Dragon 1/72 Type 97 'Chi-Ha' (late)

KIT #: 7397
PRICE: $19.98  SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit with DS tracks


he Type 97 medium tank Chi-Ha(九七式中戦車 チハ Kyunana-shiki chu-sensha chiha?) was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and the Second World War. It was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II, with about 26mm thick armor on its turret sides, and 33mm on its gun shield, considered average protection in the 1930s. The 57mm main gun was a carry over from the 1933 Type 89 medium tank, and was designed to support the infantry, while the 170 hp diesel Mitsubishi was a capable engine for the tank in 1938. But was less effective after 1941 than most Allied tank designs.

The Type 97's low silhouette, asymmetric turret, semicircular radio aerial on the turret roof, complicated hull front, and seesaw-type suspension system combined to give the tank a unique appearance that distinguished it from other contemporary Japanese tanks. The suspension was derived from the Type 95 light tank, but used six road wheels instead of the Type 95's four road wheels.


Once again, this small tank looks pretty lost inside what is a rather large box. There is one major sprue with the upper and lower hull sections separate as is the turret. This kit has Dragon's deformable styrene (DS) tracks which makes assembly and painting a breeze compared to the vinyl ones.

There truly is not all that much to this kit. Most of the work will be with the road wheels. According to a build of a similar kit, the suspension pieces fit too close to the hull for the tracks to line up with the idler and sprocket. Be sure to attach the latter pieces first and if needed, shim out the rest of the suspension. There is a small photo etch fret included that is designed for muffler screens and some small detail bits that fit around the commander's copula. The lone option on the kit is to have the commander's hatch open but without any interior detailing, aside from the gun breech, you'd need a figure to fill it.

There are decals for a single tank as operated on Saipan during 1944 in the standard three color camouflage that most Japanese tanks wore. The box art shows that scheme and a nicely done three view is included in the instructions. Colors are based on Gunze and Model Master paints.


I'm glad to see these Japanese subjects being kitted in this scale. It has been a long time coming and despite the possible suspension glitch, should be a pretty simple kit to build.



August 2011

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local hobby shop.

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