Anime has been around for just about 100 years in one form or another. Popular in Japan for most of that time, the animated creations seemed to explode on the world scene in the 1970’s and 80’s. Moving forward into the 21st century “Girls und Panzer” or Girls and Panzers was created by Actus Co., Ltd., which was a take-off of a manga “flapper magazine” (comic book) from earlier that year. There is a spin-off movie in the planning for some time in 2014.
The main story behind “Girls and Panzers” centers on a young student named Miho Nishizumi. In a universe where school girls take part in a form of marital arts training known as Sensha-dō (the art of operating tanks), young Miho leaves the world of Sensha-dō and enrolls in Ōarai Prefectural Girls High School. The art has been banned for many years, only to have Sensha-dō reinstated, and with her past experience she is ordered to take part. Soon, Miho begins to enjoy it. Since the school has abolished the training, there is nothing in the way of armor to choose from, other than a mishmash of tanks from around the world making up the seven teams from Ōarai Prefectural Girls High School.
The Anteater Team is what this kit is based on. The tank used by the team is the Type 3 Chi-Nu. The crew is made up of three students: Nekota, who is the team's commander and radio operator; Momogā who is the driver; and Piyotan, who is the gunner and loader.
The Type 3 Chi-Nu is a medium-sized Japanese tank created to counter the American's M4 Sherman. Early on, it was found inadequate to the Sherman and some modifications were made. This tank was to be used for more or less Japanese homeland defenses. There were 144 Type 3 made late in the war until war's end. Despite six regiments being equipped with the Type 3, none of tanks ever saw combat before the end of the war.
The Type 3 was comprised of the hull and running gear of the Type 97 Chi-Ha tank. The primary armament was a 75mm Type 3 tank gun, which was the largest gun mounted to any Japanese tank during WWII. There remains only one surviving Type 3 Chi-Nu medium tank, which is on display at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Military Ordnance Training School in Japan.
This kit follows two previous releases of the same tank from Fine Molds. The first being in 1998, with more parts added to the second in 2009, including adding the modified long barrel. This kit is basically a re-release of the first kit with changes in the decals to support the Anime series it was based on.
- 1 Olive green styrene lower hull section
- 1 Olive green styrene upper hull section
- 4 Olive green sprue trees
- 1 Clear Styrene sprue tree
- 1 Pair of Vinyl tracks
- 1 Sheet of decals by Fine Molds
- 1 Instruction booklet
Being from Fine Molds and the same kit previously released from them, this kit sports a very clean, crisp mold with many raised and recessed details on the lower and upper hull parts. The fit between the upper and lower hulls is excellent, as you would expect from Fine Molds.
There is little to no flash on any of the remaining parts. There are no big surprises with any of the pieces. The road wheels, for example, have the standard seam line running around the outside of the rubber tire portion of the parts, and there are two ejector pin marks on the inside of each which you can choose to fill or not, as they will not be seen in most cases.
The suspension parts are very well-molded and should have little clean-up once removed from the trees. The turret is spotless, and comes with the option of the “open hatch” approach; however, there is no interior detail offered with this kit, so detailing up will have to be done via scratch-building the interior parts if so desired.
The vinyl tracks are fairly straight-forward as these are molded in black vinyl and attached to vinyl trees to prevent over-warping. No defects to the tracks were noticed, and they should be able to be painted and installed with little to no trouble at all.
The decals supplied with this kit are printed very well. Albeit not the standard Type 3 Japanese markings, they appear as good quality and will enhance the anime version of this tank nicely.
The eight page instruction sheet is printed in black and white fan-fold style. Printed predominantly in Japanese, the individual steps have both English as well as Japanese labeling. Each step is in a standard semi-exploded format and is easy to follow. The last two pages of the instructions give the painting and decal layout for the tank in two versions, both centered on the Anime Series.
This is an exceptional kit, especially if you are in to Japanese armor, and of course if you are a fan of Anime or the series "Girls and Panzers." The kit does seem priced a little high for basically the same kit as its predecessor with a new set of decals and only the Anime options. There are several online stores that offer the kit for less than the suggested retail price. This could be driven by the popularity of the animated series which it depicts. The tooling is very nice on this previously issued kit, and should build up to a nice-looking version of the tank. Personally if you are not at all interested in the world of Anime then you may want to look into one of the two previous versions of the tank where the correct markings will be included in the kit. Otherwise, this is an all-around fun-looking kit and is sure to please the "Girls and Panzer" enthusiast. It would have been a nice touch for Fine Molds to add the three supporting crew members to the kit to complete the entire motif of the build. Maybe it will be considered on subsequent releases.