In general Japan's artillery during the period 1931 to 1945 is not highly regarded. In part this was due to there being too little of it, caused by both national doctrine and scarcity of resources. Nevertheless Japan did have a variety of lighter pieces including the 70mm gun mentioned in this set's title and other weapons suitable for attacking enemy tanks, and many are represented here.
The title piece in this set is of course the 70mm Type 92 Battalion Gun, which can be seen at the end of our second row. This remarkably small piece of kit could function as both a light artillery piece in support of infantry or as a mortar, as the short barrel could be elevated to 50 degrees (hence the sliding central panel of the shield). As an anti-tank weapon it was not impressive but in providing harassing fire in jungle or similar terrain it could be very useful. The model here is well done and quite accurate, especially given that it is only made of 5 pieces, although some simplification has been done. Some of the parts need a little filing to encourage them to fit together, but the fit, once achieved, is tight and needs no gluing. Given that the elevation of the short barrel was a major feature of this gun it should be noted that this model has no ability to adjust the elevation, but it is still a very good model.
The middle figure in the second row, who appears to be firing a machine gun, is actually firing a 20mm Type 97 anti-tank rifle. This was a pretty good weapon when it first appeared in the late 1930s, although it was very heavy and had a tremendous recoil. Although in theory it could be fired from the shoulder in reality it was fired from prone, as we see here, and against light tanks it was quite effective. However once heavier tanks like the M4 Sherman appeared it could do little damage, although it was not withdrawn from service. It was costly and slow to make, and rapidly outclassed by the enemy armour, so only about 400 were ever made. The model in this set is very finely detailed and very well produced apart from two rather obvious problems, which are that the front monopod visible above should be a bipod, and there should be a monopod under the butt when there is actually nothing at all. That aside this is again a nice model, and comes with the underwhelming yet standard 7 round box cartridge.
Rifle-launched grenades are generally more associated with the First World War, but the Japanese used a number of types during the later conflict. The last figure in the top row has just such a weapon, which was a device fitted to the muzzle of a rifle and able to propel a small grenade. In this case it looks like a Type 2, which was a common choice, although rifle grenades in general were not particularly widely used. The rifle is the standard Arisaka Type 38 used by all infantry, and has been well done here apart from the sling, which has been attached to the rifle just below the muzzle when it should end considerably further back.
Last of the weaponry is the long pole with a cone on the end carried by the first figure pictured above. This was simply a charge (an anti-tank mine) on the end of a pole, and it worked by being thrust into the side of the tank, detonating on impact. This is called a lunge mine, although the American's called it an 'idiot stick' because, of course, the man using it would almost certainly die in the blast. This was a weapon of desperation, as are all suicide weapons, necessary simply because the Japanese had little else to combat the tanks being sent against them. Nevertheless if allowed to hit the tank as intended it could knock it out, and a number were eliminated in this way. This simple weapon has been properly done here, excepting the very thin rods projecting from the charge which are too thin to be modelled in this scale.
Enough of the weapons: what of the men? Well this set contains two officers (second figure in row 1 and fourth figure in row 2), both of whom are using binoculars. The rest are ordinary infantry, and everyone is wearing Type 98 tropical uniform. For the men this means the tropical shirt, as it does for the prone officer, while the standing officer wears a tropical tunic. All the OR wear short boots and puttees with the characteristic crossed straps, but the two officers wear shoes and leather leggings, which is perfectly OK. Everyone wears the standard 1932 steel helmet, which in one case has webbing on it for camouflage material.
The men are quite lightly kitted, having only their canteen, a pouch and the bayonet. This last item is on the left or right side, apparently for the convenience of the sculptor, although in fact this was always worn on the left hip. The soldier with the rifle also seems to have the standard rifle ammunition pouches on the front of his belt, but is missing the larger ammunition pouch on the back. The man operating the anti-tank rifle might be expected to have a pistol for personal protection but he does not here. Both the officers have pistol holsters, canteens, pouches and swords.
Japan's weapons were fairly good during the 1930s, but very little development of new weapons was carried out and once a general war broke out in 1941 the Allies quickly overtook Japan in technical sophistication and effective weaponry. As a result Japanese anti-tank capabilities rapidly evaporated and in the end they resorted to simply trying to get a man carrying explosive to get near enough to damage one.
These are beautifully crafted figures with all the clear crisp detail you could want and excellent anatomy. Our only criticism is that at 24mm (1.72 metres) these are noticeably taller than the average Japanese soldier, who averaged nearer 1.52 metres in height. However they are flash free, have no extra plastic apart from the man feeding the anti-tank rifle, and the poses are all highly suitable, so this makes a very suitable addition to the recent Italeri Anti Tank Teams, which noticeably included all the major participants apart from Japan. The all new weapons and the very good overall quality make this a most praiseworthy set, but the niggly problems with some of the weaponry and the problem with the excessive height of the figures detract from these qualities, making this a very good set rather than a great one.