The Type 87 is a mobile air defense system, armed with two 35mm automatic Oerlikon cannons. While very similar to the German Gepard SPAAG it uses the Type 74 tank’s chassis as a base, locally-produced acquisition and fire-control radars as well as other systems in a different turret.
As my father served in an air defense unit – such systems have always fascinated me, and when the opportunity came up I ordered this kit directly from Japan.
Fujimi tooled the Type 87 SPAAG in 2018, and offers 2 kits in 1 box with a number of decal options included in the decal sheet – you can build 23 individual machines from 7 different units. (Yes, I realize it’s the same camo scheme!) Decals appear well-printed, in register, with saturated color, and even the gradient on the eagle head decal is “smooth” (there is no raster/pixelization). The decal film is cropped close to the borders of each design, so I don’t think you’d need to trim it. Despite the overall flat surfaces I sure hope the Fujimi decals will work properly – I’ve never dealt with them to date.
The first thing you will notice is the box size. In order to fit parts for 2 kits it is noticeably higher than the standard ones , and it is PACKED FULL with parts.
There are 7 sprues for each of the 2 models:
- A – 1-piece turret upper box
- B – 1-piece hull tub
- C – upper hull and rear hull wall, other details
- D – wheels and tracks (2 sprues per model, so a total of 4)
- E – turret details, notably cannon “arms” and 1-piece barrels + integral muzzle brakes
- F – turret base plus details – radar antennae, etc.
- G – transparencies (lights, vision blocks for commander and driver)
Let’s have a look at the sprues individually. Part tree A represents the bulk of the turret, and is molded in one piece, requiring extensive support and very specifically shaped runners. In addition to all the hatches, bolt and weld line molded into the part – the single piece will simplify construction and prevent misalignment of the complex-shaped structure. The best part – only three attachment points, meaning less cleanup.
Sprue B is another slide-molded single part, with well defined hatches and grills, weld seams, suspension arms. You can actually see the cylinders that control the suspension arms at the bottom of the part – the type 74 tank does NOT use torsion suspension. The supports for idlers and sprockets are also in place. My only gripe is the track tension mechanism is molded on and appears simplified compared to the rest of the details. Another complex runner frame around the part. To me these frames were specifically left in the box to protect the hull and turret from damage, which is a nice touch.
Part tree C has the hull top. The part features extensive grills as well as some non-skid areas molded on. I’d say both surface types look rather good for the scale. A lot of hatches and vents are also present – the part looks suitable busy and the details are well defined. The OVM tools) including what appears to be a hydraulic jack) are also molded on, which is kind of “meh” in my book. As the quality of molding is far ahead from the 90s kits – I probably will not be replacing these. There’s a heap of handles molded on as nothing more than dashes on the hull – these will probably warrant a replacement.
Fujimi has, to my amazement, come up with a PE set numbered 72297 to replace the grid/vent detail as well as the handles. The box with 2 kits cost me some 34 Euro with shipping and the set below is about 8.50 Euro sans delivery. The PE set covers 1 “guntank”, so basically you are paying half the price to improve the hull detail alone.
While I could justify the light guards and possibly a couple of other details I would not purchase the full set as I do not see the point. There are other regions where this particular kit would benefit from aftermarket.
Sprue D – mostly wheels and tracks. There are 4 such part trees in the box, 2 per SPAAG. To me the detail is rather reasonable especially on the sprockets. The definition of the rubber band around the roadwheels as well as the wheel hubs is also good, but the typical circular bolt heads are also present, and this is kind of mixed bag for me. I believe the bolts in the wheel center are large enough to be represented as hexagonal shapes even in 72nd scale.
The tracks follow the currently popular fad of easy assembly breakdown with 1-piece top and bottom run plus 1 piece wrapping around each the idler and the sprocket, respectively.
The outer pattern of the track is reasonably represented (notably Fujimi has included a track with rubber pads, while you will mostly see images of bare metal tracks online), but the inside is a significant disappointment.
There are 2 uninterrupted “paths” running the full length on the track, “detailed” with ejector pin marks. While the actual track DOES have these rubber pads on the inside they would be SIGNIFICANTLY thinner in the scale.
I will purposefully NOT discuss the track thickness itself as I understand the technology limitations. On the last image above you can see the shape of track guide teeth changes from rectangular/trapezoidal to triangular (again mold limitation).
Why do I complain about track every time? Because on machines with EXPOSED tracks runs (i.e. this guy, a T-34, Sherman) you WILL look at those and you WILL notice overdone or missing detail. And after all tracks are typical of tanks, right?
Now that we have this sorted – let’s move to sprue E, which holds the reason for purchasing the kit, i.e. THE GUNS. One-piece barrels with peculiar muzzle brakes cast open thanks to a slide mold, 3 additional parts to build up the full rotating gun arm assembly on each side, plus two types of smoke grenade arrays (3 longer tubes for the early and 4 short tubes for the late variety).
The muzzle opening does not go all the way through the brake, as that would have probably made the part too susceptible to breaking. Nevertheless I consider the details very well done.
Part tree F holds about 25 parts related to the turret, including its base, radar bases and antennae, and the commander’s hatch which can be posed open (though you will need a figure to place there as there’s no turret interior provided in the kit) or closed.
Sprue G – transparent parts. All of them are small enough to make it hard to determine whether there’s distortion or not, so I will only display a picture.
I really am happy that Fujimi has included transparent vision blocks for this kit DESPITE the vision blocks and lights being far from the accent on the real vehicle. This will make the end result a bit more realistic and simplify the modeller’s work a tiny bit (if he remembers to mask these parts or adjust the assembly sequence, that is).
Speaking of the build sequence – the instructions in the box are ENTIRELY in Japanese. In fact aside from the box top, the manufacturer address and sprue headers – everything is in Japanese. Yet I found the instructions easy to follow and despite the language barrier – constructions appear very easy.
You can see there’s a parts plan, a camo scheme, a list of vehicle numbers and their corresponding units, as well as the 8 steps to build each of the vehicles.
Overall I am very pleased with my purchase, and will move it higher in the to-do list when I find suitable track replacements.