A 1/87 Japanese Tank??
Just as resin casting was a generation ago, today 3D printing is a revolution in scale modeling, especially for subjects and scales outside of the mainstream. Many Japanese tanks are available in 1/35 from a few injection molding companies, with a few resin kits for the quarterscale (1/48 scale) community. There are some IJA AFVs in 1/72-1/76 yet, until 3D printing, I knew of none in the extensive scale of 1/87.
Type 95 Ha Go Light Tank
is one of those neglected 1/87 subjects. I ordered it through Shapeways.
Instead of writing a brief history, I included several URLs of Ha Go videos, one showing a captured on going through its paces, including a drag race with an M5 Stuart! You can see it below, at Click here for additional images for this review.
3D Printed Parts
A relatively new resource for scale modelers, 3D printing, also known as rapid prototyping, is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object from a virtual Computer-aided design (CAD) representation with a materials printer using digital technology. The shape is built up through an additive process where successive layers of material (in this case resin) are laid down in different shapes to form the object rather than the traditional method of removing excess material to produce the shape. Among the companies offering this service is an outfit called Shapeways.
Shapeways describes the "frosted ultra detail UV cured acrylic polymer" material as, “matte translucent plastic that showcases fine and intricate details” – a pretty accurate description. The substance is similar to the polyurethane resin commonly used in aftermarket resin models; solid but also easy to work.*
This little Type 95 Ha Go was ordered from the Shapeways shop Arctic Skunk, where it was 'digidesigned' by "mpennock".
This lilliputian model consists of just two pieces, the turret and everything else. Everything is molded on, including the main gun and machine guns.
Detail is very good. Edges are sharper on this model than on some injection molded models. Components look properly scaled in ratio. The one detail drawback are the tracks. They are simplified as solid ribbons with transverse raised bars to represent the links. Those bars were prominent on the real Type 95 tracks yet with an open isosceles trapezoid between each bar.
I was pleased to discover that the shapes are accurate.
However, while I first thought that the little step artifacts of the layering process were so small as to be virtually invisible, painting the model and magnification via enlarging the photos reveled shape and texture problems. The rounded plate of the turret and the right upper hull show slight angles instead of smooth arcs. Whether any of us will notice this after paint is applied and from "normal" viewing distances, I leave that to your judgement.
Even with the small protuberances, packing the model in bubble sheets held in a zipper baggie allowed it to travel without damage.
Instructions and decals
None. Refer to your own references. An expert resource on IJA armor colors, Japanese Armour Colours, A Primer, 1937-1945
, available from the website Aviation of Japan and reviewed here on Armorama.
ConclusionType 95 Ha Go Light Tank
is a fine 1/87 model. It features a commendable finish and sharp details. It is scaled accurately.
The simplified tracks detract from the model although perhaps making the links authentically open would tax the structure too much. That very fine layering strata and faint angular shaping of the rounded surfaces is a distraction. Whether it will be noticeable after full painting and viewed from "the three-foot rule", we'll have to see. Stand by, a painted model is in progress.
This 1/87 is an impressive model and I am happy that 3D printing is allowing these neglected subjects to become available. I look forward to populating my collection with these previously neglected subjects. Modelers, gamers and historians of the PTO and CBI should be thrilled with this model, as should those of the 1/87 community.
* Tim Reynaga. 3D Printed Ship’s Bells
. https://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/review/11275. May 08, 2015.
Restored Running Ha Go
Restored Running Ha Go in Thailand