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A6M2b Zero - shades of grey

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When I joined my first airline many years ago, the old captains loved to say that the reading of Ernest K. Gann's "Fate is the Hunter" should be compulsory for new crew, so they could understand how airlines work.

 

It struck me that maybe the same could be said if you want to build a model of a Zero, that this book should be compulsory...

 

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I have only just completed reading it, and it is a real eye opener. I knew about the Saburo Sakai story for many years though, because when I was growing up, Keith Ferris' book was one of my greatest sources of inspiration (I have owned this copy for a very long time). Keith did the cover painting for "Samurai!" and on reading his notes for the painting, I realised how important the underlying structure is in determining the way an aircraft looks. https://keithferrisart.com/product/wounded-samurai-original-painting-by-keith-ferris/

 

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I hope to be able to show some of the unique surface detail of the Zero's aluminium skin on this model. It is interesting to note that Keith painted the aircraft in a very pale grey, as was the norm at the time. I get the impression that an awful lot of research has gone into understanding the grey paint of the early Zero's, and why it has come to be interpreted in so many different ways. There is a wealth of information on the internet and in some new publications that I would like to explore during this build. Here are some lovely books that I found by pure chance at a hobby shop in Johannesburg recently - heaven knows how they ended up in South Africa!

 

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This blurry photograph is what I have decided to be first prize for my theme: a grey land based A6M2, Nakajima built, with the white surround to the fuselage Hinomaru, and a Houkoku Gou. Tall order it would seem so far, but maybe?

 

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I made a start on the engine since it looked so tempting...

 

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only to discover however, that this is going to be a little more complicated than I imagined. Ryan Toews recently completed a tweak list for this kit https://www.largescaleplanes.com/articles/article.php?aid=3339 , and I have printed it out to keep as a handy reference. It is lengthy - so there is clearly quite a lot to learn. Ryan points out the colours on the engine from a captured Sakae 12 metallurgical report. Maybe it was this engine?

 

Nakajima_Sakae_12_1942-XL.jpg

 

This should be fun.

 

Sean

 

 

 

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i loved building this kit; i only added HGW belts , they are a must have . tamiya released the correct colors for it so it made it so easy !

 

the tweak list is great to have and i cant wait to see what you do with this great kit !

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I read Samurai! in junior high school and that book left an indelible impression on me. The Bantom War Book edition, substituted line drawings for the photographs in the original publication of the book, which I discovered when I found an original first edition copy in a library. Given your interest in the subject, I would encourage you to find the earlier publication, the photographs might help with this project and they are fascinating images that flesh out the text. 

 

This build is a follow!

 

Greg

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Great subject and I’m looking forward to following along.  The Samurai is a great book.   Thanks for sharing.  

If your going to build an A6M2, this is the one i’d build.   

 

Troy 

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After reading your introduction I've decided to occupy a front row seat - this

will indeed become a very interesting build!!!

Lothar

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On 10/21/2019 at 10:38 PM, kikka said:

i loved building this kit; i only added HGW belts , they are a must have . tamiya released the correct colors for it so it made it so easy !

 

the tweak list is great to have and i cant wait to see what you do with this great kit !

 

It seems I can't help myself kikka, not even a Tamiya gets the OOB treatment from me! I will be modifying the colours a bit too...

 

Good to see that Mike and Chris have their popcorn :lol:.

 

Happy to see you here Tom.

 

On 10/22/2019 at 5:53 AM, GDW said:

I read Samurai! in junior high school and that book left an indelible impression on me. The Bantom War Book edition, substituted line drawings for the photographs in the original publication of the book, which I discovered when I found an original first edition copy in a library. Given your interest in the subject, I would encourage you to find the earlier publication, the photographs might help with this project and they are fascinating images that flesh out the text. 

 

This build is a follow!

 

Greg

 

Thanks Greg, I'll certainly try and find an earlier copy. Period photo's of the Zero are rare, and each one seems to offer new clues.

 

Hi Troy and Lothar - hope you enjoy it,

 

Sean

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On with the engine.

 

Radials are lovely to look at, and I think it has to do with the repetition of shapes and symmetry. When it comes to masking and painting however that means everything 14 or even 28 times over! The same applies to producing tiny bits like these spark plugs and clamps that I cut from hypodermic needles. Mass production thinking is the key. :blink:

 

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As you can see, I have gone with the colours in the tweak list. In essence it is pretty black, with the central bits in a blue enamel. The kit engine is a mish-mash of the Sakae 12 and 21, which was a bit disappointing in a way. They are very different engines. I sanded off the kit pipes from the rocker covers, and added my own styrene connecting pipes lower down as they are on the Sakae 12 - these appear to be natural aluminium. You may have noticed that I added baffles to the top of each cylinder, with a central pipe and a guide hole for the spark-plug lead. they don't look so good from the top as they are just straight styrene. The actual baffles are intricate shapes that were probably pressed metal. It would be great if someone could 3-d print these.

 

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On the captured engine photo, you can see a very obvious silver intake on the top cylinder of the rear radial bank. I assume it is a duct for cooling air into the ancillary compartment? This is my styrene version of it...

 

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Here the basic parts are, painted up and ready for assembly.

 

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Now I hope some researchers are watching since I need to paint the engine firewall and cowling supports next. I'm not sure that Tamiya have the colours right, based on photographs that I have seen. This is the dark art of black and white to colour alchemy of course! :lol: The cowling supports look like they could be black, not Aotake. The firewall is invisible of course. Any pointers here would be much appreciated.

 

eng%20serv-L.jpg

 

Sean

Edited by Madmax
repetition - again

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Great work on this so far, and I will blow the dust off of my stalled build to see what I came up with. Didn’t make it as far as the engine though.

 

Cheers,  Tom

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Looking good so far.  I have this kit in my stash and may well start her now that you have inspired me to do so.

 

I'm sure your engine is going to look fantastic.

 

I also need to get a copy of Sakai's book and read it! I've known of it for years, but am always reading books of that type written by German pilots from WWII.

 

 

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Hello Sean,

 

Thanks for the heads-up on this build via the LSP message function. I don't get into LSP as often as I would like sometimes. I will, however, watch your progress and help out where I am able to do so.

 

Your engine looks great - but then I am a real round engine fan. As far as painting goes, the cowling supports should be black. The same applies to the air deflector (for want of a better name) just behind the exhaust pipes.

 

Moving a little back the oil tank should have a coating of dark green aotake while the firewall to which the tank is attached should be black.

 

Ryan

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Tom, I cheated and went straight for the engine. :lol:

 

Hi ringleheim. Sakai's story has many aspects of the WWII fighter pilot's narrative that would be common to any nationality, but adds a very personal Japanese view of the war that I found fascinating. 

 

Me too Gaz. The proportions of the A6M2 and A6M3 are the most pleasing to the eye.

 

4 hours ago, A6M said:

Hello Sean,

 

Thanks for the heads-up on this build via the LSP message function. I don't get into LSP as often as I would like sometimes. I will, however, watch your progress and help out where I am able to do so.

 

Your engine looks great - but then I am a real round engine fan. As far as painting goes, the cowling supports should be black. The same applies to the air deflector (for want of a better name) just behind the exhaust pipes.

 

Moving a little back the oil tank should have a coating of dark green aotake while the firewall to which the tank is attached should be black.

 

Ryan

 

Wow, that was quick Ryan!

 

Thank you very much for answering this vexing colour question. When certain restorations or Tamiya painting instructions have Aotake cowling supports, that becomes the norm, even though period photographs suggest a different answer.  We are very fortunate on LSP to have generous and enthusiastic experts like yourself solve these mysteries. I'm about to fire up the compressor...

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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