The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) seeking a small military personnel carrier, directed Nihon Nainenki Company to develop what would become Japan’s first 4-wheel drive vehicle. When standardized in 1936 as the Type 95, the indigenous Kurogane (the company’s brand-name) was considered quite advanced for Japanese automotive technology. It had an air-cooled, 2-cylinder motorcycle engine, with large 6.00 x 18-inch tires and double-wishbone suspension for good cross-country mobility.
It is a small, Phaeton-style body type car designed to carry two passengers. It has two doors and a convertible top, and strikes an interesting profile – sort of “bustle-high” exaggerated by the curved body lines and rear deck mounted spare tire. The Type 95 weighs some 1060 kilograms and is constructed from sheet steel stampings, with steel piping bumpers. Aside from tiny flares behind the front fenders, the Type 95 does not support steps or running boards along its sides like other contemporary auto designs of its time.
It did not have a sophisticated suspension system for additional stability, but its short wheelbase and large diameter wheels performed well. It had a large approach and departure angle and good performance on rough terrain. The front wheels track slightly inside the rear wheels – so don’t think your model kit is out of whack when you build it.
The small engine displaced 1399 cc’s and developed a maximum of 33-horsepower at 3300 rpm. It was easy to maintain in the field.
The Type 95 would serve the Japanese military in command and reconnaissance roles on all fronts, with some 4800 units built for the IJA.
Inside the Box
The Pit-Road kit comes in an appropriately sized box, with nice artwork outside. The parts in my example are sharply cast, with no flash to be found. Sprues are individually wrapped to keep the parts from moving around loose in the box. Mold seams are sparse and non-existent in some places. Ejector pin remnants do not mar any of the important details. Two figures, one driving and the other standing, are done nicely too. I anticipate their details will be easy to paint and pick out for finishing with no problems.
The Instruction Sheet is an exploded-view type, printed on both sides of an 8 x 11.5-inch sheet of glossy paper. Part call-outs are in bold, where Gunze Mr. Color Paint call-outs are italicized – be careful here not to confuse the two as they appear where appropriate during the construction sequence. Other than that, the suggested assembly sequence does not appear to cause any concern upon initial review.
Seventy plastic parts are cast in desert yellow color. The folded-down canvas top is decently rendered. The five wheels are cast as single pieces with no appreciable mold seam down the tread – which is nice. The deployed canvas top is done well, though a bit on the thick side.
No clear headlight inserts are provided – but the housings are hollowed-out, so you can use your favorite brand of replacement lenses here. Windshield Wipers are cast separate from the Windshield Frame, giving option to pose them in different positions. The Body is made up of three pieces, with separate Hood, that all drop onto the Frame/Chassis. Pit-Road provides the little engine for enterprising modelers, and the suspension components are presented adequately in the kit too.
Five clear parts on a sheet are given for the windows around the Kurogane, if you choose to use them, appearing simple to trim away. Dashboard detail is rather Spartan (but there isn’t much there to see in reality), and the Seats appear beefy and generous for the car – not like the seats seen in the walk around over on Prime Portal
. The center-positioned rear seat appears more like what one would expect to see.
There are no decals provided in the kit for rendering the Instrument Panel Gauges nor Data Plate and MFG Tag for the dashboard. Pedals are cast into the Floor, but modelers might opt to replace this detail. The interiors of the Doors do not have details – again opportunity for a modeler to add a bit more towards personalizing their miniature.
The prominent Grill up front is sharply cast, with separate IJA Badge for the modeler to add, but you cannot see through the slats to the inside of the Engine Compartment. Providing that feature would have helped set this model kit into another category. Vents on the sides of the Engine Compartment are present on the vehicle’s exterior, as appropriate, but not on the inside – so the modeler is faced with adding them if they open the Hood. The wheels are not positionable, but it doesn’t appear to difficult a task to accomplish if desired. The tread pattern inside the kit does not match the box art.
The first Pit-Road 1:35th scale kit I’ve ever purchased is a nicely done effort. It is not replete with ultra-fine details, resin and photo-etch like some might expect for model kits released today, but what is presented is well executed. I felt no urgent desire to replace anything provided in the box by Pit-Road, though there is much room for incorporating additional detail. Kuroganes are handsome little vehicles and offer modelers an enjoyable respite from rendering big battlefield behemoths, and opportunity to model different scenes and moods for their collection. A modicum of extra effort will pay good dividends in the end, and the basic kit appears to present little challenge during assembly – good subject for a novice modeler to take on and expect good results. I hope Pit-Road has future plans for more 1:35th scale military vehicles.