This is the third Type 94 Tankette release from IBG reviewed on Armorama, the first
being the Late Production with towed idler wheel, the second
being that same version packaged with two trailers. This time we have the earlier version with the more conventional looking small idler raised from the ground and mounted directly to the hull. This type was produced 1935-37, with photographic evidence suggesting that some examples were still operational through to 1945. Having only assembled the kits of the previous examples, in this review weíll complete the build including looking at a method of applying the four colour camouflage scheme to this 42mm (1 and 5/8 inch) long model.
Packed in a proper tray and lid box, the bagged sprues are so small it reminded me of the kits that were sometimes given away with cereals in the Ď70s (photo 1). One sprue has been changed as compared to the earlier ďLate ProductionĒ kit, Sprue E instead of D:
- Sprue E: wheel / track units, track guard (photo 2)
- Sprue B: lower hull and fittings (photo 3)
- Sprue F: turret parts (photo 4)
- Sprue C x 2: suspension fittings (photo 5)
- Sprue A: body (photo 6) and turret superstructures (photo 7)
- Photo-etched metal sheet (photo 8)
- Decal sheet (photo 9).
The instructions are a fold out A4 sheet, using 3D CAD images, including a single finishing scheme: ď14th Tank Regiment, Burma, 1942Ē in four colour camouflage, very helpfully illustrated by a full five view colour profile. Paint references are included for six popular brands.
As before, construction starts with cutting the wheel / track units from the sprue (10). All wheels including the return rollers are moulded in place with the tracks. The upsides of this are a (probably) cheaper kit, and ease and speed of construction; the main downside being the lack of detail on the track itself, particularly the outer faces. The detail on the wheels is pretty good, and the way that the track sits around them, including sag, is possibly better than you might get with separate tracks.
The number of connection points has been reduced from 11 on the Late kit to 8 here, so cleaning up is a little easier, but aside from the connector tags, there is a mould seam around the centre of each track face. Cleaning that up to a reasonable standard isnít too time consuming but care needs to be taken not to break or bend the track units. Each pair of road wheels is sandwiched by inner and outter suspension arms (11) the fit of which presented no problems.
The body is next, the simple lower plate and the slide moulded superstructure (12) go together without any issues (13), cement application mostly being done via the inside through the openings. (Just pause here to consider, if you are planning on leaving the turret hatch open, some simple details could be fabricated to improve the view inside the turret and down on to the floor. The Australian War Memorial website includes a couple of good photos
down through the turret hatch.)
Step 2 shows the track units being added, but I left them to one side to be painted separately, and continued adding details to the body. Photo 14 is the engine cooling louvre being added, 15 the final drive cover. Photo 16 shows a suspension unit added, noting that they are delicate, so somewhat prone to bending; they locate via two pegs at each end, and the horizontal spring case which attaches to the grooves between the two riveted plates (boxed in photo 16). A little pressure may be needed to ensure that all three location points are in contact while the cement sets.
Turning to the right side, a small bulge is added next to the driver position (17). In photo 18 we see the new idler mount has been added to the left rear (arrowed), this version being much simpler to assemble compared to the Late type with its external sprung swinging arms. The rear tow bar is installed (19), noting that I failed to perfectly remove the mould seam, so patience is required to clean up this quite complex shaped part.
The track guards are cemented in place (20), ensuring that they are horizontal and that the cement is fully set before attempting to add any details on top of them. The etched sheet includes six tiny brackets, one with a slight cut out to accommodate the tool that is stowed on top of it. IBG have corrected the instructions for this version to clearly indicate that the brackets locate on top
of the track guards, and note well that they must be added before
the muffler, tools or horn. There are also brackets for the fronts of the guards, which must be bent slightly in order to attach to the nose plate. See photos 21 and 22; the horn was drilled out before being cemented in place.
The turret ring is attached to the turret superstructure, then the front plate / mantlet added (23, 24) with a touch of CA glue being used to fill small gaps near the base at the front. Photo 25 shows the interior of the turret hatch, with a clean (no pin marks) but featureless surface, apart from the slight rim around the edge. (I couldnít find photos that clearly show what this should look like, the AWM photo of the vehicle in their collection only shows the lower edge. A 1945 photo of it appears to show a handle near the top centre, and a locking bar arrangement across the lower edge.) Having closed up the hatch in my review of the Late version, I went for leaving it open this time, partly to show the minimal internal detail that is provided in terms of the machine gun. The gun is in two parts which need to be aligned, there being no hole through the mantlet. To accommodate any future figure, I thought it made sense to angle the weapon upwards so that the breech end doesnít interfere with the placement of the figure (26).
The three individual tools mount on the right side and itís great having them presented separately, even if they are not perfect. Photo 27 shows the long bar on the track guard looking quite lumpy and clearly curved over the metal bracket, and I think it also broke while I was attempting to clean it up. It was easier to create a new part from 0.5mm rod, with a section of square 1mm rod at one end and a mounting made from from 1mm round rod near the other (28, itís still a little bent). The pick axe handle could really have done with being replaced in a similar way. The shovel handle is a better shape, although the blade could do with thinning down a little.
In preparation for painting, the shovel, turret and track units were all mounted on cocktail sticks (29) as was the main body itself, and the exhaust cover mesh, identification plate and the muffler bracket were mounted on double sided sticky tape (30), though the plate would be better off mounted on a stick as well.
The four colour camouflage is described as Grass Green, Earth Brown, Dry Grass and Khaki. Photos and illustrations suggest that the Earth Brown is more brick red brown, and the Tamiya colour given is XF-64 Red Brown, so as a short cut, and bearing in mind the number of coats to be applied, I started with red oxide automotive primer from a spray can which serves as both primer and base colour. To obtain a hard edge and a finer and more irregular line than one tends to get with blue tack, I reverted to my old method of toothpaste masking, with the first application shown in photo 31. The Tamiya colour given for Khaki is indeed XF-49 Khaki, which was applied next (32). Note the apparent leeching of water from the toothpaste into the matt paint, which had no permanent effect.
Now the areas to remain Khaki were masked off, and the green sprayed over (33). Grass Green is called out as Tamiya XF-13 J.A. Green, which is quite dark; although I have plenty of greens, I donít have that, and wanted a lighter shade anyway, so used Mr Hobby H312. With the final layer of toothpaste on top (34) the lightest shade was sprayed on (35). This is the colour described as Dry Grass, translated to Tamiya as XF-60 Dark Yellow; for me, thatís a bit too similar to Khaki, so I went with a much lighter colour, Mr Hobby Yellow 313. With so much toothpaste and paint itís easy to miss some spots, so care is needed to ensure that all the unmasked areas at each stage are sprayed. The same process was applied to the track units (36) not worrying for now about the tyres and track.
The toothpaste is best washed off under a cold running tap, using a fairly stiff brush (I used a toothbrush for some bits) and with it all gone and dried off, we have a quite bright looking camo pattern. A few touch ups were done with a paint brush where some of the colours didnít quite meet up (between the Dry Grass and the Red Brown on the turret for example). Gloss varnish was sprayed over everything followed by a pin wash with a mix of Humbrol black enamel and AK Winter Streaking Grime. The two small decals were added to the front edge of the engine cover, followed by a coat of satin varnish. Now the bright colours look a bit more muted (39). Details were then painted, such as the exhaust (39), the stowed tools (40), and the gun (41), as well as a few chips, scratches and stains. The tyres and tracks were also painted (42), as was the shovel (43).
The etched metal identification plate (44). This is shown as being added in step 2, but the finishing instructions only show it as being painted green, without the decal on the sheet being applied. All three IBG Type 94 kits use the identical decal sheet, with decal number 5 never shown as being used, so I decided I would use it. As the decal background is black, I sprayed the etched plate with black primer, then applied the decal straight on to it, followed by satin varnish. I realise now that Iíve glued it on to what is meant to be the tail light, it should actually go on the bracket underneath the light.
The track units were added, noting that there was a tendency for the bottom, ground contacting run, to curve up a little. I overcame this by clamping them down with cocktail sticks to a metal block and leaving them for 24 hours. The exhaust guard mesh and bracket, painted to match the green camo, were fixed in place with a touch of CA glue, along with the shovel and, finally, the turret. Some variations were added to the camouflage colours using toning colours of oil paint, and some enhancements and additional staining and shading were rendered with highly thinned sepia oil paint; a few red brown and brown pigments were thrown in as well, mainly on the exhaust and the lower hull.
So as I reported in the Type 94 Late Production review, this kit provides an enjoyable build with well-fitting parts. A reasonable balance has been struck between simplicity while still providing a fair amount of detail. The quality of the moulding is very good, if not perhaps really top notch, but something to remember when looking at the photos is that the finished model is only 42mm long, so about half the length of most tanks, with the result that you are looking at a photo with double the magnification than if the subject was a medium tank. The inclusion of the photo etch parts is a real plus, and they work well, particularly the exhaust guard, which is excellent and adds a lot to the final appearance, and the separate tools help to enhance things on the other side. The presentation of the kit is excellent, with good instructions and very decent colour painting guides; in a few places I wanted a clear as-built picture of what I was assembling, for example, you never get a 3D view of the assembled rear of the model, apart from step 3, all views are of the front.
In terms of accuracy, the issues with the track guards and the simplification of the idler mounts in the Late Production kit do not apply here. The open / closed hatch conundrum still does, as with so many small scale kits Ė itís nice to have an openable hatch, but it really needs to come with some detail for the underside of the hatch itself, and I think there should also be a small strut on the left to support the hatch when in the open position. Ideally a figure would make the most of the open hatch, but unfortunately one isnít included in this kit, and sadly I canít identify any manufacturer that produces an acceptable looking Japanese tank commander at this scale. Perhaps the driverís front hatch could have been openable as well, since if the turret hatch is open, the driverís hatch normally is too.
There is the problem of the mostly undetailed track faces; some may not like the integrated wheel / track units, but bearing in mind how fiddly separate tracks of this width might be to fit, I think they are quite well executed. On the other hand, considering the small amount of the track run that is visible face on, as it were, perhaps there was scope for some further details to be provided for those few links. As stated above, care needs to be taken with the track units as the tracks are very narrow and can easily be bent or broken.
This kit can be had for around £8 in the UK, and although the model may be very small, when you add in the etched parts, it is top value modelling enjoyment.