by: Matt Flegal [ ]
Begun in the 1990ís, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries designed the 4th generation main battle tank as a follow on to the Japanese Type 90 MBT. Lighter, better armored, and with an extensive communications suite that allows a ďdigital battlefieldĒ the Type 10 is one of the few MBTís fielded since the 1990ís. Trust Tamiya to make a state of the art kit of a state of the art tank.
With the actual tank being fielded within the last two years it didnít take the lovely folks at Tamiya to create a wonderful and mostly easy build of the beast. As is typical of them, the kit is mostly wonderfully engineered with few fiddly steps and generally well thought out connecting points, so that itís fairly hard to misalign parts. It is fairly well detailed, even including the anti-slip patches and ripples in the rubber skirts and fenders. However the small grab handles are molded on, the muzzle sensor is fairly featureless, and the nylon-like mesh for the turret basket is a bit of a throwback. That said, the tank builds up beautifully and fairly quickly into a lovely model right out of the box.
As an aside, while Tamiya builds a pretty robust kit it does have some delicate parts to it. I can attest that when dropped to a cement floor, say, when transporting it for painting, it doesnít hold up enormously well. Now having built two of these kits, I can at least share a couple of refinements to the build. Sigh.
Six sprues of green plastic, 2 lengths of glueable vinyl like track, a set of polyvinyl tubes for the road wheels and commanderís sight, a sheet of vinyl-like mesh, a sheet of clear plastic for the vision blocks, small brochure on the actual tank and color markings, small decal sheet, and the instruction sheet.
Put together the road wheels and drive sprockets. Using the traditional polycap sandwiched inside they go together quickly and the sprue attachments arenít too bad.
Attach the road wheel arms and assorted drive train bits. I would recommend leaving A4 and A18 glued to each other but not to the hull. The parts are slightly adjustable, presumably to make the track tight but that wonít help you if you glue them in first.
Attach the road wheels and such. I painted the lower hull first and all of these wheels were painted first. Once the side skirts are on the hull later you wonít be taking this apart to paint them at the end.
Step 4 and 5
Assemble the exhausts and rear plate. Some clever engineering prevents you from mixing up the similar looking parts glued to each side. There is a hollowed out area on the undersides of the boxes but itís not visible unless you look from directly below.
Glue the track together with Tamiya cement. The tracks themselves are extremely well detailed, with a very faint seam line that would be a major chore to remove. So I didnít. The gluing together is so much nicer than the old method of a heated screwdriver to melt the attachments together. If you use a heat gun to dry your paint (as I did for the first time on this build and kicking myself for not trying it sooner! Dry paint in seconds) be very careful as the track holds up very well except at the thinner overlapping connection point which will deform and melt. Fortunately, you can shove that right up under the skirts and nobody will ever know. Unless you put it in an article or review or something silly.
Put the tracks on. I had painted them with Tamiya gunmetal and several AK Interactive and MiG red and brown washes; Made a nice base for later weathering. At this point, the tracks and lower hull are painted and ready for weathering.
Step 8 and 9
Headlights and front end are assembled. The parts are nice and it looks good but beware, the mesh that is used for the enclosed cage is very difficult to mask well and you must paint the bow lights before the mesh is placed and the bow piece glued to the hull. Leave them off and pop them in at the end. Itís still a pain in the behind but since youíll probably be re-gluing them anyway after masking save the early step. Step 9 only covers gluing the bow piece on.
Put on headlights and drivers hatch. There is a bit of a gap around these headlights that is quite difficult to sand. The clear periscopes for the drivers hatch are nice, I painted the backs with Vallejo periscope blue and put them in place with Gator Glue.
Headlight guards and drivers hatch is glued in place.
Glue tools to the rear deck. Nicely molded and detailed and the attachments are actually useful and unobtrusive.
Attach side skirts and fenders to the upper hull piece. You may be tempted to just leave these off and glue them on at the end so you can hold off painting and attaching the road wheels and tracks. I did that on the first build but truthfully it was difficult to attach the upper hull to the lower hull without them. They act as part of the structure.
Attach upper and lower hull parts together. Nice tight fit and difficult to mess up due to the nice engineering of attachment points. However, run some glue along the butt joints behind the suspension as thereís not a lot holding the front end together.
Attach tow cable to the rear hull. The multiple sprue attachments are not in the best spots and will require very careful sanding and scribing to make disappear. Or just replace with wire since the cable ends are separate parts.
Put the 120mm cannon together. Ugh, two piece barrels and modern tanks donít mix. Way too many grooves and ribs and bolts and such. I put mine on but itís not glued in place as I already ordered a replacement metal barrel. If I was going to recommend one piece of aftermarket it would be this.
Put together the very nicely done mantlet and cannon. Delicate parts with robust attachment points are a testament to the skilled engineers at Tamiya. Nobody compares to them for delicate parts that are easy to put together.
Attach turret grenade launchers to the turret and place periscope glass in the cupola.
Attach the gun holding part thing to the turret floor. The gun can now elevate and depress.
Put the turret shell together. Itís a little tricky but the connections are well thought out. Just take care to glue one portion and then glue in stages as itís a little tricky to hold everything together and glue all at once.
Gunnerís sight and wind sensor are next. These are a bit fiddly but as usual, if you take your time the engineering will take care of itself.
Glue the commanderís sight together. There will probably be some gaps as this doesnít fit together as perfectly as the rest of the kit. The base at least would have been better as a single part I think.
Step 23 and 24
Iím putting these together because this is the one time Iíll argue with the excellent instructions. The cupola ring is easy to place in the wrong orientation and it is very difficult to see how it is to go. If you put the MG rails from step 24 on first then it becomes very easy to place it on properly. The antenna is also fiddly with it being very easy to put them on at the wrong angle if youíre not paying attention. Attaching them at the same time as the guards makes it easier. Those guards are the one piece of engineering on the kit I just donít understand. They have three attachments that could just go into holes in the turret side and they each actually do for 1-2 of them. However, there is one butt joint on the left and two on the right that confused me. They line up perfectly but now you have a join to sand and have fun with that in this tight little space.
Make the baskets and put the mesh in. There are templates to cut the 16 different pieces of mesh from the sheet. Itís a little tedious but not too bad, metal straightedge and Xacto blade go quickly enough. However, the instructions are a bit ambiguous about whether you put the mesh on the parts first or after construction. I tried both! On the first build I placed the mesh first and it was a bad idea. The part tolerances are very tight and the mesh can and did get in the way. Also, since you can glue it in place you risk inadvertently melting the tiny connecting pins youíll need later. On the second build I built the baskets first and then added the mesh. This worked much better but please test fit before gluing the mesh in place. I cut exactly along the template and many of the mesh segments were a mm or so too large and needed trimming.
Attach the baskets and hatches to the turret.
Step 27 and 28
Assemble the two nice crew figures. The faces are pretty good and actually look Japanese and the rest of the figure is a little soft in detail but still quite good.
Step 29 and 30
Make the commanderís MG and attach it to the cupola. Aside from the lack of a 50 cal belt which is a silly lapse it looks very nice.
These are in register and settle in nicely. They are fairly minimal though but there arenít a lot of markings on the real tanks.
I used Tamiyaís two JGSDF paints after cleaning the whole kit with Windex. The green sprayed very nicely. Again, I used a 120 degree heat gun which meant I was putting on a second coat in less than 15 seconds. I was horribly set up by a friend who convinced me to thin and brush paint the Tamiya brown instead of masking. Terrible mistake. The paint lays beautifully but dries very quickly on the surface, which means if your brush hits a spot again after 10 seconds of drying it tears the piece off and mars the finish. Next time Iím masking.