This was my first foray into Japanese aircraft, my main subject being U.S Navy and Marine Corps aircraft from early WW II. But the two cross paths repeatedly and my interest has grown. I chose Hasegawas A6M2 Model 11 as my first project and decided to build it basically straight out of the box. What follows is a look at how it went.
The overall accuracy and detail of the kit is excellent, finely scribed panel lines and crisp, flash-free parts. The interior is pretty good right out of the box, the only modification I performed was to drill out the lightening holes in the seat. This was a simple task since the depressions were already there. The main instrument panel is well detailed and the modeler is supplied with decal for the instrument faces. If you take your time and use a bit of setting solution, the decals will snuggle down and the overall effect is very convincing. Decals are also provided for the instruments on the port side console and one for the radio box, located on the port side wall. After giving the interior a "wash" and drybrushing it, the end result is top-notch.
The fuselage fits together like it should, no gaps that require filling and sanding. Be sure to dryfit the forward cowling piece, mine did not want to fit right and required a little sanding and filling, and then sanding again. The rear portion of the fuselage has a few, but not major problems. There is a mold parting line that is plainly visible, but this is taken care of with a little sanding and rescribbing of panel lines. The tailplanes fit with a little attention to gaps that can be solved with again, a little sanding. A cover plate is supplied for the arrestor hook well, since these aircraft did not operate from carriers. I left the tail wheel off until the final assembly stage for ease of painting.
Mating the fuselage to the wings is a time consuming process (at least it was for me). Dryfit the wing assembly and fuselage to find out if there is going to be a large gap or not. If there is a gap, install a "spreader" in the interior of the fuselage. I did this by trimming a toothpick and wedging it between the two sides behind the cockpit tub. This spread the lower fuselage about 1/16" and took care of the gap. The next problem in the the kit is in the forward fuselage area. The rear part of the air scoop located on the underside behind the cowling is molded with part of the wheel well. I am convinced that there is no easy way to approach this part of construction ( I have since built another ). The best approach I ran across was to tack the air scoop/wheel well part to the wing assembly with just enough glue to hold it in place, but not enough to keep it from flexing. Attach the wing assembly to the fuselage and after getting it where you want it, raise the air scoop/wheel well part to where it meets the fuselage. This will require filling and sanding, but if you are careful, it will turn out okay.
The rest of the construction process went with out a hitch. The engine lacks only wiring to be as good as any after-market piece out there. I finished up the construction process by adding the head rest and aerial mast to the rear cockpit deck.
At this point I reexamined all the seams for cracks/flaws, and filled them with super-jet. A little trick I have come across that might be helpful when re-scribing lines, especially along the wing leading edge was employed. I use an X-acto knife to lightly go over the former lines to give the scribing tool a guide to follow. After making a few light passes, I go over the lines with 600 grit sandpaper. I run the scriber back over the lines, and then brush on super-glue accelerator. This apparently causes the edges to smooth out and come out almost as good as the manufacturers. It takes practice, but really improved the look of my kits.
The color scheme for Model 11s is still clouded, but one things is for certain. They were painted two different colors/ shades. Whether this color difference was caused by a protective coat applied to one part or if they are two different colors is still "out with the jury", but I chose to follow the color mixes given in the instructions by Hasegawa, and was pleased with the way it turned out. I strayed on the areas I painted though. The instructions show the entire wing painted, but I only painted the forward fuselage and wing area out to the gun ports. Right or wrong, I think it looks good. The cowl and rear cockpit deck were painted with a mixture of Deep Sea Blue and Black, which turned out better than I thought. I used SNJ aluminum for the blades and spinner, and after buffing, painted the rear of the blades flat black. The wheel wells and inside of the gear doors were painted metallic blue, and the gear struts were painted black. The trickiest part of the painting process was definitely the canopy. I used Bare-Metal Foil for masking, and still spent one whole evening on the darn thing, longer than normal but it finally turned out okay. After the paint was given sufficient time to fully cure, a clear gloss coat was sprayed to give a smooth finish to help the decals sit better.
Decals are provided for four aircraft, and I eventually picked the one with the most varied colors. Be careful when placing the Hinomarus on the upper wings. I had problems getting mine to settle to the navigation lights. This probably had something to do with their thickness, but my impatience played a part also. After washing the kit, I applied another gloss coat, and followed this the next day with a semi-gloss coat to cut down on some of the sheen. I then applied a light wash and considered this project done.
Overall, this is a good kit that I would recommend to anyone that has a few models under their belt. Except for the air scoop/wheel well area, it is pretty straight forward with few problem areas. No aftermarket kits are produced specifically for the Model 11, but bits and pieces can be used from those currently available to spruce up the kit a bit. I would recommend after-market decals because the kit supplied ones are a little thick, but they still look good if care is taken in applying them and giving them a clear coat to lessen the "step."
Return to A6M Kits Page