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Tora Tora Tora! (11155) 1:48 A6M2 Zero Type 21 Dual Combo


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Tora Tora Tora! (11155)

A6M2 Zero Type 21 Dual Combo

1:48 Eduard

 

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The Zero was the direct successor to the diminutive A5M from the same company, Mitsubishi, and came into service with the Japanese Navy in 1940, where it was extremely well received.  It was a fast, highly manoeuvrable aircraft with powerful armament for the time, and it had good fuel economy due to the light-weight construction that would contribute to its downfall later in the war.  The engineers used an extremely light duralumin variant, and lightened everything they could to shave weight from the airframe, including perforating the pilot’s seat, with no armour or self-sealing fuel tanks to protect the pilot or aircraft from incoming fire.  While the Zero was the fastest kid on the block this wasn’t such an issue, but as the Allies improved their aircraft, they began to fall into their sights more frequently with the inevitable outcome that a great many experienced Japanese aviators were shot down and killed, leaving inexperienced novices to fall prey to the by-then experienced Allied flyers.  One such battle was referred to the Marianas Turkey Shoot due to the horrible losses suffered by the Japanese.

 

Toward the end of the war there were improvements made to the type, but many were converted to fly as Kamikaze aircraft, to hurl themselves in an act of futility against the advancing US forces in an attempt to sink their carriers and battleships.  Its most infamous use was as the fighters and fleet patrol aircraft during the Pearl Harbour raid that drew America into WWII on 7th December 1941, with a fleet of Type 21s that are otherwise known as the A6M2b taking off first from their carriers due to their relatively short take-off requirements.  The rest as they say, is history.

 

 

The Kit

This is a brand-new tooling from Eduard, and it has been given the same duty of care that they lavished on the Bf.109G, the Spitfire and Mustang, making a highly-detailed, totally modern model kit that will doubtless blow many of the ageing competition out of the water in this scale.  This is the initial release that uses the attack codename Tora Tora Tora! as the strapline, which incidentally means Tiger Tiger Tiger.  I learned something today, but I probably learned it before, as I’m starting to remember.  It arrives in a well-stocked top-opening box with a pair of Zeroes on the cover, and some profiles of the decal options on the side.  Inside are double sprues in resealable bags, with a total of eight sprues (four per kit), two clear sprues, two pre-painted Photo-Etch (PE) sheets, a sheet of kabuki tape masks for the external glazing (not pictured), three decal sheets and a rather thick instruction booklet with twelve pages of profiles for the marking options.

 

If you’ve been watching the pre-launch of this kit you’ll know that it has exceptional detail on the sprues, and if it goes together like their recent P-51 kit, it will be a joy to build.  The full exterior skin is riveted and has engraved panel lines, including some lapped panels where appropriate, all done with incredible fidelity and finesse.  The decals are also similarly well done, and the instructions are up to Eduard’s usual level of quality, showing where the various PE enhancements should go, as well as calling out detail painting in their preferred Gunze Sangyo codes.

 

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Construction begins with the fuselage, which is painted and detailed internally with PE and styrene parts within the cockpit area to bolster the already excellent ribbing detail that is moulded-in.  Some of the styrene parts are upgraded with PE fronts to further improve the look.  The cockpit interior is then started with the styrene rudder pedals clipped off the part and replaced by new PE pedals.  The pilot’s ventilated seat is laced with four pre-painted belts and attached to the fuselage frame by a pair of brackets and is joined by an adjuster with a curved PE bracket, the styrene version of which is first removed from the original part.  The cockpit floor is well-detailed with rivets and is a shallow V-shape, with a small insert filling a gap in the underside, an instrument box detailed with PE toggle-switches, then the pilot’s control column and linkages are all installed on the topside along with the rudders.  The sides of the cockpit contain various equipment boxes, which are all stripped of styrene detail to be replaced by PE parts, and they are then brought together with the rear frame, seat, floor and sides to create the cockpit assembly, which is then further detailed with more PE and optional decals, has the layered PE instrument panel built up and inserted into the front of the assembly, which then has the two nose-mounted machineguns added to a shaped part that slots into holes at the front of the cockpit.  Behind the pilot a trio of tanks that are glued vertically to the back of the frame, then the completed assembly is put to the side briefly while the fuselage is glued together, adding the rudder, an insert under the tail, and a section of the cowling in front of the nose as you go.  Once the glue has dried, the cockpit can be inserted into the fuselage from below, using the gap in the fuselage where the wings will later sit.

 

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Like many WWII fighters, the lower wing half is a single part, which is stiffened by a short spar that stretches between the ends of the wheel bays and also forms the back walls.  Two holes in the centres of the wings are filled with inserts to obtain the correct blister layout, and the rest of the wheel bay walls are added before the two upper wing panels are laid over the top with bay roof inserts and glued in place.  On the inside of the wings there are engraved lines where the folding tips can be cut loose, but for this boxing they are ignored.  A pair of clear wingtip lights and styrene ailerons are added, and a scrap diagram shows how the trailing wing root should look once glued, to ensure you don’t make a rod for your back down the line.  The “tail” of the wing assembly is ribbed inside, and is fitted out with some small parts, although it’s a mystery to me at this stage where it can be seen from without the aid of an endoscope.  The elevator fins are separate from their flying surfaces, and while the fins are two parts each, the thin trailing surfaces are single parts with lots of rib detail moulded-in.  These and the wings are added to the fuselage along with some tiny fairings for the aileron actuators, a head cushion for the pilot (isn’t he lucky?), and an intake grille under the nose.

 

The model is looking like a Zero now, but has no nose (I won’t do the joke), which is next to be made up.  Both banks of pistons of the Nakajima Sakae radial engine are present, plus a fan of rods front and back, with a two-part reduction gear bell-housing at the front, which has a tiny decal added to it once painted.  This fits on a stepped ring that glues to the tapered front of the fuselage, then a bit of fancy styrene engineering takes place.  The cowling is built up around a cylindrical jig that you should remain unglued unless you enjoy swearing.  The intake lip is fitted to the narrow end of the jig, then two almost semi-cylindrical cowling halves are added, locating in slots in the aft lip of the jig, and gluing to the lip at the front.  The intake trunk is inserted into the gap in the underside, and this too has its own groove in the lip, and when the glue is dry, the assembly can be slipped off the jig, and the final section that contains the gun troughs can be added along with another pair of small inserts at the bottom-rear where the exhaust stacks are glued.  The finished cowling can then be slid over the engine and secured in place with more glue.

 

The Zero’s wide-track gear made for easy deck-handling, and each of the main legs is made from a single strut with a captive bay door and a three-part wheel/hub combo with no sag engineered in.  If you want weighted tyres, you can either sand off the bottom of the kit tyres, or get the Brassin resin wheels that we’ll be reviewing shortly, which have additional detail to sweeten the deal, and include a new tail-wheel strut into the bargain.  The struts have their styrene scissor-links removed and replaced by PE parts, then the legs are inserted into the wells, and joined by the inner doors along the centreline, the tail-wheel with two-part strut and tiny wheel, plus a choice of deployed or stowed arrestor hook.  There are also a pair of tiny decals for the inside of the main gear bays, which adds a little extra visual interest.  Finally, there is a tiny additional bay door at the base of each gear leg, with a scrap diagram showing the correct angle to fit it.

 

With the model still on its back, the fuel tank is built-up from three parts and is glued to the underside, with horn balances added to the ailerons, and a crew-step under the port edge of the wing-root fairing.  Another scrap diagram shows the correct orientation of the horn balances.  The three-bladed prop is moulded as a single part, with a front and rear spinner half, which slides onto the axle at the front of the engine.  On the topside, the gun-sight installs on the coaming, with a PE Direction-Finding (D/F) loop behind the pilot’s head, installed before you address the canopy.  The windscreen is fitted first, and you have a choice of closed canopy that is made of two parts and an aerial, or in the open option that has the fixed rear, a slightly larger sliding canopy that fits over the rear, and the same aerial.  Inside the sliding portion are a pair of small PE detail parts, and if you spring for additional Tface masks, it may be best to apply the masks before the PE parts.  A clear light is added to the very rear of the fuselage, four little upstands are fitted into sockets in the mid-wing, the gun muzzles are inserted into the leading edge with a pitot probe on the port side, plus two tiny PE gear-down indicators over their respective bays.

 

Markings

12 markings options is excellent, even though you’ve got two models to cover, all of which took part in the raid as either fighter or patrol aircraft, and all wearing the same basic scheme.  From the box you can build two of the following:

 

  • Lt.Cdr. Shigeru Itaya, Akagi Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • c/n probably 2236, PO2c Akira Yamamoto, Kaga Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • Lt. Masaji Suganami, Sōryū Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • PO1c Kazuo Muranaka, Hiryú Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • Lt. Tadashi Kaneko, Shōkaku Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • Lt. Masao Satō, Zuikaku Fighter Squadron, first attack wave
  • PO1c Tetsuzō Iwamoto, Zuikako Fighter Squadron, patrol during the first attack wave
  • Lt. Saburō Shindō, Akagi Fighter Squadron, second attack wave
  • PO1c Yoshikazu Nagahama, Kaga Fighter Squadron, second attack wave
  • c/n 3277, Lt. Fusata Iida, Sōryū Fighter Squadron, second attack wave
  • c/n 2266, PO1c Shigenori Nishikaichi, Hiryū Fighter Squadron, second attack wave
  • PO1c Yukuo Hanzawa, Shōkaku Fighter Squadron, patrol during the second attack wave

 

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Decals are by Eduard, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  There is a separate page dedicated to the stencil locations that are shown on a set of grey profiles to avoid cluttering the colour profiles.

 

Upgrade Sets

 

 

 

Conclusion

This is a great piece of news for anyone interested in WWII Japanese naval aviation, and brings Eduard’s renowned level of skill and detail to the subject, kicking it up to the maximum.  Watch out for some additional aftermarket sets from Eduard for those that aren’t satisfied with excellent detail and want incredible detail.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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