If you are a ship, plane, or even car modeler, you may be familiar with the company Aoshima. Since I build mostly armor, I was not, nor was I familiar with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, or their 3½ ton truck. So I decided to do some cyber-surfing to see what I could find out about all three.
Let’s start with the company itself: Aoshima was started in 1923 as an airplane research institute. The League of Nations limited the size of air forces, and some countries got around this by encouraging their citizens to study flying or gliders. In 1929, Aoshima began producing wooden airplane model kits, and have continued to expand their line to include everything from Roman warships to The Starship Enterprise.
Their kits are very popular in Japan, and they have become one of that country’s largest manufacturers of plastic models. They have recently launched a new English language website (for more information click on this link to their site
Next up, the Japan Ground Self Defense Force: the JGSDF came into being on July 1, 1954 after the Allied occupation ended, and was put in place primarily to protect Japan from a possible Russian invasion. Originally not permitted to leave the Islands of Japan, it has since evolved into a five district army, which now includes an Air Force and Navy that have taken part in some modern day international peace keeping operations.
And finally, the truck itself: the box tells us "Commonly known as 3½ ton, this cab over JGSDF utility truck is in service throughout Japan.... With a capability of transporting 1,000 liters of water and catering 200 hundred people, these utilities are widely and actively in service at international contribution and disaster assistance."
Nicknamed the Type 73, this is the JGSDF’s do anything, haul anything tactical truck. It was put into production in 1973, starting with the 440 model. Equipped with a 210 or 250 HP V6 Diesel engine and manual transmission, it has been upgraded by the latest version (the 475, introduced in 199) to a 286 HP V8 diesel engine with an automatic transmission. It's an all-wheel drive, is built on an Isuzu frame, and some models have duel rear wheels. There are too many variants to mention here, but suffice it to say, if you need something towed, transported or even launched by the JGSDF, this is your truck. You can find more about the truck here
. When you are done scrolling down the page, make sure you click on the Tan-Sam link in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. You may find it interesting.
OK, let’s get to the good stuff. The box measures 12" x 8" x 2" with the box top being finished with a very high-gloss cardboard that is absolutely covered with pictures, color chart, what you need for tools, etc., not to mention text in both Japanese and English. The box art is good, with the truck, water wagon, and kitchen wagon all being shown.
One large bag containing the truck parts (4 dark green sprues)
One medium bag containing the water and kitchen wagon parts (3 dark green sprues)
One small bag containing the truck cab, decals, and one clear parts sprue
One instruction sheet
One magnified decal identification sheet (more on that later)
First, let me say that this review will not deal with the accuracy of this kit, although it does appear upon first inspection to be a fairly good rendering of the latest version (the SKW 475), at least after comparing it to photos I have found on the Web. Aoshima makes three different kits of this truck, including the earlier 464 (kit #2346) and the latest version, the 475 (kit # 2322). Those two kits are of the truck only.
The third kit (the one being reviewed here) is kit #2353, and depicts the 475 version, including the water and kitchen wagon.
Not being familiar with Aoshima, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am glad to say though, that even with a suggested list of $39.85, this kit has a lot going for it. If you look around some, you should be able to find it for around $25-$30. Remember, you are getting three kits in one box.
And you get a lot for your money: there are approximately 150 pieces inside. The parts are nicely laid-out on the sprues, with the attachment points being placed so as to make it easy to remove them without breakage. The detail is crisp with very little flash to clean up. And I like the way the kit is packaged: truck in one bag, towables in another, clear parts and decals in a third. The wet transfers are of good quality with even an instrument cluster decal being included. Because it's 1/72nd scale, some of the decals are truly microscopic, so the separate, magnified decal guide is a great addition for accurate placement.
The instructions are the fold-out type showing 24 steps. They are a little busy, including both Japanese and English text. I always find the painting guide confusing, with all those squares, circles, and numbers. But after studying it for awhile, it became fairly clear, though it could be improved.
The only thing I could find not really up to par with this kit were the wheels and tires: they're molded as one piece. The front sides show good detail, but the back sides have been left open (as you can see in the pictures). To me, this is a big flaw and would be very hard to fix. With all the other attention to detail in this kit, it surprises me Aoshima has left the wheels in this way.
All in all I found this kit to be well-made, well-packaged, and of good quality. It really only has the one large shortfall that I can see (the backsides of the wheels). If that issue were solved it would improve this kit significantly.