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Zero Sum: 1/48th Tamiya A6M2 Model 21 (Zero)

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Released in the early 70s this kit was very nice for its time, and it can still provide the base for a fun build, resulting in a nice looking model, but its engineering and detail don't compare to more recent Tamiya kits.


Notable Kit Features:


  • Few parts

  • Mix of very fine raised and engraved panel lines

  • Single and multi-piece canopy

  • Centerline fuel tank included

  • 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:


  • Basic cockpit with no molded-in instrument panel detail (passable decal only)

  • Gap in wing root to fuselage will need styrene strip repair (or filler)

  • Shallow wheel wells (Incorrect detail?)

  • Spinner shape is off?



Kit Additions / Modifications:


  • Added seatbelts made of painted masking tape

  • Fuselage and tail stripes were painted

  • Slightly weighted tires


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. Markings for this Zero were of Japanese Ace Yoshiro Hashiguchi during his Dutch East indies campaign in 1942.



The After-Build Report:


This old Tamiya kit can still be used to produce a nice looking kit however, I would fall short of recommending it as the later Hasegawa kits are nicer and still reasonably priced. If you have one or find a well priced one then you know you can still get the job done with this vintage kit.

Tamiya has since retooled and released updated versions of the A6M5 (2008) and A6M3 (2010) which may edge the Hasegawa kits to second place after a good run.



Completed build #192 - May 2016 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #MA116 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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