Fork me on GitHub

Project Notes

#749 On Betio

Type 95 Ha-Gō on Betio, capturing the aftermath of the battle as depicted in a famous photograph. Uses the IBG Models 1:72 kit. No electronics.



The Battle of Tarawa was fought on 20–23 November 1943 between the United States and Japan at the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, and was part of Operation Galvanic, the U.S. invasion of the Gilberts (now known as the Republic of Kiribati).

The Battle of Tarawa was the first American offensive of the Pacific Island-hopping campaign. It was also the first time in the Pacific War that the US faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. The battle mostly took place on and around the small island of Betio, the main island in the extreme southwest of Tarawa Atoll.

The garrison was made up of forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy, with 14 Type 95 light tanks under the command of Ensign Ohtani.

The battle didn’t go as planned by either side, and loses were extremely high on both sides. The US ultimately prevailed, with close to 100% casualties and loses.

This is hauntingly capture in a famous photo of an abandoned Type 95 Ha-Go light tank near bunker on Betio Island. This is the inspiration for this diorama.

wrecked-type-95-betio NB: also on reddit

Unauthorized History of the Pacific War Podcast

The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War Podcast have an excellent series of episodes that cover the battle in depth.

Operation GALVANIC - Preparations for Tarawa - Episode 226


Utmost Savagery - Tarawa Day 1 - Episode 227


Bloody Betio - Tarawa Days 2-3 and Alexander Bonnyman’s Medal of Honor footage reveal - Episode 228


About the Type 95

The Type 95 Ha-Gō (九五式軽戦車 ハ号) was a light tank used by the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War. It was the most numerous Japanese tank at the time, with about 2,300 produced.

For more information, see the Micro Machines Podcast - Episode 21 (Type 95 Ha Go)


Diorama Build

The Type 95 in this diorama is the IBG Models kit No. 72088.

The Type95 has been modified with damage and open ports and boxes.


Roughing out the base in high density foam





Starting to work on the foliage, mainly palm fronds and destroyed palm trees.






Finishing the Build









Aftermath: a Type 95 Ha-Gō (九五式軽戦車 ハ号) light tank sits destroyed amongst the devastation wrought on Betio.

Forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy garrisoned Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, including 14 Type 95 light tanks. The American offensive from 20 November 1943 was the first amphibious landing to face serious Japanese opposition, with massive casualties for both sides. It marked the start of the Pacific Island-hopping campaign.

The diorama features the 1:72 IBG Models kit of the Type 95, and is inspired by a famous photograph from the battle.

I tried to go quite monochrome/sepia for the actual painting, and experimented quite a bit with ways of making palm fronds in this scale. Not quite there, but happy enough with the result to call it a successful try!



The inspiration:


Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.