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1/48 Hasegawa Kit #09495
A6M3 Zero Type 22

by Jonathan Squires

Captured Mitsubishi A6M3 Type 22 “Zero”
JNAF Serial Nr. 2-182 / RNZAF Serial Nr. NZ6000


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




I enjoy making models of aircraft that have some sort of unique history or background – particularly when the aircraft has a connection with New Zealand. In this instance, the subject is an A6M3 Zero. Captured by the RNZAF at the end of the Second World War, this Zero was to go though some interesting times before ultimately ending up on display at the War Memorial Museum in Auckland, New Zealand, where it remains to this day.  

The model featured is depicted as it appeared, in the distinctive surrender markings, when it first arrived at Piva Airstrip, Bougainville, in September 1945.


In September 1945, The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) became aware of an intact, and supposedly airworthy, A6M3 Zero located at Kara Airstrip in Southern Bougainville. The decision was made to recover it, presumably as a war prize. Originally, the intention was that it be flown to Rabaul by a Japanese pilot where it would be handed over to the RNZAF. However, the surrender commission intervened, stating that a Japanese pilot could not be trusted, and may attempt a Kamikaze attack on an allied target.  


2-182 as ‘discovered’ at Kara airstrip, 14 September, 1945. It was flown to Piva the next day by Wing Cdr. Kofoed.

© RNZAF Official. Air Force Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.


The aircraft may well have been abandoned to become another jungle relic had it not been for the intervention of Wing Cdr. Bill Kofoed. Determined to secure the Zero, Wing Cdr. Kofoed flew to Kara on 15th September with the objective of flying the aircraft back to Piva himself. After a pre-flight inspection and brief familiarisation from the Japanese pilot – he successfully did so.  

The aircraft remained at Piva until mid-October 1945, whereupon it was shipped back to New Zealand. On arrival in Auckland, it was allocated the RNZAF serial NZ6000, and deposited at RNZAF Hobsonville, where instruction had been given to make it serviceable again (it had not been flown since Wing Cdr Kofoed flew it from Kara to Piva). The intention at this point was to use the aircraft for exhibition flying and tactical training of RNZAF fighter pilots. Neither of these eventuated though, and with the arrival of the RNZAF’s first jet, a Meteor, combined with the obsolescence of the Zero, interest in the project rapidly declined.  

NZ6000 flew one last time in December 1945 before being transferred, in February 1947 (after a period of storage) to the RNZAF Technical Training School (TTS) at Hobsonville. The intention now was for it to be used as an instructional airframe, however this did not eventuate either, and the Zero soon became an unwanted storage problem to the point that, in August 1947, the TTS sought to dispose of it.  


Shot of 2-182 upon its arrival at Piva airstrip on 15 September 1945. The Zero’s arrival at Piva generated considerable interest as many of the RNZAF personnel had never actually seen a Japanese aircraft before, let alone up close.

© RNZAF Official. Air Force Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.


The Air Ministry, perhaps realising that the Zero had some value, decided to offer it to the Auckland Museum. The Museum accepted the offer, but could not take immediate ownership of NZ6000 due to a lack of space. Instead, The Museum requested that the RNZAF retain possession until space was available to display it. Presumably with some reluctance and no other options, The RNZAF accepted.  

Life now really took a turn for the worse. By 1950, NZ6000 was stored in the open along with other war surplus aircraft, where it became the victim of souvenir hunters, vandalism and the weather. The state of the aircraft became so bad that, by 1953, the Air Force once again tried to rid themselves of it as surplus. Before this could be accomplished someone remembered that the Auckland Museum actually “owned” NZ6000, so again the Museum was asked to take it over, which they still could not. So, once again, the RNZAF was left with the Zero.  

Through the mid-1950’s the Zero remained in open storage at Hobsonville.  During this time it was displayed (on the ground) three times; twice at the Royal Easter Show (1954 & 1957) and finally at the RNZAF 21st Anniversary Celebrations in 1958. For the 1958 display, the aircraft was partially refurbished and re-painted in a hypothetical grey/green colour scheme.   

Finally, in December 1959, Auckland Museum took possession of the Zero.  

From 1959 to the mid nineties the Zero was displayed in the World War II gallery of the Auckland Museum. It wore the imaginary 1958 display colour scheme until, in 1985, the aircraft was partially disassembled in an attempt to establish its true identity. During this research it was discovered that NZ6000 was actually a composite airframe made up from no less than 8 uniquely serial numbered Zeros. This is no doubt a reflection of two things; the deteriorating state of the Japanese supply situation as WW2 drew to a close as well as the remedial work that was done on the aircraft at Kara in 1945.  

It was not until 1997 when, as part of a major Auckland Museum renovation program, that a complete restoration of the Zero commenced. This involved the disassembly of the airframe, reconnection of some controls, reinstallation of recovered instruments as well as careful removal of the multiple layers of paint accumulated in the past 50 years. Ultimately, this revealed the original JNAF Markings as well as the original tail number; 2-182.  

At the end of the restoration, 2-182 was installed, complete in its original WWII JNAF markings, to its current location at The War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand.





Construction of Hasegawa's 1/48 scale A6M3 Zerol was very straightforward. It is a great kit.  

However, I did make some small additions. Starting with the cockpit, I painted it Aeromaster Nakajima Interior Green followed by a coat of Gunze gloss clear. Next I applied a liberal wash of highly thinned Testor's Burnt Umber. Once this was dry I flat coated all the cockpit pieces, picked out the small details in an appropriate colour, and finished it off with some light dry-brushing (medium grey). The last step was to liberally apply Gunze pastels to all cockpit parts in order to give as dirty a look as possible. The only addition I made to the out of the box kit was the use of an Ultracast seat, as this has great seatbelts on it!  

The assembly of the basic airframe was very quick. I did, however, try something new during construction, in that I used more glue than normal on the main fuselage and wing joints. By using just enough glue to create a small ‘overflow’, or ridge when the parts are pushed together, you not only create a good bond, but, once you have sanded the small ridge of glue off with fine sandpaper, you get a smooth, seam free joint.  

For the undercarriage, I used a set of True Details wheels as well as fuse wire to simulate brake lines.

For the wheels, they were first painted in Aeromaster Tyre black, then given a fine misting of sandy brown on the vertical axis – this is to try and simulate dirt and dust. For the engine, I made an ignition harness from fine fuse wire.

The only other aftermarket addition used was a set of Moskit exhaust pipes because, if the kit does have a bit of a weak area, it is the way that the exhausts are depicted.  

Other than this, there were some small changes to the basic kit in order to make it as per 2-182 as it appeared in late 1945.

  • The main undercarriage doors were shortened.

  • The armament was removed.

  • The radio antenna and aerial were removed.

Once the airframe was complete, and the afterdeck painted, I masked and attached the canopy. I prefer to attach the canopy before painting as it not only protects the interior, but also ensures that the canopy framing will have the same finish, in terms of weathering etc., as the rest of the model.



Painting and Markings



The focus for this build was going to be the paint scheme.  

I began by spraying the approximate area of the national markings in a combination of about 90% red & 10% dark brown (Hinomoura Red). Next, these areas were masked off using circles that were cut with an Olfa Circle cutter (I used the kit decals to determine size and location of the markings). I painted and then masked the yellow identification stripes (on the leading edges of the wings). Once this masking was complete, I “pre-shaded” the panel lines with NATO black before applying the standard JNAF scheme of dark green over light grey with a blue/black cowl. All of the masking (except the canopy) was now removed.  



Using the available photos as a reference, I now masked off the distinctive edge of the white paint on the cowling, forward fuselage and canopy.

1.   The model was then painted using Gunze Gloss White. I was super careful to apply only so much paint that it was possible to just see the faint outline of the national markings underneath.

2.   Once the white had dried, and the masking removed, I carefully sanded (polished) the model with a Micromesh 12000 grit polishing pad. I was careful to make sure that 80/90% of the ‘rubbing’ was in the direction of the airflow. What I was trying to show was a hint of the camouflage underneath the white overspray – but only a hint.


Note that when using the polishing pad, the paint will tend to thin out the most – and the quickest - where there is raised surface detail, such as the bulges that cover the gun mechanisms on the bottom of the wing. If you are not careful enough (as I was not) then you will take all the paint off the top of these areas. It is then very difficult to fix this as it is near impossible to match the overall finish of the rest of the model on such a small area – from scratch. I fixed the problem by painting the bulges white; however they stand out and do not look at all convincing!


3.   The next step was to randomly select some panels on the upper/lower surfaces and, without using tape, paint them in Tamiya flat white. The contrast between the ‘fresh’ white and the ‘opaque’, sanded white creates a messy, uneven look that, in conjunction with the just visible camouflage underneath creates a ‘patchwork’ finish.

4.   At this stage the undercarriage bays were masked and painted  in aluminium. I am not sure that this is the correct colour, as it may have been Aotake blue, however based on what I had read it is not unlikely that it was simply aluminium.  

5.   Next, I mixed a super thin “wash” of Testors Burnt Umber. Basically this is about 10% paint with 90% thinner (ie. dirty thinners) and applied this, using the end of an OO brush, to the panel lines. I then let this dry thoroughly; and then, once dry, applied a small amount of thinner to the tip of a tissue and wiped, in the direction of the airflow, over the model so as to create subtle streaks on the airframe. You can just see this effect in the photos.

6.   Masking templates were measured and cut for the crosses. These were applied to the model, over the top of the Hinomouras, and painted the same dark green as the surface of the model.

To finish off the painting, the model was given a coat of Gunze Flat.


Given that the aircraft only flew one or two times in these markings, the “in-flight” weathering would have been minimal. Instead, I wanted to focus on making the aircraft look like it had sat underneath trees for several weeks, possibly months, and consequently had some ‘static’ dirt on it.  

But, the trick here was to make the accumulated dirt only appear as stains – as all of the loose debris would have been blown off when the aircraft was flown, hence only leaving dirty stains behind.  

To achieve this I used a combination of the wash (as described above) and Gunze pastels, applied using a stiff artists brush and then blown off. All the while I was very careful not to overdo it, as I have wrecked some models by overdoing the weathering.  



Once the weathering was complete, a final coat of Gunze flat was applied to seal in all of the different layers of paint & pastels. At the very end, subtle paint chipping was applied using a very sharp silver artists pencil – having the pencil as sharp as possible is really important!

Finishing Touches 

Final details included painting the navigation lights, removing the masking from the canopy and adding the undercarriage legs, doors and pitot head.





This was a super interesting build. Not least for the historical aspect, but also for the ‘learn as I go’ painting process that I used to simulate the white finish.  

The Hasegawa series of Zero’s are superb kits, very easy to build and as far as I can tell, fairly accurate. The subject is a little unusual, and it will no doubt be an interesting contrast to the other aircraft in my collection.




Lewis, Peter. The Mitsubishi Zero. http://mitsubishi_zero.tripod.com/. This site has a plethora of information specifically on 2-182 and the Zero in general.  

Lansdale, Jim, & Long, Jim. J-Aircraft.com. Japanese Ships, Aircraft and Historical Research. www.j-aircraft.com 

Treweek, Philip. Kiwi Aircraft Images. http://www.kiwiaircraftimages.com/. Particularly the pages on the “Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero-Sen 22 (Zeke)” and “Museums”.  

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.  

Various material & photographs from www.aucklandmuseum.com 

Thanks to Simon Narramore for taking the photographs of the model.



Additional Photo Captions


Image:  2-182Ohakea.jpg



NZ6000 at Ohakea circa 1958. It is as prepared for the RNZAF 21st Anniversary Celebrations, and wears an imaginary brown, green and grey camouflage scheme.

© RNZAF Official. Air Force Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Image:  2-182ArdmoreBits.jpg



NZ6000 in ‘component’ storage (circa 1958) at Ardmore shortly before Auckland Museum took possession in 1959. It still wears the imaginary colour scheme; it wore these markings until 1997 when it was extensively refurbished by the Auckland Museum.

© RNZAF Official. Air Force Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Image:  2-182AucklandMuseumToday.jpg



2-812 in its current home at the Auckland Museum. Unfortunately good photos of the Zero are hard to come by, as the room it lives in is quite dark, and not good for photography.

Image courtesy of Robert E. Montgomery.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Jonathan Squires
Page Created 20 October, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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