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Best 1/72 Japanese Zero kit


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Hello all, my 13 year-old neighbour is looking for a decent 1/72 Zero kit. He has built Airfix's 1/72 Brewster Buffalo, but hasn't painted it. I understand the Airfix Starter Kit Zero is rather poor, so I was thinking what is fairly easy to put together but relatively cheap? TIA guys!

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Hasegawa is the best, you might be able to find some of their older releases fairly cheaply if you look around. The Academy is cheap, if the enthusiasts are a little sniffy it's certainly well ahead of the prediluvian Airfix. There's also the HobbyBoss, cheap and fairly simple but I've no idea of the accuracy - I doubt that matters from what you say.

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yes, you're right Graham, it is more about fit than anything! A bit of detail would be nice, but he's only a starter really, so it's probably best that there isn't too much detail!

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Depends which version you want - the Zero being like the 109 a generic for a family of variants. But if it is to "combat" the Buffalo then I guess an early version.

The best early version (A6M2) is undoubtedly Fine Molds but expensive and not easy to acquire. The Hasegawa model is next, but the revised series currently available (or not) rather than the older, rivet encrusted issues. Sadly there are no good, cheap and readily available A6M2 kits in 1/72nd scale but in 1/48th there is the Pegasus kit, rather nice at the price.

The Airfix suffers from a bad canopy and a cowling that doesn't fit without surgery but otherwise is do-able - and probably easier to find than anything else.

For a later version A6M5c the Academy is not bad and a recent Japanese article had the Hobby Boss holding up well too. But those versions didn't fight the Buffalo, except possibly in mock combat in Japan.

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  • 10 years later...

Dear All,

apologies for the monumental thread revival, but I'm wanting to build a couple of early Zeros and wondered, @Nick Millman, if the Fine Molds A6M2 is still the best (but presumably almost impossible to find now?) in 1/72 scale? How does the current Airfix kit fare in comparison? I've read build threads by @Navy Bird and @Si2 both of which suggest its a nice kit that goes together well with the minimum of fuss. Which is the most accurate in shape and dimensions?

Thanks for any advice or pointers!
Kind regards,

Mark

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Ha - an interesting resurrection of a vintage thread, LOL. The Zero landscape has certainly changed in 10 years! There is now such a wide selection of good 1/72 A6M kits, that one might make different choices depending on your goals for the build. 

 

The FM and Tamiya kits are the best in the technical sense of accuracy and detailing, and I believe each covers the four main production variants (A6M2, A6M3 long and short wing, A6M5). The only accuracy gripe I've seen about any of these is the odd skinny cowl in the FM A6M5. FM wins for sheer quantity of detail - the cockpits in particular are incredible - but are pricey, hard to find, and a fiddly build. But Tamiya is cheaper, much easier to find, more simply engineered, and also fully detailed. Hard to go wrong with any of those kits.

 

At this point I would take Academy off the list. The cowl and canopy shapes seem suspect to my eye, not worth fixing in light of the competition.

 

The Airfix A6M2 has good accuracy and detail, is easy to find, inexpensive, and simple to build. For a fun short-term project or for a younger modeler, a fine choice.

 

I remain a fan of the Hasegawa kits. Yes, the cockpit and wheel well detail are poor by current standards. But they are accurate, crisply molded, build well, can usually be found inexpensively with a little searching, and make the widest range of variants. No one else offers the late A6M5c or A6M8 variants, or the elegant A6M2-N floatplane. So if you don't need a hyper-detailed contest vehicle, or want a selection of variants with the same "hand" to the look, still a very good choice.

Edited by MDriskill
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Add me to the Tamiya fan club, along with Chris, MDriskill, and Chuck. The versions they have released so far are the best in scale for fit and detail; as good as the new-tool Hasegawa and Fine Molds kits are, the Tamiya kits are even better. I have all of the ones they have released so far, as well as the Fine Molds and Hasegawa kits, and the Tamiya kits are superior and  cheaper. So far they have released:

A6M2b

A6M3/3a

A6M5

A6M3

 

Each one is currently in stock and lists for 8,51 GBP from Hobbylink Japan.

 

As MDriskill has stated, there is no Tamiya Rufe, but the floats and ventral skeg from a Hasegawa or JoHan kit can be fitted to the Tamiya A6M2b kit. For the A6M5c, Hasegawa would be the kit of choice- I agree with the stated faults of the Academy kit and would also add it has excessive wing dihedral. IIRC, one of the aftermarket firms has announced a resin conversion to do a 1/72 Rufe, but I don't recall who it was-sorry!

 

Hope this information will be useful.

Mike

Edited by 72modeler
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JoHan Rufe has wingspan problem. Wingspan when compared to other kits is right on the mark of  A6M5. I used a spare wing from model 22 from Hasegawa A6M3 model 22/32 kit suitably corrected (flaps are one rib short - corrected by using Eduard PE flaps).

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Thank you, @dogsbody, @MDriskill, @72modeler and @TISO, for the info!

I'm looking for greatest accuracy of shape and detail, so to sum up:

Best: Fine Molds

2nd: Tamiya

3rd: Hasegawa

4th: Airfix

Would it be fair to say that the range of Tamiya kits are the best bet from an accuracy and availability standpoint? Or how about the Hasegawa kits if the interior etc is upgraded with etched or resin AM parts?

Thanks again and best regards,

Mark

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I can't argue with the notion that Tamiya is overall the best thing going at the moment as far as little Zeros are concerned! Absolutely beautiful, trouble-free kits. I've read more than one online article that said something to the effect of, "this is the best 1/72 kit I've ever built."

 

Interesting that you mention "upgrading" the Hasegawa interior. Check out this post by one of my personal "modeling heroes," Jeff Groves (aka "InchHigh"). He built FM and Tamiya kits, and then cast resin copies of their cockpit and wheel well bits to upgrade several Hasegawa kits. The result is a superb group of models that are hard to tell apart as far as overall quality.

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/72nd_aircraft/japanese-navy-aces-a6m-zero-batch-build-t9442.html

 

His post also serves as a very useful comparison of these three brands of kits, and a great tutorial on detailing and painting the Zero in 1/72.

Edited by MDriskill
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I'm working up a Tamiya A6M2b as the Akutan Zero, it's a splendid kit that could easily be a weekend build out of the box.  Mine is incomplete because reasons (adding rivets and painting it in the guise of a captured specimen, and not having a canopy masking set from the start) but that's mostly due to the builder not the kit.

 

I do think a canopy masking set is in order for a builder of any skill level, there's so much framing and it's a small structure.  Save your sanity!

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13 hours ago, MDriskill said:

I can't argue with the notion that Tamiya is overall the best thing going at the moment as far as little Zeros are concerned! Absolutely beautiful, trouble-free kits. I've read more than one online article that said something to the effect of, "this is the best 1/72 kit I've ever built."

 

Interesting that you mention "upgrading" the Hasegawa interior. Check out this post by one of my personal "modeling heroes," Jeff Groves (aka "InchHigh"). He built FM and Tamiya kits, and then cast resin copies of their cockpit and wheel well bits to upgrade several Hasegawa kits. The result is a superb group of models that are hard to tell apart as far as overall quality.

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/72nd_aircraft/japanese-navy-aces-a6m-zero-batch-build-t9442.html

 

His post also serves as a very useful comparison of these three brands of kits, and a great tutorial on detailing and painting the Zero in 1/72.

Hi,

Many thanks for the additional info, it's hugely appreciated!

And apologies for not having replied sooner - I'm visiting my Mum this weekend for the first time since lockdown began: it's an internet black hole and connection is iffy at best....!

I think I'll most probably plump for the Tamiya route, although I haven't yet managed to follow your link to Jeff Groves' builds, which will have to wait until I'm back at home and I have WiFi access again!

Many thanks once again and kind regards,

Mark

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On 16/08/2020 at 07:36, Jackson Duvalier said:

I'm working up a Tamiya A6M2b as the Akutan Zero, it's a splendid kit that could easily be a weekend build out of the box.  Mine is incomplete because reasons (adding rivets and painting it in the guise of a captured specimen, and not having a canopy masking set from the start) but that's mostly due to the builder not the kit.

 

I do think a canopy masking set is in order for a builder of any skill level, there's so much framing and it's a small structure.  Save your sanity!

Hi @Jackson Duvalier,

Many thanks for your post and additional vote of confidence in the Tamiya kits!

Yours sounds like an interesting build - is there a WiP thread? My knowledge of Japanese types is still a bit limited, so I wasn't aware of this aircraft. Can I ask, is the kit missing rivet detail?

Thanks also for the advice re- the canopy masking - duly noted and will be acted upon! Sanity is already in short supply round my way.....

Kind regards,

Mark

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The best one, and easy to build are Tamiya's. I know what I'm saying - have already build eight. Am building A6M2 Model 11 from Fine Molds and it's very good. and more detailed in places. But for young modeller I'd go for Tamiya's. No fit issues. 

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Hi @DominikS,

That's brilliant, thank you! I think that's pretty much sold the Tamiya kits to me! Although I might see if I can find the Fine Molds Model 11 as I want to build a 12th Kokutai aircraft based in China.

As an aside, I've just received the Fine Molds A7M2 Reply, so I'm looking forward to that..... :)

Kind regards,

Mark

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I meant to add that I could do with knowing what differences there are between the A6M2 Model 11 and Model 21? By which I mean external differences that would be visible on a model!

The reason I ask is that the 12th Kokutai machines were, I believe, Model 11s, whereas the Tamiya kit is a Model 21 (in case I can't find the FM kit). Incidentally, I'm planning on using the H-Models decal set for this one.

Thanks for any advice!

Kind regards,

Mark

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I actually wanted to build a Tamiya Zero just because I heard it was such a beautifully engineered kit (it is).  I limit my builds to airplanes in US markings.  Because the particular Zero I'm modelling got captured by the Yanks and received a US Navy paint job, I could sneak it into the queue. Sometimes I just want a fun kit to build out of the box and not worry too much over, and an easy-to-build Tamiya kit in simple but rare markings hit the spot.  I'm sure someone more knowledgeable can help you with the finer points of the Zero in Japanese service.

 

Tamiya doesn't mould in lots of rivets, but I don't think they're really necessary in 1/72.  I just added them because I tend to overcomplicate simple things.  😏

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a few years ago i built 3 A6M2b's from different manufactures all at once...Airfix (new kit) Tamiya and Finemolds and they all were brilliant in my mind....the Finemolds one is well above the others in detail and goes together really well...the Tamiya one is a little more simplifies but still heaps of detail and is a dream to assemble...the Airfix one is down on the detail but i 1/72 it's not that bad and to be honest if i only wanted one i'd probably go for it as it goes together well in my mind and looks the part on the shelf

50235855061_2953dca4c0_b.jpg1623742_631304300240287_1115828496_n by paul sabin, on Flickr

the front one is the finmolds one...right is Tamiya and left is Airfix..

 

 

i know in some starter sets they were using the older kit from the 60's that is terrible.

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Four great kits as far I'm concerned, all of them are easy builds.

 

Airfix: Most bang for the buck. You can get them for a fiver regularly and they go together very well and look the part. Bit light on detail and panel lines quite soft though.

Hasegawa: Oldest of the bunch. Can be gotten cheaply as well. Also light on detail but much better panel lines than Airfix.

Tamiya: Great detail, fantastic panel lines, shake 'n bake to the max. Relatively expensive unless you get them for Japan directly.

FineMolds: Best detail. Slightly worse panel detail than Hasegawa. Quite expensive and hard to get a hold off.

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11 hours ago, 2996 Victor said:

I meant to add that I could do with knowing what differences there are between the A6M2 Model 11 and Model 21? By which I mean external differences that would be visible on a model!

The reason I ask is that the 12th Kokutai machines were, I believe, Model 11s, whereas the Tamiya kit is a Model 21 (in case I can't find the FM kit). Incidentally, I'm planning on using the H-Models decal set for this one.

Thanks for any advice!

Kind regards,

Mark

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_A6M_Zero#A6M2b_Type_0_Model_21

 

Folding wingtips, doubt that's visible on a 1/72 model, unless of course you actually fit them folded.

Edited by Vlad
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The Airfix kit has 'folding' wingtips, or rather it can be built with the tips extended or folded.

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