by: Roman [ ]
I am not a frequent builder of 1/72 scale models due to detail limitations characteristic for that scale, but sometimes when I see a subject either not present in larger scales or a very nice kit (like in case with Flyhawk’s FT-17) I give it a try.
Aoshima is one of the largest plastic kit manufacturers in Japan and their catalogue is huge. Although their military vehicles are limited to 1/72 scale JGSDF trucks and vehicles (they have some RC 1/48 tank models as well, but I’ve never seen them).
The subject of this review is a special package of JGSDF Type 73 Heave Tank Transporter with Semi Trailer w/Type 74 MBT. The information about this truck and trailer is rather limited online, but it is known as transporter for Type74 and Type10 tanks and falls under vehicle restriction law. Therefore it operates only during the night and photographs of it are limited to 1 image on Wikipedia (at least I could not find more).
The kit comes in a large cardboard box with nice box art and quite a lot of supporting information on the sides. Here you will find images of a finished model, different safety precautions, paint codes with colours (not always found on other boxes). Earlier there was a release of a JGSDF Type 73 Heave Tank Transporter with Semi Trailer as 1/72nd scale MILITARY MODEL KIT No.10 and the observed package is marked as SP meaning a special edition. Inside the box there is a truck with trailer from kit No.10 plus a model of Type74 MBT from Pit-Road. Initially I was not aware of that combination and discovered it only when I checked the sprues. Moreover, Pit-Road kit of Type74 is a repack of Trumpeter offering, therefore you should be aware that this is an Aoshima truck with trailer plus Trumpeter tank.
Inside the box there are assorted sprues in plastic bags, 2 sets of decals and an A4 black and white assembly manual. Additionally, there is a two-page colour profile reference for a Type74.
Parts for truck and trailer are placed on 5 green styrene sprues, plus a truck cab, 1 clear sprue for windows and lights, a section of mesh and pipes. The tank has 5 olive green sprues, lower and upper hull halves, 1 grey sprue with 2 tankman, pair of vinyl tracks, rope for tow cable, and a piece of film. Both models have separate decals sheets with Type74 decals taken directly from Pit-Road kit while Type73 truck has another sheet that also contains new markings for the tank.
Already from the first sight you can see the difference in parts quality between the truck and tank. The truck has sharp detail with high quality styrene used for parts, while the tank is somehow not up to desired standard and made of soft plastic. The parts of the tank also required more work when it comes to clean up.
The assembly starts with the chassis of the truck and here we have separate axles, multi-part tires, exhaust system, pressure tanks, and fuel tanks. The engine is made of several parts and there is an option to make the cab removable in case you would like to show the engine under it. The fit of the parts is excellent overall.
One thing that appears important to me is that you need to paint the interior of the cab before you install the window glass, meaning that you have to basically build everything and not close the cabin until you are done with the basecoats for the cab interior and truck body. It was a bit challenging to figure out how to proceed with that, but I managed after some thinking, and if you follow the images presented you can follow the same sequence. From side windows I removed the parts of the plastic that were supposed to hold them from the inside as this would be obvious when looking at the model. Even after that the side door windows look a bit thick. Also the windshield is not easy to install.
Another important aspect is the use of clear parts for lights imitation and here again you need to paint everything before you install the clear parts. For painting I used silver metallic paint on the inner side of the clear plastic and AMMO of Mig clear paints for red, green and orange.
The track body has some accessories like tool box, jerry cans, spare tire and tubing for the trailer. The latter was installed after I painted both truck and trailer. The Jerry cans could have had better detail, but are still acceptable. The tread pattern is very impressive on the rear platform.
The cab has a number of mirrors on both left and right side. These are over scale in thickness and there is no mirror film provided for them. I felt that painting them silver would not be very convincing and so I cut small pieces of mirror film from Echelon.
The trailer has the same level of detail as the truck, but the assembly is very simple. The mesh must be cut accordingly for the rear section and then it is a matter of 30 minutes to complete the build of the trailer. Depending on your individual needs the feet can be installed in a folded or extended position. There are also 2 ramps for the trailer and they can be either be placed on it or attached to show vehicle getting on the trailer. Unfortunately, the chains and hooks that are shown on the box art are not included and it is not clear how one is supposed to place a transported tank without fixation methods.
The Type74 tank is a well-known Pit-Road/Trumpeter offering which is quite old in comparison to the Aoshima trucks. The detail is a bit soft and so is the plastic. Some parts are hard to clean up due to connection gates being overly thick, while smaller details are not easy to install on the hull and turret as they do not fit to their locations. There are some options included like different types of exhaust, barrels, however, no information with regards to units or markings and corresponding parts are provided. The hull has separate front lights with guards, towing eyes, tools, Jerry can and skies! The sides of the upper hull are empty and you should close the gaps. Moreover, my kit had protrusions in the rear part of the hull next to the turret ring that I fixed by gluing a piece of sprue there to raise it so that the turret ring is on the same level in the front and rear.
The turret has issues fitting the upper and lower halves as well as the gun mantlet. There are optional parts for open or closed hatches in different positions. Smaller elements like grab handles, smoke grenade launchers, periscope guards and rear basket are rather poorly molded. There are two antenna mounts but no wire and no information on how long it should be. The infrared projector has multiple parts, but their fit is again poor. A piece of film is provided to imitate projector glass. There are also 2 figures provided with the tank in case you would like to open the hatches, but their quality is average. The transported tanks should have their gun fixed but the travel lock is molded to the rear hull in a folded position.
The painting guide for the truck has 1 option with plenty of stencils and colourful markings, the tank has camouflaged or single-tone paint options with plenty of decal variants. For painting I used acrylic paints and weathered the truck with enamels. Decal quality is quite good, under those that have film I applied gloss varnish and sealed them with Mr. Mark setter. The FT-17 tank can be seen in some images just to show how a painted model looks on the trailer. It is not included in the reviewed kit.
Overall I have mixed feelings about this set – the transporter and trailer are very nice and apart from some minor things like thick side windows and mirrors looks very interesting and represents the original vehicle very well in 1/72nd scale. The tank is not that good and I don’t think I will finish it. So if you want to have a Type73 transporter with trailer you can get it as a separate offering ignoring the tank and maybe getting Aoshima’s recoilless gun for the load instead?