Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero

by Tom Baldwin


Mitsubishi A6M2


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale A6M2 Zero is available online from Squadron




June 6, 1942. Halfway across the ocean, the “turning point in the Pacific” has reached its pivotal ebb. Four Japanese carriers are sinking, the pride of the fleet in ruins

On this particular day however, another battle is being fought, this one in the colder climes of the American northwest, in Alaska. A flight of Zeros takes off from the carrier

Ruyjo, its mission, to escort B5N “Kates” on a bombing run. At the controls of one of the Zeros is 19 yr old NAP 1C Koga, Tadayoshi, in aircraft marked DI-108.


Coming off a strafing run, Koga’s Zero is hit in a oil cooler line, and begins a powered down descent. Finding a suitable spot to put his crippled fighter down, Koga makes the mistake of landing in a marshy bog, with his landing gear digging in on landing, flipping the fighter on its back, killing its young occupant, and setting into motion the single greatest windfall of technical information to date on the much feared “Zeke”.

The subsequent retrieval and restoration of the Koga Zero helped define American tactics against the Zero in future combat. It was “lost” again in an accident, this time with an American pilot at the controls. I recommend the book “Koga’s Zero” to anyone interested in the story.





The basis of the kit is Hasegawa’s series of 48th scale Zero’s. The kit features recessed panel lines, a decent out of the box cockpit, a nicely represented Sakae 12 engine (although later molds are beginning to show some signs of age, I had to rummage through a couple of kits to secure the engine pieces, some of the cylinders were badly misaligned) and overall accurate dimensions, a good starting point for my first “real” attempt at scratch building.


I started in the cockpit, with the excellent Hawkeye Designs A6M interior set. The set is intended for A6M3 variants, but the differences between the A6M2 and 3 models are slight, and no major modifications to the set are needed.

First was the cockpit “floor” which is actually the top of the wing. I cut the Hawkeye floor in half, at the recessed area for the rear bulkhead. I added the rudder and elevator bell crank assembly at the rear of the floor, using sheet styrene and some pieces from the spares box. I added a voltage regulator, and some various boxes with lead solder hyd lines.

Next was the cockpit sidewalls. On the original, the cockpit “floor’ actually slants down towards the rear. To simulate this, I added 1mm shims to the cockpit sidewalls, to give the impression of the floor/wing top slant. The left sidewall received scratch built Dyanmotor assemblies (to provide power for the radio receiver transmitter on the opposite side), I removed the molded on trim wheel and chain and added pieces from an Eduard set, and added the various linkages from the throttle quadrant to the firewall. I added the throttle lever from a piece of a toothpick (to simulate its wooden predecessor). The instrument panel is from the kit piece, with kit decals with epoxy faces. The right side cockpit features a scratch built radio/receiver transmitter, cockpit vent tube from solder, and all the flap and landing gear hyds plumbed in (see photos). The rear bulkhead was extended to the floor of the fuselage, and the seat elevation mechanism was added from pieces from an Eduard set again, with a Cutting Edge Zero seat.

The cockpit interior was painted with MM Field Green with a drop or two of MM Flat Black, lightly drybrushed and weathered with pastel chalk. Total building time on the cockpit took about 3 months (I’m slow).

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Engine and Fuselage

The engine vent louvers on the fuselage sides were thinned out and opened, I added an oil tank from sandwiched sheet plastic to the engine firewall, which was made again from styrene, along with engine bearing struts (all of which is invisible when the fuselage was assembled).

The engine received scale push rod assemblies, ignition wiring added to the ignition ring and cylinders, and I also scratch built the cowling mount ring (again, invisible in the cowling). The engine was painted in Floquil Weathered Black, with gloss black push rods and a medium gray case.

The kit fuselage is shared with its Rufe cousin, and a small mold line exists at the rear of the fuselage, just forward of the vertical stab. A couple of quick passes with a sanding stick took care of the problem.



The wings were assembled per kit instructions; I do however attach the top portion of the wings to the fuselage first, to ensure no gaps. I added the fresh air vent on the starboard wing, and detailed the wheel wells with PE pieces from the Eduard set again. The kit landing gear struts were used, but I modified the landing gear doors. On the original, the upper and lower doors are separate units, I used sheet styrene to fabricate the upper assembly, again with Eduard PE for the attachment lugs, and thinned the lower assy and added to the gear legs. The blue/red weight indicator marking was painted on at this time, wire brake lines added at the end.



The rest of the kit was assembled per instructions.


Painting and Markings


There has been much debate on the latest color schemes of early Zero’s. I recommend anyone interested go over to j-aircraft.com and look at the various research articles on finishes.

The basic overall color of my Zero is a 50/50 mix of Floquil Enamel Concrete and Aeromaster RLM02. The wheel wells were painted in Old Silver first, followed by a Clear Green/Blue mix. Notice that the landing gear doors are also the fuselage color, Mitsubishi made Zeros had this feature, while later Nakajima built Zeros had Aotake applied to the gear doors as well as the wheel bays.

The wing and fuselage Hinomaru’s were painted using Eduard masks, wing walks were also painted and masked, and the yellow tail band was airbrushed also. A coat of Polly Scale Clear Gloss followed.

The tail codes were provided by Dave Pluth, the fuselage CG markings and the aileron balance markings were provided by Mike Grant decals. They all worked out great, and I highly recommend Mike’s decals.

Weathering is pastel chalk, applied with a fine paintbrush, with the excess removed immediately. A coat of Polly Scale clear flat finished everything off.




I would like to thank Greg Springer who continually provides me with info I seem to miss, Ryan Toews who provided an absolute treasure trove of Zero stenciling data as well as painting info, John Greiner for taking the photos of the finished product, and last but never least, Josh Bowling and Scott Brown for having to endure all my neurosis’ and disappointing 2 and ½ hour car ride back from a show.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Tom Baldwin
Page Created 28 April, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

Back to HyperScale Main Page