Light Tank "Ha-Go"
Imperial Japanese Naval Landing Force
|Media:||Styrene, White Metal, Brass Etched and Resin|
S u m m a r y
|Contents:||120 Brown Styrene Parts, 192 Gunmetal Coloured Styrene Parts, 4 White Metal Parts, 1 Fret of Etched Brass, 4 Resin Parts, 1 Decal Sheet|
|Advantages:||Beautiful quality; great detail; truly multi-media; resin Commander figure; individual track links; simple to build; less expensive than original FineMolds release|
|Disadvantages:||No interior detail; some flash is present; not widely available|
|Recommendation:||For Pacific armour fans and those wanting to build something different out-of-the-box.|
B a c k g r o u n d
The war in Europe between 1939 and 1945 saw a massive escalation of armour and armament of tanks. This situation came about largely due to the vast, open distances on the Eastern and North African fronts. Tanks were visible to the enemy for many kilometres, and the combatant with most powerful gun had the opportunity to strike the first blow.
The Pacific theatre imposed no such requirement. Fighting took place under jungle canopies in thick undergrowth. Roads were virtually non-existent. Tropical thunderstorms made large sectors of the Pacific Islands muddy bogs for much of the year. Visibility was measured in metres. Heat and oppressive humidity took a heavy toll on men and machines. The critical factor for the survival of a tank was its ability to keep moving under these challenging conditions.
Weight was another factor, as these vehicles had to be landed on islands by barge and landing craft.
Under these circumstances it should be no surprise that one of the best Japanese tanks of World War Two was equipped with a 37mm main gun, had maximum armour thickness of 12mm and weighed only 7.5 tonnes. The Imperial Japanese Army Light Tank Type 95 "Ha-Go" was originally designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1933 and saw front-line action until the end of the Pacific War. Its air-cooled, six cylinder diesel engine functioned well in the freezing cold of Northern Manchuria and the steaming jungles of the Pacific Islands. The biggest limitation of the tank was the one-man turret. In addition to providing direction and control of the vehicle, the Commander had to load, aim and fire the main gun!
The Type 95 was an approximate counterpart of the M3 Stuart.
F i r s t L o o k
FineMolds of Japan originally released this kit (stock number FM-6) in 1996. Ëu-II (I assume this brand name is actually a play on words - "You Too" - get it?) re-boxed the kit as a tank of the Japanese Naval Landing Force. The only differences are different decals, no-frills brown cardboard box and a 20% lower pricetag. One conversion task is required - the Japanese Army star on the forward hull has to be shaved off!
This is a truly multi-media model featuring 120 brown plastic parts (you know, the same colour Model Kasten use) on six sprues, twelve sprues of track links, four white metal parts, a brass-etched exhaust cover and a resin Commander figure.
Moulding is as good as it gets. The only imperfections are some almost invisible ejector pin marks on the inside of the hatches. Quite a lot of flash was also present on Sprue A (the hull parts). The dented fenders and the open-grilled engine vent are the highlights. These plastic parts are at least as good as the best that Tamiya can offer. The white metal parts are equally good. I particularly like the treatment of the tow cables. The four-piece, full standing figure is also superb.
External detail is excellent. Weld beads, bolt heads, hinges and handles are all impressively crisp.
The tracks should present no problem. There are relatively few of them, with two paired links and twelve single links on each track sprue. The top of each gunmetal-coloured sprue has what looks like raised Braille lettering . Don't throw these away - they are actually extra bolt heads in two sizes (just like Model Kasten sell). Just slice them off with a new knife blade onto a white, flat surface.
No detail is provided for the interior - not even a breech for the 37mm gun. This is a pity as the commanders hatch is quite large, and the kit provides the option of opening the drivers escape hatch in the front of the superstructure.
Eduard make a brass-etched detail set for all those modellers who cant stand to build a kit straight from the box. This set provides details for the interior of hatches, box mounts, final drive covers and a few other items.
Instructions are in Japanese, but are well illustrated with clear construction diagrams. The instructions even point out where the limitations of the moulding surface have not permitted bolt-head detail, and where to add these bolts. A supplementary page is supplied which covers the minor differences between the army and navy versions, plus the different markings. This supplementary page has some information in English.
Decals are supplied for four vehicles. Painting instructions are quite clear, with multi-view drawings of the complex four colour scheme. However, I believe this scheme may not be appropriate for vehicles in service after 1942. Check your references carefully.
I have spoken to Ray Blythe who has built this kit in the FineMolds boxing. He advises
that it fits perfectly and builds up quickly. Ray finished his kit in a weekend.
C o n c l u s i o n
6500 yen is certainly not expensive considering the inclusion of individual track links, brass screen, white metal accessories and a resin figure. American modellers should be able to take advantage of their strong dollar and the weak yen to pick this kit up at a bargain price.
Ëu-II's Type 95 is a very high quality, multi-media model of a colourful and
significant subject. Highly recommended to all Pacific armour enthusiasts or modellers
looking for a good quality kit straight from the box.
R e f e r e n c e s
George Forty "World War Two Tanks", 1995, Osprey Publishing, London
Steven Zaloga "Tank Battles of the Pacific War 1941-1945", 1995, Concorde
Publications Co., Hong Kong
B.T. White "Tanks and Other Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World War Two",
1975, Blandford Press, London
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