William Nichols superb build of the excellent Tamiya 1/48th scale A6M3a Type 22 Zero deservedly won first place in both the Single Engined Axis 1/48 and Best World War II Non-Armor Subject classes at his modelling club's annual show. It is a popular subject lending itself to some of the more interesting Zero colour schemes, including the original factory finish with wing IFF strips, field camouflaged examples and the later standard camouflage scheme. He has very kindly shared details of his build together with photographs of the project under way and the finished model. The model was photographed by David Geldmacher, a fellow member of William's modelling club.
On the general construction of this kit William notes the following points:
- Align the tail pieces to the fuselage halves for best fit
- Attach the wingtips in this order:-
- Glue parts G8 & G9 to the top of the wing
- Align the wingtips to the upper wing
- Attach the lower wingtips after the bottom wing half is in place
- Align the gun ports to the top of the wing and fair in the bottoms
- Remove the back panel from kit part A41. This is the fire extinguisher control found on the Type 52.
- The right side wall is also for a type 52’s radio configuration. Follow the diagrams found in Greg Springer's article here to modify and scratch build the correct radio kit.
- Either fill in or sand off the tread on the kit tires. Once again this originates in the common mouldings of the Type 52 kit.
William built the kit with a couple of further modifications:-
- The right side wall was modified to represent a plane with its radio kit removed. Empty brackets were made from plastic card to show this.
- Seat belts were made from layers of painters masking tape
The rest of the kit was built out-of-the-box.
The interior was painted with White Ensign Colorcoats enamel ACJ18 Mitsubishi Interior Green with the details picked out in various Citadel, Reaper and Vallejo colors. The model was primed with Gunze (GSI Creos) Mr. Surfacer from a spray can. William notes that once upon a time this shade of primer gray would have been acceptable for the finished colour… A 50/50 mix of Gunze acrylic paints H70 RLM 02 and H336 Hemp was applied to the exterior metal parts. The fabric control surfaces - rudder, elevator and ailerons - were painted using Greg Springer’s Tamiya acrylic mix of: 105 drops of XF-19 Sky Grey, 15 drops of XF-25 Light Sea Grey and 20 drops XF-49 Khaki. William chose White Ensign Colourcoats enamel ACJ19 I.D. Yellow for the wing leading edge IFF strips. The cowling was painted Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black and the same colour was used for the rear decking under the canopy, the landing gear and tail code. Tamiya X-7 Red was chosen for the Hinomaru.
Once basic painting was completed the model was weathered as follows:-
- Pro-Modeller (Flory’s) Dark Dirt wash in the panel lines
- Faber Castell Pitt Sepia & Gray tone artist brush pens for streaks & staining
- A highly thinned mix of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown & XF-69 NATO Black (thinned about 2-3 drops of paint to around 10 drops of 91% isopropyl alcohol) was airbrushed along certain panel lines. This was done by placing a piece of Tamiya tape ahead of the panel line, and airbrushing along the tape, leaving a small amount to the back of the line.
- Tamiya Weathering Powders were used for stains exhausts
- Light chipping was done by dipping a piece of torn sponge in Citadel Mithril Silver, daubing off the majority, then daubing the paint along wear areas, mainly along the separation lines of the cowl halves
William rated this as by far one of the most enjoyable model kits he had ever built and concludes that with a little patience and attention to detail, it can be built as an excellent representation of a mid-war Zero with only a modest effort. He has four more on the shelf waiting to be built, and plans to add more in future. The Type 22 is his favorite incarnation of the Zero and he recommends this kit to modelers of all skill sets.
Image credits: All photographs © 2013 William Nichols