Japanese Type 97 Light Tank

I love to do Japanese projects and this kit came with a full interior so it was the best of both worlds. This is the Fine Molds Type 97 Te Ke light tank. It's a reissue of a somewhat older kit which they upgraded with a simple interior and individual link tracks.

The interior was the big draw for me on this kit, especially on such a small vehicle. It was basically a single main piece that came on a separate sprue along with a few other simple parts that made up the interior, steering mechanism and a single simple piece for the engine. The interior is rather spartan and devoid of intricate detail but it allows the modeler to either represent a simple but effective "through the hatch" interior out of the box or can be a wonderful springboard for superdetailing.

The overall fit was excellent on the kit and the molding detail was very good as we have come to expect from Fine Molds. There were some aggravating ejector pin marks on the drivers hatch and the turret hatch that took a lot of work to get rid of. There was a lot of detail that needed to be sanded away and recreated.

I added the turret gear teeth for the traversing mechanism to the turret ring. I used notched Evergreen sheet and simply bent a strip around the opening in the hull.

The kit also came with a nice photo-etch fret and markings for quite a few different vehicles. I chose the 2nd Recon Regiment that served in Burma. The kanji on the turret reads "Senpu" or whirlwind. According to Taki it is a personal marking and not a unit insignia.

I built the kit straight from the box with the exception of an MV lens on the headlight and a few wires in the fighting compartment and engine.

I used Tamiya acrylics thinned with isopropyl alcohol. I post shaded with heavily thinned acrylics and followed up with a wash of black artist oils mixed with raw umber. Once that was thoroughly dry I followed up with several applications of pastels.

Fine Molds deserves a lot of credit for this kit. The interior was a fantastic addition. Let's hope that they will follow up on this offering with more interiors for their line of IJA armor!

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