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Clipped Wing Zero: 1/48th Tamiya A6M3 Type 32 Zeke /Hamp

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

This is the original release of the Tamiya A6M3 from back in 1983. A nice kit for its time, and still able to provide the base for a fun build, resulting in a nice looking model, but the updated release is definitely a major improvement.


Notable Kit Features:


  • Few parts

  • Mix of very fine raised and engraved panel lines

  • Decent cockpit

  • Single and multi-piece canopy

  • Typically inexpensive



Build Inspiration:


I had been following much debate over the colour of the early Japanese Zeros, which was postponing any builds of this gray/green fighter. After reading a number of articles including one by James Lansdale, I had the inspiration to finally commit to a build (or two or three) of this type, given some hope of it being close to correct.

Ref: Zero Camouflage Schemes by James F. Lansdale (j-aircraft.com)


Heads-Up Report:


  • Wing to fuselage join is a bit of a problem and the gap needed to be filled

  • The underside rear wing join has a step that requires putty & sanding



Kit Additions / Modifications:


  • Added seatbelts made of painted masking tape

  • Fuselage and tail stripes were painted


End Result:


After settling on a custom mixed base colour, the paint was toned lighter in the center of the panels and darker at the seams to give a slightly worn appearance. Panel washes were used to finish the effect. Tail band and fuselage stripe were painted on.... and then we got to the "field camouflage". I debated whether to do the camouflage pattern using an airbrush or my pointy brush but decided the brush would to a more accurate depiction. In hindsight the brush strokes should have been a bit lighter to have some streaks however I was pretty pleased with the end result.

Markings for this Zero were of the 204th Fighter Group based on Rabaul in 1943.



The After-Build Report:


This old Tamiya kit can still be used to produce a nice looking kit however obviously, it is not up to their current standard. If you have one of these kits, or find a well priced one, then you know you can still get the job done with this vintage kit.

Hasegawa produced the A6M3 kit as well (a few years after this one) which is more refined, particularly in the cockpit. Tamiya has since released updated versions of their A6M3 (in 2010 No. 61108) which includes new tooling for wings and wing tips, photo-etched wing tip folding mechanism, plus a seated pilot and 4 standing figures, so you may want to check this kit out as well.



Completed build #195 - May 2016 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #MA125 kit.


Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers


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