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A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)

Hasegawa 1/32 A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke) Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2016 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke) Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08884 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, great external details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $59.99

First Look

A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)
A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)
A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)
A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)
A6M5c Type 52 Zero (Zeke)

There is a wide range of history written in print and online about Mitsubishi's A6M series of fighters. It is interesting to see how some of the authors try to analyze in retrospect why the Zero was so maneuverable but so underprotected. The answer wasn't in a book, but in a simple airshow take-off from the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA, where the only airworthy Zero with its Sakae engine performs a formation take-off with a P-51 Mustang. The demonstration says it all as the Zero was airborne as the P-51 was lifting its tail off the runway and had already climbed away from the airfield by the time the P-51 lifted off the ground. The A6M was simply designed to be so light and maneuverable that it could survive by not being where the enemy was shooting. In the early part of the war, the A6M could sweep the sky of its opponents, but as allied pilots gained confidence and experience, they learned how to fight the A6M effectively.

The A6M was so well known that it was referred to by its Japanese name - Zero - and not its allied identification name - Zeke. Many believe that they've seen the Zero fly in various modern television series and movies, but those 'Zeros' are actually T-6 Texans modified to look like Zeros. There are many movie stunt pilots that wish they had Zeros to fly as the additional 100 knots of airspeed would have made those dogfight scenes a little more comfortable. If you watch Black Sheep Squadron, those F4Us are maneuvering against the 'Zeros' with their flaps down, something never done intentionally in combat. In Final Countdown, that extra 100 knots would have been welcomed by the F-14 crews as they had to perform some impressive low-speed maneuvers on the brink (and sometimes past) stall speed.

In 1978, Hasegawa released their first 1/32 scale A6M5c kit and it remained as one of its core kits for several decades as it was the best Zero in this scale, at least until Tamiya released their own 1/32 scale kits (A6M2b and A6M5) in 2000. Now Hasegawa has just released a new-tool A6M5c kit that renders all previous A6M kits obsolete in this scale, with the notable exception of the Tamiya kits. The Tamiya A6Ms remain the best detailed kits of the Zero in any scale, but are they truly the best? Let's take a look:

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of flesh-colored parts (pilot figure) and one tree of clear parts. As you would expect, the molded-in detailing is sharp and exquisite with the scribed panel lines and no sign of excessive rivet details. The fabric-covered flight control surfaces look spot-on as well. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Very nicely detailed cockpit interior with cockpit wall structures separately molded
  • Instrument panel nicely detailed with sharp decal instrument faces provided
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Very detailed gunsight
  • Positionable canopy
  • Internal fuselage bulkheads for structural strength
  • Interesting internal frame for horizontal stabilizer tabs to provide strength and alignment
  • Wing main spar provided to reinforce the wings and wing/fuselage joint
  • Nicely detailed landing gear and wheel wells
  • Parts provided to display landing gear up
  • Nicely detailed Sakae engine with positionable cowl flaps
  • External fuel tank and mounts included

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • A6M5c, 03-09, 303 Fighter Squadron/203 Naval Flying Group, Kagoshima AB, 1945, as flown by NAP 1/C Takei Tanimizu
  • A6M5c, 252-114, 311 Fighter Squadron/252 Naval Flying Group, Mobara AB, 1945, as flown by Ensign Tetsuzo Iwamoto

So which is the better A6M5 kit? Hasegawa or Tamiya? That depends on what you wish to build. Both have terrific details externally and in the cockpit. The Tamiya kit is far more complex which lends itself to the super-detailer and for them, Tamiya is the better choice. For the regular modelers out there that don't want to take a month or more to assemble a complex kit, the Hasegawa kit is the best.

In the past, it was easy to choose the best model of any subject in any scale, but in this age of new-tool competition, there is a new dimension to consider - complexity. Some kits like the Tamiya 1/32 A6M5 and the Hasegawa (or HobbyBoss) 1/48 F-14 are the best for the super-detail modeler. This Hasegawa kit, like the upcoming Tamiya 1/48 F-14, are designed for easier assembly so you can achieve a contest-quality model without compromising on details where they count. You'll be seeing more models coming in our future that compete with complexity versus simplicity, but in the meantime, this is an outstanding new kit from Hasegawa!

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!