Having got the big colour blocks done on the Type 89s it was time to start on finer stuff. First task was to paint all of the tracks in gunmetal. Next step was to add the yellow disruptive lines over the camouflage.
Considering I’ve got three Type 89 models, I managed to paint lines on five of them! This is because I painted the first two with quite thin lines (matching those on my much smaller Type 97 tankette), thought they didn’t look right, checked my reference books, painted the third Type 89 with thicker lines, thought that looked about right and then repainted thicker lines on the first two! Despite the yellow lines usually being described as forming a rough cross pattern on the vehicle when viewed from above, most of the colour plates and model photos I’ve seen show a more elaborate pattern on Type 89s (although the patterns are quite hard to distinguish on any black and white photographs). However, I decided to go with the simpler cross configuration, since it’s easier to paint but still looks effective. As mentioned in the previous post, I opted for Vallejo golden brown lines, since the colour tones in better with the camouflage colours than a brighter yellow would.
Next step was to brush on some Vallejo gloss varnish to act as a smooth surface on which to put the markings (Skytrex waterslide decals/transfers). This was very time-consuming, since each tank needed 15 individual transfers cutting out and applying, then sealing over with another coat of gloss varnish. The whole process was accompanied by copious amounts of bad language, usually when the transfers preferred to stick to my fingers instead of the models! Way back when I bought the transfers, I bought a sheet each of 15mm and 20mm scale markings, since I wasn’t sure how they’d look for size, but the 20mm ones were fine. Since each sheet only provided enough numbers for two models in my case, I used one set of 15mm numbers on the third tank, but it still looked OK. Last step was to put a light coat of Vallejo satin varnish over the transfers to take off the gloss shine. Overall, I was pleased with the markings!
Now for the mind-numbing trivia (you thought you’d just finished reading that, didn’t you)! I wanted my Type 89s to represent tanks used by the Japanese 7th Tank Regiment in China in 1940 and the Philippines in 1942. These vehicles were distinguished by company insignia applied to the hull glacis plate and turret sides, and also by four-digit tactical numbers on the hull sides and glacis. Company insignia was a star for the 1st Company, a bamboo leaf for the 2nd Company, a plum or cherry blossom (depending on which source you read) for the 3rd Company and a stylised Japanese flag for the 4th Company, all in white. Since I used three models to represent the regiment on a 1 model = 20 real vehicles basis, each of my tanks carried a different company insignia to differentiate them (I didn’t use 4th Company insignia, since I suspect it may be a light company equipped mostly with Type 95 light tanks).
Having sorted out company insignia, I then went through all of the photos I could find of 7th Regiment Type 89s to match up tactical numbers against each company (sad, I know)! I also checked that all of these identified vehicles were late-manufacture vehicles as represented by the Frontline Wargames models – design changes and re-builds mean there are at least half a dozen identifiable sub-types! I then added the hull numbers to the models matched against the tank company insignia. The numbers on the hull sides were usually quite large, so I had to accept the fact that when I used the smaller 15mm transfers on the third tank (since I’d run out of 20mm numbers) it wouldn’t be strictly accurate! This didn’t bother me too much when I found a few models on line had smaller hull numbers, and the smaller numbers actually looked better! I also had to compromise on the position of the glacis company insignia, since the model detail is quite cluttered and I had to fit it in where I could (I also think the Skytrex company insignia are a bit on the small side, otherwise I’d never have fitted them in)!
The four digit numbers are of the form “89XX” where the 89 refers to the tank type. I’m not sure of the significance of the last two numbers, since they don’t appear to be platoon or individual vehicle numbers, although they may correspond to the number of tanks issued to the regiment (including replacements for destroyed vehicles) at a guess. I also maybe didn’t get a couple of the transfers on straight, but photos of real vehicles show that some variation in individual number positioning occurred, so I’m not too worried. Despite what you may think, I was pleased I’d put the unditching tails on these tanks, as it saved me the trouble of having anywhere to put a vehicle registration plate!
So, next stage is to put the shading/mucky wash on and cover all of this carefully painted and researched detail with crap (technical term)!