Last week I got the stuff I wanted for the A6M5 kit I got from my dad, and I’ve started the first work on it.
Last week I did a day of (civilian) plane spotting with my friend TheYottaTube and visited the Luchtvaarthobbyshop, since it is very close to Schiphol Airport. I got all the stuff I wanted.. and spent about 4 times the value of the Zero-kit on stuff I want to use it on!
The book was the most expensive purchase but it is very much worth it! For the actual build I got myself some black primer since I want to try black-basing on this one, some decals since the original ones are eaten away and some photo-etch parts because I really wanted to try my hand at building with PE.
The book is by Robert C. Mikesh with absolutely awesome illustrations by Rikyu Watanabe. It isn’t the most extensive read on the subject, but for my purposes it is absolutely perfect: about 50 pages of information on the A6M, and the illustrations give such an amazing impression of the different types of the A6M, the generation of planes the preceded it and were developed as potential replacements, and it even has illustrations of some of the A6M’s adversaries in the sky.
About the plane
Some things I found interesting:
- The alphanumeric system in use in the Imperial Navy around WW2. A6M5 can be dissected as follows:
- A indicates a carrier-based fighter,
- 6 indicates that it is the sixth generation of planes built for the Navy.
- M is for Mitsubishi.
- 5 is the fifth type of the plane, although the type system used for the Zero is a bit more accurate.
- The Type system works a bit different than I expected. Not only is the type number directly related to last digit in the alphanumeric system. A6M5 and Type 52 are one and the same plane. Also worth mentioning is that the first digit of the Type designation is the number of the airframe design, while the second digit is the engine type.
- The Zero has been at a disadvantage in terms of horsepower throughout its lifetime. It wasn’t until A6M8 (type 64) that there was a reasonable increase in power, but this last generation never made it to production because there was no more war left.
- Its life has been extended time and time again for different reasons, which all too often seem to have to do with bad decision making by the Navy.
- The plane is built with a aluminium alloy called Extra Super Duralumin which apparently was invented specially for the A6M. I can’t find a lot of information about it unfortunately.
- The original design featured a 2 blade propeller, but the first test flights brought forward a vibration which was solved by changing this to 3 blades.
- The most produced variant of the Zero was the Type 52, or A6M5. 1701 of this type were produced.
The version I will be building
The Revell kit is a Type 52, so I want to go with the top option on the decal instructions.
One of the additions on the Type 52c was another set of wing cannons. Model 63 (A6M7) was a Navy request because the newly designed bomber Yokosuka D4Y Suisei was unfit for carrier use, being too big and too fast for deck landing. Structural differences with the 52 on this one are mainly the addition of bomb racks under the wing. Both of the other options ask for more aftermarket parts, and to be honest I think I’ve spent enough on this cheap kit!
The 301 squadron of air group 202 it is then! At least, that’s what the designations mean if I understand correctly.
I have already done some work on the cockpit for this build, but I will save that for another blog. One thing I have already decided: photo etch is not for me. I never throw anything away, and if I find I can use anything to make the model look better I will, but my first experience isn’t too good and I basically decided straight away it wasn’t for me.. too fiddly! Although I do have to say, my first try was with a chair replacement. It looked awesome, but I had to glue another PE part on to it, which bended and broke and got lost.. doesn’t feel like the direction I want to take this hobby in!