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A6M2b Zero - shades of grey

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Ryan,

I agree that these Hōkoku Reisen were all assigned to 252 Ku based on the wide fuselage bands toward the rear of the fuselage.  Here is the latest info and translations I have for these.

 

Nakajima-built, Manufacture Number 5451, Completion Date 2-11-? (No. 75 of 80 produced in November, 1942)

報 國 第 1053 號
( 全 南 海 苔 號 )

Patriotic Gift To The Nation Number 1053

(Jeonnam Seaweed) - Jeonnam is a province in the Southwest part of South Korea that is known for cultivation of seaweed for human consumption.  The donors were businesses associated with this product.

 

Nakajima-built, Manufacture Number 5459, Completion Date 2-12-? (No. 3 of 96 produced in December, 1942)

報 國 第 1045 號
( 内 外 印 刷 號 )

Patriotic Gift To The Nation Number 1045

(Domestic & Foreign Printing) - The Google translation is (Inside & Outside Printing).  But, an example I saw was printed in both Japanese and French, so I think (Domestic & Foreign Printing) is a better translation.

 

Nakajima-built, Manufacture Number 3471, Completion Date 2-12-? (No. 15 of 96 produced in December, 1942)

報 國 第 1033 號
( 第 二 青 島 綿 糸 布 號 )

Patriotic Gift To The Nation Number 1033

(2nd Tsingtao Cotton Cloth) - The donors were Japanese-owned textile mills in Tsingtao, China.

 

The Hōkoku donor inscriptions were all applied Nakajima-style, which differed significantly from those applied by Mitsubishi.  All three listed above were part of a large production block of Hōkoku Reisen that ran from at least Hōkoku 1054 through 1032, and probably included several more at each end of the range.  It appears that Nakajima applied the donor inscriptions in reverse order to the Manufacture Numbers, possibly as a way to make it more difficult to determine production figures based on the Hōkoku numbers.  You could probably make a good guess at the Completion Dates based on the production information I included above.

 

Thanks,

Ed DeKiep

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Thanks for all the latest information Ryan! It would be wonderful to see your research and Dave's profiles in print.

 

Thanks Tom and Uwe for your contributions! Never thought of it as porn Uwe, but maybe it explains my wife's concern about my screen time :lol:.

 

Ed, firstly - welcome to LSP!

 

Thank you very much for the information regarding these three Hōkoku A6M2's. Judging by the detail in your response, you have done more than an average amount of research into this very interesting aspect of the Japanese war effort. Thanks to the text (kanji?) you have provided, I can start to figure out how to reproduce the symbols and numbers. Then hopefully my friend Nick will be able to cut a mask, or I may resort to producing a decal.

 

Now on with some model building, before this thread gets moved to Aviation Discussion :whistle: ...

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As promised, the gunsight and drop tank were next to get some attention. The gunsight is a tiny clear moulding that attaches to a base moulded into the "dashboard". It has the A6M5 bracket that Ryan pointed out has to be removed, and like so many clear mouldings, has a highly visible seam line that runs right through the middle :doh:.

 

IMG_2076-X2.jpg

 

With a bit of effort, it can be salvaged, since I don't think Barracuda have made one for us yet :hmmm:The crash pad is sanded quite a lot smaller, the seam polished out, the shaded lens lowered and both lenses given a support base. I added an arm on the left side that the ring sight attaches to (and can be rotated out the way). Fiddly work.

 

 IMG_2087-X2.jpg

 

The drop tank is a little basic, but has the major advantage of being cleverly mounted into rubber o-rings, so that it can be removed or attached at will. I added some weld seams, accentuated the rivets, popped on a fuel cap cover, and sanded some dents into the skin.

 

IMG_2096-X2.jpg

 

IMG_2098-X2.jpg

 

Since a lot of effort went into the engine, I would like to pose the cowl-flaps open. They are finely moulded on the outside, but looking in from the back, the lip is too thick, no structure and no arms to open the flaps. This was rectified with some scraping, sanding, and styrene.

 

IMG_2078-X2.jpg

 

With the fuselage and wings joined, and the wheel wells done, it was time to get some black paint into the engine bay, on the upper gear legs and the cockpit decking. This is how things look at the moment, and it is just about time to start mixing some shades of grey!

 

IMG_2110-X2.jpg

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Hello Ed,

 

Thank you so much for hijacking the conversation. That sounds like a very valuable addition to your HKK list. That Nakajima applied the numbers in reverse definitely worked to stymie HKK analysis. So here is another image to work with. I have manipulated the contrast and brightness of the original and think I can see a “164” on the tail and maybe a “25” as part of the HKK number. Does your list include a 1025?

 

92 Nakajima HKK

Now note the lack of any fuselage bands or chevrons. In the period we are looking at there were 4 Kokutai operating in the Solomons. 204 Ku used narrow fuselage bands and had the tail code either as T21xx in one line on olive-gray Zeros or T2 / 1xx in two lines on camoed planes. 252 Ku had a broad fuselage band and a tail code of 11XX. 582 Ku used fuselage chevrons and the tail code 21xx which later with the application of camouflage became just became a three digit code of 1xx. That leaves 253 Ku – did it use no fuselage banding and was first to introduce the very early use of a three digit tail code of 1XX?

 

Sean, I’ll post some painting notes next.

 

Ryan

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In January of 2019 I tried an experiment to try and match fifteen different paint mixes to the paint applied to two Zero artifacts. These were skins from the tail cones of Mitsubishi A6M3 32 s/n 3285 and Nakajima A6M2 s/n 6345. The paint used was:

 

Polly Scale Concrete

Polly Scale USSR Topside Green

Tamiya XF-76

Tamiya XF-76 / XF-49 (2:1 ratio)

AK Interactive AK-2062 J3 Sp

Lifecolor UA 039 (FS34201)

Lifecolor UA 019 (FS30277)

Lifecolor UA 755

Model Master Acryl Armor Sand (30277)

Model Master SAC Bomber Tan (FS34201)

Model Air CamBeige 023 Hemp

Model Air 71.311 IJN Ash Grey

Mr. Color 60 RLM02 / 336 Hemp (1:1 ratio)

Mission Models MMP-107 J3 Hai-iro Lt Grey

Mission Models MMP-110 J3 J3 SP LT

 

The artifacts were partially wet sanded with 3000 grain sandpaper to remove any surface oxidization. The area I matched to is circled on the artifacts. The matching was done and the photos were taken in direct sunlight. It should be noted that the match was for full scale colour – for scale colour the matching paints should be appropriately lightened. The best match for the Nakajima color appears to be first Lifecolor UA 039 (FS34201), second Model Master SAC Bomber Tan (FS34201) and third Mr. Color 60 RLM02 / 336 Hemp (1:1 ratio). None of the paints were an exact match for the Mitsubishi sample.

 On this weekend I picked up some Model Air Tan Green 71.023 Hemp. It is said on the bottle that it matches FS34201, but it is not anywhere close to the other two paints described as 34201. It is much too green and much too dark. 

Ryan

93 Mitsubishi

94 Nakajima

95 Nakjima Best Match

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Sean,

 

Stellar is the standard here! For your gunsight, have you considered replacing the molded glass parts with clear acetate? I often use clear packaging as a source. Maybe you’ve done this, but I wasn’t certain.

 

Cheers,  Tom

Edited by Uncarina

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On 2/17/2020 at 1:58 AM, Archer Fine Transfers said:

 

What's your secret punching concentric circles as seen on the top left of that part? That's a skill that has always escaped me.

 

I'm afraid I don't have any secret for this dark art. It is a matter of trial and error - mostly error, and the good ones average out at 30% of total attempts. It is advisable to punch the small hole first however, and then try and centre that hole in the bigger punch opening!

 

On 2/18/2020 at 4:42 AM, A6M said:

In January of 2019 I tried an experiment to try and match fifteen different paint mixes to the paint applied to two Zero artifacts. 

 

 

A great input Ryan, thanks!

 

On 2/18/2020 at 6:33 AM, Uncarina said:

Sean,

 

Stellar is the standard here! For your gunsight, have you considered replacing the molded glass parts with clear acetate? I often use clear packaging as a source. Maybe you’ve done this, but I wasn’t certain.

 

Cheers,  Tom

 

Thanks Tom. I have used clear acetate in other builds, and it is a great way of improving gunsights. Since I was sanding the seam anyway, I decided to stick with the kit part and just thin out the sight glass.

 

On 2/18/2020 at 9:51 AM, spyrosjzmichos said:

All this detail is just so hypnotising! :bow:

 

:blink: :lol:

 

On 2/18/2020 at 12:46 PM, dennismcc said:

Fantastic information, my Zero file is now bulging

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

 

My cup runneth over too!

 

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It is great that Ryan goes straight for a paint that best resembles FS 34201. I happen to be in full agreement with his interpretation of the colour that the Nakajima A6M2 was painted, but it would appear that not everyone is convinced by the evidence. It is a debate that may still linger for a while, although it does seem to be fizzling out. Much has been written about this subject, and if you are interested, you can glean some insight from the Aviation of Japan website. Here are two links: http://www.aviationofjapan.com/2008/03/zero-colour-conundrum-part-1.html , and  http://www.aviationofjapan.com/2018/07/its-not-that-its-this-no-its-not-etc.html

 

I have enjoyed reading the debates, and think I now have some insight into how the incorrect interpretations have come about. Originally, what was being seen of abandoned aircraft in the Pacific looked like this. This photo was apparently taken in 1943...

 

Fade%20grey-X2.jpg

 

The elements had made relatively quick work of oxidising the paintwork, and the image of pale grey Zero's took hold. In the intervening years, until entrepreneurs like Bob Diemert ventured onto the islands and into the steaming jungles of the Pacific War, many of the aircraft had been weathered down to their red-brown undercoats. It would take years before curious historians found relatively unexposed samples of paint, and buffed them back to their original lustre.  Before this happened however, the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! was released, and its attack scenes re-enacted at airshows around the States until the public were convinced that Pearl Harbour had been attacked by white painted T-6's :lol:. Even the Diemert restored Zero that went to the then "Confederate Air Force" ended up being painted in a very pale grey. At least it's undercoat was a red-brown!

 

Diem%20grey-M.jpg

 

Model aircraft box art hasn't helped correct this misconception, and even some very recent kits feature near white A6M2's. Here are some older examples.

 

Has%20grey2-X2.jpg

 

Has%20grey3-L.jpg

 

Match%20grey-L.jpg

 

Even looking at photographs taken during the war, it is difficult to work out what the shade of grey actually was. This is why I was keen to model a Nakajima produced aircraft, since the white outline around the fuselage Hinomaru actually gives one a perfect way of comparing the shade of the aircraft paint to pure white! Here are two examples that show how dark the fuselage grey is compared to white:

 

Naka5-XL.jpg

 

grey%20tones-L.jpg

 

Pretty convincing in my mind.

 

What is interesting to me is that despite evidence of the darker olive-grey paint, museums such as the National Museum of the US Air Force and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum chose to paint their Zero's in lighter shades. Amazing how strong the influence of repeated incorrect interpretation is. 

 

Here is the completed gunsight with its tinted glass folded flat, as well as a decal from the spares box and an electrical cable.

 

IMG_2184-X2.jpg

 

The sliding canopy now has a handle for inside, as well as the aerodynamic lever to open it from the outside.

 

IMG_2180-X2.jpg

 

Masking is happening (nobody's favourite surely)...

 

IMG_2191-X2.jpg

 

IMG_2192-X2.jpg

 

And now I can get down to recreating this Hōkoku. Hope you are ready to plot Japanese characters Nick! :whistle:

 

IMG_2114-X2.jpg

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On 2/18/2020 at 2:42 AM, A6M said:

In January of 2019 I tried an experiment to try and match fifteen different paint mixes to the paint applied to two Zero artifacts. These were skins from the tail cones of Mitsubishi A6M3 32 s/n 3285 and Nakajima A6M2 s/n 6345. The paint used was:

 

 

 

Polly Scale Concrete

 

Polly Scale USSR Topside Green

 

Tamiya XF-76

 

Tamiya XF-76 / XF-49 (2:1 ratio)

 

AK Interactive AK-2062 J3 Sp

 

Lifecolor UA 039 (FS34201)

 

Lifecolor UA 019 (FS30277)

 

Lifecolor UA 755

 

Model Master Acryl Armor Sand (30277)

 

Model Master SAC Bomber Tan (FS34201)

 

Model Air CamBeige 023 Hemp

 

Model Air 71.311 IJN Ash Grey

 

Mr. Color 60 RLM02 / 336 Hemp (1:1 ratio)

 

Mission Models MMP-107 J3 Hai-iro Lt Grey

 

Mission Models MMP-110 J3 J3 SP LT

 

 

The artifacts were partially wet sanded with 3000 grain sandpaper to remove any surface oxidization. The area I matched to is circled on the artifacts. The matching was done and the photos were taken in direct sunlight. It should be noted that the match was for full scale colour – for scale colour the matching paints should be appropriately lightened. The best match for the Nakajima color appears to be first Lifecolor UA 039 (FS34201), second Model Master SAC Bomber Tan (FS34201) and third Mr. Color 60 RLM02 / 336 Hemp (1:1 ratio). None of the paints were an exact match for the Mitsubishi sample.

 

 On this weekend I picked up some Model Air Tan Green 71.023 Hemp. It is said on the bottle that it matches FS34201, but it is not anywhere close to the other two paints described as 34201. It is much too green and much too dark. 

Ryan

 

I'm a bit slow asking the question  but for the Mitsubishi sample, if none of the paints were an exact match which paint was the closest

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

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6 hours ago, Madmax said:

I'm afraid I don't have any secret for this dark art. It is a matter of trial and error - mostly error, and the good ones average out at 30% of total attempts. It is advisable to punch the small hole first however, and then try and centre that hole in the bigger punch opening!

 

Well I'm glad I'm not the only one. Wouldn't it be nice if someone came out with a set of punches with crosshairs etched on the bottom of the clear punch guide plate? Draw crosshairs on the card stock and line it up with the ones on the punch and the failure rate would drop dramatically. I even tried making an acetate one with crosshairs and attached it to the bottom of the punch guide but it didn't work well. The tolerances are beyond what I can achieve.

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Posted (edited)

Sean, I should have posted the following pics before you completed the canopy. However, you got the canopy handle done correctly. Its position can be seen here.

 

 

96 Canopy Handle

 

On the opposite side of the canopy is the locking mechanism. It is detailed below.

 

 

97 Canopy Latch

 

On the front windscreen are three small lips that serve to hold the sliding canopy tightly in place when it is closed.

 

 

98 Windscreen

I didn’t really want to get into the great Zero colour debate. I think Sean has pretty well summed up the reason for the initial light gray colour.  One additional factor was that the IJN called for the use of the colour designated as J3 – which was a neutral gray according to the paint guidelines put out by the Navy. This has lead to reinforce the old assumption of gray Zeros.

 

 

However, although analysis of extant paint samples indicates only the presence of white and black pigments, the paint binder appears to have had an amber tint to it. This tinting has been attributed to the binder yellowing as it aged, but several things indicate that this “yellowing” took place very quickly.

 

 

Many B&W images of the Zero show the fabric surfaces to be lighter in tone. This would be consistent with a neutral gray dope on the fabric surfaces that had a different chemical composition compared to the paint used on the metal components. A good example of this difference in tone can be seen on the rudder of Nakajima-built A6M2 m/n 6544. This Zero came off of the assembly line the last 3 or 4 days of December 1942. It was assigned to the Zuikaku,  which left for Truk on 17 January 1943. From there the Zuikaku fighter complement flew to Rabaul on 29 January. A1-1-129 was shot down over the Russell Islands on 1 February and photographed shortly after the Americans occupied the Russells on 21 February 1943.

 

 

99 A6M2 A1-1-129

 

Given this timeline the paint on this Zero is probably no older then 8 or 9 weeks. For at least about some of this time A1-1-129 was protected from direct sunlight inside the hanger deck of the Zuikaku. My conclusion is that even if there was a delay in the yellowing of the paint applied to the metal surfaces of the Zero this process was well underway within a very short time after the aircraft’s manufacture.

 

 

Last of all, I was asked what paint in my earlier list best matches the Mitsubishi colour. Right now the weather here is heavily overcast with occasional blowing snow. The forecast is for the sun to return only on this Thursday but I will do a comparison then and post the results.

 

 

Ryan

Edited by A6M

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