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Built Review
148
Japanese Medium Tank
Japanese Medium Tank Model 2597 (1937)
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction
Aurora has never been considered in the same league as Tamiya, but some of their 1/48 armor produced in the 1960’s is as good, if not better, than Tamiya’s offerings of that era. Whereas their PzKfw V Panther, PzKfw VI Tiger II, IS-3 (T-10?) Stalin and M-46 Patton are considered toys in need of complete rebuilding, Aurora’s Japanese Medium Tank, the Type 97 Chi-Ha, is one of the better kits. Your reviewer offers photographs and defers to Imperial Japanese armor experts as to the accuracy of shape and details.
The kit
Aurora issued this model in three main phases–the sturdy original long box and square box (both with dramatic box art), and the 1970's small box featuring a photo of the built model.

The kit is built with one hundred eleven parts (one hundred fifteen including the four figures) of hard dark olive styrene and a pair of vinyl rubberband tracks. Seventy-four of these parts are the bogies, drive sprockets, return rollers and idlers! The parts are molded sharp but suffer from mold and ejector marks, some slight sinkholes, and some flash.

There is no texturing to the armor plating. No attempt to simulate any weld seams. The armor segments are molded recessed while the rivets are raised. The seesaw-type suspension system is molded on. Fine grab handles are molded on the engine access panels. The cooling louvers are molded solid. Some basic straps are molded onto the storage lockers. There is hinge detail for access hatches but none for the turret hatches; they open and close via hideous snap-tight fittings. The 47 mm gun muzzle needs to be hollowed out. The radio antenna is horribly oversized.

The vehicle scales just three inches longer than the prototype. The figures are inconsistently scaled and are marred with mold marks. Their detail quality is pictured for you to judge. The two Arisaka rifles appear too short.

Finally, the late 1960’s square-box releases of Aurora’s kits were shaped to accommodate a vacuform terrain display base. For ideas of what can be done with the vacuform base take a look Here.

Decals and Painting
Aurora included markings for three tanks, two of the Imperial Japanese Army, one of the Imperial Japanese Navy. No unit identity is suggested. The ‘license plate’ is the same, while the hull and turret markings differ. Three camouflage schemes are described: overall olive, olive with patches of dark green and brown, and olive and brown with khaki-yellow bands. No paint brands are referenced.

Building
Three easy-to-follow illustrated steps, with one subassembly, leads the modeler through construction and to the painting and decaling phase.
Aurora history
Aurora was one of the pioneers of plastic modeling. Their large series of standardized 1/48 models of aircraft and armor evolved from toy-models, to models as prototypes in miniature that we expect today. Some of their molds were acquired and reissued by other companies. Monogram’s 1/48 F-111, A-7, Fokker D.VII, Sopwith Camel and Se-5a are Aurora models. It was reported that Monogram bought the lion’s share of the Aurora tooling but that most was destroyed in a train wreck in the late1970’s.
Conclusion
These models are easy to find. Depending on the issue and box, prices vary dramatically. The reviewer submits photos of a built Chi-Ha for your deliberation. For those with a critical eye and detail references, this model can certainly be improved.
SUMMARY
Highs: Quarterscale Imperial Japanese tank.
Lows: Molded on detail, mold marks, flash, oversized parts.
Verdict: The reviewer submits photos of a built Chi-Ha for your deliberation. For those with a critical eye and detail references, this model can certainly be improved.
Percentage Rating
73%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 325
  Suggested Retail: Varies
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 14, 2009
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 61.17%

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Boy, that sure brings back memories !! Those Aurora 1/48th scale kits are what got me off aircraft and got me interested in AFV's. It's like running into a long lost friend !!! Thanks for the great review Fred !!!! Cheers jjumbo
FEB 14, 2009 - 12:43 AM
Ah, what a nice trip down memory lane! Thank you Fred! I built all of the 1/48 Aurora armor kits as a kid. This one was one of my favorites. If anybody would like my 1/48 Aurora Chi - Ha, they are welcome to it, free. It is buried in the sandbox in the back yard of 14 Beechwood Drive, Danbury, Connecticut, USA 06810. Just tell the current owners that I gave you permission to dig it up and I'm sure they'll be okay with it......... I haven't seen this kit for 40 years, but seriously, for a 40 year old 1/48 kit it's really not too bad! It could use some dressing up but it doesn't need a total rebuild. Considering it's age it's really pretty respectable. Fred, you did a very nice build and paint job on it, which always helps! Now if only I could remember where I hid my Aurora MBT 70!.............................
FEB 14, 2009 - 12:45 AM
Hi Matthew, Thank you Matthew and John. I appreciate your posts. I have the MBT 70 already photographed, but not built, and ready to review. I am planning to do a few of Aurora's oldies, including the 8" howitzer and Munitions Carrier. And while we're at it, my M-109 WIP:
FEB 14, 2009 - 04:01 AM
Man, those were the days when you could buy a model kit for under 2 bucks and still have money left to get all the paint too. Nice write up on a classic!
FEB 14, 2009 - 06:06 AM
Wow, what a blast from the past! I had this one, and the 8inch, as well as the MBT70 (back when it was still a viable project) and a King Tiger as well as the "S" tank. Those were fun days. Some of them came with figures as well.
FEB 14, 2009 - 10:13 PM
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  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Aurora Japanese Medium Tank
  • Type 97 Chi-Ha 1/48 Aurora
  • Type 97 Chi-Ha 1/48 Aurora
  • Type 97 Chi-Ha 1/48 Aurora
  • Type 97 Chi-Ha 1/48 Aurora