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Mitsubishi A6M2a Zero Type 11 Combo 1:72 Hasegawa The Mitsubishi A6M Type 0 which became more infamously known simply as the 'Zero' entered operational service in 1940 as a replacement for the A5m which its self only entered service in 1937. The brief was to design an aircraft that had to make use of available engines which was a limiting factor at that time with outputs of sub 1000hp. To meet the need for a high performance long range fighter, the solution was to keep weight to an absolute minimum. This was partly achieved through a clever design using a new light weight alloy, but also by sacrificing armour for the engine and crew as well as self sealing tanks. First going into combat against Chinese Polikarpov I-15s and I-16s, considerable success was achieved. On the first encounter, 13 aircraft were shot down without loss. Its success lay in its incredible manoeuvrability and range of about 1600 miles. The design had a low wing loading which heavily contributed to these characteristics as well as helping in its role of carrier based fighter for take off and landing. Early combat with US naval fighters enhanced its fearful reputation even further as it heavily outclassed its rivals in the Pacific. The balance began to shift in 1943 as new allied aircraft and better tactics began to appear where as the Zero became restricted by engine performance and lack of armour. Even the later variants only had engines of around 1100hp in comparison to engines delivering 2000hp in the US Navy line up. Allied pilots had learned not to 'mix' it with the zero's, instead they fought on their terms using tactics like the 'boom and zoom' where they would dive to make a high speed passing attack then climb to safety using the high energy they'd collected on the way down. US naval fighters of the time such as the Hellcat benefitted from more powerful engines allowing them to carrier plenty of armour. This armour often allowed the aircraft to take considerable punishment from Zero's and still get its pilot back. Although the zero remained in service and production until 1945, more capable aircraft had begun to replace it. By the war's end, around 11,000 aircraft had been built which had accounted for around 1500 US aircraft lost in combat. The kit When it comes to 1/72 Zero's, it's not surprising given its fame that there are several kits on the market. As well as the old Heller kits, Tamiya, Academy and Airfix have rivals on the market with the Airfix introducing a brand new kit recently. The kits contained in this pack aren't new moulds, they date back quite a few years. The artwork leaves you under no confusion as to what you might find in the box. On removing the lid you're presented with two packs, each containing one model kit. Each kit is supplied on 4 light grey sprues and of course a clear one. First impressions are good. Very little flash is evident, although there is some small amounts such as on one of the wing tips, but certainly nothing to give concern. Panel lines are recessed and very refined, in my opinion much better than the new Airfix kit which are much more pronounced and out of scale. The design of the kit is quite traditional, the fuselage being supplied in two halves with a one piece lower wing and individual upper wings. The control surfaces are moulded integrally to the wings and tail surfaces as is the tail wheel. Assembly starts with the cockpit. Typically Hasegawa, detail here is 'acceptable'. Compared to the cockpit detailing we've come to expect from companies like Eduard there is certainly plenty of room for improvement. There is a basic seat, rear bulkhead, floor, panel and control stick. If this bothers you, some additional detail to the panel and side walls as well as seatbelts might be an option to consider either through scratchbuilding or aftermarket if this leaves you underwhelmed. The cockpit is sandwiched between the fuselage halves and the nose gun panel fitted over the instrument panel once closed up. The wings are then mounted to the fuselage. The wheel wells are nicely detailed for the scale, although are quite shallow. The engine too is elegantly detailed with two separate banks of cylinders that need to be attached then the gearbox unit mounted to the front. The cowling is supplied on its own fret and moulded in one piece which is useful ensuring that you're not left with a seam to hide. The carburettor intake and exhausts are then mounted to this part to complete the nacelle unit. Taking a photo of the cowling was quite difficult due to the fret mounted around it in an unusual way. There is some flash and a fret cross member to remove from inside the cowling, so care should be taken in doing this to prevent any damage. The undercarriage legs and doors are excellent. The doors are very thin with some detail on both interior and exterior surfaces. Unfortunately the wheels have some protruding ejector pin marks on the tyres which will need to be sanded off which will be a delicate operation. The propeller comes with a hub, backplate and three individual blades that need to be fitted in place. The kit comes supplied with a long range belly tank typically used on long range missions. The canopy moulding is excellent for the scale, very thin and hardly any distortion. My only criticism here is the lack of an option to have an open cockpit. If you do prefer to have your cockpit open, an aftermarket option would be the solution. The decals Now here is a review of two halves. The decals themselves look very good. The print is very sharp and finely registered. Some stencil details are included to give the exterior some interest too. I am however disappointed at the options available. You have choice of a grey scheme with blue bands or a grey scheme with blue and white bands (see the box top shown at the top of the review). Four aircraft options are included as listed below, however I have come to expect somewhat more options included in my kits, particularly where two are included in the pack. At the very least, it would of been good to have some contrasting schemes included, particularly as this pack isn't placed at the budget end of the range. Decals are provided for the following: 14th Naval Group 1940: '9-182', '9-172' 12th Naval Group 1940 '3-163' and 1941 '3-183' Conclusion Well, this is certainly a good kit. It gives a good scale representation with some finely recessed panel lines and enough detail to give a pleasing build out of the box with typical Hasegawa quality. An open cockpit option and somewhat different decal option would of been a nice addition, however these are all available from the aftermarket if it's important to you. Out of the box by comparison, the new Airfix kit benefits from cockpit detail which is lacking in this kit, but the panel lines in Hasegawas representation are much more reserved looking much better in this scale. With two kits provided, you could build a pleasing little diorama of the two together which is something I'm considering with these. UK distributors for