The Japanese Type 38 75mm field gun was really showing its age by the late 1930s. It had started life as a German design that was bought by Japan towards the end of their war with Russia in 1905, and made under licence in Japan thereafter. A number of improvements were made to the basic model, created a second type called the Type 38 (Improved) by Allied Intelligence, the most important of which increased the elevation of the barrel, and so the range of the weapon. It was clearly dated by the time of the main war with China in 1937, yet was still useful, although it only still served as Japanese industry was not capable of providing anything better in sufficient quantities. When faced with American and British artillery after Pearl Harbor, its shortcomings were more obvious, yet it continued in use throughout the war, and some examples were obtained and used by other Asian countries after the war
Between 2,000 and 3,000 examples of this gun were made over the years, and they were a common sight during World War II. The model in this set is the (improved) version, as it has the open box trail that allowed the better elevation, but this could mean a newer model or simply a converted older gun. The gun seems quite small and particularly narrow, and our assessment of it is not helped by some widely varying data on it on the internet. Looking at photographs and schematics, we would suggest that this model is not too bad, but does seem a fair bit too short both in the carriage and the barrel. However this is made less obvious because the gun is so narrow. Naturally the model, which follows the usual basic pattern of barrel/carriage/wheels construction, is lacking a lot of detail, which is normal in this hobby, but surprisingly it lacks one really big component- the shield. All the images we could find of this weapon included a shield, right from the early days, so while the shield might be removed (to lighten it), this would have been unusual, and the model certainly should have one.
The crew of seven for each gun is a mix of poses handling ammunition and those handling the gun itself. The men handling the gun give much more of an impression of actually doing so than some older sets of artillery, and generally we thought all the poses were pretty good. The two without a base are working around the trail, so don’t really need one, but because the gun is so narrow and small the crew do rather crowd round it. The officer is in classic pose; standing watching events with a pair of binoculars in hand, so these are good poses.
The men all wear tropical uniform, with no tunic but a shirt, trousers and puttees. All wear field caps with neck sun-screens, and three wear a helmet on top, which is reasonable. None have any kit on their person apart from the officer, who is well endowed with sword, revolver and map case as well as the case for his binoculars. So everything here in terms of uniform is correct and suitable.
The gun is simplified but goes together quite easily and needs no glue. The wheels have the correct number of spokes, but are not particularly good representations of the real thing. The men are quite well proportioned and the level of detail is good, without the chunky style seen on many Strelets sets of Japanese in the past. On our sample we found little flash, so these are nicely produced.
We were fairly happy with the figures, but less so with the gun. Even the photo on the box suggests the barrel is too small here, and the lack of a shield is quite a big issue for many. The figures redeem the set to some extent, as they are attractive and in useful poses. So not a bad set, but a mixed bag in terms of accuracy.