For years many of us had been waiting for a really good model of the earlier marks of this famous aircraft , and in late 1994 and early 1995 Hasegawa finally gave in and let us have it! I had ,up to this point, thought that the A6M5 version they had produced was very good and nobody was likely to do better in 1/48. I was wrong! Hasegawa has delivered a real winner with their new series of Zeros. First of all let me tell you that this model has no parts in common with Hasegawas earlier A6M5. It is new from the ground up. The parts are molded in light gray styrene and has 68 pieces while the A6M5 had only 54 pieces.
The cockpit has been nicely represented with raised instrument details and decals for the instrument faces. I drilled out the holes in the seat which is easy because they are represented by circular depressions. The cockpit looks real nice straight out of the box, but detailists might want to add a couple of the missing boxes and wiring.
Assembly of the kit is straight forward with no real fit problems encountered. Having said that you might want to watch out for the wing-to-fuselage joint, where the bottom of the wing meets the bottom of the fuselage. I separated the fuselage by approximately 1/32" so that there would be no step between the wing and fuselage on the bottom. Careful test fitting will reveal this problem and you should have no trouble eliminating it.
The only other area to watch out for is where the cowling gun cover fits onto the fuselage. I had to raise this approximately 1/32" in the front to eliminate a step there also. The fit of the rest of the kit is excellent and typical of the Hasegawa kits I have had.
Another helpful hint would be to fit part A5 to the wing before mating the wing to the fuselage to avoid any unsightly seam in the wheel well. The only area of this kit which proved extremely challenging was the masking and painting of the canopy. You should be aware that the canopy has recessed panel lines, not the usual raised ones. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to use regular tape as a masking agent. I found this is one time when bare metal foil will give excellent results, as it will form to the recessed panel lines and make masking easy. I know it worked well on mine.
The only shortfall of this kit would have to be in the thickness of the decals, which is a problem if you are trying to get a very nice finish. I would recommend using after-market decals. I recommend this kit to anybody. When finished, it presents a very attractive model.
Oh, and theres one thing I forgot. When attaching the forward wind screen, glue the center section on first to the gun fairing and let it dry. Youll notice that the sides of the windscreen need to be tacked into place so they are not flared out. This part seems to have been molded so that the bottom sides are flared, although it could have been my method of construction which caused this problem. Just check carefully, and you should have no problem with it.
After all is said is done, you should have a rather nice earlier model version of the Zero in your collection that would make anybody proud.
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