This week I finished the Zero cockpit. Not sure about all the choices I made, but overall I am fairly happy.
I am happy with the cockpit, and I think I did an all right job cleaning it up. At this stage of the Japanese war effort I doubt the A6M5 made it past a couple of months, so I figured it wouldn’t make sense to do a very heavily weathered cockpit. I wanted to make the pilot look less clean, but this is probably not the right way. He looks like a pig really.. Since Sinterklaas will be giving me a present soon that will have a couple of figures included I will have to look into how to create a good looking result!
Since this kit is fairly simple I skipped a few steps ahead in the instructions. Yesterday I applied primer to the parts I will require for the next two steps.
In other news..
When I bought my airbrush booth this summer I somehow developed this crazy idea that the filters were relatively expensive. The last time I worked with primer I noticed the booth was doing a really poor job at getting rid of the nasty air, and I finally decided to replace the paint-filled original filter.. I then found out these things aren’t as expensive as I somehow assumed they were, so I hopefully have enough of them to last me a year.
I also did a final revisit of the FW-190 A8. Last month I visited a IPMS meeting and one of the gentlemen had some nice pointers for me. Besides that I wanted to fix some obvious mistakes. In the end I decided to leave some of the bad parts.. the Zero will hopefully be beautiful, and it will replace the FW-190 which has earned a spot in the living room.
In the end I didn’t bother getting rid of the scratches in the canopy since they are quite subtle anyway. I did reattach the antenna which had come loose somehow during or just after my vacation.. I also noticed the plane was very lightly leaning to one side because the wheels were a bit loose. I cracked them off and reattached them, which nearly went wrong.
As for the details I wanted to change: the pitot tube on the starboard wing had a bronze rather than a aluminium look, and my version of the A8/R11 had a mechanism that ensured the wire from the canopy to the tail was always tensed.
Quite happy with the result, but I am done fiddling with this thing now.
Time to start the actual building of the A6M5 ‘Zero’! I plan to try some things I have seen around in the online model building world and I am really curious what I will be able to achieve.
This kit has a little pilot model included, which is fun to try and get right in terms of details. The cockpit has some nice raised details so I want to try to bring forward some of the details by coloring the flight instruments and giving dry brushing another chance.
As I said my last Zero blog I bought myself some black primer, AK Interactive Black 757. I would love to get some more depth into the cockpit so I looked around a bit and the way Matt McDougall explains it in this old blog seems like the way to go after applying the primer.
Unfortunately I got a bit carried away the first time.. This cockpit is way brighter than I had planned for it to be. I should have taken it a bit slower to see how it was building up. The second time still wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but there are some very subtle darker areas in the cockpit now.
As for the details in the cockpit, I used the reference photos I could find. This cockpit isn’t very detailed and I decided to not use the PE parts I bought, so this will be a best effort thing. Good stuff to practice on anyway!
I got myself a good LED head magnifier for those tiny cockpit details.
In between the work on the cockpit I also did work on the pilotfigure. I don’t know if all the older Revell instruction booklets are as poor as this one I will have to do proper research. Of course I don’t mind, but if you built this kit 25 years ago you would have had a hard time without internet.. for instance the pilot according to the booklet is basically matt green with a brown head.
To me (and probably many of the current modelers) the research part is a big part of the hobby. After some searching I was satisfied that the below drawing is a an accurate enough impression of what a Zero pilot would have looked like.
It was fun painting this dude, but I don’t like the detail on the model or the painting.. to be honest I had this feeling before starting this job, but since the cockpit has a low detail level I want to leave it in. Models I will buy in the future will probably not include figures though..
There is a good chance in it will look better after some more weathering work.
Anyway, back to the cockpit itself.
I first painted the dials black, then painted some of the panels and buttons and finally did dry brushing to let the dials come out. It is so much fun to see the dials appear out of the black background of the dials!
I did not expect to get this result!
Next up will be some weathering work on the cockpit, and applying primer on the air frame.
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!
Actually the amount of updates is really fine for me. Obviously there is a lot less time for me to work on the hobby, but I enjoy a few minutes almost everyday and, just like all grown ups, I try to use my free days to get a couple of hours in at a time. I wish I had more energy to spend in the evening but it is what it is, and I’m sure it will get better the coming months.
Anyway, lots of stuff to talk about this week! Let’s get started.
First off, the main build. Last Sunday I visited my parents, and just like my dad used to do when we visited my grandparents, I took a model with me to do some work!
I assembled the anti-shock bodies and the rear wings, and I did sanding on the wings.
I planned on glueing the wings together but there a clear part that needs to be glued in there. For that reason I prefer to do a first couple of layers of light gray on the wings before glueing them together.
I hadn’t realized the wings actually will be light gray just like the fuselage.. this kit just won’t get any more exciting! To be able to see what I am doing I decided to do a thin layer of gray primer on the wings as well.
I started with a first layer of light gray, but spraying this color is really a pain. Tip dry is horrendous and it is very difficult to get on with it. But I managed to do a first layer on a wing side, and a first layer on the rear wings:
The final step I did on this today was attach the cockpit and the wheel bay on the starboard side. Earlier this week I did another layer of light gray on the fuselage sides, but I am fairly sure I will have to touch up on the color in the future. With that in mind, I have masked off the windows I have glued in yesterday.
At this point I already know I will not want to continue with this build until I have properly sorted the damage on the tail.
Unfortunately, the trouble started on a layer of primer that was already damaged. I should have sanded it off and perhaps do another layer. The first layer of white was sloppy and runny as well, and in the end I was left with an uneven finish. I did use my nice UMP sanders and got a nice and smooth result, but I think I have to deeper and really remove those damaged areas.
Of course all this sanding has removed some of the detailing, and even though I got a couple of good scribing tools from UMP a few weeks ago I will need to get some good tape to assist me in rescribing the panel lines.
As I said last week, I ordered a LED light that could really simulate daylight. After using it a few days, I am at least confident I am getting the best lighting possible.. Obviously it will never be as good as standing in the garden on a bright day, but winter is coming and this light is as good as it will get.. the amount of light is adjustable, and you can set warm yellow light so if you’re not working on a dull light gray model you don’t have to feel like you’re working in a garage.
Regional IPMS Meeting (NL South-West)
On Tuesday night there was a IPMS meeting planned for the South-West region in the Netherlands. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. Just a bunch of guys talking about models, is that really what I wanted to do with my evening? But then I started to doubt if I wasn’t just dealing with the good old social anxiety again, and at the last minute I decided to go just because I was afraid to sink in a hole I have been in for the last years.. and I am very happy I decided to go!
In the end I was just happy talking to a couple of very nice people who are very experienced in modeling. One of the gentleman there had a couple of nice WW2 models with him, and after having a chat with him I was really wondering: what am I doing making a civilian airplane?? There is just so much to say about all the different WW2 subjects, whether it is a tank, a plane, a V2 rocket, a half-track etc. All the different variations alone, but also the things we don’t know for sure about the subject and are left to the imagination, for instance the color of German half-tracks as they were used in the field. That stuff is up for debate, whereas the Cargolux 747 is a beauty, but completely covered in the same dull light gray and no one doubts what it looks like.
I had a chat with two gentleman there about their collection, and how they decide what to build next. I explained them that I tried to not create a ‘stash’, and that I was building the Cargolux Revell offering but not really enjoying it. Watching the nice military models on display, I expressed my love for the subject.. and while driving home later I asked myself: why am I limiting myself like this? Sure, I want to do a good job on the Cargolux, but WW2 is the subject that really interests me everyday. I play WW2 games, I read WW2 books and I love building WW2 models.
The gentleman who brought his WW2 1/48 models encouraged me to bring my FW-190 A8 to the next meeting after I showed him the pictures if the end result! He had a couple of very nice pointers for me as well, so before I take it with me there is some more stuff to adjust:
Today I will be visiting the Luchtvaarthobbyshop with my mate TheYottaTube. My wishlist:
The Zero decals
PE set for the Zero
AK Interactive 757, Black Primer and Microfiller
A good Zero research book.
Starting the Zero..
As you will have guessed, the IPMS meeting has convinced me that I should start doing work on the Zero along with the work on the B747. Time to get the required stuff and hopefully I will be able to start with it next week!
I am currently ‘between builds’ and I’ve put up the result of the FW-190 on the ISM Facebook page where it got a whooping 108 likes so far! The feedback is amazing, with someone even saying he had building for 50 years and this was the result he was aiming for! I am very proud to hear that!
I might be cheating a little bit though, because if you haven’t followed this blog and haven’t seen some of the broken off bits, torn decals and the elephant tracks on the wings you could be fooled into thinking this thing is exactly how I wanted it to be. Besides that the ISM group is very friendly and will not be the place where they tell you things suck. I love them for that, and the Friday night Live show has become an instant favorite moment of the week for me. But for some rougher feedback I have joined The Scale Modelers Critique Facebook Group as well on and I might post some more photos there. I have some critique of my own though, and that is what this post is for.
Before moving on to the next project I want to review the last build and see what I can improve the next time. I also want to highlight some things I haven’t tried this time but are still on my list of techniques I want to try.
Things to improve
Most of these are related to basic building discipline.
Wear gloves! After applying primer, paint or varnish it’s a great idea to start wearing latex gloves when handling the model as Darren of The Scale Model Hangar also remarked. I actually started wearing gloves when applying primer, so all that is needed is some more discipline to actually put them on. Otherwise this might happen:
The red decal came off complete and I have painted that part now. The fingerprint visible here is already covered with some more dirt color. Also visible is another broken off part, which I have hopefully fixed now.
A bit fingerprint on the side and a lot of paint disappeared..
Don’t place fragile parts on the model until you absolutely have to. During this build I made the mistake of gluing on the fuel tank rack before it was actually required, and in a combination with #3 coming up, it led to a very avoidable disaster.
Avoid placing the model directly on a surface. Especially scraping the body will lead to breaks, like the antenna attachment on the tail of this kit. I have had to reattach that multiple times which was frustrating. When the model was almost complete I rediscovered some pieces of styrofoam that had been used as packing material for the compressor I recently bought. They were perfect to keep the model in the air and relieve some of the stress I put on it during the final parts and I hope I can rely on them for a while.
Be careful once parts are sticking out of the model.. Sometimes it’s unavoidable to attach parts on the body, like the wing cannons on this kit. Sometime around the primer phase one of them broke off though. I didn’t even notice when I did it, but it was just a sloppy lack of attention in the end. I even broke off one of the distinctive antenna’s just before taking the final photos.. You just have to be on your feet all the time when handling a model with this much things sticking out!
Be delicate with the weathering. I tried it once now, and it has been invaluable experience. In my view, trying a thing for the first time makes you vulnerable to overdoing it. But with the experience I gained, I can look at other builders and understand better what they did, and why they did it.
Either place the canopy and windscreen and mask them properly, or let them off and mask off the cockpit. The windscreen was damaged because so primer got on it, probably because the masking tape let loose and I failed to correctly replace it. The inside of the cockpit also got primer on it because the temporarily placed canopy didn’t seal off properly. At this time I am tempted to think that not placing the clear parts until rather than masking them off is the cleanest way for me.
Test fitting, really do it! Some gluing mess was avoidable with hindsight. I just was a bit impatient I think, and both with the wheel bay as the engine there is a snowball effect: if the first part doesn’t fit right, the firth part is way out of wack. I was able to fix both of these issues, but it could have been avoided.
As I wrote in a previous blog, I had glued the construction that will hold the engine in place without worrying too much about the beams that are right behind it..
Don’t try new things when you can’t take your time.. especially the primer application is a good example of that.
This is a big thing I have learned: applying brush paint to ‘fill up’ the parts that weren’t airbrushed for whatever reason really leaves a totally different result.
Well, what can I say about the decals.. I think this will always be something that can go wrong. An attention point for me though, is to be more careful with handling the model and removing the weathering once they are on, to avoid tearing them up.
The things that did work
I am happy with most of the weathering, especially on the drop tank and wheel covers.
Getting rid of seams went a lot better this time, by sanding it away and by giving the parts more time to dry.
I was able to get rid of a gap after applying the wings on the fuselage, using Revell Plasto which led to wrecking of the Spitfire I started out with.
I am downright proud of free handing the camouflage, and the mottling effect. I know it’s not perfect when I compare it to the pictures on the box, but I have ideas on how to do better the next time. The gloss coat also looks nice and shiny!
The engine really was great to build, even though I ended up covering it up! A good tip I got for the next time though: paint it black and dry brush the metal parts to create more depth.
Things I want to try next time
No list for this because I’ll just see what comes up mostly.. I haven’t tried pre-shading on this build, and that’s a big thing I still want to try in the future. Also I want to do more with dry brushing.
Now to finish my first translation job for IPMS and then it’s time to continue work on the Boeing 747-8F!
I have to be honest: the closer I got to the finish line, the more I started thinking about the next build. The kit itself has been excellent, but with all the things I have learned during this project I have some less than perfect results. In itself I am fine with that: I made it through even though I knew the result would not be perfect, which is a huge thing for me. I accepted that this was a learning project and kept my head down.
That said, the final days I kind of rushed it. I want to try and apply the things I’ve learned on a new project! But rushing is an especially bad combination when working on a model full of fragile parts, some of which have been broken off earlier.
Before starting on the next project I will however first be making a blog about the things I like and don’t like about my version of this, and the lessons I have learned so far!
Without further ado, the pictures of the end result!
Oh, and don’t mind the makeshift ‘studio’ I improvised for the photos..
A really short one, as I want to try and keep posting in a regular interval and there is always activity in my modeling life!
I was able to knock out many of the small jobs still left on the to-do list now that all the repair jobs are out of the way. The FW-190 is standing on its own feet! Or wheels would probably be more accurate.
The styrofoam is still here for the work I still have to do. Hopefully I can relieve some of the force I will still be putting on the model.
Once it is finished I want to make some good quality photos, so no more photos for now with the telephone!
I am really happy to be doing some translation work for IPMS NL. I was going through the ‘MIP’, the club magazine, I noticed they were looking for a translator from Dutch to English. I was immediately interested. I think I have the necessary skills for it, and it involves a subject I really love.