Let's Talk About the Zero, Then We'll Do Some More Jets
If you're as old as I am, or if you've managed to pick up some copies of the original RIS as you've traveled through life, you'll remember that we almost never bothered with propeller-driven aircraft unless we were reviewing a kit, which I don't do here. That was a joint decision; nobody was doing much of anything with models of jets Way Back Then and the field was wide open, so off we went to explore a world where the propellers all lived on the inside of the airframe instead of outside. It was pretty cool because we were the only ones doing it at the time, and who needed to build more models of WW2 fighters anyway? Certainly not us! Nosirree!
Fast forward (my wife once told a hobby shop full of friends that her son played Fast Forward on his college basketball team, for whatever that may be worth---I'm telling you because I think it's funny, although there's no doubt I'll end up paying because I shared it!) to the present. Nowadays I almost never build jets. Almost everything I do has a propeller where it should be, which is to say on the outside of the airplane, right out there in the open. I did build a MiG-17 a while back but that was an anomaly in my world and I did it because I'd waited for 40+ years to get a decent 1/48th scale kit of same. It wasn't, and isn't, the norm around here anymore. If you don't believe me, just look at that accursed A-4 I've been working on since early March. It's a project for this blog, for cryin' out loud, and I've got every reason in the world to finish the thing, but I just can't get inspired so it's still sitting on the bench. Such is life.
What I can get inspired about is the Hasegawa family of A6M Zero-Sen fighters in 1/48th scale. They were ground-breaking when they were released in the 1990s, much as their Tamiya counterparts were way back in the early 1970s. They (the Hase kits) have been The Gold Standard since their release, even though that A6M5 that Tamiya gave to us a couple of years ago is arguably a better kit. Still, Hasegawa can provide a model of virtually every Zero variant ever built, while Tamiya is presently resting on the laurels of that Zeke 52. You have to wonder why, but that's what they're doing, which makes the Hase family my personal kits of choice. (The Tamiya kit doesn't look at all out of place on a shelf full of Hasegawa Zeros, which is a tribute of sorts to both companies.)
That said, let's talk about those kits for a minute. In simplest terms they boil down into two sub-families, with a common interior and landing gear. Most of the kits contain parts for other variants, and a couple of them even provide extra fuselages and wings, thus providing you with the opportunity to build up a truly eclectic parts bin as you replicate the Japanese Naval Air Force.
As for those families, we're basically dealing with the A6M-1 prototype through the A6M3 Type 32, and the A6M5/7/8, plus the A6M2-N "Rufe". The early variants, as well as the "Rufe", all have a slightly different breakdown of wing components, while the later variants (the A6M5s and subsequent) have a simplified wing assembly but offer the option of dropping the flaps. I've heard a lot of people complain about that early-variant wing assembly, mostly because of the little piece that lives just in front of the wheel wells and makes up the lower forward fus. The complaint is that it doesn't fit, and the kit is difficult to construct as a result. Brothers and Sisters, I'm here to tell you that just ain't true. That little piece has fit like the proverbial glove on every early Hasegawa Zero I've built, and there are presently five of them sitting on the shelf completed. The trick, and it isn't much of one, is to carefully pre-fit the piece, then lock it in place with a little Tenax or similar. In my experience you don't have to do more than kiss the resulting joint with a piece of really fine sandpaper to make the resulting seam go away. It's that Modeling 101 thing again.
Everything else on those Zeros is simple and extremely linear. Every single "Zeke" you see in the photographs below (and they aren't all of the collection by any means) were built in a week or less. One of them took three days from the time the box was opened to the time the model went on display. It's a Builder-Friendly kit.
We'll save the later "short-winged" Zekes for another day, 'cause I'm guessing you're pretty well sick to death of the subject just now. The point I'm trying to make is two-fold; the kit is really easy to build, what you may have read elsewhere notwithstanding, and Hasegawa have provided the foundation for a truly representative collection depicting an historically significant aircraft. Yes, the Tamiya kit is better, but it's also more expensive and, at least until they see fit to release other variants, somewhat limited in scope. I truly like what Hasegawa's done here, and have even more Zeros in the pipeline. Jim, is it time for another Hog? Frank, maybe another 58th FG Jug? You can never have too many of your favorite airplanes, you know!
That Pesky Fruitfly One More Time
When last we convened I ran a hodge-podge of A-7 photos for you. This is a good day for a few more, I think. Let's not do the obvious, though; let's see a few shots of the least-known operational Fruitfly, the EA-7L, and then throw in some really tasty ANG A-7Ds as a bonus. It is, I think, the right thing to do on a Saturday.
Now let's take a look at some airplanes from Those Other Guys. All of the photos below were provided via Mark Nankivil; many thanks, Mark!
A Tiny Sin of Omission
A day or so ago I ran another in our ongoing and highly-disjointed aircraft weapons series, this time on Navy rockets of the WW2/Vietnam eras. As with the other segments of that sometimes-series, the rockets discussed were the ones listed in that 1960 edition of Aviation Ordnanceman's Manual. That manual, and therefore I, omitted the RAM, an error that was caught by old friend Tommy Thomason. He sent along a drawing and photo of the round so you can have an idea of what it looks like:
And yet another correction---the RAM is shown in the original piece but is titled "3.5-inch rocket". Check out the illustrations and you'll see what we mean. pf 14 Apr 2010
And that's it for today. This installment ran a little longer than normal, mostly to make up for last week's disrupted schedule. Things are going to be a little goofy around here for a while, so please bear with me until next time, whenever that may be. (But soon, folks; I promise it'll just be a day or so...) Until then, be good to your neighbor!