IJA Type 4 Light Tank ‘Ke-Nu’
Reviewed by Graham Tetley
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale IJA Type 4 Light Tank ‘Ke-Nu’. Kit No. 6854|
|Media and Contents:||Injection moulded plastic kit with flexible DS tracks, photo-etched parts and decals for two vehicles.|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||High level of detail; an outstanding model.|
In an attempt to up-gun the Imperial Japanese Army’s obsolete Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, some surplus Type 97 Chi-Ha turrets were added to the Ha-Go’s modified hull. The result was the Type 4 ‘Ke-Nu’. The Army received about 100 Ke-Nu’s and whilst the firepower was improved, the heavier weight of the turret decreased the vehicle’s speed & manoeuvrability. Even with the upgrade though, the Ke-Nu was obsolete by the time it saw service. Most tanks were retained on the Japanese mainland but some did see combat against the Soviets in Korea and Manchuria. Two examples of this vehicle survive and both are in Russia. One is at the Kubinka Museum and the other at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War 1941 - 1945 in Pobedy Park, Moscow.
Dragon has taken their excellent Type 95 Ha-Go and added a newly tooled upper hull & Type 97 ‘Chi-Ha’ turret to give us a Ke-Nu. All parts are cleanly cast with no imperfections at all and detail throughout is sharp, crisp and plentiful. A photo-etched fret supplies parts such as the curved exhaust grille, manufacturer’s plates and supports for underneath the fenders. Clear parts are included for the periscopes & cupola vision blocks and DS Tracks round off the kit contents. Marking are supplied for two vehicles from unidentified units.
At the time of writing I have not been able to build this kit but have built the previous Ha-Go. A test-fit of the new parts (upper hull, front glacis, engine deck hatches turret upper & lower halves) reveals an excellent parts fit. No filler should be needed at all.
We kick off as usual with the road wheels & suspension and then move onto the lower hull.
The rear idler tensioning parts can be made moveable and they are best left this way until you install the tracks. Optional hatches are provided with or without moulded-on latches and you can also replace the vision port covers with etched replacements if you wish. There are only two areas where construction could trip you up and these are:
When fitting the road wheels into the axles Dragon ask you to fit two etched flange both front and rear. If you do, the suspension halves will not fit together properly. I recommend just fitting the outer ones as, once on its wheels, you can’t see the inner ones anyway.
Dragon intended to slide-mould the jack and leave a hole for the base to slide in and out of. The instructions show you this in Step 20 but either the mould broke or they changed their minds. You just have to cut part G2 down to size.
All the rear engine deck hatches may be posed open or closed. The exhaust body is a one-piece slide-moulded part that has its straps & fittings moulded on. It would have been good to have had a plastic former to help bend the etched exhaust screen around but that is the only suggestion I can make to improve this kit. The tools have moulded-on clasps and straps that do look the part but, if you want more, there are generic Ha-Go etched sets out there.
The DS Tracks look good on first inspection but do have their problems and are marred by mould scars and flash on every link. Some may like them but I have a set of Modelkasten replacements ready.
The instructions are clearly drawn and I have not spotted any errors so far. One omission though is that, on the ‘Paint & Markings’ page Dragon give us the ‘TC’ references from the Gunze Sangyo Japanese Army paint sets. These references are not however mentioned in the paint colours section.
The new turret is beautifully represented and one can only hope that the new turret heralds a move by Dragon into kitting a Type 97 ‘Chi-Ha’ in future. The turret shell is festooned with some beautiful rivets, weld seams and cast textures. We get a detailed gun breach as well as optional aerial assemblies, gun mantlets (with sights open or closed) and even rifling in the gun barrel.
Some internal detail is present by way of panels that affix to the interior as well as a few bits that add detail to the turret base. Moving on to the cupola we have clear parts for the periscopes and a multi-part hatch that is exquisitely detailed.
Aside from the DS Tracks, this is an outstanding model that I can recommend unreservedly. This is Dragon back to their very best. Just go out and buy one, it makes a break from Panzers and Shermans!
Thanks to The Hobby Company Limited for the sample www.hobbyco.net