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Armor/AFV: Braille Scale
1/72 and 1/76 Scale Armor and AFVs.
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Type 97 Chi Ha
tread_geek
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Ontario, Canada
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 05:08 AM UTC
Greetings fellow Braille Scalers. I am currently doing a build review of the new release of the Dragon Type 97 Chi Ha tank. I wasn't originally intending to post anything here but since it is entered in the "Out of the Box" campaign I though I'd share some of it with the community. In a sense this is what they call a "teaser" and you'll have to read the full review for any specifics and more pictures.



The detail on this kit is really nice but it's not without a few glitches. For a change I started with the suspension which is also the first two steps of the suspension. The idlers are in halves so one must make sure that the teeth line up.



Next was the construction of the dual bogies for the centre two positions. The front and rear most single pair are slide moulded in one piece. Sadly these single pair have no detail on their inside portion.



First picture is with the front and rear pair attached and return rollers on. The second picture is with the idlers attached. The idlers have very nice detail even down to open holes and are a one piece slide moulding.





Last for this post is the attachment of the first of the bogies. after dry fitting the second unit It was obvious that the front and rear single pairs do not rest totally on the level surface but are raised about 1/2 millimetre. With the tracks on it may not be obvious and I can't say if this is a flaw in the kit or an intended feature.



Parts fit varies from snug to rather loose and there is enough play in the bogies to allow them to be posed as if they are going over rough ground. Comments and questions are always welcome but with the latter I may not answer them fully until the review is up. That's it for now.

Cheers,
Jan
PedroA
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 05:29 AM UTC
Thanks for posting Jan. It seems a very good model. I have two model of Fujimi and some day, I will make to they.

Regards. Pedro.
russamotto
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 12:52 PM UTC
I'll be following the build. I want to get this kit,k and am hoping Dragon will release this in 1/35 as well, someday.
vonHengest
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 01:41 PM UTC
Good stuff Jan. I have both IJN offerings in my stash atm and will be keeping an eye on this. Looks like a smooth build so far
Firefly74
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 02:22 PM UTC
Hi Jan, thanks for the teaser! I was pleasantly suprised when Dragon announced this kit was being released. Will be watching with interest as I plan on picking one up.
Cheers,
Tim
Braille
#135
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Posted: Saturday, August 06, 2011 - 09:19 PM UTC
@tread_geek – Jan,

Good start on this tiny dinky little tanky. I like the colored wash you managed on the lower hull and wheels, I don’t know if this is what you had intended but it looks like it will make for a good base for further color washes and weathering.

I noticed that this kit is listed as a late production vehicle as used in Saipan, ’44. I found you two links with photographs of the Type 97 “Chi-Ha” (perhaps Japanese for Chihuahua? ) and most of these are of the mid production version. The one photograph that I was able to find of the late production version (not one of the two links) is of a knocked out example in Saipan, but it is really beat up and completely rusted out (lots of body cancer). Anyhow here are the two links – I hope you find them useful?

link 1

link 2

Thanks for sharing and posting this build, waiting for the review.
-Eddy
tread_geek
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Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2011 - 05:19 AM UTC
WOW!!! Thanks for the interest and commenting guys. I wasn't sure if this strange little beast would be of interest.

@PedroA - Pedro, for someone with your skills this should be build-able with one hand tied behind your back. I can also see a great potential for super detailing the kit or using the chasis as a base for building one of the Type 97 variants. It has its minor flaws but nothing insurmountable. Considering that the Fugimi kits were released in the early 70's they are actually still quite nice. I have built a few Fujimi in the past and recall no issues with them other than the vinyl tracks. For those that don't know, the Fujimi are 1/76 scale.

@Russamotto -Russ, it's usually that manufacturers scale down their 1/35 releases to 1/72 but there is nothing to say that they can't do the reverse today. By previous Dragon 1/72 standards, this kit is simple with a grand total of only 61 parts. Even in this smaller scale there was a potential to make this kit much more complicated but with it we see a Dragon taking a different tack.

@vonHengest - As I mentioned to Pedro above, it's not without a few minor flaws but it has pretty much been a walk in the park, build wise. It's a pleasant experience after some of the multi-hundred piece kits that I have laboured over recently. ;-)

@Firefly74 - I'd say that if this subject interests you then I cannot not recommend this kit. Actually, Airfix put out one of these kits years ago in 1/76. I have built it and for its time it isn't too bad.

@Braille - Congratulations Eddy, the paint on this little monster is a series of washes and a bit of an experiment on my part. The small size necessitates pre-colouring parts that will not be accessible that easily after certain assembly stages.

I have done extensive research on this model and the first link that you provided is well know to me. The second link was actually new and very interesting. I new that the armour was by western standards, light, but not that a .50 cal would be effective against it.

In all my reading I gathered that one can break these early 57 mm armed tanks into three batches. The initials were based on the prototype and only a few were built. The mid production had minor detail changes such as cupola hatch and internal stowage improvements. The "late production" again had a change in the hatches and the armour on the mantlet increased from 25 mm to 33 mm. The only real distinguishing feature between all of these is the turret hatch.

*******************************************************
*******************************************************

Continuing on! Shortly after posting the initial progress pictures I completed the suspension. Here's a couple of shots.





Note how the front and rear most road wheel pairs are slightly elevated as I had mentioned earlier. The start of the turret commenced after this point. There is no provision for the gun to be elevated but the fit into the mantlet is nicely snug. As you can see, there is quite a bit of detail to the internal parts of the gun including a bag to catch the shell casings, telescopic sight and elevation mechanism.



An interesting side note about these guns is that they were totally manual in elevation and traverse. The gunner had to use his body to adjust elevation with his shoulder and arms. Similarly, while the turret had 360 degree hand wheel traverse, the gun had independent traverse in the mantlet of about 10 degrees to each side.

The turret partly assembled and fitted on the body.



Cupola with PE pieces attached. I believe that they are some form of cover for vision slits.



Finally, the first part of the two piece hatch cover fitted.



Since the campaign is "out of the box" I decided to have the tank "buttoned up." Other than the quite nice internal gun part there is absolutly nothing else to the interior.

Cheers,
Jan
sabredog
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Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2011 - 03:42 PM UTC
Looking great so far Jan.

I just got this kit from Lucky Model so I am looking forward to more updates as your build progresses
tread_geek
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Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - 09:05 AM UTC
Michael, I'm glad that this build may be of some use to you. It is taking longer than it should as I need to work on the review while actually building. In reality one could probably complte an entire platoon in the time it is taking me.

Another small update today and the build is much nearer completion. First a couple of pictures of the turret completion. Note the two marks that look like sink holes in the right side of the turret. You can see that they have a rivet detail above and below them and are actually little vision holes. One would imagine that they don't offer a great field of view.





After that I turned my attention to finishing up some of the hull detail pieces. In some cases the mounting mechanisms (hole and slot) were fine and in others there was quite a discrepancy (on the small side) in their sizes that created minor problems. Note that the upper and lower hull are only dry fitted at this point.





The only thing left to do before painting is to shape PE screens that cover the muffler.

Cheers,
Jan
Matt182
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Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - 10:38 PM UTC
Looking good so far Jan. nice to see Dragon doing something a little different for a change. It does look much simpler than some of the previous 1/72 releases but maybe thats not such a bad thing!

Look forward to seeing how you paint this one

Matt
rolf
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Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 03:35 AM UTC
Dragon really did a nice job on this model. I am about 80% done with mine and had no real issues (although the front plate fit was not the best on my kit). I am in the paint process right now and finished the yellow striping and now have to go back and touch up. Fine job on yours and I'll be watching it. Yes I too hope they do more 1/35 scale Japanese armor (the Ka Mi is great) but I am hoping for a Type 95 first because Fine Molds Type 97s are really very nice but their Type 95 is quite old.

Roy
tread_geek
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Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 05:24 AM UTC
@Matt182 - From what I have seen of the recent Dragon releases we are getting quite a diversity of interesting subjects with more to follow. For the time being I think that there are more than enough Shermans, Tigers and Panzer IVs out there. This will be the third recent release that I will have reviewed and in each the parts count has been under 100 but without sacrificing detail. I think that Dragon has realized that some of their previous releases are a bit intimidating to any but more experienced builders.

@rolf - Thanks for the kind words, Roy. :-) I noticed the slight issue with mating the hull halves and have noted it for the review. The front actually fits fairly well but when you press down to level the rear section it lifted away. I found that sanding along a few areas towards the rear solved the issue.

****************************************************

Well, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Everything from the box is now on except the tracks that I won't put on until the vehicle is pretty much painted. It sure would be nice if more manufacturers provided a bending template or styrene form for the PE. The first screen worked out fine but the second took two tries. Note - In the pictures below the hull halves have not been sanded or glued.





Just as a diversion, I took a pictures of the Dragon Chi Ha beside the ancient Airfix offering that I made a couple of decades ago.





While the Dragon is 1/72 scale the Airfix is supposed to be 1/76. As one can see in the pictures, they are pretty darn close dimensionally. Also, considering its age the Airfix kit isn't too bad. Granted, there is a lot more and crisper detail on the newer version.

Now the real painting can begin. :-)

Cheers,
Jan
weathering_one
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Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 08:31 AM UTC
Jan,

Do you ever sleep or do anything else!!! You still have the Fuchs build going and you start another Blog! Now this kit looks like it might be right up my alley. These last few Dragon kits seem more tailered for us just starting out. Any idea when the review will be up so that I can see what monsters might be lurking in its construction?

From what you say and the pictures it looks to be progressing very smoothly. Very nice detail from what I see and a lot better than some of those so called "wargamer" kits. And it is still hard to digest that you are doing this one OOTB!

Regards,
AJ

PS- I love those comparison pictures with the old Airfix kit. I actually have one of those in my limited stash that I picked up not that long ago.
Braille
#135
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Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 09:22 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Michael, I'm glad that this build may be of some use to you. It is taking longer than it should as I need to work on the review while actually building. In reality one could probably complte an entire platoon in the time it is taking me.

Another small update today and the build is much nearer completion. First a couple of pictures of the turret completion. Note the two marks that look like sink holes in the right side of the turret. You can see that they have a rivet detail above and below them and are actually little vision holes. One would imagine that they don't offer a great field of view.

Cheers,
Jan



@tread_geek - Jan,

I'm a slow builder and even more so with the added time spent on posting, writing and photographing a build, still your overclocked by comparison!

I found your comment on the turret vision holes extremely humorous . . . thanks. I am wondering if the Japanese had armored glass? Great job on the build now waiting to see what you have in store for the painting part of this build?

-Eddy
tread_geek
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Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011 - 06:00 AM UTC
@AJB - AJ, after being dormant for a while (while we had some household issues (roof) taken care of), I went on a bit of a "finishing spree" of kits that were languishing during the construction. I was building and writing during that period but just not posting as progress was intermittent.


Quoted Text

Any idea when the review will be up so that I can see what monsters might be lurking in its construction?



The review was uploaded and pictures sent in yesterday and it is now up to the powers that be when it makes its debut. As with the case of the Fuchs, I am waiting for the posting of the review before I add any more pictures here.

As for the old Airfix kit, I thought that people might get a kick out of the comparison photos. I still maintain that for its age it is quite accurate, if not a bit plain. I also have one in my stash but might I entice you to do a Blog here of is construction. I don't recall much about the process other than the tracks had to be staples to stay together.

@Braille - Thanks for the interest Eddy. As I mention above to AJ, the review is in and has some minor paint progress pictures in it. I have started the camo and have found that the separation of colours in the Dragon instructions difficult to discern. While it really looks like it is three colour it is actually four if one counts the yellowish stripes. Two of the colours are almost identical in the paint illustration and hard to make out even with magnification.


Quoted Text

I found your comment on the turret vision holes extremely humorous . . . thanks. I am wondering if the Japanese had armored glass?



Glad you found that comment amusing but it was a basic opinion based on the facts that I have read. As for the issue of armoured glass, I can't comment. What you might find interesting though, if you look closely at the model and any pictures that you can find, there is a definite absence of periscopes on the Chi Ha when compared to other contemporary tanks of the era. The predominant vision devices appear to be holes and slits on the turret and body. And not too many of those.

Another interesting fact is that the commander controlled the tank movement via a 12 pushbutton panel that lit lights in front of the driver. So obviously implies that there wasn't an internal intercom system for the crew. Last but not least, the commander was also the loader and radio operator. I don't know if this also applies to the Shinhoto or improved version.

Cheers,
Jan
Korpse
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Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 01:35 PM UTC
Hi Jan

you have been industrious !

& its building into a great looking model

& good to see your comparison photos with the old airfix build (which needs a good dusting ) I agree the old airfix kit doesn't seem too bad, given its age. I built one of these when I was a boy, but it was destroyed long ago.

keep up the great work

cheers
Neil
weathering_one
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Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 07:05 AM UTC

Quoted Text

As for the old Airfix kit, I thought that people might get a kick out of the comparison photos. I still maintain that for its age it is quite accurate, if not a bit plain. I also have one in my stash but might I entice you to do a Blog here of is construction. I don't recall much about the process other than the tracks had to be staples to stay together.



Jan, I was somewhat thinking about doing a blog of it but now I don't know. I ran across a fellow doing the Airfix one on another site and it has kind of scared me off. He started out thinking it would be OOTB and then started correcting mistakes and adding things. It's taking him months and he is even to the point of casting new tracks.

Regards,
AJ
rolf
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Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 04:11 AM UTC
Japanese tanks had armored glass for their vision slits but not their pistol ports (kinda defeats the purpose). Jan, the fit issue I had was not the upper to lower hull fit but the drivers/hull MG gunners front plate. I can see on your build you also had the fit problem as there is a big gap at the bottom. I had to trim and sand to get mine to fit and still had to use Mr. Surfacer 500 to get it to go away. I futured mine last night and will start the weathering tonight. It really is a nice kit (minus the one fit problem) and I think I will try their 1/72 Type 95 next.

Roy
tread_geek
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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 05:23 AM UTC
To all those that took the time to comment, I thank you. Seeing hit counts go up isn't the same as actually feedback.

@Korpse - My good Neil, why a good dusting? I thought that you of all people would appreciate the effort required to have the vehicle actually weathered in a totally natural way! Can you appreciate how long it took to achieve this natural weathering?

@AJB - AJ, I think that I ran across that blog somewhere. I still think that an OOTB build here would still be interesting. Perhaps you might even consider a review?

@rolf - Thanks for the trivia about the armoured glass. The little bit of gap in the hull plate that you mention wasn't that big a deal. I used some thinly stretched sprue soaked in liquid cement to deal with the issue. This was only required to the left of the machine gun as the right side was cured with a second application of Plastic Weld.

***********************************************************

I am a little behind in my progress as real life necessities have diverted my attention from the building. On top of that, what little time I have found has been devoted to another build for an upcoming build article. No, it's not a Type 95.

So I have managed to get a base coat on and after careful examination and research, it appears that the Type 97 on Saipan actually seems to have carried a four colour camouflage. Two greens, a red-brown and the little bit if yellow. Here are some pictures as things stand at this writing:









The tracks while appearing to be the correct length turned out to be a touch tight. I wanted to add a bit of slack so I tried stretching one. I guess that I wasn't delicate enough because it ended up breaking. It is quite true that you can use regular glue with the DS styrene but so far I have had no success in rejoining the broken area. The track is so thin and fine featured that there is hardly enough surface area for glue to hold onto between the two pieces. I'll continue on with the painting and worry about the problem later.

Cheers,
Jan
Korpse
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Posted: Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 11:41 PM UTC
Hi Jan

the model is looking very neat in its base coat

I have found the same as you with stretching track, also have learnt the hard way how to stretch these things. I really don't know why any modern manufacturer doesnt make the tracks a bit longer, to allow some sag, Any excess is easy to remove, but when tracks are too short a solution can be difficult. Putting the track join at the bottom and basing the model on a small diorama base can make it easy to mask the join.

cheers
Neil
tread_geek
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Posted: Monday, November 07, 2011 - 08:12 AM UTC
Greetings All!

Firstly, I wish to apologize to all that were watching this thread for the long delay in posting further progress. A flurry of last minute house renovation projects kept me distracted.

So now to catch up. With time running out on the campaign that I have this build entered in, I forced myself to tackle it again. The multi-colour camouflage was the next step I chose to renew this build. All attempts to do it with the airbrush proved futile due to my lack of sufficient skill and the diminutive size of the tank.

In the following pictures, you can see the start of the camo. Please note that the odd sprayed line on the rear engine deck was part of my last failed attempt at spraying without masking. Since then I have reverted to using successive applications of thinned paint by brush to paint the thing.







There are still a few patches to do on the front but they should follow shortly.

The track breakage problem that I mentioned in my previous post to this thread was a constant annoyance and every time I tried a repair, it broke again! :/ A couple of days ago I finally had some inspiration and decided to tackle it one more time. The problem was that there just wasn't enough surface area for the glue to attach to on the delicate and fine ends. Inspiration came from my SWMBO when she suggested that I might fill all the little voids in the affected links with glue! Therefore, I tried that using gap filling CA glue. After waiting a sufficient time I used the same glue to join the two broken ends. To be on the safe side, I let the glue cure overnight and today painted the second track, touched up the broken one and dry fit both to the Chi Ha.

The sprockets are also not glued in the following images as I need to remove the tracks to finish painting the road wheels and suspension. In the campaign thread I was asked about the size of this tank and a bit of discussion arose about Japanese tank size in general. As such, I posted these latest pictures with my Pacific Campaign Sherman for size comparison.







You can note a very minor bit of detailing/weathering here and there as I experimented today. With this recent success my drive to finish this beast has returned.

Cheers,
Jan
PedroA
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Posted: Monday, November 07, 2011 - 08:19 AM UTC
Well done. Why don't you paint the tracks and wheels in the model? If you use an airbrush you don't need to paint these parts separately.

Regards.

Pedro.
rolf
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Posted: Monday, November 07, 2011 - 09:46 AM UTC
Jan, nice to see you back to work on this. I finished mine up shortly after my last post back in August. Here is a link to some pics of it.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/449919/thread/1314668268/My+Dragon+1-72+Type+97+Chi+Ha...

Hope to see yours finished up here real soon. Last night I finished Dragon's 1/72 Type 95 Ha Go and I hope to be posting some pics of it tonight.

Roy
PanzerAlexander
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Posted: Monday, November 07, 2011 - 09:51 AM UTC
Hi Jan,

Nice and clean build. Looking forward for the rest.

P.A.
tread_geek
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Posted: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 - 05:26 AM UTC
@ PedoA - What I usually do is spray/paint the entire build before applying the tracks. I leave the tracks off until near the end. Just before I apply them I paint the rubber on any suspension wheels and or weather the hull in that area to prevent messing up the tracks. I have also found that with some Dragon Tracked vehicles, it is easier to apply the tracks without the sprocket glued on.

@ rolf - I had a look at your Chi Ha and it's looking very good. The pictures are great and I see that your track is also quite taught, as I found with mine. However, I can't really and definitely tell from your images, but it appears that you have the tracks reversed. I found an excellant PDF document on the 'Net on Japanese tanks at Surviving Japanese Medium Tanks. The sides of the links are angled inward and when coming down from the sprocket, the narrower portion should be pointing downward.

The following image is for Discussion Purposes Only.


DSC_0617 by TMA_0, on Flickr

@ PanzerAlexander - Thanks for commenting, Alexander. Hopefully it won't be too much longer.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm currently finishing up the painting of the rubber portions of the return rollers and road wheels. I hope that I can also finish the camo today and then get on to the detail painting. Progress pictures will follow after there is something new to see.

Thanks for looking,
Jan