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Hasegawa 1/48 scale A6M5 Zero (Zeke) Type 52

Manufacturer: Hasegawa, distributed by Marco Polo Import Inc., 532 S. Coralridge Place, City of Industry, CA 91746, 626-333-2328 .
Kit: No. JT70
Scale: 1/48
Price: $23.98
Comments: Injection molded, 88 parts (14 unused), decals.
Pros: Options for two early versions, state-of-the-art moldings, three-piece canopy, engine with separate cylinder rows and push rods.
Cons: Vinyl propeller retainer not provided, no pilot figure, no seat harness.
Two versions (Nakajima-built A6M5 and A6M5a) can be built from Hasegawa's new Type 52 kit. The parts are finely molded with delicately recessed panel lines. When you are finished with the model, you'll have 14 parts left over, signs of more versions coming.

I chose the Model 52 of the 653rd Flying Group assigned to the Aircraft Carrier Zuiho in 1943. This involved cutting and sanding off the wing gun fairings and blisters of the "Koh" version, and filling scribed lines of one panel on the upper side of each wing just aft of the main spar. The empty-shell ejection chute panels drop in and fit perfectly, leaving a seam that is equal to any factory-scribed panel line. For the versions in the kit, the larger prop spinner and the 300-liter auxiliary tank are used.

The cockpit is excellent, with a detailed seat with height adjustment lever, control column, rudder pedals, separate gun breaches, gun sight (don't forget decal number 25), and an instrument panel with raised detail that can be hand painted or decorated with decals. Ribs and longerons are molded on the cockpit walls.

Even though you can't see the engine once the cowl is mounted, both rows of cylinders and a crankcase with push rods are provided. I was surprised, however, that the handy vinyl-retainer method of mounting the propeller was not featured in this kit.

The landing gear wells have rib detail. Even the actuators (parts E18) that open and close the gear doors are included. Nav lights, including the clear light at the end of the fuselage, are separate pieces. The kit comes with dropped flaps, but none of my references show wartime Zeros on the ground with the flaps down.

I airbrushed Floquil Military IJN Green on the upper surfaces of my model. I used AeroMaster Warbird Acrylic Nakajima Navy Gray on the bottom, and Floquil railroad Engine Black on the cowl. The cockpit interior is AeroMaster Nakajima Interior Gray/Green. All of these colors were overcoated with clear gloss before decal application.

Patience and diligence at blotting the excess water from under the decals leaves them snuggled with no silvering. When the decals were dry, I sprayed a coat of AeroMaster Semi-gloss over the entire model (sans canopy). Recent research indicates that factory-fresh Zeros, painted with nitrocellulose lacquers, had a glossy finish.

The perfectly fitting canopy clear parts are crisply molded, thin enough to slide the hood back, and free of distortion. The finished model sits right with the oleos molded in the compressed state. The model measures just about perfect with published dimensions.

I was very pleased with Hasegawa's new Zero. It was easy to put together, and took me only 16 hours to paint and assemble.

Okay, Hasegawa, how about an A6M5b Model 52 Otsu, or an A6M5c Model 52 Hei with the single nose gun and pilot armor, or a fighter bomber, or a night fighter with the gun firing up through the canopy, or, maybe, a two-seat K version where I can use some of the orange paint I've accumulated?

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