Paper Armour, Iron Hearts: Type 89 I-Go Tank for VBCW and Konflikt 47!

A Type 89 early model, in use by the Special Naval Landing Force in 1939.

I apologise for the long delay since my last blog post. I’ve been very busy at work, and while I have taken many pictures and have many ideas for blog posts….I often find myself too busy with the projects to actually document them!

So today is a quick, and very oddball one!

A friend of mine was getting rid of his Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4k, a larger printer then my current Sonic Mini’s and with a bit more detail. I’ve run my Minis like pigs, and while I’m not sure if the screen “degrades”, they don’t feel as sharp as before. The Mighty 4k was offered to me in a fashion I could afford, with a down-payment. He even joked it could be a dollar! While I certainly paid him a bit more then that, I still got an incredible deal, and I got to start using it right away.

It needed a shakedown cruise, and I did want to print some tanks. There are some incredible sci-fi models for that sort of thing, but my blog’s bread and butter seems to be weird little historical/alternate history projects. And as luck would have it….

Trenchworx, an American company that produces resin models for purchase, very recently(as of September 12th 2022) released some of their in-house STL files for manufacturing their models. These are professionally designed 3D masters, and they look fantastic! For those of you interested!

I remembered a joke on the VBCW Facebook page a few months ago about Japanese equipment in Very British Civil War, and thought that the Type 89 might be a good fit!

The Type 89 was an interesting tank. Designed in 1928, and beginning production in 1931, it was actually quite a decent tank for its time. A good 57mm main gun capable of lobbing explosive shells at dug in infantry, and backed up 6.5mm Type 91 machine guns made it a capable infantry support tank. It served ably in that role in the Battle of Shanghai in 1932, and its low speed was of little hindrance in that kind of fight. The Imperial Japanese Army made it their standard tank, and in the early stages of the Sino-Japanese War, it saw good service. It’s thin armour was still enough to stop small arms, and the Chinese lacked many anti-tank guns/rifles to combat them.

That being said, it was less good in other situations. When it came up against anti-tank guns, either Chinese manned German guns or Soviet ones later on, it was an easy target. Anti-tank rifles(like the Boys) could effectively deal with the Type 89 as well. It’s slow speed made it less effective in open warfare, like what would face them in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in 1939. It was supplemented in service by the Type 97 Chi Ha, but at least on the Chinese front, it never really stopped fighting.

Type 89 in Manchuria, right before the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.

This put the “good for 1931” tank eventually against Shermans and other later war Allied armour, where it was grossly outclassed. There are many reasons for why Japanese tank development was so badly managed, and while I don’t really have time to get into the gist of it today, lets just blame the Imperial Japanese Navy for monopolising all the steel and leave it at that. Ironically, it served the Imperial Japanese Navy very well, in the Navy’s own tank units supporting the Special Naval Landing Forces.

Now, all of this means its a perfect fit for VBCW! It’s a handy tank, and the UK in 1938 wasn’t exactly swimming in tanks, and those available wouldn’t be vastly different in capabilities to the Type 89. Much of the imported French armour one sees in VBCW would be better, but its generally a case of any tank would be an asset for it’s side. Most of the time, these tanks would be used sparingly, as the maintenance involved in keeping them running and the nature of logistics means its better to be cautious when deploying them.

Now a better question is how to involve Japanese tanks. A good degree of alternative history is needed, but King Edward VII, as a Prince, both went to Japan and recieved the then Crown Prince Hirohito on his visit to the UK. This does lead to some deeply amusing pictures.

Like. What.
God Save the King? I’m so confused.

Would a then King and Emperor, Edward VII and Hirohito, get along well enough to offer support to each other? Maybe, maybe not. But lets go with yes, for the sake of fun.

My excuse? Emperor Hirohito offers military aid, in the form of the then obsolete Type 89A Tank, as they had been replaced by newer Type 89B’s, alongside stocks of rifles, and a group of men pledged to the Royalist cause. This Japanese Mission would then see service in the ongoing Civil War. I have some ideas on how to equip the men for this platoon, but the tanks? That I can source now!

The Trenchworx file is a Type 89A, the early variant. Let’s take a look at what my new printer can do!

A very neat and crisp model indeed! The new resin I’m using also looks really nice when its all printed up.
I’m also using new slicing software, making all those overhangs and other difficult details and absolute breeze to print!
Conspicuous by its absence is the trench rails. These are provided in the download, but I’ve omitted them for now. I can always add them later!
The detail afforded by both a better resin and 4k printer makes the model a significant jump in quality over my old prints!
I love the little detail of the star on the hull. It’s a really nice touch!
Ah, the typical Japanese rear facing machine gun!
A really neat little tank to have. It looks the part of Interwar dinosaur, and I love it for that.
Scale-wise, this tank is 1/56th-28mm. It works well enough beside my BUF soldier by Footsore. Luckily, as a 3D print, I can always make it bigger on the next print!

Of course…I did mention Konflikt didn’t I?

While this tank would be grotesquely outclassed by 1947 onward, I was very tempted to stick a Compression Cannon(a sort of sound based weapon, I think?) from Konflikt 47 on it. The beauty of 3D printing is that I can very quickly realise that idea. I quickly knocked together a quick facsimile of a Compression Cannon, using the Chi-Ha variant’s hexagonal barrel as an inspiration.

Not bad for 30 minutes of work!
3D builder is bare-bones, but it gets the job done!

After I bodged the gun together, I then quickly printed it. It’s pretty small, but most of the details came through well enough to paint!

Boom! K47 Type 89. Or as I call it, the Type 80-Why.
I’m deeply amused by how silly this looks. And proud it even worked.
Still, as a way of squeezing a bit more performance out of an obsolete tank, its actually not an awful idea!

This a delightfully silly idea, and I’ve picked up a few Weird War Japanese from West Wind Productions to put together a platoon’s worth of Konflikt 47 Japanese. Add a walker, and two normal Type 89’s, and I have a tank platoon and some weird war infantry to back it up.

Been looking for an excuse to buy these ever since I saw them!


I never thought I’d be collecting WW2 Japanese, but here we are!

Anyways, I ought to get some rest. I work fairly early in the morning! Got to make sure that coffee is available when the Corporals and Sergeants walk in, no one wants grumpy NCOs! Working on an army base is actually a pretty neat experience.

As for the other news this week, while I have complicated feelings about the monarchy, I am saddened to see Queen Elizabeth II has passed on. I’ve always had an affection for the monarchy entirely at odds with a quite left-leaning political stance. My very existence as a mixed Anglo-Indian means that colonialism, is, quite literally, in my blood. My family both benefited from British rule and yet were also subservient to it, so I really haven’t made up my mind on that.

Her Majesty, back when she was in the Auxiliary Territorials.

But Queen Elizabeth II was a class act most of the time. Serving in WW2 as a driver, despite having no expectation to, and ruling as our Monarch for the longest anyway has in Commonwealth history, and overseeing the dismantlement of Empire, is a heavy task. She was a person I could admire, and I was proud to swear my citizenship oath to Her Majesty, the Queen.

It is indeed, the end of an era.

So, Happy Wargaming wherever you are. And God Save the Queen.

9 thoughts on “Paper Armour, Iron Hearts: Type 89 I-Go Tank for VBCW and Konflikt 47!

    1. I’m super happy at the quality my new printer can do, it’s really quite impressive. I’m going to buy the Ha Go file and try that, as the stls are phenomenally well designed and print up beautifully.

      I’m going to have more tanks then Japanese armies should have at this rate! Besides VBCW, I’ve gotten the itch to do Battle of Shanghai. Blame late night history YouTube binges!


      1. Funnily enough, my WW2 Japanese have my largest tank force! A Type 95 Ha-Go sounds good – if you can also get an early Type 97 Chi-Ha turret, you can put that on the Ha-Go hull to get a Type 4 Ke-Nu as well! And I hate to be a bad influence, but if you want to re-fight Shanghai the Chinese also deployed some of their small tank force there in the 1937 campaign (Vickers 6-Ton tanks).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Vickers 6 Tons eh? I do have files for those too. Convenient…too convenient.

        Shanghai is looking to be supremely interesting. Eureka bringing out a metal range of Chinese will make fighting it a lot easier too!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sounds just too good! 🙂 Osprey have also published one of their Campaign series books “Shanghai and Nanking 1937” and I found it quite a readable, concise account. I’ve got another, much longer book on the campaign but that seemed to get bogged down in detail and was more difficult to follow. My own WW2 Chinese project in 20mm has been stalled for a while so I need to get back to it!


  2. Wow! Discovered this article this morning. The print looks fantastic and our team is so happy to read this. These are the exact reasons why we released these so that others could enjoy these weird models. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it on our FB page, let me know if that’s an issue. Thanks! Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness! Don’t mind in the slightest, I’m a very happy customer. Whoever did your initial design work did an excellent job making them printable, and now that consumer printers are pretty good, it’s awesome to be able to access them.

      I do plan on getting more, and I’ll be mentioning them more too. The Type 89 is awesome, and I’m quite keen on grabbing the rest of the Japanese stuff. Shermans too, eventually!

      Thank you for releasing them. You and your company have done the community a great service.


  3. That is a characterful little tank. I love the look of the Interwar machines. Very fanciful contraptions based on speculation, rather than combat designs only a few short years down the road would benefit from. Performance issues aren’t critical in ImagiNations; I’m only chasing silhouettes. The print came out great. Eventually I’ll put some more time into my SNLF for Bolt Action and something like that would fit nicely there too. Love the VBCW Japanese troops. Those rock! I have some Konflikt US heavy infantry suits swapped with some French Westwind heads in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No one knew what made a tank good yet! Makes for a fun time. Honestly Japanese tanks in the 30s were ahead of the curve in some ways. If the IJN and conservative elements of Japanese command hadn’t run interference they might have been better by the 40s.

      Liked by 1 person

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