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A6M5b Zero Type 52 Otsu

by Ian Robertson


Mitsubishi A6M5b Zero


Hasegawa's 1/48 A6M5b Zero is available online from Squadron.com




I built Hasegawa's 1/48 A6M5 out of the box, and opted for a controversial but attractive two-tone camouflage scheme. At the time I started the model I was blissfully unaware that there was controversy regarding the existence of two-tone Zekes. As I learned more I was intrigued by the debate, although I remain as uncertain as ever about the colors.


A Tale of Two Colors

The best images of Zekes with two-tone upper surfaces were taken aboard a US carrier after the war, when the aircraft were being transported back to mainland America. From the black and white photos there is no doubt that the aircraft have two upper surface shades, light and dark. What is in doubt is whether these shades represent a camouflage scheme. A popular theory holds that these aircraft had collected a thick layer of dust while in storage after capture by US forces, and that while on the deck of the US carrier the aircraft were washed in areas to expose the hinomarus (better photos for the people back home perhaps?), thereby resulting in a two-tone appearance (i.e., clean and dingy).



Indeed, the photographs I have show that the darker shades of paint appear primarily around the hinomarus and tail codes. There is even a photograph of sailors washing down one of these aircraft to expose a darker, glossy finish! Thus, the two-tone scheme may represent clean and dingy patches, not light and dark camouflage. On the other hand, I also have an image purported to be Zekes lining a airfield in Saipan in which some aircraft appear to have a two-tone scheme on their wings. I’ll leave it up to the experts to debate - I just thought the two-tone scheme was a welcome departure from the usual dark green over gray JNAF camouflage. Besides, modelers of WWII aircraft are used to the possibility that their color choices will eventually be disproved…....or vindicated.



Hasegawa’s 1/48 Zekes are a pleasure to build. The only modifications I made to this model were in the form of details: thinning the fins on the centerline fuel tank, adding brake lines to the landing gear, replacing the kit’s loop antenna with a wire loop antenna, modifying the gun sight using clear acetate and spare photoetch crosshairs, and adding etched brass seatbelts.



The cockpit was painted in Polly Scale “Weyerhauser Green” (a model railroad color), which is a close match to AeroMaster’s Nakajima interior green. The seat was left in a bare metal finish (SnJ metallizer).



Painting and Markings


I first sprayed the completed model with SnJ aluminum metallizer. Once the metallizer dried I pre-shaded the panel lines with black. I then applied JNAF light grey to the undersurfaces, followed by JNAF dark green and a 3:1 mixture of JNAF dark green and RLM 02 (interior grey) for the lighter green areas. The cowl was painted blue-black, and the wheel wells and interior gear doors aotake (metallic blue-green). Apart from the metallizer, all painting was done using Polly Scale acrylics.

Medium and fine grain sandpaper was used to make surface abrasions and expose the SnJ aluminum beneath, particularly around the port entrance to the cockpit and the port wing root.


A coat of Model Master Metalizer sealer was used as a clear gloss coat prior to the application of decals. I used the kit’s decals with Microsol decal setting solution but no softeners. The markings are for an aircraft from the 261st Naval Flying Group. A coat of Model Master dull clear lacquer was applied once the decals had dried thoroughly. The antenna was made from stretched sprue.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 03 June 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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