The Alpha Zero - A6M1 questions

Landed a Hasegawa 1/48 A6M1 kit. Ding some reearch and this bird seems rather enigmatic. Some mention is made of an carb intake on the top of the cowl. (pretty much debunked as having been based on initial drawings, before metal was cut. ) Hasegawa kit does not have it, so no issue. Mysteries seem to be (1) Head rest, yes or no? Only photo I’ve found shows 1 of the prototypes, up on stands, cowl off. Photo is not clear enough to confirm or deny the head rest. Allegedly there are a few more photos out there but I’ve yet to find them. (Frenchy, what do you have in your bag of Black (and White) magic? ) (2) Armed or no? Being a prototype, I’m thinking no. Cockpit and wheel well colors? Mitsu green and exterior grey, like a production bird, or something different due to it’s prototype status? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Jiro Horikoshi’s book on the development of the Zero explains that the choice of 20 mm cannon was controversial but ultimately agreed upon so I would assume that they were present in the prototype.
Their mass , location and aerodynamic effect of barrels on the leading edges would be critical for performance testing .
I can’t say about prototype number one but the photo in the book of number two clearly shows a headrest .
The exterior finish is described as “ Ash Green “ which most believe to be Ame Iro .
The cowling was blue/black . Given these finishes were the same as production aircraft I see no reason why the cockpit interior would be anything different then Mitsubishi Green .
Hope this helps.

I highly recommend Painting the Early Zero-Sen, A Primer for Modellers and Artists

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Looks good, but review sounds like it is for production/ operational A6M2s. Not the 2 prototypes. Any clues if it does have anything substantial on the A6M1?

  Only photo I've found of #2 prototype A6M1. (The large oil cooler is the ID feature. #1 had the same size, but was recessed)  Looks like a head rest, but could be just shadow/lighting (?) .  There are photos of a museum replica (based on #1?) but I'm leery of it for references          


I have the guide - I’ll read through it and look .
The photo of #2 is the same one in the Jiro Horikoshi book .

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The only reference to the prototypes or pre production aircraft ( 5 in all ? )
is that two were overpainted in experimental colors to compare them to standard colors . I assume that #2 was not one of these as it was destroyed in a crash . At any rate , at one point all 5 aircraft were Ash Green ( Ame Iro ) . Wheel wells and gear doors of Mitsubishi built aircraft were painted airframe color as was the tail wheel assembly . Tail wheel bay Aotake.
The Early Zero Painting guide is EXTREMELY involved and technical. It is available from Nick Millman’s “ Aviation of Japan “ website as an e book.

One of my references is the late James Lansdale’s research. This is involved but referred to the first A6M.

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Hi Richard,

I’m answering this on my phone and not in front of my research, but I’m thinking Ame Iro is the “caramel color” championed buy modelers a while ago. I think the conventional wisdom is that while the base color may be a gray or greenish gray, the varnish put over would oxidize in the sunlight and take on a slightly yellow or khaki tint, leading to the “golden” or “candy colored” zeros. I’m thinking that the Ash Green hue is called Hai Iro, or J3 from the Thorpe days.

Thank you for making the availability of the book more obvious.

Nick Millman’s “ Aviation of Japan “ website is a wealth of material. Highly recommend it. Nick receives a lot of input from Japanese, and Japanese language Aviation proficient sources, several of them have produced documentation only whispered about over the years. A thing I really like about Nick’s site, he gets in there and forensically examines the colors, compares them to Munsel also compare them to the Federal Standard system and RAL. Also, I do not think he lets moss grow on his research. And he is a really nice guy.

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You may be right Fred - it is all very contentious and my memory is a tad rusty .
No doubt Nick Millman is likely the top guy for this stuff and you are 100% correct about him being a nice guy - very generous with his valuable time and knowledge.

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I can’t believe I missed this:

Good stuff Fred - New to me . Thanks

Related question. I saw somewhere that the seat in the Hasegawa 1/48 A6m3 is positioned to far forward/ aft (?) . Which one, and how much?anybody? Un related: What is with Armorama home page. It pops up with a 404 message. No big shakes, I can access the forumsetion, but…