Notes on the Tamiya A6M5
by Ryan Toews
The new Tamiya A6M5 has rightfully garnered praise for the high degree of quality that it exhibits. Alas, it is not perfect, and so the following is a list of some of the problems that need to be addressed in order to improve the kit.
For the most part the shortcomings have to do with the compromises that arose when Tamiya chose to include operating landing gear and control surfaces. The other revisions are almost all in the area of getting the paint correct. It is hoped that his brief article will at least point out some of the easier corrected details.
The decals are acceptable as a beginning but reference should be made the j-aircraft article on A6M2 and A6M3 Secondary Markings. Much of what it describes is equally applicable to the A6M5.
As seems to be the norm these days, Eduard has recently come out with several sets of photo-etched parts that serve to correct many of the problems outlined below. Whether or not one wants to spend another US$50.00 on a kit that has already cost about double that amount is something each person will have to decide for themselves.
From what Jim Lansdale has related elsewhere, the Mitsubishi built A6M5s retained an overall paintjob of Mitsubishi’s variant of semi-gloss Hairyokushoku gray-green FS 6350, albeit possibly no longer applied over are-brown primer. The upper surfaces with subsequently camouflaged with a semi-gloss or matte dark green close to FS 4052.
Nakajima also retained a variation of semi-gloss Hairyokushoku similar to FS 4201 on the undersides of the A6M5s it manufactured. The upper surface camouflage this company applied was a semi-gloss or matte dark green with a value of FS 4077. It is presumed that the fabric-covered surfaces were still painted in a mid-gray shade of FS 6314, except of course where the upper surface green paint was to be found.
The cowling was painted with a semi-gloss blue-black color on Mitsubishi built planes and a semi-gloss black on Nakajima built ones.  The white gun alignment lines on the upper cowling were probably not present on the earlier Mitsubishi built A6M5s such as 9-151.
In the following the numbers to the left refer to the sub-sections in the Tamiya kit instructions.
  • The cockpit interior should be FS 4095 for a Mitsubishi A6M5 and FS 4255 for a Nakajima built Model 52.
  • The rivets on the rear cockpit deck should in fact be raised, they were not flush.
  • The cockpit decking should be black on the Nakajima A6M5 but is the same FS 4052 green as the rest of the upper surface camouflage green on the Mitsubishi Type 52.
  • The cutout for the loop antenna just behind the rollover pylon should be opened up to measure 5.5mm x 2mm (180mm x 60mm). The loop antenna should be mounted to a base that is inside the fuselage and allows the antenna to extend through the opening.
  • Part E3 can only be found on the early A6M2 and therefore should be left off. However, the hemispheric lamp should be attached just below E26. It is overall natural aluminum.
  • Mitsubishi did not paint the steel parts in the cockpit black as was found in the Nakajima planes. Thus the black paint applied to the points where parts E35 and E36 attach should be black only in the latter’s Zeros.
  • The lamp at the front end of E29 should be overall aluminum.
  • Parts E35 and E36 should be black on Nakajima planes and cockpit interior green on those built by Mitsubishi. In both cases the knob at the end should be black.
  • Part E81 has no black on its handle in either manufacturer’s case.
  • The buff painted “pencil holder” was not found on all aircraft and should be considered optional
  • The fire extinguisher control box sitting on the small shelf at the rear of part E22 should be removed along with the shelf on all Mitsubishi A6M5s built before early December 1943 (starting with s/n 4274) which almost certainly includes A6M5 9-151. The box may have been in this position once Mitsubishi began installing such equipment but Nakajima installed this control box against the left side of the rear bulkhead (part E34) from the start. In all cases, though, the shelf should be removed.
  • A “bicycle chain” needs to be attached leading backwards from part E31.
  • Part E82 should have a dark blue handle, not black.
  • Part E38 should have instruments in all four cutout holes.
  • On the right floor of the cockpit is a rectangular box with three handles on top of it. This box should have round lightening holes in the sides of it.
  • In front of this box is a fitting that was deleted in the production of the A6M3. It should be completely removed flush with the cockpit floor.
  • As mentioned above Mitsubishi did not paint the steel fittings in the cockpit black. Thus the painting instructions for parts E5, E6, E12, E13, EE72 and the crosspiece to which these attach apply only to Nakajima planes.
  • Part E23 should be black or the cockpit interior color for Nakajima or Mitsubishi respectively.
  • A white colored bungee cord should be fitted over the two part E23s from about one third of the way back from the seat on parts E12 and E13.
  • The switch in the middle of the lower left tier of instruments should be black.
  • The crank on part E25 should be yellow.
  • The machine guns were more likely to be a metallic gray color rather than black at this stage in the war.
  • The interior side of the small wheel well doors should be aotake for a Nakajima Zero and underside Hairyokushoku for a Mitsubishi built plane. In either case the U shaped arm should be black.
  • The small folding rear corner of each door should be bent over unless one is going with the folding landing gear function.
  • The functioning landing gear really compromises parts E15 but they should be aotake for a Nakajima Zero and underside Hairyokushoku for a Mitsubishi model. If the folding landing gear option is not used these parts should be rebuilt.
  • Round lightening holes should be drilled between the ribs in both the front and rear of the outer section of the wheel wells.
  • Each well should have the brake lines added and the left well should also include the two lines running out to the pitot tube.
  • Detailing the wheel wells should also include the addition of raised rivets throughout.
  • The interior side of parts B12, B13 and B14 should be underside Hairyokushoku for both a  Mitsubishi and a Nakajima Zero.
  • The photo-etched oil cooler should be mounted at an angle in the oil cooler intake.
  • The use of moveable ailerons means that the aileron actuating rods cannot be included. If this function is forgone add the rods from parts B10 into the wing.
  • Parts H2 and H3 should be painted with aluminum paint.
  • The roughly rectangular piece molded as part of the lower landing gear and to which the lower wheel well cover is attached should not be painted black but is actually finished in underside Hairyokushoku.
  • The vinyl tires should not have any tread molded into them.
  • Parts E51 and E52 should not have a “step” in the lower outer surface. These were actually each a single sheet of aluminum with small “angle iron” strips fitted along the edges.
  • The interior side of the wheel wide covers should be underside Hairyokushoku for both   Mitsubishi and a Nakajima Zeros. This includes both parts E52 and E64 and parts E51 and E65.
  • While the wheel well cover weight indication decals (28) supplied in the kit are correct for the Mitsubishi built A6M5. Nakajima used a simpler scheme that used only red over blue stripes or a single red stripe.
  • The small hub of the tail tire should be natural aluminum.
  • The tail gear should have a canvas covering fitted to it. The canvas was probably tan, green or black.
  • Only the attachment fitting and the actual hook of the tail hook should be black. The shaft of the hook should be the same shade of Hairyokushoku as the underside of the plane.
  • The interior of the tail hook well should also be the same color of Hairyokushoku as the rest of the underside.
  • Several errors exist in the engine. The first of these are the missing baffles that fit between at the end of each cylinder. Eduard includes these baffles in their photo-etch set.
  • Secondly, parts D12 and D13 should be affixed to the engine by small arms attached to each cylinder just below each rocker box cover.
  • Starting with A6M5 s/n 4550 built in mid-February 1944 the lower exhaust pipes were extended in length 80mm. As this is about the time that Nakajima began production of the A6M5 it can be assumed that any Nakajima Model 52 had the longer exhaust. Thus for a Nakajima Model 52 and a later model Mitsubishi A6M5 parts C5, C6, C23 and C24 should be lengthen 2.5mm.
  • The engine painting instructions are almost all incorrect. Thus the engine colors described in a TAIC wartime metallurgical report on a captured Sakae 21 are given as follows:  
  • Cylinder head - black paint
  • Cylinder barrel - black paint
  • Rocker box cover - black paint
  • Push rod housings - black paint with NMF fittings at each end
  • Baffles (between cylinders) - black paint
  • Intake manifold - black paint
  • Crankcase - greenish-gray pain (the nose section is held in place by 14 NMF bolts)
  • Blower case - gray paint
  • Gear case - gray-green paint
  • Gear oil pump housing- gray paint
  • Fuel pump case - black paint
  • Fuel pump support - gray-green paint
  • Gun synchronizer housing - gray paint
  • Ignition system conduit tubes - gray paint
  • Ignition system cables - black leatherette covering
  • Part A17 should be either black for the Nakajima A6M5 or the same color as the overall upper camouflage green in the case of the Mitsubishi Model 52. The rivets on it should be raised.
  • A U shaped handle should be added to the inside lower right front and the vertical latching rod mechanism to the left front of the sliding canopy.
  • Part C19 should be the same green as the upper camouflage of the plane.
  • Part A11 should be black and the rivets should be raised, they were not flush.
  • The propeller colors are correct for a Nakajima aircraft but early Mitsubishi A6M5s retained the earlier natural aluminum blades with flat dark brown (FS 0059) painted propeller backs, a single red warning stripe, and aluminum painted spinner. 9-151 probably was still in this earlier scheme.
  • The radio antenna wire should run back to a bungee cord that is looped through a small hole in the rudder. This cord was twisted to prevent it vibrating in the slipstream and was connected to the antenna wire with a white glass insulator.
  • A filler cap needs to be added to the top front of part E67. It probably should be painted red.

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