by: Roman [ ]
Dragon Models are well known for their quality kits in 1/35th scale and the Imperial Japanese Armour kits were quite good, both containing previously unseen in plastic subjects as well as giving up-to-date quality to some tanks previously available from Fine Molds or Pit Road. So it was not surprising to see these kits (Ka-Mi and Ha-Go) getting their 1/72nd renditions. I had no experience with Dragon Models “armor pro” series and it was interesting to see how it compares to 1/35th and other 1/72nd kits as well.
The kit #7517 comes in a small cardboard box with nice box art on top and features of the kit mentioned on the sides. Inside there is 1 grey styrene sprue, 1 lower hull and 1 upper hull, a small photo-etched fret with exhaust mesh and 2 pieces of Dragon Styrene (DS) tracks. The parts appear nicely moulded with no defects or flash. However, I think that the detail definition on the upper hull part could have been better as it appears rather soft. Of course, this is the limitation of 1/72nd scale, but comparing to recent Flyhawk FT-17 kits I believe that better quality is possible for small scales as well.
The assembly manual is in colour and given the low parts number it is very easy to understand. Markings are provided as water slide decals for 4 variants, printed by Cartograf.
The lower hull part has most of the suspension molded on, I.E. idler tension mechanism, swing arms for boogies. The drive sprocket has 2 pieces and they capture the original quite well for scale, however I would not state that they are “breathtaking” as Dragon Models wrote on the kit package. The idler and support rollers are single piece elements. The boogies are made of 2 halves and these are of late type, correct for the kit. Note that there are also boogies related to early Ha-go tank on the sprue and they are not mentioned in the manual as “not for use”, but it is obvious that they are not for that kit. The pins for the boogies on the lower hull are smaller than the openings on the boogies which make it troublesome to fit. I used CA glue to fill in the space in the openings and get a durable fixation. Care should be taken with position of the boogies – all road wheels must touch the ground and aligned parallel to the hull.
The lower hull assembly would be completed after installation of tracks which are made of DS – combination of styrene and vinyl. This is a rather good solution when you need to stretch the tracks to put them on the model. There are some directions provided in the manual including required track length. The biggest issue for me was to glue them together. I’ve read that they could be glued using “normal modelling cement” but somehow both Tamiya Extra Thin (Lemon) and Deluxe Materials plastic cement were not able to glue them. However, CA glue worked fine. When trying to put them on the model I discovered that the grooves between the idler halves as well as between the road wheel halves are not sufficient for track guide teeth. The solution was to sand the grooves deeper so that the tracks fit. Again, CA was used to fix them to the wheels. Although the manual gives directions for cutting the tracks I had no issues with them being excessive. They are just right length.
The upper hull has many details molded on, including hatches, fenders, some of the OVM tools. The separate parts are tool box, jack, hull MG, headlights, exhaust system and shovel. The fit was excellent, but some of these appear slightly oversized (the headlights are rather thick). The detail on the MG is impressive. Although the box says “hollowed exhaust pipe” mine was dead shut. The mesh that should be installed around exhaust has very large pattern. Way too big for 1/72nd.
Finally the turret is represented very well both shape and detail wise. Commander’s copula is a separate part and it has a two-piece hatch that could be positioned open in case a figure would be placed inside the turret. Hatches have detail on both sides. Main armament – 37mm Type 94 gun has hollowed barrel but I had to adjust the location point on the mantlet to glue it. On the rear side of the turret there is a second MG with a very good definition. The turret is locked to the hull and can be removed later for painting and rotated if desired.
As mentioned above there are 4 painting options (similar to 1/35th scale kit): 2 of them are for tanks from 14th Tank Regiment, Peleliu, 1944; 1 option for 14th Tank Regiment, Malaya 1944 and the last one is for 9th Tank Regiment, Guam 1944. All 4 variants feature 4-color camouflage scheme and codes for GSI Creos paints are given (Mr. Hobby and Mr. Colour). One might try Tamiya, Vallejo or Ammo of Mig paints as they have specialized colours and colour sets (the latter two).
Altogether this is a nice kit of IJA Type 95 Ha-go tank. The detail on the parts looks good but not perfect and “breathtaking”. The build process is simple and there are only minor issues to work on (poor boogies fit). DS tracks looks a good solution for scale with good detail definition and ability to stretch.