J.G.S.D.F. Type 61 Tank
|Kit #: 7217||
Edited by F. Giovagnorio
After WW2 and the Korean War the western allies saw the need for Japan's rearmament. The US M47 tanks available were found not suitable so the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) developed an indigenous design. In the 1960's Type 61's were built and only served with the Japanese. None were exported to other nations, and none saw actual combat other than perhaps against Godzilla and Mothra.
This tank and its replacement, the Type 74 are among my favorite cold war era tanks. Looking at it we can see the influence and, at least superficially, theresemblance to the M47 Patton tank. Examining the tank closely we can see many unique features.
The Box Art (or what is supposed to be inside)
Trumpeter typically shows a photo of the built and painted small-scale model on their box covers. I find it refreshing to find a very nice painting of the vehicle featured. The vehicle appears finished in a gray and green camouflage pattern with white makings on the fenders and very colorful marking on the turret for the 8th Division 8th Tank Battalian according to references.
Atop the turret we see a unique dome-shaped commander cupola with what appears to be a 50-cal. AA machine gun mounted. The cupola has protrusions coming out the sides which I suspect are for a stereoscopic rangefinder. (This can be better seen on the scan of part B36 on Sprue B below.)
The turret is a cast type with a long bustle in the back, like the M47. There are smoke dischargers and a long antenna mounted on the bustle side and a long grab handle. The gun mantlet has a canvas weather cover. The turret is armed with a 90-mm gun with bore evacuator and the T-shape muzzle break at the end is similar to the US M48 tank.
Near the rear of the mudguard we can see a muffler and engine exhaust covered by a mesh screen. The suspension consists of six rubber tired roadwheels like on the Patton tank. There are three return rollers per side. Unlike the Patton tanks, the drive sprocket is at the front of the tank. The track appears to be all steel tread. Notice the rubber mudflaps on the rear fender.
Trumpeter gives us the standard exploded-view type instructions with 14 progressive steps. I've been warned about how thin the turret wall is and it should be handled carefully like a vacuum-formed plastic kit.
At upper right of this page are the painting and assembly guide for the two crew figures.
At the bottom of the scan we see a little tan colored string. Trumpeter gives this to us to simulate the towing cable as shown wrapping around the hull front in Step 12. If you look closely in good light at the hull sides you'll see faint bumps that are supposed to be the cable loops that the string ends attach to. We are better off replacing these with some cable loops taken from another kit.
There are markings for what looks to be five or six different Type 61 tanks on the water-slide decal sheet but a painting and marking guide in the instructions for only one Type 61; online references should help with the rest. The markings are bright, colorful and in register.
There are about 117 green color, injection-molded styrene plastic parts on three sprue and the two separate hull parts. Molding quality looks top notch.
This is not a rebox of the Fujimi kit Type 61 tank which I have been informed by friends is 1/76 in scale, while I've been assured this Trumpeter kit is 1/72-scale.
The lower hull is slide molded with all the torsion bar suspension arms molded in place, which eases assembly. With a fine saw and a little surgery we could cut off and articulate some of the arms to pose the model over rough terrain. There is not much detail such as access hatches on the hull belly.
Looking first at the upper hull part we see the single hatch for a driver, molded closed and with three periscopes. There is a large square on the glacis with bolts that I presume to be an access hatch for the transmission and breaks. The hull appears welded but I see no weld seams. At the rear is the engine deck with nice detail.
Sprue B contains the turret parts B1 & B30, with fine turret handrail parts B5 and B6. At lower left is the commander's cupola with an open hatch (part B38). If we mold the hatch open we will need some interior detail added. I find it odd that Trumpeter supplies two crew figures but there is only one open hatch on the model; this is not a complaint though as I'm am always happy to have extra figures. There is a choice of two sizes of storage box for the end of the bustle (part 2 or part 10).
The 90-mm gun barrel (part 21) has an open muzzle so there is no need to drill the muzzle open. There is a choice of two gun mantlets, parts 18 or 19; part 18 looks like it has a simulated canvas cover molded onto it.
There are two Sprue-A containing the roadwheels, drive sprocket and idler wheels. Molding looks very good.
At far left are the two soft plastic band tracks which looks to have decent outer detail and it has track guide teeth. There is no inside surface link detail and the track are very thin so Trumpeter could have done much better here with the tracks.
This appears to be a very nice rendition of the Japanese Type 61 cold war era tank and we are fortunate to have a unique vehicle as this. Now to digress a little, if Trumpeter can do a rare tank like this, why not modify their M46 Patton tank model kit to produce a much more common and wide serving tank such as the American M47 tank?
I've not yet found any reference books for this particular AFV but Wikipedia and a web search will turn up more than enough information to build this model accurately.
Review sample purchased by the author.
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Article Last Updated: 28 October 2018