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Monday, February 9, 2015

Bolt Action - Review: Type 89 Yi-Go Japanese Tank by Company B

Hey Gang,

Let's face it. The longer we are in the hobby of collecting, building, and playing with toy soldiers... Well, the better the chance that we are going to run into a model kit that might have some issues. I have run into a fair few over the years and recently I opened a box to find another.

Now before I proceed I want to clarify that I am a supporter of Company B and I have a large pile of their models (with which I have had no issues).  The object of this article is to talk about how to fix possible issues not to vilify a company that has fantastic products and great customer service.

I bought a early war/ pre war Type 89 Yi-Go tank for my Bolt Action Japanese army.  For those unfamiliar with the tank:
"The Type 89 medium tank I-Go (八九式中戦車 イ号 Hachikyū-shiki chū-sensha I-gō?) was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1932 to 1942 in combat operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Khalkhin Golagainst the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War. The Type 89B model was the world's first mass-produced diesel engine tank.[1] The tank was armed with a short-barrel 57 mm cannon for knocking out pillboxes and masonry fortifications, and proved effective in campaigns in Manchuria and ChinaThe Type 89 was a 1920s design medium tank, built to support the infantry, and thus lacked the armor or armament of 1940s generation Allied armor; and was regarded as obsolete by the time of the battles of Khalkhin Gol, against the Soviet Union, in 1939.[3] The code designation "I-Go" comes from the katakana letter [イ] for “first” and the kanji [号] for “number”.[4] The designation is sometimes transliterated “Yi-Go”[5]" (Wikipedia)

In Bolt Action terms the Type 89 is a Light Tank with a turret mounted light howitzer and a hull mounted MMG.  Interestingly, like many Japanese tanks, it has an MMG on the back of its turret which can be fun if you play aggressively. It is slow though... so you will probably not use this MMG all too often. It is ten points cheaper than its successor the Chi-Ha which is games wise has the same rules (other than the Chi-Ha looses slow). You can see the real thing to the right.

Now this is what I found when I opened the box:
At first glance it looks pretty good right?
The tracks had some casting issues. Lots of flash and some minor missing track ends. This is not terribly unusual though if you are used to working with resin vehicles. It took a sharp blade and, literally, a few minutes and they were good as new.
The problems arose when I went to work on the hull.  The track covers were thin, warped and brittle and riddled with flash.
Now from above. I again pulled out my trusty blade and carefully trimmed the excess flash. I then very carefully submerged half the tank in hot water for 30 seconds or so before VERY carefully bending the track covers back into place.
Once everything had cooled straight, I glued the broken cover back into place and reenforced the thin area with a very thin layer of green stuff. If you try this be warned: be very careful when pressing this into place. Before the green stuff dried I then glued the tracks into place. The covers covered up the green stuff which then, in turn,  held the covers to the tracks. I have used this tank in a number of games now with no breakages. 
I would also like to point out that the turret was perfect and required nothing. I slid the gun into place with no issues. What you cannot see in this photo is how many rivets cover this tank. There are tons and they are immaculately cast.
You can see the rivets here.
The tank still needs some proper weathering but I hope that you will agree with me that it looks awesome on the table.
I left the back roll bars off my tank, as with them it would not fit into my very tight Japanese figure case. This is not the models fault though and the back assembly was as beautifully cast as the turret. I may get around to fitting it later as I kind of feel like the tank looks naked without them.
Company B is the only company that makes this iconic early/ pre war tank so if you want one in 1/56 scale you only have one option. Thankfully it is a well designed kit with lots of great details. I know I could have emailed Company B to ask for a new hull but I wanted to show that we as hobbyists can often quickly and easily fix problems when they arise. I really feel like I got to know this tank simply by spending a few extra minutes when building it and now I love this "wee timorous beastie."  I also built and painted a Company B Japanese truck at the same time. Like the Type 89, Company B are the only ones who make a good Japanese truck. They have a wide range of Japanese vehicles and if you are looking for things I highly recommend that you give them a shout.
This kit is great!  I was just thinking about how I need to get another one.

Til next time gang,

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