Dragon 1/35 IJA Type 4 Light Tank 'Ke-Nu'
KIT #: 6854
PRICE: $70.00 MSRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart Kit


The Type 4 Ke-Nu (四式軽戦車 ケヌ Yon-shiki keisensha Kenu) was a light tank of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. It was a conversion of existing Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks, re-fitted with the larger turret of the Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank.

The Type 4 Ke-Nu was a variant of the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank.[1] The original Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank had been armed with a low muzzle velocity 57 mm tank gun. Operational experience against the Soviet Union at Nomonhan during the brief Japanese-Soviet Border War in 1939 revealed that this gun was inadequate against opposing armor, and a new higher velocity 47 mm tank gun was developed. This was installed in the Type 97 Chi-Ha with a larger turret to produce the Type 97-kai Shinhoto version. This left a large number of surplus Type 97 Chi-Ha turrets, which were later retrofitted onto the hulls of the obsolete Type 95 Ha-Go light tank. The result was designated the Type 4 Ke-Nu. In total, approximately 100 units were converted in 1944.

Essentially a Type 95 light tank with a Type 97 medium tank gun turret, the Type 4 Ke-Nu had slightly better firepower, but at the expense of an additional ton in weight. This reduced the top speed of the tank to 40 km/h, but did nothing to alleviate the greatest weakness of the Type 95, its lack of suitable armor protection for the hull. Maximum armor protection for the tank (25 mm) was provided by the Type 97 turret, and it was defeated by the 37 mm, 75 mm and 2-pounders mounted on Allied tanks.

The conversion coming in 1944 was too late to make any impact on Japanese combat operations, and most of the Type 4 Ke-Nu were retained in the Japanese home islands against the projected American invasion. Some were assigned to units in Korea and Manchukuo, and saw brief combat against Soviet forces in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. A surviving Type 4 Ke-Nu captured in Manchukuo is on display in Moscow at the Kubinka Tank Museum.


One does not often see Japanese armor being kitted, but this particular tank is just a natural progression of Dragon's use of extant kits while adding new sprues which contain the needed upgrade bits or by retooling older items to match modern standards.

This one does all of that by taking an upgraded Type 95 hull and matching it with the Type 97 turret and adding the new gun. Just like on the real tank. This works quite well and provides modelers with different variations on the theme.

The kit is provided with Dragon's DS tracks and a nicely done photo etch fret. This fret is mostly a muffler screen and screens for the engine intake along with various brackets. The circular bits fit on either side of the road wheels. As is usual with more modern Dragon kits, these are not replacements for plastic bits but are appropriate for their role. Some modification of the kit will be needed to install some of the brackets.

Most of the hatches can be posed open, though there will be little to actually see if this is the case. The turret has dual height radio antennas and the interior of it is well apportioned. The gun itself it very nicely molded and you get a complete breech. Thanks to slide molding, there is depth to the various barrels and the engine exhaust.  

Thanks to the relatively low parts count (220 parts), the instructions are not as busy as with other kits. The construction steps are well drawn and logical. Two options are provided which are listed as the ever popular 'unknown unit 1945'. One is the box art tank and the other is quite similar but in a darker camouflage scheme. The camo looks to be quite hard edged so I can assume that it was brush painted. . The small decal sheet provides more markings than what is shown in the painting and camouflage scheme. You only use the ones on the far left of the sheet.  


Many of us have a fondness for light tanks and this one should be added to your collection if that is the case. The relatively low parts count and somewhat minimal photo etch makes this a great first tank for those who are somewhat new to building Dragon kits, but still want to learn how to use p.e.



February 2017

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