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1/16 Imperial Japanese Army Type 94 Tankette


James H
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1/16 Imperial Japanese Army Type 94 Tankette
Takom
Catalogue # 1006
Available for around £50

 

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The Type 94 tankette (Japanese: 九四式軽装甲車, Kyūyon-shiki keisōkōsha, literally "94 type light armored car", also known as TK that is abbreviation of "Tokushu Keninsha" that means special tractor, was a tankette used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in World War II. Although tankettes were often used as ammunition tractors, and general infantry support, they were designed for reconnaissance, and not for direct combat. The lightweight Type 94 proved effective in China as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army consisted of only three tank battalions to oppose them, and those tank battalions only consisted of some British export models and Italian CV-33 tankettes. As with nearly all tankettes built in the 1920s and 1930s, they had thin armour that could be penetrated by .50 calibre machine gun fire at 600 yards range. The design of the Type 94 began in 1932. Development was then given to Tokyo Gas and Electric Industry (later known as Hino Motors) in 1933, and an experimental model was completed in 1934. It was a small light tracked vehicle with a turret armed with one machine gun. For cargo transportation it pulled an ammunition trailer.

The hull of the Type 94 was of riveted and welded construction, with a front-mounted engine with the driver to the right. The engine was an air-cooled petrol motor that developed 35hp at 2,500 rpm. The commander stood in a small unpowered turret at the rear of the hull. A large door in the rear of the hull accessed the storage compartment. With the start of World War II, a number of Type 94s were issued to each Japanese infantry division in the Pacific theatre, with a tracked trailer. They saw action in Burma, the Netherlands East Indies, the Philippines and on a number of islands in the South Pacific Mandate. Some were also assigned to Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces. A detachment of eight Type 94 tankettes forming the 56th Infantry Group Tankette Unit (Also named the Anai tankette unit, after the name of their captain), part of the "Sakaguchi Detachment", had a notable role in the Japanese conquest of Java, engaging a large enemy element on 2 March and routing them, capturing a bridge on the same night, and at dawn overrunning a position of 600 enemy soldiers on the opposite bank, and participating in offensive operations that led to the surrender of Dutch forces on the next few days near Surakarta.
Extract from Wikipedia

 

The kit
This kit is the initial release of the Type 94 Tankette, hitting the market only within the last 2 months. Another Late Production version will be released here soon, with the Japanese markets already seeing this new version. For a 1/16 kit, the box for this model kit is relatively small, as befits such a vehicle of such stature. Despite the size of this little vehicle, the kit box itself is pretty full. Please note that this model does notoffer a full interior as with very recent Takom kits. Takom’s Type 94 Tankette comprises of 9 sprues of light grey styrene, two clear sprues and two lengths of grey vinyl track of the same shade as the styrene. Sprues are packaged separately except for the multiples of the same sprue. A single PE fret is also included, as is a single decal sheet. The instruction manual is a 16-page landscape format publication, roughly A4 in size and with fold out colour illustrations at the rear.

 

Hull

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This single-piece moulding is of the typical bathtub-style design and is very deep in form, whilst being short from front to back, indicating the squat nature of the Type 24. The part itself is quite simple, with only the very basics needed in side detail, and numerous dome-headed rivets covering the various faces of the part. Takom has designed the rear hull plate as a separate part. No sprue is connected to this, but there is the tiniest of styrene nubs on the underside that needs a quick trim.

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Sprue A (x2)

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We first take a look at a sprue for which two sets are included. Here we have the majority of the parts that concern the running gear etc. Note that the forward drive wheels are moulded with the inner toothed rim separate to the outer portion, and these are fitted with a whole row of locating pins to as to ensure alignment of inner and outer teeth. The roadwheels are moulded with the main rim separate to the inner spoked hub. Orientation of these isn’t important. The rest of this sprue is taken over with the parts for the bogies and the transverse spring suspension that was a quirk of this little vehicle. Takom has used slide-moulding to recreate that hefty spring, and it does actually look very good, despite the fact that it will be hidden behind a separate cover. Plenty of scope for building this with a lost or damaged cover, maybe. The Type 94 consists of two bogies per side that are connected to this transverse spring suspension. 

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Sprue B (x2)

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These very small sprues contain the idler wheel, moulded in the same two-part style of the drive wheels. A very small number of other parts are included here, such as the idler hub and tensioner for the same said wheel.

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Sprue D

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Here we have both full-length fenders, front fender hinged flaps, idler tensioner mechanism, machine gun and associated parts (gun scope etc.), forward light bracket. The only thing I would do with the gun’s sleeve is to drill the holes out. Note that the mounting brackets for the fenders are separately moulded and included on Sprue A.

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Sprue E

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Even in 1/16 scale, it’s pretty clear how small this little vehicle was by the paucity of the turret. This is moulded as halves instead of the recent trend in making these as more or less a single piece. External plating and raised rivet detail is excellent, but there are limitations in this unless you opt for more expensive slide-moulding. That factor here involved the raised/domed rivets at the front and back of the turret, which can’t be created properly in a conventional rigid steel mould. To fix this, Takom has included a number of small rivets that are moulded onto the sprue itself. These will need to be shaved off and applied as per instructions. Other parts on this include the turret lid and hinged door, plus the turret base, mantlet, vision ports and escape hatch.

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Sprue H

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Takom have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure all the various hatches etc can be posed open, but you need to remember that this model has no interior. Some of these hatches are rather large in 1/16, so it would seem nonsensical to do this unless you planned on some serious scratch-building. Nonetheless, the options are there. Here you can see the full upper hull with the various openings, and plated that create the raised, angular portions of the upper hull. Again, all hatches themselves are moulded with interior/underside details, should you want to pose them open. The rear hull plate with its access hatch and door can be seen here. This sprue really contains the rest of the parts for the tank superstructure, such as the drive wheel gear housings, towing hook with its leaf-spring mounting, pioneer tool (spade), jack, multipart exhaust, storage boxes, headlight, etc. 

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Sprue J

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A single sprue contains the individual track links for this kit, with there being 85 per side. Takom are actually very generous here as they supply a total of 200 track parts, giving you 30 spare parts. These appear to click together, but at this stage I’ve not tested their fit. Crucially, moulding here is excellent with only sprue gate clean-up really being required. These are also moulded with their horns in situ. A benefit of separate track links is the ability to create a reasonably realistic sag, unlike vinyl which can be more difficult to manipulate into the most realistic pose.

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Sprue K

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I’m not really a fan of figures, primarily because I’m not very good at figure painting! Takom has, however, included a very nice styrene figure which takes up all of this sprue. He comprises of 15 parts, with separate face, neck collar, boots etc. and the uniform has been very nicely recreated. He should look superb when complete. There is actually a fifteenth part on the clear sprue, for his goggles. A very nice little touch. Sculpture of his face is perfect, with a suitably Japanese appearance. 

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Vinyl Tracks

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I’m not really a fan of vinyl tracks or wheels etc, but Takom does give you the option of using these instead of the individual links. Moulded in the same colour as the kit styrene, these provide a much simpler alternative to the separate links, in case that option doesn’t suit you.

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Photo Etch

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A single fret contains just three pieces of PE. The largest is for the mesh gate that surrounds the exhaust, and the other parts are for the straps that hold the fender-mounted jack in place. Production is excellent with a nice interleaved mesh effect on the exhaust covering, and minimal gates to cut through to remove the parts.

 

Clear Parts

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Only two parts here, on two tiny sprues. These contain the figure’s goggles and the tankette headlight lens. Superbly clear and with minimal gate connections too. 

 

Decals

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Just one decal sheet is provided for the three included schemes. Printing is suitably thin, with solid colour, minimal carrier film and perfect registration. 

 

Instructions

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The 16-page manual starts with a potted history of the type and includes a parts map for reference. Construction is broken down into 21 easy to follow stages with clear line drawing illustrations. General paint references are provided at the front of the manual with Mig AMMO colours. Mig also provides the colour illustrations for the schemes at the back of the manual, by means of a fold-out section.

 

Conclusion
There’s no doubt that this is a very unusual and well-executed rendition of this diminutive vehicle, and certainly allows the modeller to create something very unusual for their display shelf. The kit itself is fairly basic but doesn’t really need to be anything else as Takom has covered just about all detail and angles here. I think I would’ve liked to have seen an interior with the kit, as they included with their Renault FT release though. Still, for me, I’d build this with all hatches and ports closed, so the interior wouldn’t really matter to me. I think the figure would be best represented by him standing next to the tank. Quality is pure Takom with superb tooling and moulding and detail. In all, not too expensive a kit either, and definitely one you should contemplate if you’re having Panther burnout!

Highly recommended

My sincere thanks to Takom for the review sample seen here. Check out your regular online retailers for this kit. It should be in the shops around now.

 

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