Tamiya A6M5/5a Zero

I had wanted to build this kit from the first time I saw it when it was released. Tamiya products are always first rate anyway but they really raised the bar with this kit. The level of detail is the best I’ve seen in any 1/48 scale aircraft. So much so that despite my AMS I never even considered any aftermarket parts for this one. They simply weren’t necessary.
The engineering was superb. The parts fit so well that only a very small amount of putty and sanding was necessary. Not only that, but the kit was designed cleverly so that seams were located where they weren’t going to draw attention to themselves and mar the look of the final product. Tamiya’s engineers surely deserve kudos for their work.

I had some masks done up for the Hinomaru insignia and used the Eduard mask set for the canopy. I also used some Eduard seat buckles and cigarette rolling paper for the seat belts, but other than that everything that is on this bird came out of the box. I added some brake lines and actuator rods on the cowl flaps but I used stretched sprue for those so technically it’s still stock box. I also used stretched sprue for the antenna wires but that goes without saying.

I masked Hinomarus with a latex mask making a positive mask. First I airbrushed XF-2 Flat White and set down the outer circle mask. They I airbrushed XF-7 Red darkened with some XF-1 Black. Then I placed the center roundel mask in place. Then I proceeded with the rest of the painting. When all was done I removed the masks leaving a perfect marking.

The decals I used are for the marking of the aircraft of an Ensign Akamatsu Sadaaki, one of the IJN’s most prolific aces. This is an aircraft he flew with the 302nd Naval Fighter Group in February of 1945 out of Atsugi Air Base.

I used Tamiya acrylics; XF-11 IJN Green on top and XF-12 IJN Gray on the bottom. I post shaded and then covered whole thing with Future for the few decals that I used. After the Future I added scuff marks with a silver Prismacolor pencil. Following that I gave the aircraft a light wash with black artist oils. The final step was a coat of Testors Dullcote everywhere but the cowling and some final touchup with the Prismacolor pencil.

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