The Type 95 Ha-Go was a Japanese light tank design accepted for service in 1935. Armament was a 37mm main gun and two 7.7mm machine guns, one mounted in a hull front mount and the other mounted in the rear of the turret. Powered by a 120 hp Mitsubishi air cooled diesel engine, the 7.4 ton tank had a top speed of 45 kmh (28 mph) but reaching that in reality was a challenge as the bell crank suspension system made for very rough handling as it would cause the tank to pitch and buck excessively. The three man crew consisted of a driver, bow gunner and commander, who stood in the turret and operated the 37mm gun as well.
Tank development accelerated quickly in the late 30’s as nations rushed to prepare for war. The type 95 was not improved upon. It had very thin armor, 25mm at the thickest point, and was vulnerable to many weapons; even rifle fire at close range could penetrate the engine compartment. It served well where there were not weapons or training to combat armored vehicles, such as early in the war in China and Malaysia, but the Japanese military did not think larger tanks could be used in the island fighting of the Pacific. This was proved wrong. Many photos show the catastrophic destruction of tanks that were sent into battle against better armed and prepared forces. Of the roughly 2300 tanks produced, only a handful remain today as museum samples, or battlefield wrecks.
have offered two other versions of the type 95 Ha-go; an early production model reviewed can be viewed at the link below. 95 Ha-go Early
Live links and the Type 95 Ha go “Hokuman version” with revised suspension reviewed here. Type 95 Ha go “Hokuman version Review
Live links Now they have added a late version, the subject of this review. The difference between the early and late versions are extended front track guards with a curved forward end and an additional mud flap attached to the underside, and a revised reinforced tow mount on the front of the tank which displaced the locating of the imperial star mounted to the bow plate. In this kit that amounts to two new fender pieces, the bow plate and glacis and two etch pieces. On the Dragon models
website listing of this kit, the overview states the cupola is also new, but in comparison with the original kit I see no difference at all.
The kit comes in a large, top opening box with artwork depicting a tank of the 14th tank regiment at Peleliu, mist shrouded jungle visible in the background. Inside the box the sprues are carefully packaged in cellophane pouches to protect them from damage. I appreciate the fact the Dragon models
goes to the effort to protect individual sprues and as a result, none in my sample showed any damage. The parts are all well molded with no production issues, sink marks or flash present. Seam lines are visible from the molding process but are easily cleaned up and I don’t see any mismatched mold issues on any parts.
It appears that each part has been carefully engineered, with great detail close attention to the original vehicle the kit is based on. The road wheels have the proper bolt retaining wires present, good weld detail and the tires have lettering on them. Likewise the return rollers feature lettering on the rubber tire. The bell crank suspension can be modeled in an articulated pose for rough terrain. Detail is crisp on the final drive housings and idler wheel mounts and both the idlers and drive sprocket have inner and outer detail. The hull itself has bolts and rivets of varying types and sizes all located correctly as near as I can tell from photos, with drain plugs and access panels located on the bottom. The only inaccuracy is due to molding constraints; to achieve scale thickness of the hull and armor it would need to be nearly paper thin.
The tracks are DS material, very well detailed and with hollow guide horns. They look very nice but can be difficult to place on the kit with proper sag represented. Two individual link track sections are included as spares but are marked not for use. I had hoped Dragon models
would offer them as a full run at some point in the future. For now, you will have to look for aftermarket, or buy 90 kits to get a full set of tracks for one tank. I have used the DS tracks and find that gluing fine wire to the inner side of the track run will allow me to pose them with proper sag, something I will show with the build of this kit.
The new bow plate and glacis are dimensionally identical to the old parts, with the new base for the tow hook in one part on the bow plate and the removal of the imperial star on the glacis. The hatches for the transmission access provide the option of a molded on handle or separate handle positioned per the modeler’s choice. A type 97 7.7mm machine gun with optional ball mounts showing the sight hole open or closed and a driver’s view port that can be posed fully or partially open or fully closed offer many options for the modeler. On the rear of the tank the engine access hatches can also be posed open or closed. The louvered panels are finely molded, allowing the photo etched inner screens to be easily seen. Separate handles are included for many parts. The muffler has a photo etched protective screen and the jack has a hollowed out lever base for the handle.
The turret shows how cramped the tank would have been in real life. The asymmetrical design of the tank and turret are common features of Japanese tanks in WWII and are well represented here. The 37mm gun has a full breech-both types offered in the early kit are available again here but only one is marked for use. The mantlet can be built in simplified form allowing for limited vertical movement, or in the accurate and more complex form that allows for a degree of lateral movement as well. The same options for the ball mount are available for the turret machine gun. No external mount is included. Vision ports are molded in place but can be replaced with etch items. Vision slits are present on the cupola but there is no interior detail. The hatch lids include an optional molded on lip or etch replacement for the rain guard.
Aside from the armament and inner hatch detail, there is no interior offered for this kit. This is unfortunate as there are so many options to show off the interior through the hatches. Also, finding figures for this kit, for those inclined, can be difficult as there are so few available on the market now.
The instructions (not pictured in this review, but they will be shown in the build log to follow) are typical CAD line drawings with sub assemblies shown in drop boxes on the side. In this Dragon models
release, they are clear and easy to follow. The only issue I spotted is that no instruction is provided for the hand crank assembly to rotate the turret.
A paint guide is offered with colors provided by name and paint brand number, with GSI Creos aqueous hobby color and Mr Color brands, and Model Master enamel paints indicated. The color schemes offered are in the four color pattern of pale brown or green, dark green, dark brown and a disruptive yellow stripe. For those who wish to go outside the box, there are references available that show other paint marking schemes. Some paint manufacturers are offering paint sets with all the colors needed for early, late war or both schemes. I have the Vallejo set that offers the color patterns for what is called out in the instructions, a review of which can be found via the following link;
Vallejo IJA Colours
The marking schemes included in the kit are for four different tanks.
1. 14th Tank regiment, Peleliu, 1944, unit insignia (modified chrysanthemum emblem) on the turret sides and large Japanese script on hull sides. A white stripe is on the cupola but a decal for this is not included. This tank was destroyed in the counter attack on the airfield. A photograph showing the destroyed tank can be found via the following link;
Live links approximately ¾ of the way down the page.
2. 14th tank regiment, Peleliu, 1944. Unit insignia or optional national marking on turret sides, different script options for hull side, so this would be two separate options. A photograph showing a tank with the turret blown off, unit marking on the turret but hull side not visible may be of the tank in the following link;
3. Co 3, 14th tank regiment, Malaya 1944. Three bar insignia on the turret rear and license placquard with number 663.
4. Co. 1, 9th tank regiment, Guam 1944. White band on cupola, white divided rectangle on turret side, Japanese script on the hull side.
Decals are printed by Cartograff and are very fine. The carrier film follows the contours of the script so careful handling is needed.
Detail on this kit is exceptional. I repeat my statement about the original kit in that the Type 95 (and type 2 amphibious tank) are the best made kits in the Dragon models
inventory. Attention to detail is visible everywhere and much care was put into production. This kit is suitable for modelers of almost all levels as assembly is straight forward and the instructions are clear. Options on parts include basic and more advanced detail and those who favor scratch building for super detailing have an excellent starter base. IJA armor doesn’t tend to be as popular as other modeling subjects, which is a shame as this is an excellent little kit.
The primary reference I used was Wikipedia. While not always accurate, all other available online sources repeat what Wikipedia has to say.