The Nakajima Rufe was a float version of the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero
fighter. It was built as a stop gap measure until a purpose designed
float plane could be built. Work began on this project in February of
1941. The airframe was nearly identical to the Zero apart from some
redesign of the vertical tail surfaces to enlarge the rudder and the
provision for a small ventral fin. A large central float was attached
to the fuselage by a forward sloping pylon and braced in the back by V
struts. Two stabilizing floats were attached to the main spar by slim
cantilever struts. The prototype was completed in December of 1941 and
production began in April of 1942 with deliveries to the JNAF starting
before the end of 1942. It was first encountered at Guadalcanal and was
later assigned to the Aleutians being based on Kiska and Attu. There
they served as a defensive fighter and reconnaissance fighter rather
than an offensive air cover fighter for use over Japanese landing
operations as originally envisioned. A total of 327 A6M2-N's were built
before production terminated in September of 1943. During the closing
stages of the war the type had largely been relegated to the training
role due to its low performance.
The Tamiya Rufe kit is
one of their older kits. I could find no date on it but the kit made
its appearance in 1973. That being said the kit is very close to being
state of the art with recessed panel lines, an accurate outline and a
decent cockpit interior, all ground breaking features at the time.
The box is a top open two part box with nice artwork of a Rufe
bombing something. Inside the box are two bags. One has two sprues and
the lower wing while the other has one sprue, the clear parts and
decals. Not the best arrangement but only one piece of the clear parts
appeared to suffer any from the arrangement. The parts are molded in a
light gray plastic and as mentioned above had nice recessed panel lines
and some recessed rivet detail. The parts had a light amount of flash
on some pieces. Other than some scuff marks from shipping I found no
surface defects on the airframe parts. The finish was smooth and shiny.
The fabric detail on the control surfaces was lightly done and quite
nice. I did not find any ejector pin marks that would show after
assembly. There was a sink mark where the instrument panel goes. There
is no raised instrument panel detail, just a decal. The engine detail
is nothing to write home about but not all that bad. The kit includes
two pilot figures, one standing and one seated. The cockpit detail is
really nice for this old of a kit and should paint up OK. The seat has
belts and harness molded on but they are so shallow it's difficult to
see them and it would be even harder to paint them. The kit includes
two under wing bombs and a beaching dolly. All total there are 55 parts
in gray. See photos below.
The clear parts are a tad thick but probably thinner than norm at the
time. The parts were clear except one which looks to have a bunch of
thin spider cracks on the inside. Both open and closed parts are
provided. The one funny shaped piece is a prop to be used to prevent
tail sitting. No weight is provided and will need to be added if you
don't want to use the prop. All together there are 5 clear pieces for a
kit total of 60 parts. See photo below.
For being over 30 years old the decals don't look too bad, they appear
a bit thick but seem to be in register. They cover markings for two
aircraft and include some smaller markings. See photo below.
The instructions are in Japanese, which I think was typical of Tamiya
at the time the kit was released. Fortunately the pictorial diagrams
should be adequate for assembly but you will need to use other
resources for interior color call outs and for painting up the pilots.
Fortunately Tamiya included a glossy sheet with color side profiles of
both of the aircraft
After Market Goodies Due to the age of the kit
there is not a lot specific to this kit but I suspect most anything
made for A6M2 Zeros could be made to work. In my case I'm only planning
the Eduard [FE 385] color zoom primarily for the painted instrument
panel as the kit uses only a decal. It also includes side consoles,
some black boxes and seat belt and shoulder harness which should bring
the kit up to contemporary standards. See photo below.
For its age, this kit has held up well. It obviously was
ahead of its time detail wise. It can't vouch for how well things fit
together but I suspect it's not far off from the Tamiya we know today.
Links to kit build or reviews
None found specific to this kit.