by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
Fine Molds provides another version in the long line of Jeep vehicles used by militaries around the world. This example is the Mitsubishi Type 73 mounting a 106mm Recoilless Rifle as used by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). The type 73 is a derivative of the Willys CJ3B jeep of the 1950s and was used by the JGSDF until the mid '70s.
The Jeep was introduced to the Japanese market as the Jeep J3 in July 1953 after Willys granted Mitsubishi a license to build them in Japan. The Type 73 as found in this kit was based on the J20 model which began production in 1960, a lengthened six-seat version. Mitsubishi also added small diagonal skirts to the leading edge of the J20's front fenders. This style was to remain the last change to the sheet metal up front until the end of Mitsubishi Jeep production in 1998 and was the basis for the Type 73 military version. Mitsubishi was to continue production of vehicles derived from the CJ-3B design until August 1998, when tighter emissions and safety standards finally made the Jeep obsolete. In total, approximately 200,000 units were built.
The first production of the military Type 73, known as the Mitsubishi Type 73 Light Truck (Kyū) was based on the Jeep CJ-3Bs that Mitsubishi Motors had been producing under license from Willys. The first Type 73 Kyūs began production in 1973 with the chassis of the CJ-3B-J4C (J-20). The Type 73 was used in many configurations from troop carrier, MG carrier, and 106mm Recoilless Rifle mount as in this kit. Production continued until 1997 after the Type 73 Light Truck Shins (CJ-5A-J54A) were fielded in 1996.
Compiled from Wikipedia and The Complete Jeep webpage.
Fine Molds continues to produce very-well crafted kits of mostly Japanese subjects. Their latest line is the Type 73 Light Truck, with this version mounting the US-made 106mm Recoilless Rifle that was mounted on the US M38 and M151 as well. The kit comes packaged in a sturdy box with a drawing on the front and pictures of the built model on the sides. The box contains two main sprues with the suspension and detail parts, a small sprue with the parts for the Recoilless Rifle mount, and a sprue containing the Recoilless Rifle itself, a clear sprue with windshield and headlight lenses, a small decal sheet, the body tub and a separate hood. Oddly enough, the Recoilless Rifle sprue is from AFV Clubís M38A1C kit and is marked as such. The instruction sheet is divided into 22 steps. There are markings for four vehicles of the JGSDF in OD Green for the following units:
33rd Infantry Regiment, Camp Hisai, Mie Prefecture
15th Infantry Regiment, Camp Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture
11th Reconnaissance Company, Camp Makomanai, Hokkaido
Infantry School Regiment, Camp Takigahara, Shizouka Prefecture
The parts are crisply moulded with no flash and parts breakdown is very logical. The assembly and parts breakdown are similar to other jeep kits such as the Tamiya Willys MB or the Skybow/AFV Club M38A1 kits.
The kit is very detailed with such things as separate clutch, brake, and gas pedals. The interior and exterior of the body tub has fine details and there are decals for the gauges and data plates. There are options for a folded windshield with folded hinges and a radio or another troop seat in the back. As mentioned above, there is also a separate hood for the engine compartment; however, no engine is included. An engine could easily be added using the engine, radiator and engine compartment parts from the Skybow or AFV Club M38A1 since they both used the Willys Hurricane 4-cylinder engine. There is an engine bottom blank to show under the frame.
The suspension is very detailed as well with separate springs, axles, shocks, and steering components. The front wheels are not able to be posed in a turned position though. The wheels are cast with the proper uni-directional tread pattern and nice sidewall detail with fine lettering for the maker and inflation data information. The frame is a one-piece affair with crisp details and the rear bumperettes attached to it. The underside of the body tub is detailed with stiffening ribs under the front fenders, but no other underside details.
The Recoilless Rifle launcher and its mount are also nicely detailed and made up of multiple parts to allow for greater details. The launcher mount sprue comes with all the necessary parts to build the Recoilless Rifle version of the jeep to include a modified piece for the windshield, new rear plate and door, side mount for the spare tire, and mounting hardware for the gun. These pieces are all very nicely moulded. As noted above, the gun itself is by AFV Club out of their M38A1C Recoilless Rifle kit.
Also of note, all the original parts to build a standard jeep are still in the kit on the original sprues. If you so desire, the basic jeep can still be built from this kit.