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1/32 Tamiya A6M2 Zero: Build Part: 2 Painting Phase

This is the 2nd article regarding my build of the Tamiya 1/32 Zero. The 1st article covered aspects of the basic kit, along with photo’s illustrating my progress on the highly detailed cockpit assembly with fuselage halves. Since then I have built all the flying surfaces and attached to fuselage, and attached all parts that needed to be painted in the base color Tamiya IJN Grey/Green.

I masked and installed the Canopy sections temporarily attaching the sliding canopy so that the cockpit did not need to be masked off. The Canopy sections fit like a glove and needed no filler, as expected. I also assembled the internal main gear retraction mechanism, and the movable gear doors, and installed on the main wing assembly. The main wing assembly was attached to the fuselage with no issues, and a perfect fit. No filler was needed, again as expected.

Now, regarding the control surfaces, and landing gear doors. Tamiya really did not think these parts through and the inclusion of these parts and the associated assemblies really drive this kit from an easy build to a more complicated, and frustrating process. I spent hours on parts that should of been completed in 15mins. The gear door hinges made of metal wire are very fiddly and a huge PIA. After all the work, and some success, the gear doors separated from the wing wheel wells. The design just does not allow for a sturdy assembly and will fail with the smallest of movements. So at that point I removed all the movable gear doors for latter attachment when I will permanently install so they are sturdy and not movable. This issue will make the whole retractable mechanisms pointless.

The control surfaces also suffer from poor design and parts that are not correctly designed. Basically the steel hinges made of Photo-Etch are slightly to wide to allow the control surfaces halves to sandwich them in when closing. It leaves a gap at the hinge points and requires significant trimming of the steel hinge points which requires a steel file. Due to their small size this task was highly frustrating. The whole design of the elevators are poor and just do not operate correctly even after you fit the hinge points. The assembly of other control surfaces are very fiddly, and need high level of patience. After some time I did install these and they should move as designed, but not the elevators.

Next came time to apply base paint. The overall color of this Zero is IJN Grey Green over the entire aircraft. I used Tamiya IJN Grey Green which is a good match for this color. I am a big fan of pre-shading using varies strategies. In order to break up the mono-chromatic appearance of this paint job I pre-shade not only panel lines, but many of the rivet lines. I also apply various colors/shades in a cloudy pattern sporadically over the aircraft, and sometimes softly color in a whole panel or section. I use very thinned paint mixtures to accomplish this. I try to use a cloudy pattern with the pre-shade applications in order to reduce sharp contrast changes, or sharp color changes which ruin the effect and require more base paint to blend it all in. In this build I used Panzer Grey, Med Camo Brown, and White as pre-shading colors. I then blend the whole thing in with very thinned base paint color.

The included pictures will show the various stages of this process. They will show the basic pre-shade pattern, then more and more of the panels being filled in by the other pre-shade colors. It will also show the 1st light coat of base paint over the pre-shading, then the final appearance after several more coats of base paint are applied. I blend until the different shades/lines are barely visible in a bright light environment.

Next steps will include all weathering, decals, and final painting. I also need to assemble the entire engine and main landing gear assemblies. Stay tune for more on that stage.

20 additional images. Click to enlarge.


8 responses to 1/32 Tamiya A6M2 Zero: Build Part: 2 Painting Phase

  1. Paul,
    Not many take time and effort to share their own building process so extensively as you’re doing here.
    Interesting pre-shading technique. I’ve seen another modeller that uses swirls and blotches to achieve the same goal, breaking the monochromatic look of one tone camouflages.
    I just use the basic black or grey preshading to enhance panels and texture, and white blotches when I aim for some sun faded paint. But a model that big deserves some extra attention, I’m sure the end result will be awesome

  2. Paul, that is some intricate shading you’re doing. I admire your patience and craftsmanship.

  3. Given that you painted the cockpit Mitsubishi Cockpit Green (the real name of the Tamiya color), you have a Mitsubishi-built airplane. It should have the wheel wells and gear doors (inside and out) painted the surface color.

  4. Great stuff ya got goin’ on there, my friend. Gonna be a winner, I can tell. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing your wonderful preshading technique. I will try it next build. Looks wonderful.

  6. Paul, I see a problem. You’d better check your paint as it seems to be getting moldy! What?? It looks that way on purpose? Oh … never mind. (Think: Miss Emily Litella)

    Seriously, thanks for telling us how you do your wonderfully painted builds. I’m new to the business of airbrushing … my new compressor arrived only a couple days ago, so having an accomplished painter such as yourself is a great experience for me. I shall be trying things soon, I hope.

    • LOL! Great that u r getting that compressor. Dont be afraid to try something..well its OK to be afraid but still do it. I am nervous every-time I try new build b/c I am always incorporating new techniques and ideas. I manage the risk meaning I try new things but I only go as far as I need to with a way out if I screw up. “I ask myself if I try this can I fix it if I dont like it?”. Most of the time for me its trial and error….I sometimes arrive at a finish not knowing how I got there. Problem is how to do it again…or how to do it with a different color but same effect. Please ask me if u have any questions but really not a lot of wrong or right b/c its really an art. Watch 100 YouTube videos..thats what I do.

  7. Exquisite paint work. Like Jeff, I just recently acquired a compressor and airbrush – still waiting to get a spray booth set up – but good articles like this will really help!!

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