by: Lars Franken [ ]
introductionDevelopment of the Type 90 tank was initiated in 1977, and it was accepted for service in 1990. The Type 90, equipped with a 120mm gun, is a first-class tank that is equal to any tank made by leading nations of the world. This tank is equipped with the same Rheinmetall 120-mm tank gun as the the German Leopard 2. The Type 90 tank carries a smoothbore barrel, rather than a rifled barrel, and ammunition includes armor-piercing projectiles, antitank howitzer shells, and adhesive [high explosive plastic (HEP)] howitzer shells. The Type 90 weighs 50 gross tons and is powered by a 1,500-horsepower engine. With the exception of the turretless Swedish Stridsvagn (S-type) tank and various Russian models, the Type 90 tank is the first tank to achieve manpower savings by reducing the crew to three through the development of an ammunition autoloader.
Innovative technology includes a laser and thermal-guided gun and turret controls. The automatic target tracking system using a thermal image display is controlled through a tank commander's targeting periscope attached to the top of the turret in an independently rotatable mode. Night-vision range finders are integrated into fire control systems (FCS) and night vision thermal imaging systems of a passive type use the infrared rays emitted from the opposing target to provide a substantial improvement in visible range. These features enable the tank to achieve high-precision, mobile firing, and enhance the tanks capabilities to respond rapidly to multiple targets. Proprietary technology was used on the composite armor, including steel and ceramics with superior projectile-resistant qualities.
the kitThe kit was originally released by Tamiya in 1996, with a newer version released in 2000 which includes the Type 90 Tank and an extra set of figures to be used in dioramas. This set also includes ammunition, ammo boxes and a little bit of interior for the ammo storage in the tank.
The kit comes packaged in a sturdy top opening box with the six sprues individually bagged for protection. The box art looks very nice, and has the familiar Tamiya look; simple but catching. Itís the same one as the original version, but now has a sticker indicating the figure set included. It also has a picture of the original tank to be used as reference material.
In total the kit has three instruction manuals; one for the building the main kit, one for the Ammo Loading Crew Set and one for the painting scheme and decal placement. When looking at the instructions, Tamiya made almost a full page for beginners. This page shows what tools and materials are needed to build the model. In the beginning, the steps are very clear, but from step 8 it becomes a bit more confusing. The manual used for building the figure set is very clear.
The only problem here is that the camouflage scheme for the figures isnít in colour, so for beginners itís more difficult to give them the right colours. The paint scheme for the tank is very clear and itís easy to see where the decals need to be placed. The colours are all listed in Tamiya X and XF numbers, not in names, so if other paint brands are used cross referencing will need to be done.
Sprue A: This sprue providing the wheels is placed 2 times in the kit. It also has other accessory parts like goggles, smoke launchers and PFCís and PWCís (Plastic Fuel Cans and Plastic Water Cans). The pistol holder immediately caught my eye, as it has some very fine details. The grenade launchers look a bit on the simple side, though the wheels have super detail. Even with the kit being 12 years old, they really match above intermediate modern standards.
Sprue B: On this sprue there are parts to make 2 figures, which do not have many details. The machine gun has some fine details, though the holder for it is a little bit thick. The mudguards are a little bit thick also. The skirts and hatch are looking really nice, they have some fine details and are scaled correctly.
Sprue C: Here is the main part, the upper hull, which has superb details. The panel lines are very sharp as are the other hull details. The only problem is that the tools are molded on the hull, which reduces the amount of detail. The spare tracks have fantastic details, more then Iíve ever seen on a kit.
Sprue D: The turret and barrel are provided on this sprue. The turret has very fine details such as the anti-slip pattern and a rough pattern on the front. The barrel comes in two parts and is molded very well, so a metal replacement should not be necessary. The only thing I donít like about this sprue is the stowage rack. This consists of many parts so it will be a bit difficult to get assembled.
Sprue X: This sprue contains the Ammo Loading Crew Set. The figures on this sprue are mediocre, though they are way better then the ones provided in the original kit. The ammo boxes are great with their very realistic wood pattern.
Miscellaneous: The lower hull consists of one piece and has nice details. This part can compete with modern DML standards. Though the kit has one piece rubber tracks, it isnít a negative since they have fine details and are very flexible. The decals are very well printed and detailed but they are a little bit thick, so using a decal setting solution is recommended to get them nicely on the model. Also in this kit are; poly caps to allow the wheels to rotate, a piece of mesh for the turret basket, and clear parts.
conclusionOverall this is a very nice kit. It has fine details and is very accurate. It doesnít have any flash and almost no pinmarks. All the parts are smoothly molded and should result in great fitting with no problems foreseeable with construction. Tamiya is the only company that brings out a Type 90 and I think they did a great job even though some parts show their age, detail-wise, but these are small problems and can be replaced with PE ones. The figures, like usual with Tamiya, are lacking in detail. The kit doesnít have many parts and that makes it ideal for beginner modelers. Though it has a high price, itís worth it. By using the decals provided, many different vehicles can be made providing variety for the desired finish.