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1/32 A6M5 Zero - Meiji 1944


turbo

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Hi folks, having wrapped up my Matchbox Emil build it's time to commit to my next build lest I lose momentum again. Having enjoyed building Tamiya's magnificent Corsair kit so much (RFI pictures can be found here), I was compelled to purchase its old sparring partner, the A6M5 Zero. Having been inspired by some of the fantastic Japanese builds going on around here recently, I decided it's time to pull this one out of the stash.

 

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This is my first stab at a Japanese subject so the learning curve will be steep. I've done a bit of poking around the j-aircraft and Aviation of Japan sites as well as a few others where I found the research of Nick Millman and Ryan Toews particularly enlightening and have printed out Ryan's tweak list for this kit. I feel as though I've only scratched the surface though, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions for the experts here and would welcome any advice or comments.

 

The reason I've entitled this thread "mystery flight" is that, unusually for me, I haven't yet decided on the subject for this build. I have Montex masks for the kit schemes and am leaning towards 210-105 of the 210th Naval Air Group based at the Meiji air base in late 1944, but am not quite sold on it. I can't find any reference photos of it, although that might be a good thing as I can leave it to my own imagination. Montex has a couple of other interesting schemes, although availability is an issue in this covid world. I've also been considering investing in a Cameo 4 so I can make my own masks and cut styrene.

 

In any event, the one decision I do have to make now is whether this will be a Mitsubishi or Nakajima manufactured machine as that will dictate many aspects of the build. The schemes I'm currently interested in are all Nakajima, so that's settled at least.

 

Moving on to the kit, sprues come in separate bags with one or two sprues per bag, which is nice. I won't dwell on a detailed sprue review as this and the A6M2 kit have been around for a while but, like the Corsair, the surface detail looks amazing - the riveter will thankfully get a bit of a rest here! One of the sprues that contains many of the engine parts is curiously molded in aluminium coloured plastic - trying to substitute for paint I guess.

 

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The kit also comes with an additional box containing an assortment of items including metal cannons, pitot tube and other parts, landing gear with metal oleos, tyres and brake lines, a photoetch fret, the A6M5 cowl, and an antenna wire. To this I added the Eduard Big Ed set containing interior, exterior, and engine detail sets and masks and also Montex masks. I don't know how much of this I'll use but we'll figure it out as we go along. The interior set contains PE harnesses so I'll see how these look but might end up ordering HGW belts.

 

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Thanks for looking and see you soon with some action!
 

 

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Thanks guys!

 

On 8/6/2020 at 1:24 AM, Thunnus said:

Right on Kirby!  This one should be fun to watch!  As I'm sure you know, there is some fantastic build information in WIP that you can use for reference.

 

Sure is John! Sean's recent build with Ryan's input was amazing and Alex has one going now. I know they are the earlier A6M2 model but a lot of the information is very relevant. Some great earlier A6M5 builds too, I'm going to need all the help I can get!

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Thanks folks! So I've made a tentative start on the interior of the A6M5. Design of the zero placed a strong emphasis on minimising weight, so many structural components contained lightening holes such as the formers on the cockpit walls. These are only semi-molded on the kit (see part on left) so were drilled out (part on right). The box at the left hand end of the part on the right I believe is the fire extinguisher control box so will likely need to be moved to the cockpit aft bulkhead as described in Ryan Toew's tweak list for this kit.

 

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Another thing noted in Ryan's tweak list is that the ammo counter was only present in early A6M2s, but that the lamp remained.

 

ammo-counter.jpg

 

Looking at some reference photos of the A6M5 cockpit confirmed this so it was shaved off,  just leaving the representation of a small attachment bracket for the light. There were several shallow ejector pin marks on the cockpit wall. After test-fitting of cockpit components,  those that would potentially be visible were sanded away and ones which would be covered up left.

 

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It was about at this point as I was planning my build and paint sequence that I realised I have more questions than answers. Soooo....I was hoping I could get a bit of help from the folks around here. My first couple of questions relate to the radio setup. The kit has parts for the Type 3 Ku 1 radio set and the control box for the Type 1 Ku 3 RDF system but not the receiver/processor which would be located on a rack on the starboard side of the fuselage aft of the cockpit (the A6M2 kit has this). Zeros, particularly land-based ones, frequently had their radio equipment removed in the interests of minimising weight (plus the equipment could be a bit flakey). I know it doesn't help that I am yet to select a specific subject (although info on the radio configuration would likely be unavailable anyway), but my 2 questions are:

 

   1. Is it likely a late-war A6M5 would be carrying a Type 3 Ku 1 radio set?

   2. Is it likely a late-war A6M5 would be carrying a Type 1 Ku 3 RDF system? Is that dependent on whether it is land or carrier-based?

 

The one other question I have for now is does anyone know what this box mounted on the port fuselage just aft of the cockpit bulkhead is? Is it something to do with the fire extinguisher system?

 

eduard-a.jpg

 


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Thanks for any help!

 

Kirby
 

 

Edited by turbo
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18 hours ago, turbo said:

 

 

It was about at this point as I was planning my build and paint sequence that I realised I have more questions than answers. Soooo....I was hoping I could get a bit of help from the folks around here. My first couple of questions relate to the radio setup. The kit has parts for the Type 3 Ku 1 radio set and the control box for the Type 1 Ku 3 RDF system but not the receiver/processor which would be located on a rack on the starboard side of the fuselage aft of the cockpit (the A6M2 kit has this). Zeros, particularly land-based ones, frequently had their radio equipment removed in the interests of minimising weight (plus the equipment could be a bit flakey). I know it doesn't help that I am yet to select a specific subject (although info on the radio configuration would likely be unavailable anyway), but my 2 questions are:

 

   1. Is it likely a late-war A6M5 would be carrying a Type 3 Ku 1 radio set?

   2. Is it likely a late-war A6M5 would be carrying a Type 1 Ku 3 RDF system? Is that dependent on whether it is land or carrier-based?

 

According to Wikipedia:

"From number 4354, the radio became the Model 3, aerial Mark 1, and at that point it is said the antenna mast was shortened slightly."

 

The A6M5 model 52 started with production number 3904, so the first ~450 did not have the Type 3 Mk 1 radio.  Depending on how "late-war" you want this bird to be, all of the subsequent re-armed A6M5 variants (Ko, Otsu, Hei) came after production #4354, so presumably all would have had the later radio.  But, as you note, the land-based planes mainly had them removed, and if you are really thinking late-war, there weren't many carrier-based zeros left, since the USN had sunk most of the Japanese carrier fleet in 1942-3.

 

I'm not sure about the RDF system.  This is a page that's more useful for early Zeros: https://j-aircraft.com/research/gregspringer/radios/radio_systems.htm

 

It MAY (may) come down again to land versus carrier based plane - when operating in the open ocean without a land airstrip to return to, the RDF is certainly a more critical function.  But I do not know if they were removed from land-based planes, or not installed, or perhaps still present.  Others may know more.

 

 

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On 8/15/2020 at 2:59 AM, Alex said:

It MAY (may) come down again to land versus carrier based plane - when operating in the open ocean without a land airstrip to return to, the RDF is certainly a more critical function.  But I do not know if they were removed from land-based planes, or not installed, or perhaps still present.  Others may know more.

 

Thanks Alex. As you note, my subject is most likely to be land-based so I'm leaning towards the RDF system having been removed. The fact that the kit does not include a RDF receiver is probably a bit of a hint! I might still include the radio but don't have to decide on that just yet.

 

In the meantime, a bit of progress on the fuselage interior. The kit part for the RDF rack was replaced with Eduard PE. A bit of careful dry-fitting is required here to ensure the supports don't interfere with the fit of the lower wing later. As with everything in the zero, it's full of lightening holes!

 

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The crude block of plastic for mounting the CO2 cylinders for the wing fuel tank fire extinguisher system was shaved off and replaced with a photo-etch bracket. It's just held in place temporarily with Blu-tac for test fitting with its fairing on the fuselage floor. I broke one of the regulators off during handling (minimal damage for me!) which will need to be replaced later prior to plumbing.

 

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Similarly, molded plastic brackets were shaved off the hydraulic reservoir and replaced with PE and plumbing added with 0.3mm copper wire. I've left part of the sprue on as a handle which will be removed prior to painting.

 

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Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Edited by turbo
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11 hours ago, Alex said:

That Eduard interior kit is nice!  The one AM thing I didn’t get for my A6M2, but next Zero I will.

 

It really adds a nice amount of detail Alex, I can recomend it to anybody building these kits. One vendor site has the A6M5 set labelled as "discontinued" although it is still available on the Eduard site so not sure what is happening there...

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Hi All, the rather time-consuming process of removal of molded kit parts from sub-assemblies and replacement with PE detail, drilling of lightening holes, and other various tweaks continues in preparation for painting.

 

interior-PE-web.jpg

 

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There is still a fair bit more to be added after the first round of painting and assembly. It's all a bit disjointed at the moment but I like to get all my sub-assemblies ready for painting at the same time so I'll pull it all together with a better description of what has been done as we go along. 

 

I recently acquired the David Union D360 Elite router and D400 sander with the help of Troy here on LSP - more details of these tools can be found on Troy's vendor thread here. The main advantage of the router is that it is smaller and spins down to a much slower speed than a Dremel so allows precise work without melting the plastic. I've found both tools very useful so far in precisely cutting and grinding off molded kit parts and sanding in preparation for the addition of PE.

 

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Moving on to the subject for this build, in addition to the kit schemes I have been considering some other schemes offered by Montex for the Tamiya kit. From the research I have been able to do, all of these aircraft except for tail code 8-13 are A6M5c Hei models, which is curious as the Tamiya kit is the first A6M5 variant. Although it would be cool to do in the future, I'm not up for a conversion for this particular build so the options are tail code 8-13 which was one of the aircraft captured at Aslito airfield on Saipan (wrecked at the time) or, more likely, tail code 210-105 of the 210 Kokutai based at Meiji air base from September 1944. I cannot find any reference photos or information (eg c/n) about the latter aircraft, so if anybody can help there it would be greatly appreciated...

montex-a.jpgmontex-b.jpg

 

Thanks for looking and until next time I'll continue to go cross-eyed on the PE work...

 

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I'm sorry but I have to take you to task here.  Are you not aware that Eduard PE is best left in the original packaging where one can admire it and only fantasize about applying it according to the directions?  But  . . ., No! . . . you actually take the PE out of the wrapper and apply it expertly while making all the necessary mods to the kit itself to receive the PE.  In doing so you make the rest of us face the reality that PE is best applied to the kit.  You've disturbed our complacency!

 

Thanks a lot!!!

 

:BANGHEAD2:

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8 hours ago, amurray said:

I'm sorry but I have to take you to task here.  Are you not aware that Eduard PE is best left in the original packaging where one can admire it and only fantasize about applying it according to the directions?  But  . . ., No! . . . you actually take the PE out of the wrapper and apply it expertly while making all the necessary mods to the kit itself to receive the PE.  In doing so you make the rest of us face the reality that PE is best applied to the kit.  You've disturbed our complacency!

 

Thanks a lot!!!

 

:BANGHEAD2:

You actually made me laugh out loud.  A rare occasion indeed, and I thanks you from the bottom of the hole where my heart should be.

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  • turbo changed the title to 1/32 A6M5 Zero - Meiji 1944

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