Part 1: First Look

MSRP $119.95

The Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe," the floatplane version of Mitsubishi's famous "Zeke" (or "Zero") fighter first flew on Dec. 8, 1941 (Dec. 7 in Hawaii).  It was to be an interim floatplane fighter while the Imperial Japanese Navy awaited development of the Kawanishi Kyofu ("Rex").  Nakajima produced all 372 examples, based on the A6M2 Type 11, which did not have folding wingtips.  The landing gear were removed and faired over, floats were added, and the rudder was increased to compensate for the floats.  Extra fuel tanks in the main float gave the aircraft a range of 1,107 miles.

Trumpeter's new kit uses sprues common with their A6M2 Type 21 release.  A new sprue, consisting of parts exclusive to the "Rufe," including a beaching trolley are boxed along with a fuselage converted with a mold plug for the vertical tail.  There is a slight gap on the fuselage top and bottom where the new tail was added.  The fuselage also has the rollover bar and DF loop behind the pilot, which were not fitted to the "Rufe."  These features are easily corrected.

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There are eight sprues containing 181 injection molded parts, along with film negative instruments, photo etched control surface hinges, and metal rods to mount the control surfaces.  Suggested retail price is $119.95.  The molding is crisp and impressive.  The cockpit alone comprises some forty parts, but there are no belts included.  The well detailed engine, including mounting brackets, fuel cell and oil tank appear quite accurate and complete.  The only thing the modeler may wish to add is the wiring.

Two detailed 20mm wing cannon with ammunition drums and ejection chutes are included for the wings.  However, there is no option to display them without surgery.

All the control surfaces, including flaps, are separate and hinged.  Since the Rufe did not have folding wingtips, these parts are better glued in place.  The prop detail includes a hub with separate counter-balances under the spinner.  Two bombs, a boarding ladder, and separate clear navigation lights round off the finishing touches.

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Three color schemes, two green over gray, and one solid gray are the markings choices.

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This is my first Trumpeter kit, and I must say that I am very impressed with the detail and quality of the moldings.  The finished kit measures approximately seventeen inches long, with a twenty inch wingspan.  This is a very large model.  There are ejector pin marks on the inside of the fuselage that will be difficult to see once the model is completed.  Pin marks that will require careful clean up are located on the seat pan, inner flap surfaces, and the ring to which the engine and bearers mount.  Some smaller pin marks on the clear instrument panel are shallow but noticeable.  The adjacent detail requires care in their removal.  Sink marks are visible on the wing tops and the area of the fuselage mold plug.

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I am very excited about starting this kit, and I will begin with the cockpit.

My thanks to Stevens International and Trumpeter for providing this kit for review.


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