The IJA Type 4 “Ke-Nu” was designed and built during 1944 utilizing two existing IJA tank components. The designers mated surplus Type 97 Chi-Ha turrets left over from the Type 97 modernization program with obsolete Type 95 Ha-go tank chassis. In total 100 tanks were produced with this recipe. According to the Dragon Models website, this kit utilizes a brand new Type 97 Chi-Ha turret & antenna ring mated with the hull parts from their Type 95 Ha-Go hull. Dragon included updated glacis plate and upper hull parts to accurately represent the Ke-Nu. I hope to see Dragon produce a Type 97 sometime in the near future now that they have the Type 97 turret tooled.
To be very clear up front, this kit was an absolute joy to build. I can’t wait to dive into my Dragon 1/35 Ha-Go kit sometime in the near future. The instructions are laid out just like other Dragon kits, and in fact the Ke-Nu hull construction steps utilizes the Ha-Go instruction sheet. I found a single minor error with the instructions brought forward from the Ha-Go kit. In step 3 the drive sprocket is shown being attached to the pivot arm for the first set of bogies. Since this is not even physically possible, it’s almost not worth mentioning. Some construction notes I think the builder should be aware are from the following steps: Step 2, the idler wheels are adjustable. On my tank, the DS tracks ran long so the idler will need to be placed in the aft position. (I left my idler free until the wheels were on the model and I could check the track length). Step 3, Make sure that you don’t build the (D11/D2 & D6/D7) assemblies off the model. The far easier method is to align the D6&D11 parts to the hull. Trying to build the two-part assembly off the model (as depicted in the instructions) will most likely leave you frustrated.
A couple of features really impressed me about this build. First, the fit was simply very good. To top that off, most of the part assemblies were designed to be builder proof. For example, the road wheels, drive sprockets etc., are engineered so you can’t incorrectly put two inner or outer parts together. Well done Dragon!!! The one exception is mentioned in the previous paragraph. The hatch covers include two versions, one with the handles molded in, and the other requiring you to add the separate handle to the hatch.
The Part detail is simply exquisite. Unfortunately, some of this detail will be hidden inside the model if you opt to close the commander’s hatch. The interior detail on the main gun and MG’s is simply top notch. Dragon has also included a reasonable amount of interior detail on the new Type 97 turret. Unfortunately, the hull interior is the empty, bare, lacking, and null & void of detail. Oh, another nice touch is the fact the main gun barrel has molded rifling detail at the muzzle. I was also amazed by the detail on something as insignificant as the jack, this component is simply a work of art.
What really sells this kit, in my humble opinion, is its substantially lower parts count compared to most of the other modern armor kits. I don’t believe I have much more than 10 or 12 hours in the construction of this kit (Not counting painting.) The fit and detail are simply outstanding and for those who don’t like dealing with tiny handles, latches, photoetch parts, etc. when building armor, this kit is also for you. The only photoetch parts that are really necessary are the heat shield for the muffler and the spacers that fit on either side of the road wheels. To simplify track construction, Dragon utilizes their DS track bands to save the builder much time and frustration building individual links. Although, if you a modeler with Advanced Modeler Syndrome, a popular aftermarket metal individual link manufacture makes Type 95 Ha-Go links. They should look right at home on the Ke-Nu. I should mention that at this time, I am undecided on how best to add some sag to the DS tracks. Hopefully, I will be inspired sometime soon.
In conclusion, I found this kit a joy to build and am very happy to add it to my small but growing IJA tank collection. I want to thank the good folks at Dragon USA for providing this kit for review, and to the IPMS USA reviewer corps for letting me build and review the model for you.