Continuing the Zero theme Scott Jamieson has very kindly shared these images and details of his splendid build of the Fine Molds 1/72 A6M1 prototype, the 12-Shi Experimental second aircraft, from their 2019 combo kit which paired it with an A6M2 Model 11 (currently out of stock).
Although the finished model doesn't show it Scott found this build to be not so enjoyable and considered that the kit fell short of the previous Fine Molds A6M2 Type 21 Zero kit in terms of its quality. He described it as more of a conversion kit which disappointed with a one piece canopy and no provision for open cowl flaps. The additional parts consist of a new fuselage, cowling, engine and two-bladed propeller but there was no guidance on how to correct the basic A6M2 kit, such as eliminating the folding wingtip hinge points.
The new cowling is moulded in three parts with seams through panel line detail which were not easy to fix or conceal. Scott also encountered a dihedral issue with the wings on both the A6M1 and A6M2 models. The port wing lined up whilst the starboard wing was too high. Scott did not notice this during construction and had to cut the wing at the root, crack it loose, gently bend it to line up, then fill, sand and re-scribe.
Scott added minor details such as brake lines and the pilot seat bungee cord, as well as drilling out the seat. He cut the canopy apart and used the sliding section from a Tamiya Zero kit to display the model with an open canopy. The antenna wire was added with stretched sprue.
He finished the model with Tamiya XF-76 Gray Green (IJN) to represent the 'dimly shining ash green' described by the designer Jiro Horikoshi. The kit decals worked well with Micro Sol but the application of Testors Glosscote followed by Testors Dullcote which has a slight amber tint created a slightly more tan appearance. At the end he was glad to have built it as he had always wanted a model of the prototype despite having little information about it.
With special thanks to Scott for sharing the images and details of a most interesting model. Possibly one of the best references to the 12-Shi Experimental is an article 'The Zero: Birth of a Prodigy' in the book '100 Key Chapters in Japanese Aviation' Vol.1 published by Dai Nippon Kaiga Co., Ltd. in 2004. Although the main text of this article is in Japanese a good selection of photographs are captioned in English and images of original blueprints and plans are included. Worth seeking out for that and other interesting articles on Japanese aviation within.
Image credit: All model photos © 2024 Scott Jamieson; Box art © 2019 Fine Molds; Book cover © 2004 Dai Nippon Kaiga Co., Ltd.