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Random Question - Zero Cowl Color

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That is a good question and one I've not seen before.  I always thought it was a IJN requirement that the cowl and under canopy decking were to be painted black (blue-black) but I cannot find a definitive answer in my documentation.  I checked all the A6M documentation I have at hand (not all of it but all i can easily put my hands on) and it's not mentioned in any of those source documents.  I also emailed Ryan Toews and posed the question to him. I invited him to respond (he is a member here); if he's unable to respond directly, I will post his answer as soon as he gets back to me.

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Hi all,


Ryan replied to me with this information and he had no official source either.  He says: 


The best I can come up with is that Model Art 510 (pp. 58-59) states that black paint was introduced with the Nakajima A2N, the first IJNAF plane to have a cowling covering the radial engine. This paint served to reduce the glare from the cowling.


Looking at photos, it seems this anti-glare paint was not consistently applied to all planes. It appears to have been more common on early-war olive-grey painted planes and then became less used as the war progressed. The Zero, however, retained the anti-glare paint until the end of its production.


So, it appears that the black/blue-black paint is for anti-glare purposes.  I'll continue to dig and see what I can come up with.  I do have a Bob Mikesh book on the A6M that I've yet to have a look at.  Maybe that will have some further information.

Edited by Juggernut
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10 hours ago, Bozothenutter said:

From Nick Millman I understand the colour was actually specified as black, with some specific blue mixed in. (It's in his 'early Zero' PDF)

So there must have neen a reason to add a hint of blue, as black would suffice for anti- glare purposes.

Not sure I'd agree with it being painted for anti-glare purposes.  If that was it, why paint the sides and bottom?  Also, you would think they would have then painted the section of upper fuselage between the cowl and the windscreen but instead this is left in the regular fuselage color.   Lastly, if that was the case, they wouldn't have needed to do this on the A6M5 version, since that one is painted overall dark green, and yet....  

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