Hasegawa 1/48 A6M2-K Type 11 'Late Version'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Such was the quantum leap in Japanese Naval fighters from the A5M to the A6M, that it was soon realized that a trainer was needed. This was especially true as the pre-war rigorous training regime was streamlined as the need for pilots became fairly critical. So it was that earlier A6M2 aircraft were converted to A6M2-K trainers. There were also new build planes.
These aircraft had the cockpit opening increased to accept a second place for the instructor. There was no forward canopy though a partial section was added to the rear to reduce buffeting. Small doors similar to what was on the Spitfire were added to make it easier to enter/leave the forward cockpit. A sturdier tail gear with a larger tire was installed which meant that the standard tail cone wouldn't fit. A specially developed one was often installed, but not always. Also removed were the inner main gear doors and the lower doors. this allowed for quicker wheel changes and kept mud from building up between the wheel and the door. A total of 517 of these aircraft were produced.
Hasegawa never releases every variant at about the same time and so it was with the trainer version of their Zero kit, this one taking a goodly number of years from the initial A6M release. Not surprising is that you basically get a full A6M2a/b kit with an additional sprue to handle the new fuselage, interior and tail gear. The old sprue is retained as it contains the prop and some engine bits.
Since this is a two seater, you get two crewmen to fit into the seats. If you have built any of the Hasegawa A6Ms, the interior will be very familiar, only twice as much. As usual, there are decals to fit over the instrument dials, which proves to be quite effective when they are done.
The kit includes a new clear bit to fit behind the front cockpit, which I guess is to help reduce buffeting in the back seat There is also a bulkhead onto which to attach the new tail gear. The trainer retains the nose guns for armament training. There is an alternate assembly for above the tail gear which isn't explained, but I'm thinking it is to tow a gunnery drogue. The aircraft has a separate tail cone and this was often left off as shown in the box art. Note also that this kit includes a resin piece to replace the lower oil cooler intake as apparently that was different in the 'late' version.
You will also need to fill in some panel lines and holes, such as those for the wing guns and some detail removal is also required such as the lower gear door attachment pins. Not unusual when using the same parts for multiple variants. To help recover from spins, the K model includes a pair of rear fuselage strakes. It also includes a pair of target drogues that can be installed under the wings if you so wish. There is, of course, no requirement to add these items so you will need to make a choice fairly early in the build.
Markings are provided for two aircraft from the Genzan Flying Group in April 1944. These differ only in tail markings and one plane offers them in both yellow and white. Both have black cowlings, dark green upper surfaces and yellow-orange undersurfaces. The decals are nicely printed and offer the yellow wing ID bands should you not wish to paint these.
I already have an earlier boxing of this kit, but I read in a Facebook group I frequent that a reader was having difficulty finding one for much less than $100 or so, the going price on e-bay. I see these sorts of things as a challenge, so I did a search and found one from a seller in Hong Kong for under $30. This is actually a great price as even with shipping is was under $40. I'm sure it will make into a great model.
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