I’ve always been intrigued with the collection of Japanese armor that never got the chance to tangle with American forces in Operations Coronet and Olympic. It would have been very interesting to see how the heavier armor would have fared against the late model Shermans etc. The Type III Ho Ni falls into t his category. Only around 50 were built and all of these were kept on Kyushu when the war ended. Had the war lasted until the invasion took place there would probably have been double or triple that number. These vehicles would have been committed to the battle in late 1945 when US forces landed around Miyazaki and Kagoshima. As it worked out all were evaluated by Ordnance branch personnel and then scrapped.
The Fine Molds kit is a nice kit but lacking in two areas; tracks and interior detail. The only tracks that come the kit are the classic black vinyl and for vinyl tracks they are not that bad. Even still, it’s impossible to get anything like a realistic sag in them so I opted for the exquisite Model Kasten workable link tracks.
With the exception of a very nice Type 90 75 mm gun, there is no interior detail at all. This is unforgivable given the huge hatches that are just begging to be posed open. I pirated a firewall, ammo lockers and driver’s position from the Tamiya Type I Ho Ni kit. All fit well with just a little trimming to fit. The inside of the casemate lacked any detail as well so I added scratch built vision blocks and lead foil grab straps to the hatch interiors.
The rest of the model was finished pretty much stock. I painted the vehicle in a standard late war three color camouflage. I used Tamiya acrylics mixed to the right shade using my eyeball and the new Tank Power publication on IJA camouflage and markings. I opted to mask lines rather than make them sprayed even though the few surviving post war photos of original Type III Ho-Nis seem to show sprayed on camouflage patterns. This is nothing but artistic license on my part. I like the look of the hard edge camo better and there is no proof that any Ho-Nis weren’t painted this way anyway.
I post shaded each camouflage color, then used a #9 artist pencil to place judicious chips and dings to the paint job. After that I gave the vehicle several washes using black artist oils and white mineral spirits. I made sure to accentuate downward strokes on the large nearly vertical sides of the casemate. The decals are those that came with the kit. The final weathering was accomplished with ground pastel chalk. The final touch was some graphite and silver artist pencil on the track shoes.