A6M2 Rufe
by Pascal Huguet

In 1997, I have converted a Hasegawa's A6M5 to a A6M2-N (at this time, I didn't know the many differences between the 2 versions). I must say that, Swallow & Tomy's Zero were unreachable (more in France, then anywhere in the world) and Doyusha have not released A6M2 yet. In 1999, I bought two of them (I often do this when I "put my pawns", on a model looked for a long time). Furthermore, my original Rufe had been damaged by my Mum (once more again, sometimes, I wonder if I shouldn't asked to Godzilla to help me for this moving). Osprey had published his "Japanese Navy aircrafts of the aces", with 1/72 zero's plans. I decided to build a new Rufe from Doyusha's Zero and reusing some parts for basic shape for floats. On the whole, Doyusha's Zero is good, but the structures engraving is a little too hard and the modeller has to correct, two major points: cockpit interior and gear-bays deepness & details. The model interior upgrading is not hard to complete and the gear-bay is to be filled . To protect the model's engraving, I put some masking tape all over the area to be work on.

When I have completed this conversion, years ago, I shaped the floats from photos of Hasegawa & Tamiya catalogue, using Evergreen plastic sheets (moreover, this ruined my Evergreen stock, it was before I discovered Polyester-filler). After checking 1/32 plans, original parts shape is not that bad and are a good base for work. I use a wood-drill Dremel to reshape the floats. The hardness of the work was the structures & floats engraving. While I was carrying the central float , when the part fall down and the pylon separated from the float. I was irritated, till I found that with two-parts molds, it will be impossible to remove the float after casting. I had a little more work to adjustments of the 2 parts. Finally, the worse turned good, and I carved out radiator cavities. Wing-float legs are made of lead ( the ancients plastic one, were too flimsy) , the float panels & rivets lines are traced with a needlepoint and I made some High-temperature Silicon molds from plastic pattern.

On the first cast, parts showed a large molding-joint and few little holes appears on surfaces. Horizontal cast molding with 2-parts molds may cause many problems like: large casting-ladle on parts. I had to sand all engraving, spray filler coats, and a few adjustments. I tried to create a vertical-casting molds, which let an easy sanding joint. Because of thickness of the central float, this part needs almost 24-26 hours to be handle. During RTV dryness, I worked on Rufe modified rudder. After casting this part, I was thinking of the hardness, to represent realist rudder canvas texture. So I carved chink between the structures of rudder, create a 2-part molds for it. I stretch a aluminium foil the perforated-rudder which I before surfaces sprayed with repositionable-glue (or you can use bare-foil metal). Softly cut the excess and with a finger press the aluminium, the result looks better, than a full resin part.

I also make a part to represent the stability fin of the Rufe. This fin is placed under the rear of the fuselage. Wing-floats, which casting problems were the same than their " big brother ", compelled me to make vertical-mold for the same reasons. Central pylon caused me similar problems because its radiator cavities. I must say that, I was about to give up this project, because of the material waste caused by all these casting troubles. I realized that the exterior parts, would be hardest to complete then interior updating parts, So hang on!. I made some adjustments test with central floats & lead legs.

I've installed floats on Zero's wings, struts are glued with Cyanoacrylate, but I usually use Araldite glue (it can blow shocks, better than cyano). I have to fill tiny gaps between struts, but it is usual adjustments.

With the new molds, casting-joint is fewer visible and easier to sand and the float looks better now (this one wasn't "prepared", it just comes out of molds). I had to modify the pylon in two parts (because of casting-joint and part weakness).

Rufe's rudder need a one-piece mold and I had to fill empty structures, with paper to allow me a easier casting .. Big parts are finished, while mold's drying, I work on Rufe's interior. First, with a Dremel (or any similar tool), remove structures so interior is completely smooth. The more the fuselage's inner side is thin, the more the cockpit will be insert easily.

Doyusha's Zero interior is inaccurate (because motorization set of the Tomy's Zero Type 21, which Doyusha's (and Swallow) reissue was produced. Create parts for Rufe's cockpit interior would be redeemable, this parts could be use for upgrading an Type 21 and Type52C of Hasegawa.

I use very thin Evergreen sheets for the sides of the cockpit, I glued some strip for the structures. I wanted to use Eduard photo-etched set for detailing, but it seems Doyusha's cockpit parts seems to be 1/33 1/34 scale (none of Eduard's most essential parts fit very well, on the contrary of Hasegawa's parts). I decided to use Eduard's parts as pattern and check with some Zero's wreck photos and create complete styrene cockpit to cast resin copies. Casting problems I faced with the floats, were nothing compared with those I will have up to there..(what a challenge uh?). I have some documents of Zero's interior (often some wrecks with parts missing or "war bird " with modern instrumentation), I plan to make this interior set fit with Doyusha, Hasegawa & Revell (Tamiya is out of question, those who had their model in hands would knows why). I have not represented the all cables and tubing of the interior because of molding hazard, but I drilled all their emplacements.

After a few tries, I decided to cast Machine-guns with resin rather lead (details reproduction). I use plastic sprue, which I lock in my Dremel and sculpt with a soft file. The kit's instrument panel is too approximate, and I made a new one with Evergreen and sprue, same for the MG's magazine. The seat is finish and I represent harness with Milliput and copper wire (I'm a little anxious to see casting results). I made the molds ands try some casts of the cockpit's parts, the result is better than I was expected, but needs a few adjusts.

I glued sides L & R, into the kit's fuselage to check alignment of parts, but I should better build the cockpit "cage" and insert into after have glued the fuselage (this show me the differences between, create parts and simply build a model). The essential of the conversion kit is ready, so I can now build my Rufe. With a few hours of work, this is what it looks like.

 

 

I had to use putty for the horizontal rudder, which not fit very good. The canopy's sliding representation is too rough, so I had to remove it and recreate it with styrene strips. I refine the model's interior to reproduce the thinness of the plane's skin. I glued the windscreen & the canopy's back with tiny points of Cyanoacrylate then with Humbrol Clear Cote to have a good hold of the parts.

The Sakae motor is ugly and I had to remove all the position-pins of the cowling interior. I had an old Hasegawa's A6M5 Sakae motor which I improved accuracy with a little work, copper wire and Evergreen (although most of details, will be hidden by the cowling).

I also make the motor-cowling's parts fitting is not very good and a lot of corrections has to be doing to have a nice representation. I paint all the parts with Matt Black and dry-brush the motor with Silver, when dry, I spray a coat of Tamiya X-19 smoke to have a satin finish (because of oil leaks).

I scratch-built the gun-sight and the resin parts which it comes is very delicate. With styrene strip, I made a little base to allow the Rufe to stand on his main float (the beaching dolly gives the plane a "old timer" looks and wasn't interesting to complete). The wings bad fitting is corrected with Polyester putty I usually use.

Painting

I paint the overall cockpit's surfaces with a mix of Beige 91, White 34 & little touch of Green 101 Humbrol colours. The canopy is too thick and needs some polishing with compound. I cover the three canopy's parts with masking tape and with a new cutter blade, cut the frames. I remove the masking frames & air spray 2 or 3 coats of the same beige-green, then 2 coats of Light-grey. After a good dry, I remove the mask and polish the canopy with cotton. The paint coats gives volume to the frames and I represent rivets with a needle point. I paint the interior of the Rufe with Matt black and when dry I sprayed, thin coats of a Beige-green. I use an air-spray and apply the colour which is lightened with white at each coats, between the cockpit structures.

LSP: Click here for the preview page of Pascal's two sets, click here for his product page.


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