by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Imperial Japanese Army Type 41 75 mm Mountain Gun
Mfg. ID: FM-38
Fine Molds fills the void of Imperial Japanese subjects with an impressive selection of models, including this 1/35 mountain gun with crew.
BackgroundThe Type 41 75 mm mountain gun is a Japanese license-built copy of the Krupp M.08 mountain gun. The Type 41 number was designated for the year the gun was accepted,the 41st year of Emperor Meiji's reign, 1898 in the Gregorian calendar. After it was superseded by the Type 94 75 mm mountain gun, it was then used as an infantry "regimental" gun, deployed 4 to each infantry regiment, and referred to as "Rentai Ho" (regimental artillery). Two gun shields were produced for the weapon, an early type, which folded into thirds, and a late type, which folded in half.*
These guns were encountered everywhere Imperial Japan spread their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The weight of the assembled weapon was 1,200 pounds.
This weapon was originally the standard pack artillery weapon, but when it was largely superseded by the Model 94 (1934) 75-mm mountain (pack) gun, it was then used as an infantry "regimental" gun. It is widely distributed throughout the Japanese army. It has an interrupted screw type breechblock and a hydrospring recoil mechanism. There are no equalizers or equilibrators. The markings [Not reproducible - reviewer.] which appear on the barrel, mean "41 model mountain gun."
This weapon may be easily and quickly disassembled for pack into loads, the maximum weight of each being approximately 200 pounds. Actual firing of the weapon at a range of 3,200 yards resulted in 75 percent of the rounds falling in a rectangle 20 by 30 yards.**
The modelFine Molds packages the model in a conventional lid-tray box. Inside is an instruction sheet and a sealed plastic bag of a decal sheet and four sprues of 131 ochre parts. Molding of the parts is excellent with sharp detail and fine pieces yet no flash, normally visible ejector circles, minimal mold seams, and no sink marks. Very fine detailed parts are reproduced, both relief and recessed, as authenticity demands: pins, bolts, nuts; gun sight. The hidden underside of the seats have nail detail! The breech has a rough texture which I leave to artillery experts to verify the accuracy of. Some parts are so fine that extra caution should be used so as not to damage the pieces with excess glue. Additionally, smaller parts may be difficult to handle without fine tweezers. The kit is amazingly detailed, most subcomponents are two or more pieces. Even the gunner and loader seats have separate supports, the breech is five pieces!
This model Type 41 75mm mountain gun kit is semi-modular; Fine Molds also offers FM39, a Type 41 75mm mountain gun version with the simpler gun shield and figures. The four sprues are:
Sprue A of 44 pieces for the mountain gun, a few of which are not used on this version. It also holds three rounds of ammunition and a trio of expended casings.
Sprue B holds 10 parts: early type shield and support; seat supports; wheel hub caps; ammunition canister.
Sprue D holds 24 parts for assembly of the four gun crew figures. Each has separate legs, arms, torso and heads. Each figure is scultpted as wearing the 98 Shiki Gun-i/Type 98 Army Blouse with fold-down collar and 98 Shiki Gun-ko/Type 98 Army trousers, with puttees (Kya-han) and Showa Type 5 boots (Sho- 5 Shiki Hen-jyou-ka). Puttees are molded with the crossed tapes often seen on Japanese troops. The blouse and pants were produced in both a winter and summer weight material. Judging by the relative chubbiness of the crew I presume they simulate the winter wear.
Sprue Z is a treasure trove of infantry weapons! Many are shown on the instruction sheet shaded to denote not used with this kit. Those in boldface are used with this set:
2 x Type 14 (1925) Nambu pistols plus holsters
3 x Type 38 rifles with separate breech and bolt
3 x Type 99 rifles with separate breech and bolt
4 x each Model 92 (1932) helmets (Tetsu-Kabuto) and field caps
4 x Type 30 bayonets (Juken 30 Shiki)
4 x backpacks (Hai-nou)
4 x M.1933 canteens
6 x miscellaneous equipment: mess kit; gas mask pouches; entrenching tool; backpack with tent rolls & haversacks (Zatu-nou)
9 x cartridge boxes (3 with cleaning pouch)
I am amazed at the fidelity of molding of the parts. Although I don't have a Type 41 to measure it appears that most parts are either to-scale or close. While Fine Molds did not try to reproduce this model bolt by bolt, they did try to avoid complex shapes, e.g., the gun sight is a attached to the gun via a separate bracket.
Detail of the gun crew includes good facial features and molded uniform detail. The helmets do not have interior detail but why would they? Some of the uniform detail is soft, especially belt and strap buckle detail. The figures are sculpted "in action" and seem to have good poses.
PaintingThough Japanese uniform colors varied wildly, this uniform was intended to be Tsuchi kusa iro, a drab brown with a slight yellow-green hue. Fine Molds simplifies this as ”Khaki”. Paint brands referenced are Mr. Color and Tamiya. Basic guidance is provided for uniform and equipment colors. Fifteen colors are listed. Three sections illustrate painting of the models.
InstructionsFine Molds printed an excellent instructional sheet for this kit. It folds out to four panels. Twenty-three steps with sub-steps guide the assembly of the gun and the crew, positioning of the figures being step 23.
Layout and illustration is excellent with each step plainly identified, even previous assembly steps identified in subsequent steps. Captions are both Japanese and English. Where parts need to be attached in order the instructions specify that. Applause to Fine Molds for including reference graphics of key assemblies with top, side, and frontal views. One of two complaints is that while the angle of the seats is shown, it is not until six steps after the seat assembly step. The other complaint is that gun history is only in Japanese.
DecalsAn excellent sheet of IJA specialist and rank insignias is included. Printing is sharp and opaque. However, these tiny decals have a relatively large amount of clear film around them. Prepare for some precise hobby knife trimming!
ConclusionI am very impressed with these models! I have not scrutinized preserved Type 41 75mm mountain guns for rivet-counting although what I have noticed is that this gun is accurate.
Finesse of molding of the gun and infantry weapons is top-notch. Molding of the figures is high quality except for some soft uniform detail. So long as the decals settle snugly they should enhance the figures.
However, I am concerned with the excess clear film around them. As good as the instruction sheet is, you should scan ahead several steps.
Fine Molds' Type 41 75mm mountain gun is an excellent kit with remarkable detail and dramatically posed "in action" figures. I certainly recommend this model!
* Wikipedia. Type 41 75 mm Mountain Gun. [Web.] 21 March 2013.
** TM-E 30-480: Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944. Model 41 (1908) 75-mm infantry gun. Page 220. [http://archive.org/stream/TME30-480#page/n231/mode/2up]
1. Daisan Shoutai/IJA3PLT.COM. Imperial Japanese Army Third Platoon. [Web.] February 4, 2012.
2. Imperial Japanese Army Reenactor's Resource Site. http://www.reenactor.net/ija/ija_main.html. January 02, 2004
3. Millman, Nick. Japanese Armour Colours, A Primer, 1937-1945. January 2012.
4. Windrow, Martin. World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia. Squadron Signal Publications. 1977.
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