ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scake Type 95 Ha Go Hokuman Version

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 676
7; IJA Type 95 Light Tank ?Ha-Go? Hokuman Version - Smart Kit; 292 part
s (228 in grey styrene, 56 etched brass, 6 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic trac
k runs); pre-order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: new kit of this vehicle in this scale; petite details nicely re
produced; full armament provided
Disadvantages: no detail other than weaponry for interior provided, may be
based on a prototype
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Pacific War fans
As previously noted, Japanese tank design, like many others, started with
examples of the Renault FT from WWI and advanced from there. Their first ef
forts, the Type 89 Medium and Type 92 Tankette, paralleled Western designs.
In 1935 they designed a new three-man light tank armed with a 37mm cannon
and two 7,7mm machine guns. Weighting at about 8 metric tons, the little ta
nk underwent four years of testing before entering full production in 1939.
But the Japanese did not understand or take into account the results of ta
nk combat with the Soviets in 1938-1939 at the Khasmin Lakes or Khal?kin
Gol. As a result, they wound up with tanks with inferior armor and armament
to their main enemy in the Pacific, the United States.
While around 2,100 Ha-Go tanks were built with about 900 coming from Mitsu
bishi Heavy Industries, they served in all theaters and for the entire cour
se of the war. But they rarely enjoyed success in combat; tanks which work
fine against unarmed peasants in China and Korea are usually not well suite
d for a mechanized enemy with better tanks and better tactics. Attempts at
upgrades, such as modifying the little tank to mount the heavier Type 97 Ch
i-Ha turret with 57mm gun, provided little relief. Possessed of poor visibi
lity, a large ?dead zone? around the tank, and tissue-paper thin armor,
it was usually more lethal to its crew than the enemy. Its swan song was d
uring its use by the 2nd Japanese Armored Division as dug-in pillboxes on t
he island of Luzon.
A prototype was developed for use in China and Manchuria which used an imp
roved suspension, but it apparently did not go into production.
DML has now produced a model of the Type 95 as modified for use in Hokuman
? their term for northwest China and Manchuria in the 1930s. But as note
d I cannot find any information on this tank and it may in fact only be bas
ed on the prototype noted above. The box art has a nice rendition of one pa
ssing a knocked-out BT tank, but as even Japanese histories admit the Type
95 had virtually no chance against the 45mm gun armed Soviet tanks and most
of the tanks knocked out fell to artillery or ?Molotov cocktails?.
Be that as it may, the kit is basically their very nice Type 95 kit with a
new sprue of parts for the modified suspension bogies. The suspension come
s with four brass spacers/washers per road wheel pair and a slide molded ce
nter ring for each pair of wheels, so they are quite involved. Here each bo
gie is fitted with an auxiliary ?helper? wheel to provide for better co
ntact with the ground by the tracks.
The suspension is very petite but complete, and happily DML has provided a
set of DS Plastic tracks rather than single link ones for this kit. The tr
acks are about the size of 1/72 Sherman tracks as a comparison so this is a
good idea. But unlike their 1/72 scale kits they do not give a required le
ngth to the tracks so there is no way to tell if the set provided is too lo
ng, too short, or right on the money.
There is no interior per se in the model, but the turret has one and it co
vers a nicely done replica of the 37mm gun with a choice of two different b
reeches/catch baskets and moveable ball mounts for the two machine guns. Th
e commander?s hatch offers either two styrene flaps or one with an etched
brass seal. All hatches are separate and the front glacis ones offer eithe
r closed and locked or open with unlocked latches. The driver has an option
al closed hatch or one with the viewer flipped up; each comes with its own
clear styrene insert.
The vehicle is provided with basic OVM to include three tow cables, pionee
r tools, and a four-piece jack.
Technical assistance was provided by Shin Okada.
Two finishing options are offered: 4th Tank Regiment, 2nd Company Command
Tank, Khal?kin-Gol 1939(four-color camouflage, no markings, blank registr
ation plate); Koushurei Tank School, North China 1941 (four color camouflag
e, character, registration number 302). A small sheet of Cartograf decals i
s provided.
Overall, this offers another option for the Type 95 but as noted there is
very little information available about it.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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