6678, Imperial Japanese Navy Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank Combat Version Smart kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia construction kit. Contains 234 styrene parts (including seven clear), two DS100 soft styrene track lengths, one photo-etched brass fret, two water-slide decal marking schemes (with variations) and six pages of instructions in 12 steps.
Although Japans Fine Molds, and to a lesser extent, Tamiya, have covered Japanese WW2 AFVs in 1/35th-scale with styrene kits, there were (and still are) several noticeable gaps in coverage. Into this vacuum comes DML with their first kit of a Japanese AFV in 1/35th-scale, the oft-requested Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank. This particular release will allow the modeler to construct a replica of the so-called combat version, which depicts the tank on land, after it has disposed of its floatation cells, engine compartment snorkel cover and commanders conning tower.
Since the floatation cells, engine compartment snorkel cover and commanders conning tower are not included in this release, a number of potential customers have expressed their displeasure at DML not issuing a complete kit. Although I have no concrete information to support this assertion, I will nevertheless presume that a full-up version will come some time in the future. Those modelers who wish, may be patient and perhaps they will be rewarded with a second, more complete release. In the mean time, DML can re-coup some of their development costs and satisfy those modelers who wish to build a combat version of the Ka-Mi for their collection.
These are supplied as two lengths in DS100 flexible styrene. The advantage of this material when used in a slide-mold is the extraordinary amount of detail which can be incorporated into the part. As a result, the detail on the edges of the links is complete with the openings that held the track pins, while the openings in the guide horns are also present. This material can be fixed with standard styrene cement, takes paint extremely well, and is simplicity itself to assemble. As an alternative, DML is also separately releasing a set of hard styrene individual-link Magic Tracks for those modelers who prefer to go that route (I dont have this set as yet). It also is worth mentioning here that Type 2 tracks were quite different from those seen on the Type 95 Light Tank (available in workable form as an after-market item from Model Kasten), so that route should not be considered if accuracy is the modelers final goal. Regardless, what is provided in the box is certainly well-done.
This is a very simple system, which resembles that seen on the Type 95 Light Tank, although it appears that no single component is identical or interchangeable. There are two separate swing arms for each side, to which a two-part bogie unit is fixed. Each unit then gets two pairs of road-wheels, each composed of two styrene and two etched brass parts; these are trapped between the inner and outer bogie units and can remain movable with care in assembly. The two-part idler wheels are fitted with a separate styrene hub-cap on their outer faces and an etched part on their inner faces. The idler wheel swing arm is a multi-part affair with a sliding axle part, which will remain movable with care during assembly. This will allow for adjustment of track sag or tension and should not be fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the way the fitted tracks look. Some small detail parts are also added to this assembly. When the entire idler wheel axle assembly mounts to the hull side wall, it is completely free-swinging and has no key-way to fix it at a particular angle in relationship to the remainder of the suspension system. This is probably done so that the modeler can use the full range of adjustment when fixing the tracks; the modeler should keep this in mind as he proceeds.
The drive sprockets are conventionally molded as inner and outer halves, which are fitted to a separate final drive housing part; the latter has a nice cast effect. A separate part on each side provided bolt detail for the inner face of the unit, which is seen on either side of the bow plate. Two pairs of return rollers are fitted to each side of the hull; these are three-part assemblies including inner and outer wheels and mounting bracket/axle. There are no shock absorbers or bump-stops to be seen, at least externally; one must assume that riding over rough terrain was not a comfortable experience for the crew!
The hull pan is a slide-molded part that incorporates the belly, front, rear, side and sponson plates all into a single unit. Molded-on detail includes weld beads, bolt heads, panel lines and various access panels and plugs. Two separate tow points are fitted to each end and they are topped-off with U-shaped tow clevises. The bow also mounts a pair of three-part clamps for attaching the floatation cells; the detail includes the internal casing and the hand-wheels used to release the cells. The lower rear plate has a pair of shaft fairings to which are fitted the screws for water travel. These are handed, so the modeler should pay careful attention when mounting them.
This part too comes from a slide-mold. It is quite robust and distortion-free and includes some internal bracing to keep it aligned. Every single access plate or hatch lid is a separate part with the exception of that which covers the transmission. This will allow for quite a bit of flexibility as far as display options are concerned. The three smallest lids cover fluid filling openings. Both final drive/brake access lids are separate as is the drivers view-port. Two versions of the engine deck air intake grills are provided. One has the water-tight lids molded in place, while the second set allows for the lids to be opened over the lids grill-work; the latter includes internal actuation levers and braces.
The engine deck features three separate hatch covers, all of which receive separate hand-grips. The starboard side of the superstructure roof, next to the engine deck, receives a seven-part styrene exhaust muffler, covered by a perforated etched brass heat guard. Other brackets, whose function is unknown to me, are provided back there in several forms. There are two different styles, and each is provided in folded or extended versions. There are also a number of smaller fittings added to various parts of the roof. Four more floatation cell clamps are provided, all of which are fitted towards the rear; they are configured like the ones that fit to the bow.
The separate superstructure front plate mounts a machine-gun in a multi-part movable ball mount. The ball mount comes in two different versions, one of which has the cover for the sighting aperture opened up, while the other is closed. The MG is slide-molded with properly-placed cooling jacket perforations, a separate sight and a mounted ammo magazine. Tiny view-ports have separate internal covers, each of which comes in opened or closed versions; the drivers visor is a separate part, features a clear part for the internal glass block and can be depicted opened or closed. The final item is a centrally-located floatation cell clamp. It comes in two variations as apparently it was dispensed with at some point during the production cycle; in that case a blanking plate with bolt details is fitted in place of the three-part assembly. Just forward of the plate, on the glacis plate, a two-part head-lamp can be fitted. It has a clear lens and if it is used, a hole must be opened up from the inside; this is clearly shown in the instructions.
The superstructure side plates receive separate lifting lugs, two on each side, as well as a handle on one side. The final items associated with the superstructure are what I believe are a pair of fuel tanks. These are in two parts each and are fitted internally beneath the openings for two of the small separate covers previously mentioned. On top of each assembly is what I suppose is a filler port. Thus, the two ports, if left open, will show internal detail.
The turret shell is a single slide-molded part. It is very well-detailed to include various welds, panel lines, view-slits, bolts and rivets all crisply molded in place. A separate two-part hatch lid can be depicted opened or closed, while a navigation lamp, in clear styrene can be modeled extended for use, or retracted. Etched brass parts are used to detail certain areas of the turret roof, and there is also a styrene rail for the rear half of the roof. Two separate brackets are fitted to the turret side walls at the 5- and 7-oclock position. One mounts a separate antenna/base part (or as an option, just the base plate), while the other, which comes in two variations, mounts an anti-aircraft machine-gun pintle. On either side of the main gun mantlet are multi-part pistol ports. They come in two configurations (opened or closed) and include internal details.
There is a hatch lid with a separate part for the hinges located at the turrets 6-oclock position. There are two options: opened and closed. The open lid has a separate latch and a clear part for the vision block. The 37mm main gun has a relatively complete breech block assembly, and it also includes a separate gun-sight, shoulder rest, breech wedge, recoil guard, spent shell case collection bag and a separate co-axial machine-gun. Both the main and secondary weapons are based on slide-molded parts, which means that the bores are already opened-up and the machine-guns cooling jacket perforations are crisply and properly rendered. The mantlet is a two-part assembly as is the gun shield; the latter has the option of opened or closed gun-sight aperture. All of the turrets view slits have internal detail parts, in some cases including clear parts for the glass blocks. The turret base includes gear tooth detail and a separate, two-part traverse hand-wheel assembly.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
I am about 95-percent through the construction of the kit and thus far I have found no fit issues. Molding is typically crisp and clean, with minimal mold seams, no shrinkage and no ejector pin marks.
Accuracy and Details.
The kit compares well to the drawings in the AJ Press books, but there are some discrepancies. I dont know if these differences are the result of the pedigree of the drawings or of the kit. Photos show the details to be correct and they indicate that the overall shape of this vehicle is captured quite well. I have not noted any omissions, except, of course, the floatation cells, snorkel and conning tower.
This is a relatively simple kit and the instructions reflect that observation. They are clearly-rendered as line art and the steps are relatively uncluttered. I noted some transposition of parts numbers in a couple of places. In step 1, dealing with the idler wheels, part A16 attaches to part A18, while part A17 attaches to part A19. In step 2, dealing with the idler wheel arm, all parts prefixed with the letter D, should be prefixed with the letter A. Note also that, apparently, the road-wheels had distinct detail patterns for the port and starboard side of the tank; so, pay careful attention to the instructions in that regard.
Decals and Markings Information.
The provided markings were printed in Italy by DMLs usual sub-contractor, Cartograf. The designs are crisp, in register and have thin, closely-cropped carrier film. Markings for two base tanks are given, with one of them having three variations of white tactical numbers. The other is marked with the IJN battle flag with the rising sun and rays in red over the white base. Both are finished in a sea-grey color. The schemes are from the following two units:
5th Naval Special Ground Base Guard, Saipan, 1944.
27th Naval Special Ground Base Guard, Aitape, 1944 (three variations).
This is a fine kit with a relatively surprising bit of internal detail, as well as several different display options. It was an easy build and will be sure to please those modelers who wish to replicate a Type 2 in the combat mode. Hopefully, those who want the full-up version with floatation cells will not be left waiting too long.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to:
1. Japanese Armor Vol.3, Tank Power 11; AJ Press, by A. Tomczyk.
2. Japanese Armor Vol.5, Tank Power 25; AJ Press, by A. Tomczyk.
3. Japanese Tanks 1939-45; Osprey New Vanguard 137, by S. Zaloga & P. Bull.
4. Armour of the Pacific War; Osprey Vanguard 35, by S. Zaloga.
5. Tank Battles of the Pacific War; Concord 7004, by S. Zaloga.
6. Allied-Axis Issue 6, pages 18-24, article by J. Hensley.
7. Steel Masters magazine No.46, pages 12-15, article by C. Arnald.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and on-line shops; for details visit their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.
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