The aircraft entered service in early 1937 and soon saw action in aerial battles at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The A5M was the better of almost every fighter aircraft it encountered. Though armed with only a pair of 7.7 mm machine-guns, the new fighter proved effective and damage-tolerant, with excellent maneuverability and robust construction. Later on A5M’s also provided much-needed escorts for the then-modern but vulnerable Mitsubishi G3M bombers.

The A5M2b had an enclosed cockpit and a 640hp Kotobuki 3 engine powering a three-bladed propeller. The enclosed cockpit was unpopular with the pilots and was removed on later aircraft.

As far as I can tell there have been a few kits of this subject in 1/72 but they are nearly all reboxings of a very old kit by Frog. The exception is a limited run kit by High Planes Models in the 90s.

ClearProp has 3 levels of kits, each requiring different skill levels of the builder. Paraphrasing from the ClearProp site…

“…for experienced modellers it is necessary to create the kits which will include all additional parts in order to create a model copy that will repeat the original as much as possible. Such kits have been called “EXPERT”.
Despite this, many of our kits will also be available in “ADVANCED” and “STARTER” options, which will allow reducing the cost of the kit for the consumer. “

The kit comes in a sturdy box made of corrugated cardboard that covers all the sides of the box. On top of the box is a traditional box top made of thin card. Just to be clear the kit is 100% inside a corrugated cardboard box. All the parts are inside a resealable bag with various parts inside their own bags as well. The largest part of the resin engine is wrapped in bubble wrap inside the bag that contains all the resin parts. The packaging is very good. In the box we have:

  • 84 plastic parts
  • 41 PE parts
  • painting mask sheet
  • decal sheet
  • full colour 8-page glossy paper instruction sheet

The level of detail is very nice and the main parts have fine recessed panel lines. The attachment points are small and they attach to the mating surfaces. There are no alignment pins on the main parts of the fuselage or wings so you will have to take care during assembly. You have 2 options for the instrument panel, use a decal or use a film and PE panel with 4 extra PE handles.

The kit is built in 18 steps.

  1. Putting together the instrument panel. There are 2 options here, use a decal or use an instrument gauge film and PE panel with 4 extra PE handles
  2. Put the pilot’s seat together with PE seat belts.
  3. Add the seat to the rear cockpit frame.
  4. Assembling the cockpit floor with PE footrests.
  5. Join the 3 assemblies you’ve just built.
  6. Add detail to the port cockpit sidewall.
  7. Add a couple of details to the starboard sidewall and then join the fuselage halves together trapping the cockpit between them. note there are no alignment pins.
  8. Assemble the engine crankcase from resin parts.
  9. Assemble the engine and covers.
  10. Make 2 small bombs
  11. Make fuel tank
  12. Make the 2 main wheels
  13. Join the top and bottom wings after you’ve rilled a bunch of holes for bombs and fuel tank. Note there are no alignment pins on the wings.
  14. Trap the port main wheel between the wheel spats. You have 2 options of spats here but the decal options all use the larger spats.
  15. Do the same again for the starboard wheel.
  16. Add the ailerons, rudder, elevators and the cover above the engine.
  17. Add undercarriage and underwing items.
  18. The canopy goes on along with the engine and some other small parts.

The painting guide gives you 4 options and all mostly bare metal. Colours are named and called out in Mr Color and AK Interactive ranges. Colours are called out as needed throughout the instructions. Your 4 options are:

  • INJ Type 96 carrier-based fighter II, 12 Kokutai, China, 1938
  • INJ Type 96 carrier-based fighter II, 14 Kokutai, Korean Peninsula, 1938
  • INJ Type 96 carrier-based fighter II, 14 Kokutai, China, 1938
  • INJ Type 96 carrier-based fighter II, 12 Kokutai flown by P01c Kyosaku Aoki, China, 1938

This kit is available direct from the factory here for US$32.00.

Conclusion: This is a very nice little kit with lots of detail and the PE makes it a good choice. It’s easily the best kit of this aircraft out on the market right now.

Paul Tosney – Editor
HobbyLink International
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