Book Review
Japanese Armor 1931-45
Camouflage and Markings
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by: Matt Flegal [ NINJRK ]


Japanese tanks have always been a bit of a niche market, even though decent models for all of the ones that saw service are available and even many of their prototypes have been made. References are scarce and almost always in Japanese, leaving Western modelers mostly abandoned. AJ Press has fixed that, at least if you can track down their books!

the book

In their previous five volume Tank Power series AJ Press thoroughly explored both the actual vehicles as well as their combat history about as thoroughly as can be expected. Aside from some colour profiles they did not cover camouflage which seemed an odd oversight at the time. In retrospect, they seem to have just held off for this book.

And it's a whopper of a book. Hardcover, 232 pages, 100 B&W photographs and 100 colour profiles equals a serious reference. The colours themselves match with other research and are visibly not simply taken from similar German WW2 camouflage paint colours as often happens. Colour profiles identify the unit it served in and the extensive text allows the modeller to identify a particular camouflage pattern with the theatre and battlefield being represented. The text pretty extensively details how the camouflage evolved in each theatre and what symbols and markings were used where. One thing that is very useful is that the book is broken down to focus on an individual tank as its markings changed during the war before moving on to a different tank. I find this very useful since you don't need to search through-out the book for how a Ka-Mi amphibious tank was marked, all the paint schemes are in one 13 page section. However, the bilingual Polish and English text flows through the book regardless of the section, which can be a little confusing.

The colour profiles themselves are nicely done, with light weathering and shadowing for a more realistic, 3D effect. They seem accurate to the photos as far as colour separation and the colours appear accurate when compared to other references.

In addition to discussing the different Japanese armored units and their service and camouflage patterns there are seven pages of text that cover the Japanese theory of camouflage and how inconsistency was part of the design.

With this book, AJ Press basically completed the core reference list for Japanese armor. To be fair, when the US was producing as many of their Sherman tanks in a month as the Japanese produced of their counterpart throughout the whole war it is unlikely that we're ever going to see much non-Japanese reference work in the future. So this is it. I will add the down-side of this is that AJ Press has the most bizarre publication system I've seen, books go in and out of print with no warning and their release dates seem to be based on astrology or some other mysterious system. In other words, if you want one of their books, buy it as soon as you see it! It may disappear the following week. . .
Highs: Comprehensively covers Japanese camouflage throughout the war Excellent color profiles Informative text Well reproduced photos
Lows: Editing to English is somewhat shaky Running text and images don't always sync up
Verdict: There isn't going to be another reference like this anytime soon. Already getting difficult to find, if you model Japanese WW2 armor you should pick this up sooner rather than later.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Suggested Retail: ???
  PUBLISHED: Dec 04, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

About Matt Flegal (ninjrk)

Copyright 2021 text by Matt Flegal [ NINJRK ]. All rights reserved.


im a IJA armor fan and have this book as well as the other five books from AJ press.As Matt said books on IJA and IJN armor very scarce and mostly in Japanese.One problem I have found with all these books is some of the scale drawings are incorrect and appears they have been altered to fit the page ie the type 89 early suspension are incorrect (thanks TAKI)and the width of the type 5 heavy tank top profile is way off.Check the drawing against photo s for accuracy.Found out the hardway cut up a Fine Molds 89 to back date the suspension went from plans wrong as suspension is shorter on early models.Zitader make some nice early 89 turrets. Been assembling plastic kits since 1959 its a disease or addiction but who cares.Nice review Matt thanks
DEC 04, 2012 - 12:07 PM
Nice review Matt. I have all 5 of the AJ Press Japanese Armor books plus this one. Book 4, 5, and this volume are still available from Airconnection. Guys will have to search the net for the first 3. I love IJA tanks, and the number of styrene models has increased tenfold over the last ten years, but original info, even reliable info, is hard to find. This camouflage book includes the translations of the original color descriptions but the color plate shades are not exact and I found it still difficult to nail down a specific paint color. If you really are into IJA tanks, the perfect way to round out this arsenal of books is with the e-book "Japanese Armor Colors" reviewed here on Armorama - https://armorama.kitmaker.net/review/7915. Nick Millman provides extensive research, color chips, and FS numbers along with examples and history so we can finally pick correct colors.
DEC 04, 2012 - 04:45 PM

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