Tamiya | 1/32 Mitsubishi A6M5 Part 2

Reviewed by Rato Marczak

Tamiya Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zero" (kit #60309) Part 2 (Part 1)


The engine is one of the last major sub-assemblies to be added to the model, after the instructions. It goes along steps 37 to 45. It is really complete, including the carburetor area behind the second row of cylinders.

The cylinder rows are beautifully molded in halves. Both pushrods rings are separately molded. The cowling supporting frames are also included, and they are not fake parts like we generally find in many large scale models. They depict accurately the prototype, so you can even leave the cowlings off the model.

You have the choice of open (parts C26 and C11) or closed (parts C3 and C12) cooling flaps. In both cases, they are molded altogether - no boring cementing plate by plate. Once finished, the engine is mounted on the tubular strut ahead the firewall. Take a look on the final result in one of the photos below, showing the magnificent work of modeler Bernard Schrock with this kit.

Engine cylinders.

Engine details: firewall and oil tank, ignition ring, reduction case and carburetor, pushrods.

A splendind work accomplished by modeler Bernard Schrock (photos by him, I guess). Compare with...

...Sakae engine in the Kanoya Naval Aviation History Museum (photo credit unknown).

The propeller comes in a single piece, and you have to add the counter balance weights. The cowling is very well molded in two halves. They just click in place. Tamiya has paid extra attention to the rivet detail here.

Propeller and spinner. Note the control panel on the left.

Both cowling halves test fitted. Note the petite surface details.

Auckland War Memorial Museums A6M3 model 22, showing the cowling fasteners (photo by David Stewart).

The Zero had an array of actuator arms to push/pull the cowling flaps. The photo below shows clearly these arms between the exhaust stacks. Note that, in spite of the separated flaps, and its very convincing thickness, Tamiya´s kit doesn´t bring any part representing the arms. On the other hand, the final appearance of the fuselage vents behind the engine´s accessory part is very convincing.

Note the correct arrangement of the cowling flaps and exhaust stacks in this preserved A6M5 (photo credit unknown).


The landing gear of this kit is a little working marvel, as explained in steps 32-36 of the assembly instructions. Besides the rubber tires and hoses, the main struts are retractable and the suspension is spring loaded. The whole assembly is strongly fixed by metal screws, and cleverly engineered. Tamiya managed to inject the plastic around metal oleos. If carefully removed from the sprues and cleaned, these parts won´t need any paint, I guess. The retraction operation of the main landing gear parts is done by hand, simply pushing the gear leg to the wells. The inner doors are automatically closed by the tires, just like the real thing, as Tamiya beautifully replicated the corresponding armed mechanism (see steps 20-22). The lowering operation, on the other hand, requires the removal of the wing cannon leading edge panel. A provided key is inserted in a slot and turned in order to lower the leg. This avoids your nails scratching the painting to lower the undercarriage.

The retraction of the tail wheel is also done by hand. To lower it, you pull down the arresting hook, insert another key in a slot in there and turn it.

These movable parts are the best I´ve ever seen in a plastic model, but I´m not sure the paint coats will stand the friction on the contact areas. Anyway, I guess a serious modeler won´t be retracting/lowering the landing gear every time...

The wheel bay doors are a bit on the thick side, as well as the ribs in the wheel wells. I found a few ejection pin marks spotted in areas that will be visible after the assembly. Another nice touch are the torque links, which come as separated parts and work like the prototype. The assembly is just a matter of clicking them in place.

The instructions point out where to apply the grease provided in a tube. I don´t think this is a good idea, because it can slowly migrate with time and smear the surrounding painted areas. In addition, the area will be permanently attracting dust.

Landing gear parts. Lots of ejection pin marks

The main wheel parts and the tail wheel strut.

Tail wheel yoke. On the right, the real part from an A6M3-22 in the Auckland War Memorial Museum (photo by David Stewart).

Main landing gear of the A6M5 in the Kanoya Naval Aviation History Museum (photo credit unknown).

Wheel bay of the A6M5 in the Kanoya Naval Aviation History Museum (photo credit unknown).


There are 18 clear parts in sprue F. Canopy components, wings and fuselage lights, gunsight and the "glasses" for the control panel dials. They are crisply molded, and won´t even need the traditional Future bath. The only part that will give some work is the Type 98 optical gun-bombsight. It is a very prominent item in the cockpit and I included a pic below that may be of some help when painting this part.

Clear parts: rear and sliding canopy parts.

Clear parts in detail: Windscreen, control panel glasses and lights.

Type 98 gun/bombsight.


There are many other details not mentioned in the text, and of course I won´t mention them all. It is worth to cite the wing and the fuselage armament. They are fairly detailed, but will be mostly hidden anyway. No doubt some detailers will open a panel here and there to add more bits.


The decal sheet is typical of Tamiya. A bit thick but based on previous experiences they will respond well to setting solutions. There are three versions to choose from. All of them pretty much identical in IJN dark green over IJN light gray. Perhaps the only disappointment of the kit...

However, the sheet is very well printed and in perfect register. Note that the control panel instruments are printed reversed (the adhesive side will be visible) to be placed on the back of the clear dials. Pay attention on the printed arrows as they indicate the upper side of each instrument.

Some variations can be found in aftermarket items. Right now I recall Eagle Strike sheet #32018, which brings some more colorful options. The fact is that unless you are planning to model those captured Zeros evaluated by T.A.I.C., or an aircraft in surrender markings, the A6M5 does not share the same wide range of schemes of its previous versions.

The decal sheet

A zoom on the decal sheet. Note the "reversed" instrument faces.


I said the kit is almost perfect. Some time ago Ryan Toews has compiled a list of notes on this kit for j-aircraft. I failed to locate the link after j-aircraft was overhauled, but he kindly allowed me quote his observations here (thank you Ryan). The man is really an expert on the subject, and the points below will help you to built an even more authentic replica.

"From what Jim Lansdale has related elsewhere, the Mitsubishi built A6M5s retained an overall paint job of Mitsubishi's variant of semi-gloss Hairyokushoku gray-green FS 6350, albeit possibly no longer applied over are-brown primer. The upper surfaces with subsequently camouflaged with a semi-gloss or matte dark green close to FS 4052. Nakajima also retained a variation of semi-gloss Hairyokushoku similar to FS 4201 on the undersides of the A6M5s it manufactured. The upper surface camouflage this company applied was a semi-gloss or matte dark green with a value of FS 4077. It is presumed that the fabric-covered surfaces were still painted in a mid-gray shade of FS 6314, except of course where the upper surface green paint was to be found. The cowling was painted with a semi-gloss blue-black color on Mitsubishi built planes and a semi-gloss black on Nakajima built ones. The white gun alignment lines on the upper cowling were probably not present on the earlier Mitsubishi built A6M5s such as 9-151.

In the following the numbers refer to the sub-sections in the Tamiya kit instructions:

Step #1

Step #4

Step #5

Step #6

Step #8

Step #9

Step #12

Step #20

Step #22

Step #24

Step #28

Step #30-31

Step #32

Step #33

Step #34

Step #36

Step #37-42

Step #43

  • Part A17 should be either black for the Nakajima A6M5 or the same color as the overall upper camouflage green in the case of the Mitsubishi Model 52. The rivets on it should be raised.
  • Step #46

    Step #47

    Step #48

    Step #50

    Step #52

    Later during our conversation Rayn also added:


    Well, this is not a weekend project. I recommend you to study carefully the instructions before starting. To follow the instructions is another good advice.

    In my mind, Tamiya would sell more Zeros had the folks there released an A6M2, since the type fought all the important battles during the early years of the war in Pacific (Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Midway, Guadalcanal, Coral Sea and the Solomons campaign). Moreover, the A6M2 had many more camouflage variations in comparison to the A6M5. This is reflected in all three decal versions offered, as they are very similar. On the other side, the A6M5 was the last version of the Zero to be used by the IJN in good numbers, and many Japanese aces closed their kill lists - or died - in this mount.And a late Zero is a late Zero: lots of paint chipping. Weathering is an important step in the present case, and if you plan to go for it, you probably will spend way more time doing it than airbrushing the basic airframe colors. And by the way, along with this kit Tamiya released the spray cans AS-2 (IJN Light Gray) and AS-21 (Nakajima IJN Dark Green). I´m not aware of the release of these colors in their classic acrylic or enamel little bottles.The Zero is very well documented in the literature, and if you are planning to add something to the model the Aero Detail and the Maru Mechanic books on the subject are excellent choices. A visit to the folks at j-aircraft is always worth too. Here some links to recent LSP articles on this model:-

    Tamiya 1/32 Zero built by LSP contributor Matsumoto Naoto. Interesting finish, huh?...

    An impressively weathered Tamiya 1/32 Zero built by Brian Criner.


    This kit is really excellent. A proof of it is in the fact that just a few aftermarket items appeared to improve it. The Tamiya Zero made this sort of thing is simply unnecessary. Eduard and CMK gave their contributions but, except for decals and pre-cut masks, I don´t recall other manufacturers investing in detail sets for this bird. In some sense, this model is launching a new standard for 1/32 models, and we can only hope that more WWII subjects come up with the same quality. If it is not a perfect model, it is probably the closest you can get of it. Highly recommended.

    © Rato Marczak 2003

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    This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016