Dragon 1/72 Type 95 Ha-Go

KIT #: 7394
PRICE: $17.00 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Bill Koppos
NOTES: Small but perfectly formed.

HISTORY


Ubiquitous adj having or seeming to have the ability to be everywhere at once; omnipresent


Ah, at least one good word to describe our little subject. From the far flung Islands of the Central Pacific to the steaming fringes of India, from the Icy Aluetian Islands to the remotest tip of New Guinea, the Ha-Go was-ubiquitous. Allied forces had to deal with them on Tarawa, Guam, Peleliu and many other Pacific atolls in their dozens. Numbers of them were in the Japanese order of battle in the big offensives to invade India through Imphal and Kohima. Type 95's were there when the Japanese tried to flank Australian forces in the South Pacific at the Milne Bay landings in New Guinea. Several of these tanks became the only such to touch American soil when they were landed on Attu island, part of U.S. territory in the frozen arctic. They gave as good as they got in the Philippines, but perhaps their biggest success was in the Malayan campaign, where their mere presence sent unprepared and anti-tank weaponless opponents fleeing their defense lines. But, like so many other Japanese weapons at war's start, their enemies quickly gained the measure of the lightly armed and armored little machines, and their effectiveness waned rapidly as the fighting wore on.

The Type 95 Ha-Go light tank first rolled off a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries production line in 1935. At the time of it's introduction it was on a par with other country's light tank designs, even better than some. It's turret bore a 37mm cannon, which could fire High Explosive shells, or a reasonably effective armor-piercing round. 7.7mm machine guns were mounted in the forward hull and the rear of the asymetrical turret. This small turret could accommodate only one man, who had to command the tank and aim, load and fire all the turret's weaponry. Two other crew were present, a mechanic/machine gunner, and the driver. Motive power was a 120 horsepower diesel engine, superior to gas engines for tank use. Mobility was a prime requirement, speed being important for the tanks to keep up with the motorized infantry columns. It was the most produced of the Japanese tanks, 2300 or so being turned out by several manufacturers
The Ha-Go fared well in China and as mentioned, against lighter opposition at WW2's start. By 1942 it's 1935 origins were showing. Any American gun of 37mm and up could defeat it's thin armor, and the introduction of the Sherman and the Bazooka guaranteed it's quick demise in any battle. They were however ubiquitous, and had to be fought to the end like any other Japanese weapon. In keeping with it's ubiquity, a salvaged example still exists at the Aberdeen Proving grounds in Maryland, which I have visited several times.

THE KIT

Aside from all the above, I've always thought the Ha-Go was a good-looking little tank, well balanced shape wise, with a mix of curves and angles. So I was glad to hear of Dragon's release of this one, even though I don't normally do this scale. It is in the "Armor Pro" series, all of which feature fine details and molding. In fact, the side of the box proudly proclaims the sprocket wheels have "breath-taking details" and "sharply on-vehicle tools produced". Well my breathing was not really affected, but they are nice. What you get here is one sprue-yep one, with all of twenty parts hanging off it. Add the separately bagged upper and lower hulls and you've got a whopping 22 parts, plus the photo- etched muffler screen. A Cartograph decal sheet represents a machine from the Philippines in 1942. Tracks are the DS kind, mixed blessing that these are. The instruction sheet is in color, the picture type. Shall we glue?

CONSTRUCTION

One would think with only 22 parts, things would be pretty easy, but I found trouble right off the bat. I first glued on the little return rollers, breathtaking sprockets and the idler wheels. Then I assembled the 2-half bogie trucks, parts 6 and 7. Upon trying to install these found that they did not line up with the other wheels at all, being too far in, and the holes in the inner trucks were much too big for the hull mounting pins. After some WTH and head scratching, my solution was to cement some .005 styrene shims, cut to shape, over the inside holes. I let these dry overnight, then drilled new smaller holes into the old location. Now when installed everything lines up. One of the pics tells the story. All the wheels were carefully lined up for straightness, and allow to dry overnight again.


All other assembly was trouble free, fit being good. The inside of the turret hatches are detailed, but no figure is given, I closed mine. The main gun is hollowed out for you. If you can hollow out the muzzles of those miniscule machine guns, you are much much better than me. The fit of the hull top to the bottom is good enough that I left it off to make it easier to paint and weather the tracks later. These tracks are the "DS" type, basically rubber-band tracks that take glues. The instructions have a section that prompts you to either stretch or shorten the tracks if they don't fit to your liking. How to put them back together if cut is unclear. However this was no problem for me, as I like lots of sag in my tracks. So I stretched them a bit to see how they would sit. The big plus here is the DS tracks will respond to any liquid cement or cyano glue. First I tried to cement the tracks low on the return rollers, but the sections in between would not sag, and stayed straight. I had some very fine steel wire, and cut small pieces of this, using cyano super glue to lay these on the inner run behind the guide links between the rollers and sprockets. Then using fine tweezers nice sag was put in to my satisfaction. The wire is not visible unless you really look hard for it. I'm gonna cover it up with mud too. Again I tried to show this in a picture. Off to the paint department.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The usual coat of flat black with a touch of white was applied first, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies. At first I thought I had no Khaki, but turned up an old tin of Humbrol 26 that was still quite good. This was the basecoat. Coats go pretty quick with 1/72 tanks, when you're used to 1/32 aircraft! Now the Japanese armor used 3-color schemes brush painted at the factory, no way I'm masking this peanut. So we must brush the next two colors. Vallejo to the rescue, their standard acrylic line is very brushable, leaving no brush marks especially if thinned a bit with water. Sometimes this needs two coats, but it is worth doing for a smooth finish. The 3-view drawing in the plans falls short, as all they give you is a front, rear and left side view. So I winged it on the left and top, but each scheme was different so WTH. I used U.S. Green and Chocolate brown for the other two colors, these matching the colors given in the 3 view fairly well. Then using a very fine tipped brush the yellow profile break-up stripes were added. Here having the hull top still unglued to the bottom came in handy as these stripes go down the hull sides also.


Now the small detail parts get paint, the muffler rusty brown, tools and machine guns steel, tires dark grey. The etched muffler screen was bent around a suitably sized sprue piece, installed with white glue (it fits beautifully) and camouflaged to match. Testor's Metallizer Sealer is my choice of Glosscoat, this job took ten minutes, ten minutes of drying, and decals were applied. Man ,these are tiny decals. They behaved properly, and went on well. Despite having a flat finish, the next sealing-in glosscoat blended them in nicely. At this point I applied my water-based black wash to panel lines, machine gun mounts grill slots and such. It's so weird being done with this job in 5 minutes. These tiny models do have advantages. Now the whole giant thing was flatcoated, and weathering started.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Tamiya weathering sticks were used along with some Mig Pigment to dirty Ha-Go up. I started by giving the running gear, tracks and lower areas a wash of "Mud" and water, followed by a lighter wash of "Light Earth". This I streaked on the upper areas also, then dusted the uppers with Mig "Light Dust". This turned out a little TOO dusty so I knocked it back a bit. Now to glue on the fiddly bits-wait there are no fiddly bits. All 22 parts are already attached, and the Type 95's had no radio, so not even an antennas to do! Here I finally glued the upper hull to the lower. I had an old oval wood base laying around, glued on some sand, slopped on some Dark Earth, and glued down some Battlefield "Jungle Tufts". On to Manila.

CONCLUSIONS

A very fun build, unfortunately due to the wheel problems and tracks I can only recommend it for experienced types. When done it looks every bit like the ubiquitous type 95, small as it is. I believe I'm starting to get hooked on tiny tanks. Now to get my hands on the Type 97 Medium I hear is available.

REFERENCES

Japanese Tanks 1939-45 Osprey New Vanguard no. 137 2007
Japanese WW2 Tank Tactics Osprey Elite no.169 2008
Wikipedia and other internet sites

Bill Koppos

July 2011

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