by: Russ Amott [ ]
This is a follow-on to the in box review I posted of this kit on Armorama a link to which can be found at the end of this build review. This is a build review of the Dragon Model Type 95 tank "Ha Go" and I will begin by saying that this was one of the best kits to build that I have ever encountered, and offers many options for the modeler.
In step one, the road wheels are assembled, with small etch spacers added, two to each side. The only issue I had here is that the molded on lip at the center of each road wheel hub made adding the two spacers too thick for the connecting axles on the suspension arms. You have the options of either leaving off the spacers on the inside where they most likely won't be seen, reducing the spacers by one on each side, or carefully scraping the lip off of the center hub. I chose the third option. With that done, assembly was a breeze.
In step two, you add details to the hull-rear fittings and the adjustable idler arms. You can mount the three small tow cables or an empty bracket. I placed the idler all the way to the rear but with careful glue application the axle stub was still movable to adjust the track tension.
Step 3 and 4
Step 3 adds the front plate, final drive covers and suspension arms and cover. In step 4, the drive sprocket, bogie assembly and idlers can then be added. I did not glue them in place so they could be removed for painting.
In step five, you have the option of two different engine plates. One has molded on detail, the other allows you to choose between etch or plastic fuel covers, and an access hatch with either molded on handle or separate handle.
Step 6 adds the engine plate and hatches to the rear deck. The hatches can all be positioned open, but as there is no interior, and no aftermarket that I know of, this is not really useful. There is an etch screen that goes under the louvered vent. Also the support arm, which I chose not to add as it is not visible with the hatch closed. Two small etch brackets are also added to the driver's position, for the hatch. You can also remove the molded on vision port and replace it with an etch part, but the detail of the molded on part was sharp enough that I left it in place.
Step 7 is assembly of the fenders, with etch strips on the underside that I believe were mud flaps. The manufacturer's data plate can be built up on the molded on base with an etch plate or removed and a two layer etch part added. Optional headlights, either facing forward or turned towards the rear for action, and optional transmission access hatches, with either molded on handles or separate handles complete this step.
Step 8 allows you to build the driver's armored visor in an open or closed position, and with the small vision port open or closed. Two different glass vision blocks are provided depending on the option you choose. Then the two upper hull sections are added to the model. I deviated from the construction sequence by first adding the front hull plate and then adding the track guards, to make sure everything lined up.
Step 9 starts with construction of the turret hatch with the option of showing the hatch covers open or closed. If open there are two more options, with a molded on inner lip or a photo etched inner lip for one cover. The handles are molded on solid and either need to be cut out or replaced with wire for best visual detail if the hatches are open. There is no detail on the inner surface of the hatch opening. The hand crank to rotate the turret is attached to the turret base.
The main gun, also assembled in this step offers two options for the rear breech guard and shell bag, and two options for the mantlet. On the real tank the mantlet allowed the gun to move right or left independent of the turret, as well as on the vertical. The kit allows you this option, as well as a simplified mount that allows only for vertical movement.
Step 10 is the assembly of the turret, with again the option of removing the molded on vision slot cover and replacing it with an etch part. The turret hatch is added, gun mount and main gun assembly. The smoke discharger, only used on one marking option, is added here as well. If it is not used, the molded on detail on the turret for mounting it must be removed.
In step 11, adding the turret machine gun is a trick as you begin to see how crowded the turret was. There is very little room for both the main gun and machine gun. The turret vision port offers two options for the hatch, one with molded on detail and the other with etch parts.
Step 12 is the side louvered engine hatch, again with an etch screen insert. There are different locking brackets depending upon if the hatch is positioned open or closed.
Step 13 is the muffler assembly, with the option of adding end caps that include the brace for the mesh muffler guard or without the braces. I added the mesh screen but it can be left off for detail painting.
Step 14 assembles the tools, with a very well detailed jack. These are placed on the right rear track guard and then placed in position.
Step 15 sets the turret on the tank and adds the tracks. The tracks are too long, by about 1 or two links, depending. Photos of this tank show track sag, but this was considerable. They are the DS styrene single length track that is able to be gluede, but difficult to get a good sagged appearance with. Options would be to insert wire into the hull to pull the track down (Glen Bartoli shows this in his builds and with weathering and mud the wire is well hidden) or to glue wire to the track run itself, bent to shape.
Total assembly of the tank was very easy and quite fast. Detail is excellent, and everything fit very well.
I spent considerable time reading up on how Japanese armor was painted. The four options all have the same basic scheme, three color base with the disruptive yellow stripe. I used Tamiya paints, with the base of dark earth, then olive green and for the darker brown a mix of red brown and flat blue at roughly 2:1 ratio, with flat yellow faded slightly (but not enough) with white. I chose the markings for the 7th tank regiment, Philippines, 1942. After more reading and looking at pictures, I believe that the yellow stripe would be more of a buff color with a yellow hue. I am still surprised that with the inclusion of the etch data plate options, no decal was included for this.
This kit would benefit greatly from a nice set of crew figures and infantry riders, and some interior detail to open things up more. Dragon Model did offer a very nicely detailed commander figure, but that was only available in Japan. Individual link tracks would also be much appreciated, as they are better for getting the sagged appearance. Voyager has already released a nice etch set that includes the track guards, and a brass barrel (that really isn't necessary, but is a nice option) and maybe someone will offer some decal options. I imagine much of the aftermarket will be driven by the popularity of this kit, which I hope isn't .