ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 676
7; IJA Type 95 Light Tank ?Ha-Go? Early Production - Smart Kit; 282 par
ts (218 in grey styrene, 56 etched brass, 6 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic tra
ck runs); pre-order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: nice, new kit of this vehicle in this scale; petite details nic
ely reproduced; full armament provided
Disadvantages: no detail other than weaponry for interior provided
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Pacific War fans
Japanese tank design, like many others, started with examples of the Renau
lt FT from WWI and advanced from there. Their first efforts, the Type 89 Me
dium and Type 92 Tankette, paralleled Western designs. In 1935 they designe
d 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 tank underwent four yea
rs of testing before entering full production in 1939. But the Japanese did
not understand or take into account the results of tank combat with the So
viets in 1938-1939 at the Khasmin Lakes or Khalkin Gol. As a result, they w
ound up with tanks with inferior armor and armament to their main enemy in
the Pacific, the United States.
While around 1,160 Ha-Go tanks were built, mostly by Mitsubishi Heavy Indu
stries, they served in all theaters and for the entire course of the war. B
ut they rarely enjoyed success in combat; tanks which work fine against una
rmed peasants in China and Korea are usually not well suited for a mechaniz
ed enemy with better tanks and better tactics. Attempts at upgrades, such a
s modifying the little tank to mount the heavier Type 97 Chi-Ha turret with
57mm gun, provided little relief. Possessed of poor visibility, a large
?dead zone? around the tank, and tissue-paper thin armor, it was usuall
y more lethal to its crew than the enemy. Its swan song was during its use
by the 2nd Japanese Armored Division as dug-in pillboxes on the island of L
uzon.
For many years Fine Molds has ?owned? WWII Japanese armored and softsk
in vehicles, but they have had a Type 95 kit on the market for a number of
years now. Their kit was nicely accurate but relatively simple and a ?qui
ck build?, so this second foray by DML into new territory with a highly d
etailed version of the little tank is quite noteworthy. Translation: if you
are looking for a weekend project, this isn?t it!
DML has done a nice job of giving the modeler a very detailed kit with man
y parts provided as separate components, such as the fender and mudguard as
semblies. Photos show they did not last long in the jungle environments of
most tanks, so this assists the modeler for a specific replica.
The suspension comes with four brass spacers/washers per road wheel pair a
nd a slide molded center ring for each pair of wheels, so they are quite in
volved. The suspension is very petite but complete, and happily DML has pro
vided a set of DS Plastic tracks rather than single link ones for this kit.
The tracks are about the size of 1/72 Sherman tracks as a comparison so th
is is a good idea.
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.
Four finishing options are offered: 1st Tank Regiment, Malaya 1941 (four-c
olor camouflage, character, white 20); Kwantung Army, Manchuria 1944 (four-
color camouflage, character, white 101); 2nd Company, 7th Tank Regiment, Ph
ilippines 1942 (four-color camouflage, insignia, white 9502); 13th Tank Reg
iment, China (four-color camouflage, character). A small sheet of Cartograf
decals is provided.
Overall, this looks to be a nice new version of this little tank but will
require some concentration on the part of the modeler to assemble.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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