legs have nice, positive locations and the wheels are keyed to fit perfectly. With doors, actuators and brake lines in place, the rest can be added as you like. It’s also a lovely touch to have the main flaps as separate items, so they can be positioned in the dropped position if you want. The trickiest part of the whole thing is getting the canopy de-masked and cleaned up, after the matt coat is applied of course. The multiple panels of the zero cockpit are a pain to mask and clean up at the end. However, that “greenhouse” look is synonymous with the type and does look good once complete. The last bit to be done is the aerial wire, made from Uschi “Rig that thing” elastic thread, with a few drops of paint for the insulators and connectors and that’s a complete late War Zero.

It might be getting a bit long in the tooth now but these Zero kits from Hasegawa can still teach the new boys a thing or two about good, clean mouldings. They build well and as they come in a bewildering array of boxes there’s going to be something on offer for everyone. The downside is rarity and finding one at a decent price.

Thanks to Dai Willis for supplying the kit.

Paints used
Alclad II
ALC-600 Aqua Gloss varnish

Hataka Orange Line lacquer:
Co49 Insignia White
C050 Light Grey

Tamiya acrylic:
X-7 Red
X-18 Semi-Gloss Black
X-19 Smoke.

White Ensign Colour Coats enamel:
ACJ01 IJNAF Black Green
ACJ02 Nakajima Navy Grey
ACJ03 Nakajima Navy Green
ACJ04 Nakajima Interior Grey-Green
ACJ06 Mitsubishi Navy Green
ACJ08 Mitsubishi Cowl Blue-Black
ACJ15 Aotake

Xtracolor enamel:
ZDFF Matt Varnish