Book Review
The Empire of Japan
Aces High No.3 - The Empire of Japan
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by: Mecenas [ MECENAS ]

Title: Magazine „Aces High”, Issue 3 – The Empire of Japan

Publisher: AK Interactive
Price: 9,00 EUR

AK Interactive continues the series of have published another issue of their aircraft modelling magazine – the Aces High. Volume three is exclusively dedicated to the Japanese Air Force of both Army and Navy. As usual authors takes us on the interesting modelling journey. Here are my few personal impressions.
Content is divided into separate chapters, each focusing on different model. This time we can find out how to build and decorate the following models:
  • Japanese Sea Serpent A6M5 Model 52 Zero - 1/32 scale, Tamiya by Juan Villegas
  • Sonia, a deadly lady –Ki-51 Sonia - 1/48 scale, Nichimo by Jose Luis
  • The flying swallow –Ki -61 Hien - 1/32 scale, Hasegawa by Pablo Montero
  • Thunder & Lightning –J2M3 Raiden– 1/32 scale, Hasegawa by Daniel Zamarbide
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! - A6M2b Zero –1/72 scale, Tamiya by Joaquin G. Gonzalez
In the ground section - “Mind the gap”- we get this time two short articles:
  • The path of the Kamikaze – 65mm, Corso Models - instruction and clues of painting the suicide pilot figure by Roberto Ramirez
  • Type 95 Kurogane car 1/48, Tamiya by Javier Martinez Rodriguez
For me the very best article of this issue is the Juan Villegas A6M5 Zero in /32 scale. It is the first text of the volume. Already great kit had been improved with PE sets and a bit of scratch building here and there. Particular steps are presented and described enough pletifuly so you could conciously witness how the pieces of plastic are being turned into a masterpiece. With great quality pictures this article can be a good example of the writer's and editorial craft. On the partially opposite side I can put the 1/48 Ki-51 Sonia. Author struggles with an old Nichimo kit, adding a lot of details and improvements. The effort and authors skills are without doubt on high level of competency but for an absolute admiration you would need much better pictures, with better light, sharpness and more detailed description of building process. On one picture you can see the preshaded model covered with salt and on the next picture it turns out into an already finished model s if nothing happened between these two phases.
The essence of effective modelling can be seen on the 1/32 scale Ki-61 Hien. Its author builds the kit out of the box presenting all the steps of treating the pilot office, undercarriage, propeller and camouflage. His steps are presented on very good photos, depicting particular steps and phases.
The most difficult to comment article for me of this issue is J2M Raiden build by Daniel Zamarbide. The model is seems to be build out of the box with the exception of few cables added to the cockpit floor and “driver” figure. All the interesting work starts with the first layer of paint. I think it is more a matter of personal taste to say whether you like or don't like the final effect, however for me this time the author moved to the extreme. From the other hand it's an asset as you can clearly see what's the in advance an impact of each step on the final effect and you can work out your own way, depending on your personal taste.
The small scale A6M2 Zero from Tamiya, build by Joaquin G.Rodriguez is a small gem. Improved where needed but without sinking into too much details, weathered in an interesting style and final effect seems to be looking like and original plane did look during its service in harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean. Nice addition of the base and maintenance crew figures makes an interesting display base. Summary of paint and colours used in building process is an useful “cheetsheet”.
As usual - it's a very useful reference for many easy and effective tips and tricks, enhancing the final effect of a finished model. It is just a bit pity that not all of the authors pay very much attention to corrections of the model's shape, errors or too big simplifications of original kits but build the kits out of the box, sometimes even without removing visible ejector pin marks. Good exceptions from this rule in this issue are Ki-51 Sonia or A6M5 Zero presented in the first two articles. The “sculpting” and scratch building aspect of the modelling craft will have to be learned from other sources but for painting and decorating you can find here even more than you will be able to eat for the first time. And the painting presented in this magazine is a top notch...

Don't forget your sunglasses and a bottle of water as with the next issue we will go on a trip to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: very good looking models presented in the articles, great quality of photographs, many painting “tips&tricks” presented in the articles
Lows: addressed to a very specific/particular group of modellers
Verdict: useful and inspiring, you may learn a lot almost directly from the very talented modellers
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: AK2904
  Suggested Retail: 9,00EUR
  PUBLISHED: Feb 17, 2015
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

Our Thanks to AK Interactive!
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About Mecenas

Copyright ©2021 text by Mecenas [ MECENAS ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I wish these were easier to get Stateside (Canada specifically.
MAR 29, 2015 - 11:41 PM
I'd like to see a copy of this.
MAR 30, 2016 - 06:45 AM
If you don't mind digital versions, you can purchase each issue through Google Play for about $5.00 USD. You can transfer them to some portable devices like an iPad. I'd recommend the Luftwaffe Night Fighters (Issue #1) just for the all black scheme, he covers a nice technique for producing a lot of detail even with the dark monochrome finish.
MAR 31, 2016 - 04:37 AM

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