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Lukasz Sowa
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Mitsubishi A6M2b (Model 21) – 1:72

August 17, 2015 · in Aviation · · 30 · 2.1K

Mitsubishi A6M2b (Model 21) - Akagi Carrier, Lead ship of Carrier Div. 1, flown by Lt. Saburo Shindo, Air Superiority Force, 2nd Strike Unit - Dec, 1941.

The kit: 1:72

I think Zeke needs no presentation, but let me drop a few facts about the aircraft I decided to built focusing also on the pilot.

The A6M2b - Model 21 was the first mass-production variant built for carrier use. The Model 21 was one of the most produced versions early in the war. When the lines switched to updated models, 740 Model 21s had been completed by Mitsubishi, and another 800 by Nakajima.

The aircraft presented (AI-102) belonged to Lt. Saburo Shindo (1911-2000) - one of few Japanese naval fighter pilots who survived the war. He'd distinguished himself in China in 1940 but later he was one of the squadron leaders in the initial attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and is credited with sending the infamous "Tora, Tora, Tora" message, indicating that the surprise attack was a success. He also participated in the battle against the USA in 1942, shooting down several Wildcats, however he was never assigned the "ace" title.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor the Shindo's squadron was responsible for escorting B5N2 bombers. After the bomber attack, his squadron, joined by fighters from the Kaga carrier, attacked the Hickam airfield targeting planes, offices, technical buildings and ground crews.

The single red stripe on the fuselage is a carrier identification mark - in this case Akagi, and the two yellow stripes on the vertical stabiliser denote Shindo's plane as a squadron leader.

The kit:
The Tamiya kit is brilliant, well fitting parts with great detail. Building the model is fairly easy and it needed little amendments, however I had some problems with painting it. To cut my story short, I decided to use this model as a training kit to learn some weathering techniques - it was my first attempt at semi-heavy weathering. Consequently, due to lack of skills I had to repaint it and start from scratch but the lessons I'd learnt were worth it. The final result is far from perfect but I decided to leave it as a decent model in my small WW2 collection.

I will appreciate your comments.

P.S. Now I'm working on a small diorama with the BMW R-75 motorcycle in 1:35 but since I always work on two projects at the same time and I'm into 1:72 aircraft I have two kits to choose from, they were both given to me for my birthday back in April: Blenheim from my wife and Focke-Wulf from my son 🙂 Feel free to help me decide in the comments on what to go for next 😉 Cheers.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

2 additional images. Click to enlarge.

30 responses

  1. Beautiful rendition ...and in 72nd scale to boot! Nice work, my friend.

  2. Lukasz, Very nice modeling. I like the way you weathered her up.
    Now I do have to vote for the Blenheim.
    California Steve

  3. Yes very nice model and thanks for the interesting background information.

    I am with Steve and would choose the Blenheim, although it would be a tough choice, but it is more uncommon.

  4. 🙂 ... Greetings ... 🙂 :
    Very nice looking ZERO, and a very good back ground report.
    The weathering gives it a nice touch, very good work.

  5. Cool looking Zero, Lukasz, very neat work, which is especially necessary in this scale. I'd go for the Blenheim as well.

  6. I only build 1/72 and like the result you got from this kit! Very nice work.

    I also vote for the Blenheim - you just don't see many of them, and you see lots of 190's! I look forward to seeing either of them finished (and eventually, both!).

  7. Hi Lukasz, good work on the Zero. I'd have to echo Greg's comments and vote for the Blenheim as your next build. We definitely need to see more of those posted online!

    • Thanks Marek, the Blenheim is getting ready, however due to my second project ongoing and lack of free time, it may take some time but of course I'll post the pics as soon as it's finished. Cheers 🙂

  8. The following is said to help, so don't take it as anything negative. One thing about weathering is to learn to research the airplane. It's now well-known that the IJN Zeros aboard the carriers at Pearl Harbor, and throughout the Pacific War in 1942, were immaculate - in fact IJN carrier based aircraft throuht the war were noticeably clean (which makes ssense, given they weren't flown like those ashore). The Model 21 airplanes actually came from the factory in a gloss finish, since that was more resistant to weathering. The Model 21s didn't start to get "beat up" till they were land-based in the South Pacific.

    That said, the kind of weathering you have done here would be appropriate in an airplane at Rabaul in 1942-43 after the Guadalcanal campaign began.

    Weathering is one of those things that "tells the story" of the airplane modeled. Too many people don't research and overdo it, but if you do take the time to figure out the story you want to tell, weathering can be fantastic.


    • Tom, I totally agree with you. It's my mistake, but I just decided to play with some weathering and I wasn't sure about the final effect - just learning. I used wash, some hairspray, chipping techniques. But you are right. I can only assume the Shindo's plane is now coming back after the attack 😉 Next time I'll pay greater attention to photos and plane history. Thank you.

    • Tom: a question; I've found comments on the use of aotake color for Zero gear doors and wheel wells...that aotake is appropriate only for Nakajima a/c...sooo how does one ID a Nakajima build vs. a Mitsubishi build if kit or decal sheets don't mention a/c manufacturers? Thank you for considering my question.

      • Bert, rule of thumb on the green uppers, gray lowers Zero scheme is the fuselage paint line. Mitsubishi built Zekes have a straight line seperaton between the upper green and lower gray.

        Nakajimas raises up to meet the horizontal tail in a curve.

        That's without getting into the supposed different shades used by both manufacturers externally and in the cockpits and wheel wells.

        That's the best I can do, given interpreting black and white photos from the time.

        Others, as they say, may and probably do know more!

  9. Great build and background info.

    As for your next project, my vote goes to the FW190.
    Cheers mate!

  10. Looks great Lukasz. I have the Blenheim in stash, but I may build it as a Bolingbroke. CanMilAir has a decal set.

    • I'm not sure but compared to Mk1 is Bolingbroke only a marking difference? I still have a monograph to read before getting down to it so I have little knowledge of the variants so far, but I think I'll keep to the RAF version from 1941 (Malaysia) offered by Airfix. It looks really good with the camo and black belly (I can assume they were used at night often). Anyway, I'm really excited to see your Bolingbroke. Thanks Phil.

      • Lucas, the Bolingbroke was a Canadian modification of the Blenheim, and (visually, as least) the engines and cowling are different. When the Airfix (new) Mk IV came out, there was some online discussion about the nacelles being Bolingbroke-ish.
        If I had to guess, one of the Canadian firms might do an actual conversion, or perhaps a request to their IPMS site (or the folks here) might get you some suggestions.

  11. Yep, cool looking Zero! Good work Lukasz!

  12. Excellent build, a fine example, that 1/72 are on par with bigger scale kits, when build well.
    And happy modelling with your new kits, Lukasz. Did the 190 last year, beside some crude small parts a little gem.

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