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The Prodigal Scale Modeler

This is the first model I’ve finished in 15 years. To my credit, the last one I finished, a super-detailed 1/20 Tamiya Tyrrell P-34, won a 1st in category and a special award at the 2005 IPMS Nationals in Atlanta Georgia. But that was also the year my son was born, and many of you know how that goes. Then in 2010 my daughter was born, leaving me even less time for hobbies. I didn’t go cold turkey for a decade and a half – I would periodically pull something from a box and spend a little time fiddling with it. But I hadn’t actually finished anything.

I’m not sure what prompted my return last January, but I picked up where I’d left off about ten years ago – working through a serious Japanese aircraft thing. This is the Hasegawa A6M2 Model 21 in 1/48 scale. It’s not quite as nice as the new Tamiya Rei-sen toolings, but it’s still an excellent kit. Plus Tamiya has yet to release the new-tool A6M2 foreshadowed by some of the extra parts in the Model 22/Model 52 kits. Plus Hasegawa pretty much owns the zero in 1/48 right now – offering kits of everything from the 12-Shi prototypes to the A6M8 (if you can find it). They even have the A6M2-N and A6M2-K.

I’ve long regarded the A6M2 as the most elegant Zero, and I wanted to build an aircraft from Operation Hawaii. This Model 21, AI-101, was assigned to the 1st Koku Sentai aboard the Akagi, and was flown by Tadao Kimura during the second attack wave. The best research I found showed that this aircraft did not have the yellow command stripes on the vertical stabilizer. Paints are mostly Tamiya acrylics, thinned about 50/50 with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner (LOVE that stuff). I used both pre and post shading, and kept weathering to a minimum as these aircraft were fairly new and were meticulously maintained. The tail code, nose and gear cover numbers and data stencil are spares from a re-release of the old Tamiya A6M2, with the wing-walk markings and remaining stencils coming from an Aeromaster sheet. The hinomarus and fuselage band were masked and airbrushed. The aotake is a mixture of Tamiya clear blue and clear green, thinned with clear gloss, then further thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner and sprayed over aluminum.

The cockpit is mostly out-of-box, with Eduard belts, scratch-built seat frame and O2 bottles, and a spare throttle quadrant from the new Tamiya A6M5. Exhausts are aluminum tubing. The cannon muzzles are steel hypodermic tubing (as is the drain tube running through the oil cooler intake) and the machine gun barrels are brass castings by Master. Ignition harness and brake lines were added with solder, and the pitot was made from telescoping aluminum tube.

All in all, I’m very happy with it. I figured I’d be a bit rusty, but it came out better than I’d expected after so many fallow years.

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.


10 responses to The Prodigal Scale Modeler

  1. Great build, with very nice paint work. Welcome back. There are many of us Prodigal Modelers, due to life and all its events. Seems we are always welcomed back with open arms.

  2. This is an absolutely amazing Zero, Steven.
    Spotless build, excellent painting and fine, subtle weathering.
    Looks like the fifteen years of absence had no effect on your modeling qualities.
    Well done and welcome aboard!

  3. See? It IS like riding a bicycle! 🙂

    Very nice result. You’re right about Hasegawa “owning” the Zero.

    One minor bit of knowledge that came out while you were “living life” is that the Pearl Harbor Zeros were glossy (an easy fix if you care to do it). You intuited right about them being unworn, since the oldest among them was only 5-6 months.

  4. Wow, a Zero without chips! Just kidding, Steven, welcome back to this hobby, very neat looking plane, I didn’t realise there were so many variations of the Zero. Love to see a picture of your Tyrrell by the way.

  5. Gorgeous work! Love the A6M-2 as well! I am itching to get another kit completed- had a run of parent care in this most recent period, along with massive amounts of work from work (I am a teacher) and taking care of my immediate family in my home….
    Nice to see kits get finished, and finished well. congrats on a great build!

  6. Welcome back Steven ! This From a hopeless amateur that is making a comeback from kid stuff compared to what we aspire to today.
    Thanks for the formulas and clues. Very much appreciated. This community is so Helpful and supportive to all contributors.
    Thank you.

  7. Welcome back to the modelling, Steven.
    For sure you started with an excellent build.
    This Zero shows that you absolutely have not lost any of your skills.
    I also started building again after a ‘break’ of 35 years and must say that this community has helped me a lot and still is. So much new techniques to learn.

  8. Welcome back! Looks great.

  9. Beautifully done Zero!

  10. Beautiful work, and welcome back to the fold!!

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