IJA Type 95 Light Tank “Ha-Go” Late Production - Smart Kit
Dragon Smart Kit, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6770; IJA Type 95 Light Tank “Ha-Go” Late Production - Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||287 parts (213 in grey styrene, 66 etched brass, 6 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||New kit of this vehicle in this scale; petite details nicely reproduced; full armament provided|
|Disadvantages:||No detail other than weaponry for interior provided.|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all Pacific War fans|
As with the previous two releases of the Type 95, Japanese tank design, like many others, started with examples of the Renault FT from WWI and advanced from there. Their first efforts, 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 tank underwent four years 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 Soviets in 1938-1939 at the Khasmin Lakes or Khalkin 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 1,160 Ha-Go tanks were built, mostly by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, they served in all theaters and for the entire course 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 suited 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 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 usually 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 Luzon.
This kit tweaks a few of the details found on the earlier kits to replicate the final production variants. It adds a new bow and upper glacis, ten more etched brass bits, and some changes to the components of the earlier kits.
DML has done a nice job of giving the modeler a very detailed kit with many parts provided as separate components, such as the fender and mudguard assemblies. Photos show they did not last long in the jungle environments of most tanks, so this assists the modeler for a specific replica.
This time the suspension comes with four brass spacers/washers per road set (e.g. eight per bogie) and a slide molded center ring for each pair of wheels, so they are quite involved. 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 tracks are about the size of 1/72 Sherman tracks as a comparison so this is a good idea.
There is no interior per se in the model, but the turret has one and it covers a nicely done replica of the 37mm gun with a choice of two different breeches/catch baskets and moveable ball mounts for the two machine guns. The 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 either closed and locked or open with unlocked latches. The driver has an optional closed hatch or one with the viewer flipped up; each comes with its own clear styrene insert. Each hatch now comes with an etched brass guide and locking arm attachment.
The vehicle is provided with basic OVM to include three tow cables, pioneer tools, and a four-piece jack.
Technical assistance was provided by Shin Okada.
Four finishing options are offered: 14th Tank Regiment, Peleliu 1944 (four-color camouflage, characters on hull and insignia on turret); 14th Tank Regiment, Peleliu 1944 (four-color camouflage, different characters on hull and insignia on turret); Company 3, 14th Tank Regiment, Malaya 1944 (four-color camouflage, three bars on turret, star 663 registration plate); Company 1, 9th Tank Regiment, Guam 1944 (four-color camouflage, white split rectangle, characters on hull). A small sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall, this looks to be a nice kit of the final production version of this little tank but will require concentration on the part of the modeler to assemble.
A 39 Glacis, OVM, hatches, details
B 60x2 Road wheels, suspension, machine guns, 10 rivet heads
C 26 Turret base, main gun, hatch, details
D 14 Driver’s hatch/viewer, idler wheels, spare track links
E 4 Fenders/mud guards
F 1 Smoke grenade launchers
G 4 Jack
H 3 Gun breech/shoulder piece
J 2 Front, upper glacis
K 6 Clear styrene
X 2 Upper and lower hull sections
Y 2 Turret, cupola
Z 2 DS Plastic track runs
MA 66 Etched brass
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.