Thursday 18 February 2016

Oleg Pegushin's 1/72nd scale Tainan Ku A6M2

Following on from Alexey Shurakov's excellent A6M2-K trainer, Oleg Pegushin has kindly shared these images of his own latest Zero model, a Tainan Ku A6M2 made in the smaller scale of 1/72 from the limited edition of the superb Tamiya kit, offered with a book and unique decal sheet.

Oleg built the model, his seventh Zero, mainly out of the box, but with some photo-etched parts added to the cockpit and some holes drilled out here and there. He used his customary Vallejo paints using Aviation of Japan's guide to Painting the Early Zero-Sen.

The inspiration for this build was the book 'Eagles of the Southern Sky: The Tainan Air Group in WWII, Volume One: New Guinea' by Luca Ruffato and Michael J Claringbould which his wife gave to him as a birthday present. Oleg recommends this book to anyone interested in the Pacific War in general and the famous Tainan Ku and its Zeros in particular. He found it interesting reading and a great source of information.

Oleg recognises that it is a speculative topic as to whom V-138 was assigned, seen in a famous photograph of the injured ace Saburo Sakai. But he found the reasoning of the authors in Eagles of the Southern Sky convincing, so his Zero model was completed to represent the aircraft of buntaichô Lt (jg) Jun'ichi Sasai of the 2nd Chutai, Tainan Kokutai with two blue fuselage stripes rather than the single red or blue stripe as suggested by Tamiya.

The model was based on profile 17 on page 118 of the book, which the authors describe as follows:-

"This aircraft and tail were photographed at Rabaul on 7 August 1942. The aircraft was assigned to buntaichô Lt (jg) Sasai Jun'ichi who flew it on the 7 August 1942 Guadalcanal mission. Others who also flew this fighter regularly include Lt Kurihara Katsumi and Lt Kawai Shirô." 

Over the years various tail codes and fuselage/tail stripe colours have been attributed to the A6M2 aircraft flown by Saburo Sakai in the Tainan Ku. Hideaki Fujii depicted V-138 with a single blue stripe and two yellow tail stripes in interpretation of the aircraft seen behind Sakai in the photograph of him walking injured after the 7 August sortie. The depiction of an A6M2 with blue fuselage stripe and black tailcode V-103  dates from the 1950s and Hideaki Fujii speculated that it was probably based on Sakai's recollections at that time. However in 1993 an A6M2 s/n 3647 with the tailcode V-103 was recovered on Guadalcanal. This aircraft had a red fuselage stripe and single white tail stripe with V-103 in black. Sakai is variously reported to have claimed to have flown this actual aircraft before and/or during his 7  August sortie. Another A6M2 with tailcode V-128, blue fuselage stripe and white tail stripe was profiled in 'Reishiki Kanjo Sentouki' in 1961, apparently based on information obtained from Sakai by Kani Yoshiyuki during an overnight stay. There is a profile of V-128 in 'Eagles of the Southern Sky' but the authors write this about it:-

"This profile is precautionary as no known photo exists of this aircraft. The V-number is  allegedly taken from Sakai Saburo's log book  entry for 7 August 1942, athough neither  author has sighted the original entry. Although this fighter has been profiled in numerous publications as having a white tail stripe, V-128 would have borne a red shotaicho stripe to denote its placement in the third shotai. Other pilots who might have regularly flown this shotaicho fighter include FPO2 Arita Yoshisuke  and FPO1c Nishizawa Hiroyoshi."

They illustrate the aircraft with blue fuselage stripe and red tail stripe. V-103 is also illustrated with red fuselage stripe and white fin stripe but is attributed to WO Takatsuka Tora'ichi rather than Sakai.

Another Sakai Zero illustrated in the Eagles book is V-172 with black fuselage stripe and white tail stripe. This aircraft is usually depicted with a blue fuselage stripe (the AWM exhibit has a blue stripe) but the number mentioned in Sakai's logbook indicates a fourth chutai aircraft which the authors assert should mean a black stripe. Personally I think the case for black fuselage stripes is problematic and it has been much debated but that is another issue!

The second issue of the Hasegawa old tool A6M2 included decals for yet another A6M2 attributed to Saburo Sakai - this time with the tailcode V-107 and single blue fuselage and tail stripes. Artist Masao Satake depicts this aircraft several times in Masahiro Mino's wonderfully illustrated story of Saburo Sakai 'The Samurai' (WAC, Japan 2003) but with a white tail stripe (although the cover painting shows it with a blue tail stripe per the Hasegawa kit!). Other Sakai-flown A6M2 aircraft depicted in this book are the earlier V-103 with blue fuselage and red tail stripes, together with three blue 'victory' cherry blossom symbols at the base of the fin and, as flown on the 7 August mission, V-128 with single blue fuselage and white tail stripes.  So what to do? Well, if you like the A6M2 a thematic collection of 'Zeros attributed to Saburo Sakai' would provide plenty of indulgence and the opportunity to build Hasegawa, Fine Molds and Tamiya examples, as well as some older kits!

With special thanks to Oleg for sharing the images of his excellent model here.

Image credits: All © 2016 Oleg Pegushin


Ken Glass said...

Very nice work, Oleg.

Ken Glass

WD said...

Beautiful work Oleg, I greatly enjoy your postings. My wife too gave me that book as a present, and it IS great. I've considered modeling Sakai's a/c as mentioned here. It would be an indulgence. :)

I do love early Zeroes!


WD said...

Some questions:
- Did the Tainan Kokutai keep the tailhooks on their a/c while in NG?
- I really like your weathering, would you mind sharing how you accomplished this? I find it nicely understated, and "just right" in my very humble opinion.


OlegP said...

Ken, Warren thank you for your kind words!


This particular kit does not provide a cover to substitute the tail hook, that is way I kept the later.
As for the weathering: Thank you for your, I spend a lot of time arguing with those who think that any Japanese plane should look as it was freshly sand-blasted..

Normally I lighten Vallejo MA 71023 Hemp a bit with light gray. This is my first layer. Then I would heavily dilute the mixture and add gray and/or white. With this I try to work on every panel lightening or darkening the mixture from time to time. Then I give the model a very thin coat of the initial (base) mixture to unite all the shades. Then I do fading using oil paints yellow, grey, white, brown. Afterwards a wash and then some pigments. The cowling receives a coat of MA 71054 Dark Grey Blue and some lightening with withe and gray, plus in some areas exposed to the sunlight I add touches of MA 71097 Insignia Blue. The scratches are done with a fine brush with light gray paint.

Once again thank you friends for you attention to my work.

Kind regards,


WD said...

Thank you sir for taking the time to answer my questions. Again, simply gorgeous as a build, and great research.


Mark Smith said...

One of the best Zero models I've ever seen, in any scale. The finish is truly convincing. Thanks.

WilliamR said...

Beautiful Zero Oleg. Inspired subject as well and one not often seen in model form. A tribute to Sasai and the other Eagles. I second the recommendation for 'Eagles of the Southern Sky'. I was able to obtain a copy through inter-library loan for 3 months and it was very worthwhile reading. I will purchase a copy for myself.


Ronnie Olsthoorn said...

Looking very smart!