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In-Box Review
135
IJA Type 95 Light Tank
Fine Molds 1/35 IJA Type 95 Light Tank
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by: Gary Kato [ GARYKATO ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction
Fine 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 Contents
The 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.

Review
This 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.

Conclusion
We 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.



Resources
---------
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
SUMMARY
Highs: Accurate and nicely molded.
Lows: Most of the history/markings sheet is not translated. Tracks are better replaced with Modelkasten's set.
Verdict: Although this is the only injection molded 1/35 kit of the Type 95 Light Tank, we are fortunate that it is a nice one.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: FM16
  Suggested Retail: 3500
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 20, 2008
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.26%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.55%

About Gary Kato (GaryKato)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

.After long thought, I am just a kit assembler, not a true modeler. I build with what the kit provides; no after market parts. I am also a builder rather than a painter. I don't bother if a color is too green or too blue. Currently, I am just trying to finish up the kits I've started, mostly ...

Copyright 2019 text by Gary Kato [ GARYKATO ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

A breech for the 37mm can be hijacked from the Type 97 Te Ke as can a few of the interior bits for the turret. Which is what I'll be doing once I finally get around to building mine. Don't bother with Fine Molds indy link track for the Type 95 as it just copies the deficiencies of the rubber band track. David
APR 20, 2008 - 10:04 PM
Dave, I mentioned avoiding the Fine Molds track set in the review from what you told me. Thanks! I have a set of Modelkasten on order to see how good they are. I was going to wait for that and the Fine Molds PE set for the Type 95 but lost patience. I'm still trying to make sense of some of the translations for the markings sheet that Babelfish coughed up (on top of the translation I was doing for the Tasca Firefly VC kit). Eventually I'd love to do a review of the Fine Molds Type 97 tankette. Quite a lovely kit!
APR 20, 2008 - 11:01 PM
Need motivation? There is a running (original engine) Type 95 in Oregon! http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=116393
APR 20, 2008 - 11:08 PM
Hi Gary I was 'lucky' with the tracks as they came as a surprise addition to a second-hand Ho Ni III. This Militaria book is a useful reference as there are interior photos of the Type 95 on show at Kubinka among other treasures. http://www.militaria.net.pl/strony/185.html David
APR 20, 2008 - 11:42 PM
Great review Gary! The Fine Molds Type 95 is a sweet little kit. I built mine a year ago. I have all the Fine Molds kits and the old Tamiya ones. I love Japanese armor, they're such strange little things. I just finished an extensive build on the Tamiya Type 97. The Fine Molds Type 95 was one of their first kits and is the least refined of the line. Mine had hatches that were smaller than the openings. The other Fine Molds kits are excellent. I hope they keep producing more! By the way, the Friul track for the Type 97 are excellent and will also fit the Type 1,2,3, and Ho-Ni's. I bought the 5 volume AJ Press series on Japanese armor and they are all invaluable, excellent references. And for rediculously low prices ( the new Type 2 is only 36 bucks!) on Fine Molds kits, I found this place - http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/ . They are legit, i ordered from them and got everything fast. Just type "Fine Molds 1/35" in the search bar and ignore all the anime stuff! (Unless you're into teenage girls in sailor suits...)
APR 21, 2008 - 10:34 AM
I think I have a set of Modelkasten for the Type 97 Medium. I have a partially built Tamiya Shinhoto and a barely started Type 97 (57mm). I see that Fine Molds is releasing a Type 97 (57mm) Medium in June. I haven't seen Tamiya's version on the shelves for a long time. I'd love to see an injected Ka-Mi.
APR 21, 2008 - 11:03 AM
I have been looking for a couple of Type 95 kits for an Iwo diorama - with no luck. WHO is the best and fastest source, without paying a fortune to ship it...does anyone in the US carry the FINEMOLDS line? S/F Pat
APR 21, 2008 - 12:35 PM
I tend to just buy Fine Molds kits from Hobby Link Japan. Some US stores might be able to order them. See if they already carry the Fine Molds aircraft or spacecraft kits. If they can order those, they probably will be able to order the tank kits as well.
MAY 06, 2008 - 09:25 PM
Well, the Modelkasten track set for the Type 95 arrived the other day. Looks very nice. Sooo much better than the kit tracks. I might do an in-box review of them soon (not much to write about for in-box really). I'll have to order another for the Manchurian version. I looked around and found I didn't have an Modelkasten set for the Type 97 Medium but for a JGSDF Type 61 tank. If I microwaved that Modelkasten set, it would still be better than those old Tamiya tracks.
JUN 06, 2008 - 01:44 PM
   

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