Tamiya 1/32 Mitsubishi A6M5

By Bob McElroy

The Kit

Tamiya 1/32 scale A6M5c with all the bells and whistles! Let's start at the bottom and work our way up through the neat things that this wonderful kit has to offer. The tires are rubber and fit very nicely; there is even a rubber oil line that runs up the inside of the landing gear struts. The landing gear even retracts, tail wheel too. All of the control surfaces work and that adds to the kits realism. The panel lines are excellent and give an almost exact representation of the real A/C. Tamiya did a fantastic job on the canopy. It is crystal clear and thin; the factory even provides masks that just work marvelously. The interior and the engine have loads of detail and one would not even need to purchase detail sets. The prop spins, comes apart and so does the engine cowling, so the engine may be displayed. The kit is full of details and I have just hit the ones that I liked. It's a great kit. It goes together with no problems and I did very little sanding when building the kit. Tamiya did a great job on the instruction booklet. They give the builder helpful tips, and include a detailed paint list. The decals were even good, and even though they were a bit thick they went down fine. Overall this is an excellent kit. A tad bit expensive but when one adds all the details and things included with this kit the price is just about right. Wish they were all this easy...

The pictures above do a good job of showing the details of the engine and the armament. If one looks really close you can barely make out the sight ring in the (above) picture.


These are two of my favorites (shots): I really like the way Tamiya tried to make the kit as realistic as possible. The cowling was really well done, just like the real deal. The interior was excellent as far as an out of the box kit is concerned. Excellent details!!!


Two figures are included in the kit. Both pilots, one for the cockpit, and the other, which I have pictured above. The two figures are of excellent quality, given the scale. The details are great and like the rest of the model they too went together with no problems. I had a lot of fun painting the pilots. An excellent source for Japanese Naval Aviators is The Osprey book, Japanese Naval Aviation Uniforms and Equipment 1937-45. By Gary Nila and illustrated by Bill Younghusband.

Tamiya did a good job on the figures; it would be nice to see them create more of these figures for sale individually. I could use more pilots in various scales for other kits.


Bar none this is an excellent model. One has many opportunities to scratch-build, add on aftermarket detail sets, and even for those of use who are more conservative just build it right out of the box. It lends itself to all kinds of possibilities. It is pricey but the kit is loaded with all types of extras. In the long run if you were to build a kit and purchase all the detail sets the canopy masks and figures you would pay the healthy price maybe even more.

The Best Part

Now comes the best part of building this particular kit. I sort of saved the best for last. I teach middle school social studies. One of my United States History Classes found out that I really wanted this super ZERO kit that Tamiya. So an entire two months before Christmas break my students pulled together money and raised enough to order this kit for me. During Christmas Break a package arrived at my door and it was the Tamiya ZERO! I could not believe it. My kids sent a card, which they all signed. I worked on the kit the past few weeks and finally got it all together. Now it resides in my class with pride. My students love it and possess a genuine interest in military scale models. They love the stories that go with the A/C.


Happy modeling!

© Bobby McElroy 2003

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This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011; Last modified on Friday, February 03 2017