After years of being a collectors' item as part of the extraordinary 15-kit anniversary set of Zero versions, Hasegawa's A9M2-K
2-seat trainer version is finally available in its own right. It's an excellent kit straight from the box, but Eduard have taken the opportunity to raise it to the next level in the detail department with a pair of etched upgrade sets.
Set #49444 - $24.95
This set comprises two etched frets, one of them partially pre-painted and self-adhesive for a total of 203 new parts, along with a printed film for the gunsight glass. The set includes the obvious items missed by Hasegawa, such as seat harnesses and engine wiring, plus a myriad of extra details and replacement instruments and seats. The pre-painting is superb, with the usual extremely fine details that would be nigh on impossible to achieve painted by hand.
The twin cockpits come in for a pretty major overhaul and, unlike Hasegawa, Eduard have chosen matching seats for both pilot and pupil(which does seem more logical). The floor and sidewalls are dressed up with new rudder pedals, wiring, knobs and levers, new consoles and multi-part throttles - over 80 new items in all.
Turning away from the cockpit, among other details, there are perforated gun barrels for the cowl, an ignition harness and other extras for the engine, details for the mainwheel well and, last but not least, new wheel doors, oleo scissors, cables and hubs for the mainwheels themselves.
Some of the items are quite small and there are a number of boxes to form and other folds involved, but I'd rate this as a medium complexity etched set. Anyone with a bit of experience should have few problems if they work steadily and carefully.
Set #48623 Landing Flaps - $19.95
While they can look rather daunting the first time you use them, Eduard's etched metal flaps actually aren't that hard to work with at all, so long as you're careful not to be heavy-handed. The Zero flaps take the same form as previous sets - a pair of flaps themselves, plus liners for the wing interior. Both main assemblies are formed of just one piece each - all the ribs etc. are already attached and twist and fold into place - with addition hinges and brackets as separate parts. The key to success is thinning the kit wing sufficiently to allow the metal liner to fit snugly. I've found that thinning the plastic until it's translucent is sometimes required, but the results are certainly worth it - Eduard's etched flaps offer a degree of delicacy that I've not seen replicated in any other way.
Both the detail set and flaps come with clearly illustrated instructions that are straightforward to follow. They are supplied in B&W, but colour-coded versions are available online at Eduard's website, and the addition of colour does make it easy to spot quickly where the kit parts must be trimmed or replaced entirely. Note: the built-up photos included here are of Eduard's brass prototypes - the finished sets are produced in steel.
Hasegawa's Zero trainer is an usual kit that will always turn heads for being that bit different and, with the addition of the level of detail Eduard provide here, it should prove a real show-stopper. Highly recommended for experienced modellers.
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