Reviewed: Aug 2023
Eduard's fourth limited edition release based on their new 1:48 A6M Zero tooling is a dual combo entitled "Rufe".
This release focuses entirely on the floatplane version of the Zero which was based on the original A6M2 Type 21 airframe/engine.
Of the six sprues in the box, only two are from the original tool (one grey and one clear). The remaining four sprues are entirely new and cover the wing, float and beaching gear which were all specific to the Rufe. This boxing includes 8 marking options covering Rufe's in service between 1942 and 1944.
This dual combo boxing includes:
Due to the lack of available airstrips on some of the islands Japanese forces were taking during World War II, it was decided to develop a floatplane fighter version of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen fighter, mainly to support amphibious operations and defend remote bases. As Mitsubishi was fully involved in producing the land-based variant, development of this aircraft was assigned to Nakajima late in 1940, work commencing in February 1941.
The airframe was virtually identical to the Zero-Sen but some changes were made to the vertical tail surfaces to enlarge the rudder and a small ventral fin was fitted. A large single float was attached under the fuselage with a single pylon and V-struts, a stabilising float being fitted outboard under each wing attached to the main spar. A relatively small number totaling 327 were built, including the original prototype.
Being a Limited Edition boxing, Eduard normally pulls out all the stops to provide the modeller with well researched background information and period photos for the subject at hand. For "Rufe" we have a familiar full color assembly booklet including four pages covering the development of the A6M2-N Rufe and its use during the war in the pacific. Starting our examination with Sprue L, which is unique to the Rufe kit as it contains the modified wings with the wheel wells faired over and provision made for the central and wing tip floats.
Nakajima chose the latest A6M2 Type 21 as the basis for the new design. Modifications were fairly modest, with the landing gear removed and the wheel wells faired over, and the addition of a large central float and two stabilising wing floats in place of the undercarriage. Eduard's surface detailing is once again wonderfully subtle and looks perfect in 1:48 scale.
As the Rufe was based on the original A6M2 Type 21 it incorporated the wing fold found in that carrier based aircraft. Eduard even provides a 3D printed "wing fold" accessory for the Rufe (same as for the base Zero kit no doubt). It's however very unlikely the wingfolds were even used on operational Rufe's as they had no real reason to, but it would be accurate to fold the wings and may add a touch of interest to your finished model.
A collection of Rufe's undergoing maintenance and pre-flight fuelling.
Sprue U is focused once again on the Rufe unique parts containing the main and wing floats. Interestingly, the addition of the main float to the underside of the Zero left no room for its usual ventral drop tank, so the main float was modified to include an auxiliary fuel tank. This sprue also contains a pair of optional bombs and pylons.
The float is detailed with fine panel lines and rivets and will respond well to appropriate chipping and weathering. Eduard does remind the modeller to install some weight in the forward tip of the main float to avoid a "tail sitter". Not sure this is really needed if you use the included beaching trolley, but better to be safe than sorry.
A large lineup of Nakajima A6M2-N’s, probably in Tulagi Harbor.
Sprue T contains the beaching trolley, main float underside and the enlarged rudder parts which were unique to the Rufe. The propellor and some cockpit details are also present.
The beaching trolley for most floatplanes are a simple affair, the Rufe being no exception. A boarding ladder (installed on the starboard side behind the wing trailing edge) was necessary for the pilot to board the Rufe.
Unless you plan to place your Rufe in a ocean diorama, the included beaching trolley will come into play. Eduard have sensibly broken down the assembly for this unit into half a dozen main parts.
The beaching trolley includes the boarding ladder, which was removed before flight. Part T2 is a small support, used with the trolley to ensure the tail did not drop. It will be interesting to see how stable the aircraft is on the trolley once complete. Hopefully the trolley will not need to be glued to the float.
Sprue G is the last of the four Rufe specific sprues in the box. It was necessary for Eduard to tool a new fuselage (rather than use the previous Zero one) because on the Rufe, to maintain manoeuvrability, the rudder was enlarged and a ventral fin added. This ventral fin was attached to the rear fuselage and so Eduard added it to part G9, the port fuselage half. It's attention to details like this that constantly set Eduard apart from their competitors.
The Rufe rudder was enlarged and Eduard provide this as parts T3, T8 and T9.
The Rufe fuselage was in most respects identical to the A6M2 Zero but in addition to the previously mentioned ventral fin it also incorporated a large reinforcement metal plate in the cockpit area for stress balance to counteract the main float. For these reasons Eduard has tooled a completely new Rufe specific fuselage sprue.
Standard in Eduard Profipacks is the inclusion of photo-etch details. Two identical sets are included in "Rufe" and these are focused mainly on the cockpit with pre-painted parts for main instrument panel, side consoles and seat harness.
Japanese Navy Nakajima A6M2-N “Rufe” floatplane fighters of the 943rd Kōkūtai at Halong Air Base, Ambon Island, Dutch East Indies. March 1st, 1944.
If you decide that you want to add that something extra to your Rufe build then Eduard certainly has you covered. Everything from replacement cockpits, wing folds, wheels, propellors, undercarriage in photo-etch brass and resin (both cast and 3D printed) are available with more being released each month.
The main attraction of the Eduard Limited Edition boxings is of course the unique set of "subject" focused marking options. Generally the included plastic parts can be found in any number of earlier releases but the thing that makes this kit a "limited edition" is the decals. These specific marking options cannot be found elsewhere in the Eduard catalog and it's the main reason you'd buy this particular release over a weekend or profipack kit.
"Rufe" includes eight marking options, ranging from the early factory applied "J3 olive-gray" (Eduard calls for a 50:50 mix of Hemp C336 + Gray C60) with two of the included schemes being a "field applied" dark green and the final three late production schemes with factory applied dark green topsides.
The subject of Japanese WW2 Aircraft colors is almost a sub-culture within itself and Eduard have provided all their color callouts (as usual) from the Gunze Mr Color range. An interesting read on early Zero colors can be found on j-aircraft.com within this article: ZERO CAMOUFLAGE SCHEMES. For some of the main colors (the J3 olive gray being one) Eduard require you to blend your own mix, however if you prefer to avoid this and paint straight out of the bottle then the AK Real Color range offer pre-mixed paints for all the common IJN and IJA colors.
The decals in this kit are the Eduard printed digital decals. I have seen a lot of the Eduard kit decals over the last few years and I have say that this particular sheet looks much more like "normal" decals, with minimal/clean carrier film. This may mean that Eduard have finally sorted out the teething problems with their in house digital decals.
The color saturation and resolution of the decals seems quite good and as I have not used them yet I cannot comment of the opacity, however I have yet to find an Eduard decal sheet where that has been a problem.
Another welcome addition to the Eduard "Limited Edition Dual Combo" family. "Rufe" offers a very welcome addition their ever expanding Zeke family.
I'm glad they included the beaching trolley as this opens up the possibilities for a small vignette or full blown diorama.
I have no hesitation at all in recommending this new Dual Combo from Eduard.