Hasegawa 1/48 Type 97 Sidecar

KIT #: 36116
PRICE: $31.50 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two complete kits


In 1915, as a result of initial field tests of the suitability of motorcycles for the military, the IJA came to the conclusion that the vehicles would be useful as liaison, and communications work. Many foreign motorcycles were tested and the Harley-Davidson model was chosen for production. In preparation, a factory was built in Shinagawa for use by the Sankyo Corporation to build these motorcycles.

The first motorcycle from this factory rolled off the assembly line in April of 1934. Taking its name from the IJA name for its main project, the 'Rikuo', the resultant company was called Rikuo Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) Corporation. As a result of experience and need, a side car was developed whose wheel could be connected to the motorcycle's rear wheel resulting in two wheel drive. This was something the rider could change to meet irregular terrain conditions.

After the new sidecar-equipped Rikuo passed field tests with the Kwantung Army in Manchuria with flying colors, it was officially adopted by the IJA as the Type 97 Military Sidecar Motorcycle and was put into full scale production. It was used for urban patrolling, reconnaissance, liaison and communication as well as other uses. It was also used post war for a number of police duties.


This set contains two complete kits on several brown sprues. Two spruesare dedicated to the rider and passenger figures while the other contains the parts for the motorcycle and the side car. Of course, these sprues are duplicated in the kit. A pair of clear sprues is provided for the side car windscreen and attaching canvas cover.

Unlike some recent 1/35 motorcycle kits, this one isn't horrendously complex. There is sufficient detail for the scale and some of the parts are quite fragile looking so care will be needed when removing them from the sprue. The kits have few options, but some of them include either a light machine gun or a loudspeaker on the front of the sidecar. The builder also has the option of completing the motorcycle alone without the side car attached.

Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references and quite a lot of colors are used, many for the figures. The figures also have optional heads if one wishes to build them with steel helmets or keep the cloth caps. There are two small decal sheets (not shown) that provide markings for three vehicles. Two are in a khaki color; one for the Japanese Army and one for the Navy. The third is a post war civilian vehicle used by traffic control units in 1951. This one is mostly white and judging from the box art, is the version on which the loudspeaker and a siren will fit.


This one was a real surprise to me. Seems like Hasegawa has decided to take it on itself to provide 1/48 Japanese vehicles from the Pacific war and these are most welcome. I'm sure that we will be seeing even more unusual subjects from them in the future.


Kit instructions.

October 2009

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.

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