Type 4 Ke-Nu Japanese Light Tank

Kit #: 72091 Preview by Wayne Bowman - w(dot)y(dot)bowman(at)sympatico(ca)ca
Edited by Al Magnus

The Type 4 was, at a basic level, a Type 95 Ha-Go hull, sporting a turret from the Type 97 Chi-Ha. About 100 were converted to this configuration, and deployed in Korea, Manchuria, and defense of the home islands.

The kit comes in IBG's standard sized top opening box, which is really substantially larger than needed to hold the 63 parts on 6 sprues that eventually assemble into a model that's in the order of 2.5" (6.4 cm) long when complete. Also included is a small photoetch sheet that contains the guard screen and shroud for the exhaust system. A small, well printed decal sheet produced by Techmod is provided. Schemes for three vehicles are illustrated in the instructions, one being an overall green IJN vehicle (for those less adventurous in applying multicoloured camouflage schemes down in this scale), but only two of those schemes use the decals provided. IBG provides paint call outs and equivalencies for no fewer than six popular brands of paint. Interestingly, the kit itself was almost twice the price of IBG's Ha-Go, though this appears to be more a function of my local hobby shop, as Hannants list both kits at the same price point.

Dragon produced both a small scale Type 97 and Type 95, neither of which are readily available in the new retail market at the time of this review, so comparisons will be inevitable. While not quite having the finesse of the Dragon offerings in terms of delicacy of details, IBG's efforts here are very close. The moulding is crisp with little if any flash, and the moulding seam lines are petite with no significant tool mismatches noted. The plastic appears to be somewhat more brittle than that used by Dragon. This may have contributed to the turret antenna on my example being fractured as received.

The running gear is tooled similarly to Dragon's with the exception that IBG provides more of the details attached to the hull, as separate parts. As with Dragon, IBG's road wheels are mounded integrally with their respective suspension arms, which consequently sacrifices some fidelity. A strong dark wash at the interface will help simulate separation.

I was very intrigued by IBG's approach to the tracks. They are a true one-piece affair, configured with suitable track sag in the appropriate locations. This greatly alleviates the work the modeller has to do with gluing the tracks with the proper lay and sag, which can be time consuming with link and length track, and downright problematic with rubber band tracks like Dragon's DS tracks.

Unlike other manufacturers and some of IBG's previous efforts (e.g. their Type 94 tankette), no part of the running gear is mounded integrally with the track, which means no inappropriate bridging of guide teeth, making it possible to paint and weather as a standalone unit, then simply add them to the model toward the very end of the build. A big thumbs up for that ??! The guide teeth are fairly well represented. But alas, there is a down side. Assumedly, due to the limitations of conventional two-piece injection moulding tooling, there is little detail definition on both the inner and outer faces of the track. Dragon's DS track is definitely superior in capturing that detail. Additionally, though not horrific by any standards, as shown in the photos, there is a mould seam line running down both the inner and outer faces of the track. Not as noticeable on the inner face running along the guide teeth centre line, the outer face will none the less require some cleanup which, owing to the small gaps between the cleats, could be quite tedious and time consuming. Still, I applaud IBG for this design approach. Hopefully with advances in tooling (perhaps some funky slide moulding concept), they will be able to refine this approach to achieve superior track detail on future releases. This would definitely be a modelling "game changer".

Preview sample purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 23 March 2022