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A6M3 Zero Type 32 ProfiPACK (82213) 1:48


Mike

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A6M3 Zero Type 32 ProfiPACK (82213)

1:48 Eduard

 

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The Zero was the direct successor to the diminutive A5M Claud 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 at the hands of the American aviators.

 

The Type 32 ran an improved version of the Sakai engine that used a 2-stage compressor to increase power, but its increased weight required the shortening of the fuselage, the complete redesign of the cowling and forward fuselage, and shortening of the wings, which took on a squarer profile.  The speed was increased, but the more thirsty engine reduced the range, which gave them a short career in carrier-borne operations, after which they were withdrawn to provide point-defence for airfields or other strategically important areas.  Toward the end of the war there were further 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 partial re-tooling of the stunning new issue from Eduard, and it has been given the same duty of care that they lavished on the previous boxing of the Pearl Harbour era Zero, their earlier Bf.109G, the Spitfire and Mustang kits, making a highly-detailed, totally modern model kit that has blown many of the ageing competition out of the water in this scale.  It arrives in a well-stocked top-opening box with a Zero engaging with a P-38 Lightning on the cover, and some profiles of the decal options on the side.  Inside are four sprues in two resealable bags, a clear sprue in a Ziploc bag, a pre-painted Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in another Ziploc bag, a sheet of kabuki tape masks for the external glazing (not pictured) in yet another bag, three decal sheets and a rather thick instruction booklet with five pages of profiles for the marking options and one for the stencils.

 

If you’ve been following this kit you’ll know that it has exceptional detail on the sprues, and it goes together like their recent Wildcat kit, and is a joy to build – I really will have to get around to finishing my earlier Tora Tora boxing.  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 of the ProfiPACK edition should go, as well as calling out detail painting in their preferred Gunze Sangyo codes.

 

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Construction begins with the revised 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 with scrap diagrams helping with arrangement, and attached to the fuselage frame by a pair of brackets that is joined by an adjuster with an optional 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 machine guns added to a shaped part that slots into holes at the front of the cockpit.  All of these sub-assemblies fit beautifully together, making for a strong assembly once everything is glued together.  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 top fuselage 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 new lower wing half with its squared off tips 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 and end walls, 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 below them and everything is glued in place.  A pair of clear wingtip lights and styrene ailerons are added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail added to the centre trailing wing root’s interior should look once completed, and a small insert with circular PE grille is placed inside the belled housing at the front.  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 ailerons, a tapered head cushion for the pilot, which is scalloped to improve the view aft.

 

The model is looking like a Zero now, minus the nose, which is next to be made up.  Both banks of pistons of the Nakajima Sakae 21 radial engine are present, plus a fan of rods front and rear, with a two-part reduction gear bell-housing at the front, plus the wiring harness ring around it.  This fits on a stepped ring that glues to the tapered front of the fuselage plus a collector ring for the exhausts, then the cowling is built up from two halves with an insert that creates the gun troughs, and is completed by the intake lip that is fitted to the lip at the front.  The intake trunk is applied to the inside of the top of the cowling, and that also contains the gun troughs that project from the sloped front of the cowling.  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 perforated 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 a crew-step under the port edge of the wing-root fairing.  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 two-layer 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 upstanding lights 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

5 markings options are included on the decal sheet as usual with ProfiPACK boxings, with a bit of variation to please a wider audience.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Ldg. Sea. Kenji Yanagiya, Kōkūtai 204, Rabaul Base, New Britain, April 1943
  • C/n 3018, Tainan Kōkūtai, Buna Airfield, New Guinea, August 1942
  • PO1c Kyoshi Itō, 3. Kōkūtai, Koepang Airfield, Timor Island, September 1942
  • Zuikaku Fighter Sqn., Aircraft Carrier Kuikaku, October 1942
  • CPO Takeo Tanimizu, Tainan Kōkūtai (II), Tainan Airbase, Taiwan, September 1944

 

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The decals are printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The stencils are on a separate sheet, and are marked on a page of the booklet, separate from the rest of the markings to avoid confusion from trying to read overly busy diagrams.  You also get a sheet of kabuki-style masking tape that has been pre-cut to fit the individual panes of the canopy, plus masks for the three wheels and the wingtip lights.

 

Don’t forget that as of 2021, the carrier film from Eduard decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier-free, making the decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the film.  It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view.

 

 

Conclusion

This is a great kit for anyone interested in WWII Japanese naval aviation, and brings Eduard’s renowned level of skill and detail to this slightly later variant, providing close to maximum detail out of the box.  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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