The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was the main Japanese naval fighter of the Second World War, and in the early years of the Pacific War gained a fearsome reputation, sweeping the outdated and outnumbered Allied air forces it faced from the skies. This book combines a history of the Zero and an examination of the modelling scene.
The first half of the book looks at the history of the Zero, with sections on the history of Japanese naval aviation, the development of the original Zero, its combat record in China and the Pacific, the attempts to improve the aircraft, and the British and (mainly) American responses to it.
About half of the book is taken up with the modelling section. We begin with a series of reviews of available models, starting with famous but obsolete early kits from the likes of Airfix and Revell, before moving onto more modern, and more accurate kits (including the latest Airfix models). Some of the criticisms seems a little petty to a non-modeller (things like a wing being 3mm too short), but the presense of better kits makes these comments more valid.
The model showcase is fascinating. The author focuses on one of the largest scale kits available, the Trumpeter A6M2 in 1/24 scale, and builds a slightly modified version of the kit, adding his own seatbelt, some cockpit details and altering some of the parts. Sometimes these model showcases can just be picture shows, but here we get a detailed account of how he built the kit, discussing which bits worked well and which bits needs improvements. The level of detail provided by this kit is pretty impressive, including large numbers of parts that will be hidden once the kit has been completed, but in some areas that wasn’t enough for the author! The result is an impressive looking model of the Zero, well beyond my abilities!
This book will be of great interest to anyone who plans to model the Zero.
1 – Introduction
2 – Mitsubishi Zero: Design and Development
3 – Combat over China
4 – Preparing for War
5 – The Pacific Campaign: December 1941- January 1943
6 – New Fighters, New Tactics
7 – Pacific War: Final Phase: October 1944-August 1945
8 – Mitsubishi Zero in Profile
9 – Modelling the Mitsubishi Zero
10 – Model Showcase
Author: Robert Jackson
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation