by: Gary Kato [ ]
IntroductionFine Molds is mostly known for their World War 2 Japanese aircraft and Star Wars kits, but they also made kits of WW2 Japanese armor and guns in resin and white metal. A few years back, they decided to move their armor line into injection plastic which made those of us with an interest in WW2 Japanese stuff (all two of us in the US I guess) ecstatic. I didn't find out about their line of armor kits until I started buying from the Internet. The Type 95 was the main light tank of the IJA and saw service in all theatres through the entire war. It was armed with a 37mm gun and a machine gun in a one-man turret and a hull machine gun. The crew consisted of a driver, hull gunner, and commander/gunner/loader. As you can tell, the commander of a regular tank was one very busy fellow in a battle and you can imagine what a task juggler that a section or platoon leader had to be. The Type 95 was perhaps too successful in its role in the early days of the war. Although a successor had been developed and approved for production, the demand for the Type 95 during the war kept it in production for too long.
Kit ContentsThe kit contains 4 trees of olive-drab parts. Tree A holds the parts for the hull with the lower hull built up from separate pieces. The upper hull is mostly one piece with holes for the front of the driver's compartment, turret, and engine grill. There are two B trees with parts for the running gear as well as machine guns. There are also two C trees holding the suspension arms. Tree D holds the parts for the turret. There are also white metal pieces for an exhaust pipe, muffler exhaust tip, a latch (for a gas tank filler hatch?), tow cables, and a jack. Also included are photo-etched muffler screens and the kit includes Part A11 as a mold for forming the screens. Finally there are two vinyl tracks.
The decal sheet has markings for 8 tanks:
Manchuria August 1945
#755, 8th Tank Regt., Manchuria June 1942
#244, Army Youth Tank School, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
#20, 3rd Company, 1st Tank Regt., Malay 1942
2nd Company, 13th Tank Regt., Changsha, China 1941
6th Tank Regt., Manchuria 1944
3rd Company, 3rd Tank Regt., Philippines, 1942
Tank Company, 14th Infantry Regt., Peleliu Island, 1944
The instructions are easy to follow though not all remarks are translated. Unfortunately, the history/camouflage/markings sheet is among the material not translated.
ReviewThis is an older kit as is evidenced by the presence of flash, mostly on the A tree. There isn't a whole lot of it though and is easy to clean up. The kit models the exterior only, there isn't even a breech for the 37mm in the turret. Both the hull and turret machine guns are in a single fixed position but the 37mm is movable. There are no smoke grenade launchers although most pictures I've seen of this tank don't have them.
Lower Hull and Suspension:There should be bolt heads on the plate surrounding the final drive on parts A3/A4 and extras can be found on the back of the B tree's label. These might also be useful when using Fine Molds' PE set for the Type 95. There is a sink hole in middle of the pin that holds the drive sprocket to the final drive unit that will have to be dealt with. A minor nitpick are the missing bolt safety wires on the road wheels and idlers however I'm not sure it would be reasonable to mold these in injection plastic. The inboard bogie arms have ejection pin marks on the outboard side but they will probably be hidden by the road wheels.
Upper Hull:The upper edge of the hatch on the rear is even with the bottom of the fuel filler cover (if that's what the roundish thing is on the upper left corner of the upper hull rear plate) but there should be a gap between them. I don't know whether the filler cover is too large or the hatch is to tall or both. The fenders track guards have an uneven surface as if they were supposed to be canvas instead of metal and the flange that should be at the rear of the track guards is missing. Part A12 (gun cleaning rod?) is bent and it might straighten out after clipping from the tree or maybe a hot water bath will be needed. It should be simple enough to replace with a thin plastic or metal rod though if needed. I believe the web between the two barrels coming out of the metal jack needs to be removed. The metal exhaust tip is a quite nice piece with cooling holes represented and a little indentation on the tip for the exhaust itself.
Turret:There are ejection pin marks on the inside of the commander's open hatches. Although the rivet pattern on the side of the turret does not match the scale drawing in Tankpower 9, it does match photographs. There are no slits on the inside of commander's cupola but they are small and would be hard to see anyway. Part D10 has a sinkhole and care will be needed filling and sanding this area as there are some bolt heads close by. There are also missing bolt heads on the top and bottom of D9/D10. The shape of the turret from above does not match the scale drawing in Tank Power #9, but seems to match the overhead photo on the opposite page.
Tracks:The tracks seem to be the weakest part of this kit. There is a lack of exterior detail on the links under the connecting portion and the track teeth should have holes in them. The holes for the track pins on the side of the track blocks are also missing.
ConclusionWe are lucky that the only Type 95 kit we have available is a nice one. With a little sanding and a few added bolt heads, this will make a fine representation of an important vehicle of the Imperial Japanese Army. I would suggest getting the Modelkasten tracks to replace the kit-supplied items. Fine Molds makes a track set as well but I've been told that the holes in the teeth are missing from those as well.
Japanese Armor, Vol 1 - Tank Power 9 by Andrzej M Tomczyk
Covers Type 95 - Scale drawings (but rivet pattern on turret right side is wrong)
Japanese Armor, Vol 5 - Tank Power 25 by Andrzej M Tomczyk
Has photos of Type 95 preserved in museums
www.svsm.org - Photo galleries of Type 95 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Moscow Victory Park, Bovington, and Fort DeRussy