AML's Mitsubishi A6M2-K in 1/72
The Mitsubishi A6M family, better known as the 'Zero', was one of the best fighters of its time. Like the Bf109, the A6M went through many different upgrades in both engines and armament, and the shape of the Zero changed over the years as well. To help transition new pilots to this nimble fighter, Mitsubishi developed the A6M2-K. By adding a second cockpit behind the main one and lengthening the canopy to cover it, Mitsubishi was able to modify existing A6M-2 Type 11s into a trainer. Initially, these planes were used to train pilots in carrier landings, but as the war progressed, some were used in Kamikaze attacks. The final use of the A6M2-K was that of a target tug for shooting practice. Targets were placed underneath the wings and spooled out by the operator in the instructor's cockpit. After training, the targets were jettisoned and the plane returned for another mission.
In all, 273 A6M2-Ks were produced from A6M2 Model 11 airframes and seven were produced from A6M5 airframes.
AML's kit of the A6M2-K is molded in a somewhat soft gray plastic. The detail present is stunning, with the sidewall detail molded into the fuselage halves rivaling that of a resin detail set. The surface detailing is also very well done, with finely recessed panel lines throughout. There is a little flash present, but the most apparent problem is that some parts of the molds were misaligned, resulting in some pieces being difficult to clean up. In fact the stabilizers are pretty much hopeless. Luckily, AML noticed this problem and rectified it by providing resin replacements for the stabilizers and the target-winding spool. Thank you AML for this little gesture.
Even with these resin parts, there will still need to be quite a bit of cleanup of the plastic parts. There are some rough spots on the outer surfaces of the wings and fuselage, and some sanding will be necessary there. The fit of the parts will need some work too. The insides of the rudder will need to be sanded down to get a thin trailing edge, as will the wings. The upper wing halves have some rather large ejector pin lugs that will need to be removed also. The general fit once these things are taken care of, though, is pretty good. Not much putty will be needed here.
To add to the nicely done plastic interior detail, a fret of photoetched brass is provided with the usual instrument panel and other detail bits. The undercarriage wheel wells are also provided, with both the floor and sidewalls, as well as ribbing detail. It will take some careful bending and gluing here, but once done it will really look good.
The instructions for the most part are pretty clear, and there isn't much to go wrong with here. There is one area that is unclear, though, and that is the location of the take-up spool for the target-towing version. All the instructions show is this spool in front of the plane, with two arrows pointing at the cowling. I can't see where it would go, and the pictures I have don't help any.
The decals are very thin and nicely done by Propagteam. Two sets of hinomarus are provided, which will be a nice addition to the spares box after using one set. Also provided are the yellow leading edge markings and wing walkways. The decals look quite opaque and will have no trouble going down on either the overall light gray option or the green/gray camouflaged option.
The AML kit of the A6M2-K is definitely not one for the beginner, but with a little care and work it can easily be built up into a showstopper straight out of the box. While the kit only offers a light gray and a camouflaged version, this model would really look neat in the trainer orange seen on some A6M2-Ks. If you're a fan of IJN planes, this kit will be a good addition to your collection.
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