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Hasegawa 1/48 A6M2 Zero

The A6M "" was a long-range carrier-based fighter aircraft operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945.

Combining excellent maneuverability and very long range, it is considered to have been the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II. It was also used as a land-based fighter by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS).

In early combat operations, the Zero gained a reputation as a vivid dogfighter, achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on generally equal terms.

By 1943, the Zero was less effective against newer Allied fighters due to design limitations, lacking, among others, hydraulic boosting for its ailerons and rudder, rendering it extremely difficult to maneuver at high speeds.

By 1944, with Allied fighters approaching the A6M levels of maneuverability and consistently exceeding its firepower, armor and speed, the A6M had largely become outdated as a fighter aircraft.

However, as design delays and production difficulties hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft models, the Zero continued to serve in a front-line role until the end of the war in the Pacific. During the final phases, it was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations. 10,939 were built, more than any other model of combat aircraft during the war.

Sub-Lieutenant Saburō Sakai (25 August 1916 – 22 September 2000) was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

By official Japanese records Sakai had 28-64 aerial victories (including shared), however some diligent historians have estimated that Sakai’s actual tally probably was more like 15.

On 8 August 1942 he was seriously wounded after his skull was penetrated by a SBD-3 machine-gun bullet.

Upon returning and blind in one eye, he insisted on making his mission report before accepting medical treatment! This wound left a permanent partial blindness, which, together with his “militarist” heritage, would prevent him from returning to military service after the war, so he started a printing business.

Sakai was not reluctant to speak out against Japanese militarism.

He wrote numerous books that were controversial in Japan, owing to his criticism of Emperor Hirohito, who cooperated with the “militarists”, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, for flawed strategy in dispersing his forces. Sakai also decried the kamikaze program as brutally wasteful of young lives.

A recurring topic in Sakai’s conversations was leadership, as the IJN relied heavily upon non-commissioned aircrew, often commanded by relatively inexperienced officers, with the Japanese aces taking pains to look out for the good leaders while sometimes ignoring the other kind.

Whereas Sakai’s public statements were resented by many, including a number of Zero veterans, he nevertheless was a gifted pilot and a person with a contained personality, by no means reluctant to raise his own voice.

The Zero needs no introduction: superseded by the "latest and greatest" Eduard, it is still a good, solid kit of the famous Mitsubishi fighter, offering a simple and enjoyable build.

I had always wanted to build one of the planes that were attributed to Saburo Sakai, so, what better opportunity than building one as a combo build within the , with a great friend, John Vd Biggelaar @johnb!
It was a pleasure and an honor to build together!
Build thread is here:
https://imodeler.com/groups/the-empire-of-japan-1919-1946/forum/topic/combo-a6m-zero-build-spiros-build-of-saburo-sakai-and-johns-build-of-hiyo-fighter-group/


Should you wish to read the full build review, you might do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness:
https://modelingmadness.com/review/axis/j/jnaf/fighter/pena6m.htm
Happy modeling!

42 responses

  1. Sakai's statements about the war match well with what I've read in Herbert Bix's excellent 'Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan'.

  2. Lis said on June 9, 2022

    he became a Buddhist after the war and said he wouldn't even kill a mosquito anymore ... Great build!

  3. @fiveten

    Honest build review Spiros. It’s a fact that the level of detail of this kit doesn’t match that of Eduard model, it’s still a very buildable and decent kit, particularly in its general forms.

    However, asides form a good occasional bargain, the price tag Hasegawa asks for it is “au pair” with the Profipack box of Eduard, which clearly offers more for each euro spent.

    That said many, including your friend here, have this kit in the stash, and like you so aptly show here, it’s a kit to build and enjoy 🙂

    Thanks for posting this beauty Spiros

    • Thanks so much, my friend @holzhamer! Indeed, the roughly $15 that I gave for this kit, back in mid-2000s (where no Eduard Zero existed) seemed an extremely good bargain. And it was brand new, bought from the then Hasegawa official Greek representative shop in Athens. And it was the Saburo Sakai boxing! An offer I could not refuse...

  4. Nice model and article Spiros. I am in awe of your production rate.

  5. Great presentation of Sakai's Zero, Spiros @fiveten
    The weathering stands out very nice.
    I learned a lot from your progress in our combo build.

  6. I like this one a lot, Spiros. More proof that you don’t need the newest kit to make a great model.

  7. Another great one, Spiros! Nice narrative as well.

  8. An excellent model - Saburo was indeed a maverick and a rather admirable individual. He was also known for sticking up for enlisted men if they were bullied.

  9. Dear Spiros, one more of yours excellent art work.
    Great building details text at modelingmadness, that will be so usefull to build my 1/72 zero.
    Best regards.

  10. Spiros@fiveten - your text that accompanied the images of your Zero over at MM was very informative and well written - one of your best. Your M6M is no slouch either.

  11. Another one finished at SMW!

    Congratulations Spiros!

  12. Great story, goes well along the images of the model.

  13. G'day Spiros (@fiveten),
    Another great build.
    I enjoyed following the build log, too.
    I have Sabro's biography on my bookshelf and I can remember reading it decades ago.
    I've also seen one of his aircraft in the flesh - it is at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra:
    https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/REL%3A08378?image=1
    Attached is a photo I took in 2019.
    Liked!

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  14. Poli orea Zero, @fiveten! Having the Airfix Zero still on my workbench, i followed your groupbuild with great interest!

  15. Another nice one! I like the way you weathered it up - breaks up that monochromatic scheme.

  16. I've always thought the Zero was a beautiful airframe. Yours looks great, I've only ever built the Monogram kit 🙂

  17. Well done Spiros! I agree with John Healy; you don't need the latest model of anything to make a great finished product. I have an old Fujimi A6M2 in my stash that
    I fully intend on building. No doubt with care and attention to detail, it will look just fine. I really enjoyed reading the background on Sakai, I knew who he was but not much beyond his service record.

  18. Beautiful job and great details of one of my favorite plans.
    Very well done, sir!

  19. This one almost slipped by without commenting. Well done, Spiros.

  20. Spiros, @fiveten
    Your articles are getting better and better with each new posting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I learned a few things along the way. I saw it posted in the headlines over at M2 a few days ago, and it looks fantastic no matter where it is on display. QC1 and QC2 are doing their job VERY well and they deserve some ice cream for your Zero. This is one of my favorite builds of yours.

    I'm glad the color information I provided was of help to you. I have two of the new Eduard kits, but have yet to build them, due to various reasons, none of which have anything to do with the actual model. In fact I am looking forward to building them up, I just don't have a 36 hour work day at the moment.

    I completely agree with you about these Hasegawa A6M's. They build up very nicely, and other than the main wheel plug insert on the lower wing, these are still a very nice and fun to build model.

    Two thumbs up and I checked the Like button. 🙂

    • Thanks my friend @lgardner! Not only your color advice, but also your general support is second to none. Let alone the fact that you created the ever growing and utterly succesful Empire of Japan GB, among the other equally succesful GBs you have created.

      Well, I wish your day had 36 hours, since yiur build threads and your final results here are superb!

      QC1and QC2 are my constant assistants 🙂 ...

      ...provided, of course, the ice cream is at constant supply 🙂

  21. Very nice build of the former gold standard for A6M2 series.

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