Sunday, 24 June 2012

Flying Heritage Collection A6M3 Model 22

Courtesy of Jim Bates come these splendid views of the Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 22 Zero. The scheme has attracted controversy. This is not because of the overall amber-tinted grey base colour which is held to be close to the original but because of the representation of the field-applied camouflage green - 'tiger stripe', 'snake weave', 'palm frond' etc., scheme. This has been commented on as too contrived and unrealistic. Not having seen a real A6M3 in this camouflage but going only by (some) distant, grainy, monochrome wartime shots I wouldn't want to judge. From these photos, especially the taxiing away shot, I think it doesn't look so bad and perhaps it will mellow with use. For me the most illusion destroying aspect is the pilot's ridiculous headgear - yeah, I know, health & safety etc., etc. But if I was privileged to fly this warbird I think I might want to emulate the anti-sartorial rakishness of a real IJN pilot, white silk scarf a-billowing and furry ear flaps flapping in the slipstream!

The aircraft also features briefly in the latest edition of Aeroplane magazine (August 2012) where it is being touted as representing a 'field-modified two seater' but also, interestingly, the base colour is referred to as 'caramel-grey-green'. Maybe the Zero colour tide is slowly turning. Another interesting aspect is how different the colour appears in various photographs and, one suspects, in real life under different forms of illumination.

Image credits:- © 2012 Jim Bates, with thanks.


FalkeEins said...

Hi Nick,

is it the 'overall' that's causing controversy rather than the 'hemp' shade..?

Ken Glass said...

Hello Nick,

Thanks for posting the photos.

Ken Glass

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Hi Falkeins

No, it's just the style and application of the camouflage green! The overall base colour is correct.


Anonymous said...

It looks like a Mig 15 :)

dknights said...

Nice photos by Jim.

Skyraider3D said...

I can appreciate they didn't want to paint the camo with brooms! :)

Things that look a little odd to me are the cowling shape and the tail wheel placement (lower than normal). But perhaps I am seeing things that aren't there? The tail wheel may actually be a modification for trainers to improve over-the-nose vision?

Skyraider3D said...

PS. Unusual looks aside, isn't it simply fantastic to see this plane restored?! After their recent Sturmovik and Fw 190 A-5, it's a magnificent additional an already fabulous collection!

Andy said...

what a fugly sheme. why? just why?
realistic or not - therewould have been nicer possibilities.

and i so second your headgear comment:)

noel said...

Hello Nick; Thank You for posting these photos. I must admit that in looking at my reference books and articles, the finish on this Zero does not look too far off from published photos of Zeros active in the Solomon Islands in 1943. Keep up the good work! Kind regards, noel47

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting these interesting pics! Is it the same aircraft that was salvaged from Babo island and restored to airworthy condition in Russia in the 90's? I wonder whether it was originally built as A6M3 type 22?

Best regards,


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Hi Iskender

According to the Aeroplane feature this is the aircraft c/n 3852 salvaged from Babo and one of three A6M3 sent to Russia in 1994. I was reluctant to include such details as when it comes to the restoration history of warbirds there always seems to be differing narratives and I have been caught out before by trusting them!

The warbird industry lets us see these aircraft fly again, which is to be commended, but generally it is not very conducive to disciplined archeological research, often failing to properly record and/or make accessible original data before destroying it within the restoration process, especially when it comes to protective coatings and paint. Unfortunately some operators are positively hostile towards this aspect, in outcome if not intent, refusing to facilitate airframes to be properly examined and documented before their integral data is lost forever.


Iskender said...


You are right, properly documented restoration projects could have solved a lot of mysteries, especially in case of Japanese aircraft...

Best regards,


AJay said...

I'm just happy to see a restored A6M3 - well done, guys!