by: Matthew Lenton [ ]
Developed in the 1930s for the Imperial Japanese Army, the Type 94 Tankette was crewed by a driver at the front, and a commander standing behind, in an unpowered turret armed with a machine gun. Although primarily deployed in reconnaissance duties, it was also used as a tractor to tow trailers carrying ammunition and other supplies in support of infantry operations. Designed to operate in the primitive conditions of Manchukuo with its bitter winters, the trailers coupled with the Type 94 were also tracked.
This boxing is based on the Type 94 Tankette Late Production kit 72044, recently the subject of a build review here on Armorama, so for details of the build of the tankette itself, please refer to that review; below I will look at the build of the trailers and how they couple to the tankette.
The kit comes packed in a proper tray and lid box, a little more full this time, as in addition to the original six sprues for the tankette, we have four more, H, I and J, for the trailers:
Sprue A: body and turret superstructures
Sprue B: lower hull and fittings
Sprue C x 2: suspension fittings
Sprue D: wheel / track units, track guard
Sprue F: turret parts
Sprue H: open topped trailer sides
Sprue I: covered trailer top and sides
Sprue J x 2: trailer chassis and track units
Photo-etched metal sheet
The instructions are a nice big fold out A4 sheet, using 3D CAD images, this time with just a single finishing scheme in full colour: ď2nd Independent Light Armoured Car CompanyĒ in a four colour camouflage, which is very helpfully illustrated by a six view colour profile. Paint references are included for six popular brands. The decal sheet is identical to that of the Type 94 Late kit, this time weíre instructed to use the decals that were not used in that kit.
As stated above, please refer to the review of Type 94 Late Production kit for details of the build of the tankette, and here we will proceed with the trailers.
Removing the track units from the sprue, which are identical for both trailers, we can see that the wheels are quite detailed and nicely moulded (photo 1), although as with the track units for the tankette, the track details are fairly basic, with the pair of guide horns between which the wheels ran being represented by a solid block, while the outer treads are also like blocks without any linkage details. The outer surface in any case has a mould seam running along its length which needs to be removed, and this results in the treads being sanded down to a flatter profile. Note also in the photo that there is a little flash on the edges of the tracks. This is a small but fairly complex object to mould, and as noted in the previous review, while the rendering and detailing of this kit is mostly very good, itís not quite at the top level in terms of moulding technology.
Both trailers start off the same, building up around the base plate, J4, to which is attached the one piece axle and springs (2), then the inner bogie (3), followed by the track units (4, 5) and the outer bogie (6). The fit of parts is all fine, the only care needed is to ensure that the track units are perfectly upright when the cement is set. The top of the open trailer is simply four walls which butt together (7, 8); make sure you get them the right way round: that big X shape reinforcement is not quite in the centre of the side wall. With the top set, it was attached to the base, and the small tow hook was added (9). Although the walls are overly thick, they are meant to be pressed steel sheet, and the lip represented around the top does more or less disguise the over-sized thickness of the walls.
When adding the tow bars and the hooks, bear in mind that the bar also incorporates the hook of whatever it is attached to, so either the other trailer or the rear of the tank (10). Itís also worth lining up the bar with what you are hooking it up to so that it cements at the right height to make the connection (11).
The covered trailer has an identical base (12), and again, the four part sides butt together, with the addition of the track guards (13). I chose to attach this assembly to the trailer base first (15, 16) before then adding the top (17, 18). The tow bar was then added (19), but the rear tow hook left off so that the bar/hook from the open trailer could couple to it (20, 21).
The quality of the moulding is very good, if not perhaps really top notch, but something to remember when looking at the photos is that the tankette is only 45mm long, so about half the length of most tanks, with the result that some of these photos are much more magnified than if the subject was a medium tank; the trailers are only about 30mm long. Remember that the tankette gets an excellent etched exhaust guard (not shown in these photos), which adds a lot to the final appearance. The presentation of this kit is again excellent, with good instructions and very decent colour painting guides.
The open topped trailer gives scope to feature a variety of stowage, or could quite easily be covered over with a tarpaulin. I couldnít find any photo references of this type of trailer, so canít comment on its overall appearance. The covered trailer, presumably for ammunition, appears to be accurate enough at this scale when compared with the single photo reference I could find. The two hatches on one side, three on the other, and the way the hatches are behind the track guards looks quite odd, and the photo shows it without track guards at all. An improvement would be to replace the track guards with items scratched from a drinks can, making them not only more in scale, but allowing a bit of wear and tear to be applied; alternatively they could also legitimately be left off completely, with the side mounting slots filled in.
The kit of the tankette on its own was an enjoyable build, with decent amounts of detail while still being unfussy and simple. This boxing with the additional trailers adds a further dimension however, and as it costs only a small amount more (less than one UK Pound or Euro more) Iíd say itís definitely the one to go for, especially if you have a diorama in mind.