Black Cat Models IJN  1/350 25mm Type 96 triple mount
AA gun with aiming rings, SKU #AC350058d
By Dan Kaplan

The Type 96 25mm gun was the standard light, short range anti-aircraft weapon used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War Two. It was licensed from the interwar French Hotchkiss 25mm design for anti-aircraft use, and was meant as a replacement for the Japanese licensed Vickers 4cm/62 mount. The original 25mm design was tested in 1935 and adopted for use by the IJN in 1936. It was produced in single, double, and triple gun mount models.  Over 30,000 guns of all types were eventually produced. They were mounted on naval units of all classes and types as well as used for land-based protection. 

Though the Japanese rated it as an effective weapon, it showed limitations during actual use. Firing rate, range, and the ability to train it on a target have all been cited as reasons for its relative ineffectiveness. A closer examination suggests that the root cause might be a magazine limited to 15 rounds. 

Such a small magazine enabled just a short burst before exhausting the magazine. In turn, a shorter burst likely meant withholding fire until an aircraft closed to within a closer kill zone. Doing so limited its practical effectiveness to a much briefer interval at closer range when compared to the highly regarded, contemporary Oerlikon 20mm gun. That weapon had a larger capacity magazine and was used at greater ranges with far greater effectiveness. 

Review Item 
The proliferation of 1/350 IJN ship kits has meant at least five versions of 1/350 styrene injected 25mm mounts as of mid-2020, some of which are sold separately. Unsurprisingly, there is a noticeable range of differences regarding accuracy and quality between them. Just as unsurprising has been the rise of a large number of aftermarket alternatives to these styrene kit parts, produced in a variety of styles and materials: styrene injected, cast resin with brass barrels, all brass, and 3D printed resin. No easy choice, as each one seems better than the last.

New to the IJN accessories arena is Black Cat Models. Black Cat introduced a line of 3D printed IJN weapons in 1/350 scale in the spring of this year. Among them is this item, a Type 96 25mm triple AA mount. 

These are unshielded mounts, as befits the equipment mounted on various battleships, aircraft carriers and cruisers before the start of the war. Unshielded mounts were also used to upgrade the AA fits of vessels as they came in for refits from late 1942 into early 1943. This version also comes with sighting rings, which was an upgrade over the simpler iron sight of the early units.

Black Cat offers these mounts as a package of six units, in a light grey resin, attached to a single wafer with raised side barriers for extra protection. The wafer comes within a large, clear clamshell blister pack that allows for plenty of room against accidental crushing. Care is required when removing the wafer from the outer packing. Itís very securely held on by two faced tape, and a gently, steady pull works well.

Simply stated, the detailing of these guns is exceptional; the barrels, barrel springs, top loaded magazines, gunnerís seat, sighting rings, foot pedals and even the frame of the mount are beautifully formed and scaled extremely well.  There are also slight recesses for muzzle openings. Most impressive, though, is that these are one-piece printings. There are no small parts to add. 

The guns are set a specific elevation and are immovable.  CA glue or PVA is recommended, as is airbrushing with acrylic paint, so as not to obscure details. 

(Apologies for the iffy photography; I found it difficult to get good details with the mounts surrounded by the three-sided printing wafer as I did not want to remove the wafer. The light grey color also poses challenges in bringing out the detail.)

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Instead of an instruction sheet, one is directed to the Black Cat Models website where there is a specific page devoted to this item. There, one finds a guide on removing the printed runners attached to the mounts:
Final thoughts
These new mounts are a clear upgrade over most 1/350 offerings for 25mm AA guns. While additional detail can be achieved with some of the other mixed media versions, itís hard to beat the tradeoff in time and effort saved with these one-piece units. Highly recommended. 

This is set # AC350058d, which retails for approximately $8.95 US from Freetime Hobbies, their US distributor. Review sample courtesy of Black Cat Models.