Japanese Army radio sets do not have very many separate points of reference, although I did run across this site: The William L. Howard Ordnance Technical Intelligence Museum
, which covers the majority of sets known. Plus Models has released a version of the 94-3A Wireless Station, which seems to be so rare only four complete sets are known to have survived. The original set was made by the Tokyo Instrument Company and is an extremely compact regenerative type meaning it can be used for months without replacements or battery charging. Hence an Army Technical Manual states this set is ideally suited for guerilla warfare. For example, the No. 3 platoon of the Divisional Signal Company was issued ten sets, with each section consisting of one NCO and 6 men. The sections were then dispatched to the various regiments and Division staff as needed.
The entire station came in three chests, with an additional canvas bag for the antenna poles, and was usually transported by pack animal or a class C transport wagon. One chest housed the transmitter, receiver, and receiver battery box (mounted on the left side). On the right was a drawer containing three compartments, which held four of the receiver coils in two of the green felt padded spaces. The box cover art shows three receiver coils located in the upper compartment. A smaller space above this drawer was probably used to carry the manual and message pads. A larger space above that was most likely used to store the key, headset, remote control unit and had a removable cover panel.
Unfortunately, two of the three chests are not represented in the Plus Model kit, nor are the antenna poles, antenna wire or grounding wires, or the type 29E generator and its connections (more on the antenna below). What is
included is the 53C remote receiver. It is housed with accessories in a wooden chest, which has shoulder straps for carrying. The set looks quite rugged, and the components are fairly accessible. Luminous dial markings are used, and all controls are provided with dial locks, which clamp to the outer edge of the dial. Flexible insulated wire with black or brown spaghetti is used throughout. There is no color coding and no protection against moisture.
The kit is comprised by 18 resin parts, a photo etch sheet and decals. The PE sheet has two of the covers used in the set, along with clasps and straps. The decal sheet shows a schematic wiring diagram, and chest stenciling (in Japanese) describing the contents of whatís in the chest so it didnít have to be opened to find out.
Construction is handled in the instructions by photos and by numbers, and is pretty straightforward. As to the parts themselves, the chest housing the transmitter/receiver closely resembles the actual thing, and the details are good for 1/35 scale, but could be better. The cabinet piece also resembles the actual chest with the drawer fitting nicely. The cover indicates three rectangular items shown in the upper right cubby, but since the receiver coils are supposed to be in the drawer, these will not fit. I can only assume they represent spare tubes. The end lettering for the case is not included on the decal sheet, and must be rendered by hand if wanted.
The transmitting key, headphones, microphone and other details are all nicely-rendered. The remaining parts comprise the table and the chest cover. Overall the resin molding is really excellent, with no holes and minimal flash present. Being they are resin, extreme care should be taken when removing individual parts from the molding blocks.
The antenna poles, wires, and guide wires are shown in the period photo showing a 94-3C radio team. The pole sections were carried in a canvas case fastened to one of the chests. The antenna wire was a flexible, single strand 66 feet long, and light yellow in color. It was suspended between two joined poles 23 feet high. In addition, there were also two ground wires (a black one 33 feet long and a brown one 66 feet long).
Overall, this is an excellent addition to diorama products for the WWII Pacific area. A little extra scratch-building will be needed to add the remaining chests and antenna items to display completely an entire 94-3A Station. By itself, this is an outstanding kit for the 94-3A wireless chest number 1, with numerous possibilities for including it in any WWII Japanese diorama.
A special thank you to:
LTC William L. Howard (Retired)
The William L. Howard Ordnance Technical Intelligence Museum
219 Harborview Lane,
Largo, FL 33770