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WIP: Tamiya 1/72 A6M2b Zero

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I'm working on the 2nd aircraft for my Final Countdown display, a Tamiya A6M2b Zero in 1/72 (yes, I know they used converted Texans in the film, I decided on an idealized version with an actual Zero 😉). At this point I've got the cockpit and engine completed and I'm working on closing up the wheel wells. I'm also waiting on my pilot figure to arrive tomorrow, I went with the Hasegawa Japanese Naval Aviator set, the selection for WW II Japanese pilots in 1/72 is surprisingly limited.









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I'm getting very close to being able to start the exterior paint. I finished up the pilot and I'm really happy with how he came out. I'm also trying an experiment and if it works, I'll have found another use for Bandai stickers besides masking (since they're certainly not good for finishing a model). I put the kit supplied waterslide decal on a spare panel sticker from my Millennium Falcon, and with any luck I'll have a result that is reasonably close to scale thickness, flexible, and self-adhesive. I'm waiting for the decal to dry thoroughly and keeping my fingers crossed that it works. I also have the landing gear doors closed up on the wings and the top halves glued on. And I gave everything yet another test fit (you can never test fit too much! ). I'm probably going to have to get some decal paper to custom print the tail code since no in-print decal sheet that I've been able to find uses the AI-113 that was used on the first film "Zero".









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On 5/18/2023 at 9:44 PM, JackMan said:


Wow!  Your pilot figure is amazing. Good work on painting him.


On 5/18/2023 at 11:23 PM, Cool Hand said:

Fantastic job on the pilot figure.


Rest of the build is nice as well.


Thanks guys. I'm really happy with how the pilot came out. Fingers crossed that I don't have any major disasters and the rest comes out as nicely. 🙂

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I made some good progress over the weekend. The seatbelt experiment was a failure, I was able to trim the decal/sticker combo down perfectly, but when I tried to get it on the model, the decal came right off. I went with Plan B and just cut some straight strips out of some of the tan colored sticker material and made some exceedingly tiny belt hardware from Evergreen strip. I also got the cockpit and wings glued in and started paint on the exterior. I went with grey primer, white marble coat, dark grey pre-shading, and a custom mix of Mr. Color off white with a few drops of tan for the base color. I'm shooting for a color in between the actual olive/tan grey of a real Zero and the white that the film birds were painted. It came out a little more tan than I would prefer so I knocked it back with a white filter coat and I'm happy with the results. I think it will look really good once I do an oil wash and a little light weathering. 











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I got the little details bits on the fuselage  masked off and painted. The control surfaces are fabric and a slightly darker shade of grey, and the exhaust portion of the cowl needed some black. Additionally I painted the cowl parts and the prop and spinner. On a real Zero they're silver, but I decided to go with black like the filming birds. I actually prefer the black for the spinner and prop. I also did a test fit of the cowl and it's really starting to look like something.






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The decals are done, and it's really starting to look the part. In the end I decided to just use the AI-102 tailcode that's included on the decal sheet, The first film Zero is AI-113, but unless you pause it, it's almost impossible to see. I did cut the yellow tail stripes off though since those are definitely not on the film bird. I'm not a huge fan of the Tamiya decals, while I had no problem getting the Wolfpack Design VF-84 markings I used on the Tomcat to lay down in the panel lines, no amount of Micro Sol would get these decals to conform to the extremely fine panel lines. To be fair, that may just be a testament to the extreme delicacy of the engraving, but the end result is the same. I ended up having to very carefully cut the panel lines in with a very sharp hobby knife and then use more Micro Sol and Micro Set. I hope they stay adhered properly when I clear coat it. All in all I'm happy with how it's turning out though.

Next up is getting the canopy and the tiny detail bits painted. I think I'm going to probably need to order a die cut mask set for the canopy, but I'll probably try masking the spare closed rear section by hand and see if it comes out well before I do that.







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7 hours ago, ST0RM said:

Fantastic build. The figure though. That is some great paintwork. 

Looking forward to the completed scene. 


Thanks! I'm super happy with how the figure came out. And I can't wait to see them together in the display too!


1 hour ago, Cubs2jets said:

Mask and paint the horizontal canopy frames, then mask and paint the vertical canopy frames.




That's not a bad idea. I have a couple of strategies I'm going to try for masking and I have the closed canopy to use as a test mule since I'm going to display it with the canopy partially open.

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I did the first weathering step, an overall wash of AK Interactive Grey Wash for Kriegsmarine Ships. I really like this color, it accents the panel lines really nicely without being too stark (as a black wash can often be), while at the same time giving a nice subtle grime.






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I spent last night on the canopy, in the end I decided to just do it the old fashioned way with yellow Tamiya tape and a very sharp blade. It's not perfect, but I'm happy with how it came out. I do have to touch up the front windscreen, I somehow cut that panel at the wrong place, but it's an easy fix. I did a test fit and it's really looking great with the greenhouse painted up. I'm waiting until I'm completely finished with painting to glue on the canopy and all of the delicate bits (especially the aileron counterweights and antenna mast). It looks really amazing next to the Tomcat and I can't wait to get the full display done.





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I'm closing in on the finish line and knocking out the final details. I masked and sprayed the wing walkway lines since the decals did not want to cooperate. I got the tail hook and wheel detailed and glued in, the wash applied to the drop tank, and small detail painting under way (engine exhausts, nose machine guns, navigation lights, etc.). I've also started to give some serious thoughts to the display stand, I'm going to print out a motion blurred ocean plate and mount it to an acrylic sheet. I printed out a quick and dirty test just to make sure I like the effect and I really love it, even with the crappy print on plain paper. 










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Just a small note about jap pilot figures. I`ve seen that new Hasegawa set which is very welcome and indeed they look really good. Have you seen the "Redbox" kits? They also do like 3 or so figure kits with japanese aviation but they do seem a bit crude and perhaps a bit bulky. Not sure about availability or origin, maybe Ukraine? 




NorthStar of Ukraine also did a jap pilot, but just the one pilot standing with a jap. sword would you believe. PJ productions have a set with two sitting pilots. Hecker & Goros have an older metal set.






These set are news to me:






So they are out there, just have to look closer.

Edited by breadneck
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I'm calling it done. I still have to glue on the aileron counterbalances and actuators, but I'm going to wait until I have the final display base done to do that, they're exceedingly small and delicate. I also built a temporary combined base out of Lego to display it with the Tomcat. I really can't wait to get the final base done with a more dynamic pose, but even as is, they look amazing together. Also on the to do list is a blurred prop, I've only got the static prop and spinner tacked together with a tiny bit of PVA glue and the hub is held on by a poly cap so it will be easy to change it out once I figure out what I'm doing with that.










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