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First Flight – Empire of Japan

Here’s the last of the four kits I finished this year – Hasegawa’s lovely Mitshubishi 12 Shi experimental fighter, a.k.a. the A6M1. The kit allows you to build either of the two prototypes. I built the first and decided to model it as it might have looked shortly after the beginning of the flight test program. Thus I did almost no weathering, and made it just a bit shiny. I also decided that armament testing likely wouldn’t have been conducted until after they made sure the thing could fly, so I deleted the cannons and machine guns, as well as the gun sight. There’s very little surviving documentation regarding either if the prototypes, but Hasegawa seems to have done their homework, determining, for example, that the carburetor intake often depicted as protruding above the cowling most likely wasn’t there, and that it likely used an intake positioned inside the cowl as had become the practice by that time. Surface detail was picked out with a wash of Tamiya Panel Line Accent. I made the exhausts with aluminum tube and added the pushrods on the Mitsubishi Zuisei that powered the two prototypes. Eduard seat belts enhanced the cockpit, as did a spare early-style throttle quadrant from a new Tamiya Zero kit which has parts for the as yet unreleased A6M2. The antenna wire is Uschi Van Der Rosten elastic rigging line. If you’re a fan of the Rei-sen and you’d like to build a (literally) unique example, you could do a lot worse than this kit.

10 additional images. Click to enlarge.


7 responses to First Flight – Empire of Japan

  1. Nice clean build. I’ve been tempted to buy that kit lately. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well researched and detailed, and good to see one without chips. Liked.

  3. Doing it “just a bit shiny” was good. It’s been discovered in recent years that, like USN Glossy Sea Blue, the IJN grey paint was gloss. Which makes sense since gloss holds up better to the shipboard environment.

    Nice work on this – you make me think of pulling out my kit of this model.

  4. Great model of the prototype, not often seen, Steven.
    Your work is, as usual, excellent.

  5. Looks great! The pair look nice together.

  6. Beautiful work on this one also, Steven.
    I like the way you build and paint your Japanese planes.
    That last picture is a very nice comparison.

  7. Your recent Japanese aircraft postings are all some very nice builds. I was so impressed with your Fine Molds 1/48 Ki-10 “Perry”, that I started building the one I have had in the stash for many years. I took full advantage of the 20% off sale they recently had for plastic kits at Sprue Brothers, and now I have this “prototype” A6M-1 sitting on the build pile too. It will soon be part of our Empire of Japan group build. If things work out tonight I’ll post up my 1/32 Hasegawa Ki-44. It seems we have similar taste with Japanese planes……. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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