Saturday, September 10, 2016

IJA Type 97 Chi-Ha Tank

A bit of armor for the new Imperial Japanese Army. This is the Chi-Ha (九七式中戦車 チハ) medium tank, which was introduced in 1938 and used in China and the Pacific theaters.

This is the Warlord Games kit and overall it is a decent model.   There was quite a lot of resin flash build up in the treads, but it wasn't too difficult to clear out.  Bubbles were minimal and thankfully on the underside of the turret and body. The trickiest part to assemble was actually the railing on the turret, which is shipped flat and has to be bent into the appropriate shape.  There are only divots for 3 of the five posts, so I had quite a bit of trouble with the posts not lining up properly and popping lose during the bending. But in the end I managed to get the railing relatively level.  One thing to note is that their assembly instructions have you putting the engine covering on backwards, so check the fit before gluing.

Looking at, there was some variation in the camouflage patterns depending on the year and the area of operation.  I opted to go with a pattern seen in Manchura, 1940.  For the paint, I used the following Vallejo colors:

Khaki-iro: English Uniform 70.921, Khaki 70.988, German Camouflage Beige 70.821
Tochi-iro: Hull Red 70.985, Flat Brown 70.984, Saddle Brown 70.940
Midori-iro: German Dark Green 70.896, Luftwaffe Camouflage Green 70.823, Camouflage Olive Green 70.894
Stripe: Dessert Yellow 70.977, Golden Yellow 70.948, 50/50 mix Golden Yellow/ Ice Yellow 70.858

 This particular camouflage pattern appears to belong to a tank from the 34th Tank Regiment, so I've used the Warlord decal for its 2nd Company. The tank number was created using Woodland Scenics dry rub numbers, with hand inked kanji added (the ink allowed me to get finer lines than with paint).

Finally, I've done a little weathering, adding bits of exposed steel, some rust and grime, and a layer of dust build up.   

Monday, September 5, 2016

IJA Infantry Squad

As I've mentioned before, I want to use my Chinese army for the Second Sino-Japanese War, so I needed to create a small Japanese skirmish force as well. Though this army won't be as extensive as the Chinese, I still wanted something fairly inexpensive to assemble. As such, I though the Warlord Games plastic infantry set would be a good place to start. Each sprue gives you six bodies and nine heads, with a variety of arm and equipment options. 

For my force, I've gone with the yellow uniforms rather than the green, using Vallejo Japanese Uniform WWII 70.923 as the base color. Shadows were done with Green Brown 70.879 and highlights with Green Ochre 70.914. I wanted to have the helmets be a slightly different shade the the fabric, so they have been painted Khaki 70.988. I wish Warlord had the option of the early 1930's helmet seen in Manchuria, but the later helmet will have to do.  

Rather than create my own flags, I've opted to used the ones Warlord included in the box. With the cutout along the flagpole, they actually become fairly weak during assembly; mine tore, but I think I still managed to get it to glue down fairly well.  The flags are also glossy and tend to develop rips in the image as you bend them, so you'll need touch up paint and some matte varnish.

For me, the painting was a bit more challenging than for metal figures. Some of the details are finer than their metal counterparts, and they are often fairly flat as well. Additionally, the multi part nature of the figures allows assembly with spaces that can be difficult in which to squeeze your paintbrush. 

That being said, you still get a quality product with relatively good fit between parts, and enough options that no two figures end up looking the same.

The only figure I'm not too fond of in the box (and you get five of them) is the prone figure. The feasible options for arms is limited compared to the other figures, and you have to use bigger bases, which eats into storage space in the box.  If I were Warlord, I would have just offered this pose in metal and gone with a standing pose for the plastics. For my forces, I'll use the majority as spotters for multi-man teams like the LMG.

In addition to the arms, you get a variety of webbing layouts for the figures. Above are duplicates of three body types, and as you can see, the amount of options really help you hide repeating nature of the bodies.

Overall, I am happy with the results and think this is a good product that I can recommend. I'll most likely assemble the rest of the box as a Grenadier squad, then fill in the rest of the force with some metal specialty figures and a few tanks.