Japanese Tank Type 95 “Ha-Gō”
When it comes to WW2 dioramas, I obviously do tanks. After building the backbone of tank armies from Europe to Russia and down to Africa, I wondered about tank warfare in the Pacific Theater. I knew about the flame-thrower augmented Shermans and such, but I wanted to learn about the Japanese tanks. Well, talk about a modeling desert. The few tanks on offer lacked detail and had no aftermarket parts or photoetch (except Friulmodel tracks); to make matters worse, I could barely find any interesting or well sculpted soldiers. Once put together, the word “chintzy” comes to mind. Oh well, I did the best I could with what I had (sorry for the cliché).
After some research, I did find that the Japanese used tanks on some of the Pacific islands they invaded. One of these islands was the Palauan island of Peleliu. I was looking through contemporary photos of Peleliu and found many dilapidated Japanese tanks, including the Type 95 “Ha-Gō” featured in this diorama. I also saw many artillery emplacements in cliffs and seawalls; that’s where the inspiration for the entrenched Type 41 75mm Mountain Gun came from.
After the Allies defeated the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies and the Solomons, General MacArthur wanted to capture the Philippines. For this offensive to succeed, he decided to secure the eastern Palau islands first, one of which was Peleliu. Taking this island was also vital because it had a Japanese airfield. You can read about this battle, described by the National Museum of the Marine Corps as “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines” here.
This diorama takes place on Peleliu’s shore, before the Marines have arrived. Perhaps the Japanese commander can see the first remnants of Colonel “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Marine Regiment. If so, they had better get inland as their new tactics dictated.