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Academy 1/48 scale A6M2b Zero Fighter Model 21 “Battle of Midway” plastic model kit review

Superb kit from start to finish
Kit:12352 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$39
Academy (Maple courtesy of MRC)
Builds easily; terrific interior and surface details; masks canopy and wheels
Canopy looks a bit too thick
Injection-molded plastic (light gray, clear); 137 parts (8 vinyl poly-caps); masks; decals
Academy commemorates the Battle of Midway, June 4-7, 1942, 80th anniversary with the release of its all-new 1/48 scale A6M2b Model 21 Zero fighter kit. It provides markings and diagrams for five aircraft, all in Japanese navy gray, including one flown by Saburo Shindo, famous for giving the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” attack call during Pearl Harbor. That’s the aircraft I chose to model.

The box contains five light gray parts trees, one clear part tree, a beautiful decal sheet, and masks for the canopies, propeller backs, and wheels. You can pose the canopy open or closed.

Construction begins with the cockpit, and what a cockpit it is! There are so many separate pieces it’s impossible to list them all. All the dials and instruments are available on the decal sheet in amazingly realistic detail. It is fantastic-looking when complete, but it lacks seat belts, although there is a pilot figure with one molded on. Academy probably assumed that modelers would use the figure, so it didn’t need to provide separate seat belts.

All that cockpit detail means a tight fit between the fuselage halves. But they do fit together and display good surface detail.

Not overly complicated, the engine contains all that is necessary for a simple but great-looking part. I only had to remove the flash from the push rods — the only part with flash in the entire kit. You can pose the cowl flaps open or closed. Poly-caps allow the prop to spin without falling out.

Like the fuselage, the wings have good surface detail, as do the landing-gear bays, struts, weighted tires, and bay doors. The wheels are keyed, so you don’t have to worry about alignment issues. Optional parts are included for open or closed gear bay doors.

The kit does not come with a stand but has you use poly caps to hold the drop tank, which, to me, suggests that a separate display stand is available. It’s a nice touch that you can install or remove the drop tank with ease.

The kit includes optional ailerons and flaps if you choose to have your Zero parked or ready for takeoff. The folded wing tips are also a nice touch. Beware of the unsightly ejector-pin marks located on the inner flaps.

The extremely clear canopies seem a bit thick to scale. The provided masks fit perfectly, and I had no problems with paint bleed.

A full-color, four-page, painting guide is provided and lists colors from several manufacturers, including Testors Model Master. The guide calls for RAF Sky Grey overall, but Testors used to make Imperial Japanese Navy Sky Gray (No. 2117), so that’s what I used. This was the only discrepancy I saw in the paint guide.

The decals are absolutely wonderful. They shrunk to fit every rivet and detail with no issues, and the print quality is superb.

The Academy 1/48 scale A6M2b Zero Fighter Model 21 is a beautiful kit and fun to build. Academy seems to be stepping up its game, which should excite modelers. When finished, you’ll have an excellent replica that will look great next to an F4F or maybe an SBD.
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