by: Russ Amott [ ]
Japanese subjects in the realm of plastic AFVs are rare. I don't know if this is due to lack of production, familiarity, cost, or a combination of all of these factors. Fine Molds has offered the widest selection of Japanese tanks, and now have added to that collection with two variants of the Type 94 6-wheel truck, one a hard top version and the other a canvas top.
The Type 94, developed in 1934 (Imperial year 2694) was built at the request of the Imperial Japanese Army, who wanted a reliable all purpose heavy truck. It was one of two trucks used by the IJA during the war that was primarily of Japanese design. Private manufacturers were encouraged to come up with a suitable design, and Isuzu presented a prototype that was found to be suitable.
The Type 94 was produced in two variants, one a gasoline powered version with a 6-cylinder L head water cooled engine producing 43 hp, with a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour and a fuel consumption of 7.8 miles per gallon. The other had a 4-cylinder diesel engine producing roughly the same hp, with a maximum speed of 43 mph and 16 mpg. The hard top and soft top cabs were available with both engines.
According to US Army bulletins, both vehicles could operate on US fuel, but the diesel had to be mixed with oil to work efficiently in the engine. The four rear wheels were powered. Capacity was 5500 lbs. The Type 94 was the most widely produced Japanese truck of WWII, and was used not only for military use but was encouraged for civilian use, with the Japanese government offering subsidies to those who purchased and used the truck. Many were captured and put into service by Allied forces or local civilians after the Japanese army left the area. It was used both as a prime mover and a cargo/transport vehicle.
The box art shows a Type 94 moving through jungle terrain as part of a convoy. The artwork is a good detail presentation of the actual vehicle and can be used as a reference during the build. Inside are six tan colored sprues and one clear parts sprue for a total of 131 parts. None are marked not for use. I examined each sprue and the molding of all parts was crisp, with many small details well presented. There as a bit of flash on some parts, but it was easily removed. The sprues are as follows:
There are two, each containing two rear wheels and one front wheel, one rear axle and one set of leaf springs, both upper and lower. The tires are well molded but feature a raised center portion, which I will discuss later. Hubs and bolts are cleanly molded. The leaf springs are nicely detailed as well.
Cab and front suspension. The bottom half of the engine block is provided, but no complete engine. This was the most disappointing issue with the kit. Some mold seams were present, and along the top of the radiator grille there was an indentation where the mold halves lined up, which will have to be filled or sanded down.
This holds the frame and drive shaft. Again, the mold seam along the sides is prominent. My sample was nice and straight.
Contains the cargo bed. The flat bed features exceptional detail on the sides, with small hinge and cargo hooks molded on the sides. Again, there is a mold seam, but there is no way to avoid this. The detail is excellent. Bolt and rivet details on the sides are very clear, with no sink marks or ejector pin marks on any visible surface.
Is the canvas top cover. This also has the doors and spare tire. Details are very good in general, but there are four sunken pin marks on the inside of the doors, which will have to be filled. The inside door handles are molded on, while the outer handles are separate. The separate details are much better.
This sprue holds the clear parts. They are thin and clean.
There is one decal sheet with markings for three vehicles. Decal scheme 1 is for a vehicle with the 7th tank regiment at Luzon, 1942. Scheme 2 is for a vehicle with the first motor regiment, Nomonhan, 1939. The third is for the first independent infantry regiment, China, 1937.
The instructions are in a very nice booklet form and are covered with information, all in Japanese. The build directions, however, are very clear and simple, with kit construction covered in 21 steps. Paint scheme provided is Khaki-Iro. Colors are Mr Color, GSI aqueous, and Tamiya acrylic.
Fine Molds is offering a detail up set of photoetch parts, item MG71, but I have not been able to find a photo of the parts to show what it is.
I started assembly by following the directions, starting with the frame and suspension. There were a few raised ejector pin marks that I removed, though again, most were not visible after assembly. Everything fit nicely. The only issue I had was again, the lack of an engine. The lower engine half and exhaust both attach to a flat, featureless base. The cab is very simple, but for most military vehicles this would be the case. Fine Molds have included a decal for the instrument panel. The only hitch I had was with the above mentioned inner surface of the doors. I had to stop assembly to fix the problem. I added a drop of Mr. Surfacer 1000 in each sink mark.
While that dried I started assembly of the truck bed. I was surprised at the detail provided here, with a simple but intricate assembly for the underside of the bed. Considering how nice the detail is, I again can't understand the lack of an engine. I was confused about part D19, which appears to be the ends of rods being carried in a rack under the bed, but the rest of the rack is empty. It looks odd.
With the bed completed I finished assembly of the crew cab. I have not yet added small details like the steering wheel and door handles, as I have a habit of breaking these parts off and losing them during painting.
As I mentioned above, the wheels have a raised center tread area which does not appear in any photos I have seen. What does appear, and is depicted on the box art, is a flat tread with two grooves in the middle. I used the raised portion as a guide and carefully scribed the two grooves around the tire, and then removed the raised center. There is tread detail visible that you have to be careful not to remove. I placed the tires on the model without glue for the photos so I can do all the detail painting.
In addition to the single color Khaki Iro, photos online show the early war color scheme with the yellow disruptive stripe. They also show just the canvas top, without the side windows or the doors in place. Some also show the trucks without the headlights mounted. A modified bed was used to mount a search light. Production of this model kit means almost endless possibilities for PTO dioramas.
This is a very welcome release and was easy and enjoyable to build. I feel cheated by the lack of the engine, and I think it is expensive for what you get, but for being the only game in town, it is a good game. If you are in to Pacific or Japanese subjects, this is a kit to get.
Cost is a factor with this kit, as with most Fine Molds releases, and I am grateful to Armorama for the review sample as I was wondering how I was going to get one in the house. With a release like this we are now in need of cargo or light artillery for this to move, as well as a driver team.