JGSDF Type 61
Ref: Tamiya #35163

The type 61 is a 35 tons medium tank which entered service in 1961. It was used during about 30 years before being progressively replaced by the type 74. Along its service life, it got some improvements like the smoke-grenades dischargers.
It mounts a 90mm gun, a 7.62mm coaxial MG and a .50 AAMG. The latter being remote-controlled.
It has a crew of 4.

The kit produced by Tamiya dates back to1970. In 1993, the sprue D has been added. This one comprises a new gun with a mantlet cover, the smoke-grenades dischargers, some accessories and a tank commander.
The content also provides one metal shaft for the idlers, glueable vinyl tracks, a nylon string for the cable and a decal sheet enabling 5 different decorations.

The level of detail is overall good and excellent for the sprue D. The molding is typical of the 70's with numerous mold lines to remove carefully. Some ejection pins ill-placed should be carefully removed too. The engine grilles, the numerous handles and the suspension are molded solid. The vision blocks are hollow but Tamiya do not provide any clear plastic sheet to make the glasses.

The building is easy and as usual in the Tamiya manner the fit is excellent.

The hull

As stated above, the suspension is molded on the hull. Thus, it requires very few work. The wheels and idlers hubs are in soft plastic. The axles being too large, some hubs split just after their fitting. It is advised to thin the axles.

The upper hull sits on the lower without any trouble. However, there is a gap between both halves on top of the tracks. It will be filled with plastic card. The various accessories are built according the instructions. The exhaust grilles are solid. The bravest could hollow them and replace them with some PE mesh. However, they will have to make the mufflers.
In the same way, the combat light and the siren protections are simplified.
The tools will be thinned and more particularly the pickaxe.
Before fitting the hull, do not forget to set the glasses into the vision blocks as they will not be accessible anymore.

The turret

It has few parts to add. Tamiya give two options concerning the gun, with or without the mantlet cover. With the cover, the gun is no longer moveable.

The positioning holes for some parts are oversized and some putty is required. Once the sights glasses in place, both turret halves can be glued. The seam will be thoroughly sanded.
The tank commander cupola is added without the MG to facilitate the painting. The TC hatch is the only one which can be represented opened.
The smoke-grenades dischargers are nicely molded. The antennas bases do not have their protections. They may be made of brass wire with the help of pictures.

The figure is the one from the box. It is painted with acrylic paints except the face which is painted with oils. Brown and black washes help showing the poor details.

The decoration

It is done with the paints recommended by the instructions : XF65 Field Grey and XF52 Flat Earth. Today, specific paints for the JGSDF are available. The painting scheme only show 4 views, so we need to guess the right side from the top view.
Once the base paint applied, the decals are set. Because of the rounded shape of the turret, we need a good amount of decal softener to enable the adhesion of the main drawing.
Each color gets oil paint "spots" of various shades to remove the overall monotony. Many brown and black filters are applied.

The mud and the dry earth stains are realized with plaster of Paris and ochre and brown pigments. Once dry, a matt varnish layer is sprayed before applying a last very dark wash to give some relief to this paste.

This kit is easy to build, especially out of the box like this one. It can be advised to those who do not have much time for the building and the Japanese armor fans as well.

References :


Upgrade sets:
Loon Models
#35203 JGSDF Type 61 Tank cupola and periscope blocks

ModelKasten SK-12 1/35 TYPE61 Replacement working tracks
Ordnance Models  N-002 Engine deck grilles