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Japanese medium tanks.
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Mig Eater
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Joined: 13 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 12:47 pm    Post subject:  Japanese medium tanks.
Subject description: Medium tanks & variants.
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This is part three of the Japanese units, today will focus on their medium tanks a some of the variants.

Type 97 Chi-Ha

In the late 1930s the Japanese Type 89 Chi-Ro medium tank was starting to become obsolete, so a new design was needed. Two different companies submitted designs, Osaka Army Arsenal's lighter and cheaper Type 97 Chi-Ni and Mitsubishi's heavier and more expensive Type 97 Chi-Ha. At first the Chi-Ni was the preferred design but when war broke out in 1937 more money became available so the more expensive Mitsubishi design was chosen. The Chi-Ha went on to become Japan's main medium tank throughout the war and was the second most produced Japanese tank. It was also used as the base of a large amount of variants and modifications.

Type 97 Chi-Ha "Shinhoto"

After seeing the tank fighting taking place in Europe The Japanese Army wanted to increase the anti-tank capability of their Type 97 Chi-Ha so a new larger turret with a high velocity Type 1 47mm cannon was introduced replacing the original small turret and 57mm cannon on the Chi-Ha. The new tank was named "Shinhoto", which is Japanese for "new turret".

Type 1 Chi-He

In 1941 the Japanese Army realised the Type 97 Chi-Ha "Shinhoto" was unable to effectively deal with Allied tanks they were facing in the Pacific, so another upgrade programme was started. The armour was changed from riveted to thicker welded armour, greatly improving its survivability. The engine was also upgraded and even with the increased weight of the new armour it was faster than the original Chi-Ha. Production started in 1943 and ended in 1944 with a total production run of 170 tanks, most were stationed on the Japanese home islands but a few of them were used in combat at the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines.

Type 3 Chi-Nu

The Japanese army had hoped that the Type 1 Chi-He would be able to better cope with Allied armour but the Chi-He's 47mm cannon was still unable to effectively defeat the the M4 Sherman. The new Type 4 Chi-To was in development as a replacement but there were problems and delays, so an upgrade of the Chi-He was needed to fill the gap until the Chi-To could be put into production. After only 6 months of development time the prototype Type 3 Chi-Nu was complete, production started in 1944 but with the shortages in resources only 144 were built by the end of the war and all of them were keep on the Japanese home islands in preparation of the expected Allied invasion.

Type 4 Chi-To

Designed as a replacement for the Type 97 Chi-Ha "Shinhoto" in 1944, the Chi-To was the most advanced Japanese tank to be put into production. Shortages in materials and the destruction of Japan's industrial infrastructure meant that only four hulls and two complete tanks were built before the end of the war. The two finished tanks where later dumped in lake Hamana at the end of the war to hide them from American occupation troops, the Americans later salvaged one of them and took it back United States for testing. In 2013 a project was launched to try and find the other Chi-To at the bottom of the lake but thus far searches have been unsuccessful.

Type 5 Chi-Ri

Japan's last and greatest tank design of the war, the Chi-Ri was equipped with heavy armour and an 88mm cannon. It would have been able to effectively fight against the American M4 Sherman that where expected in the invasion of Japan. However due to lack of time and resources only a single uncompleted prototype was built by the end of the war. The prototype was confiscated by the Americans after the war and presumably taken back to America but sadly all trace of it was lost after.


The Se-Ri is a Type 97 Chi-Ha converted into an armoured recovery vehicle, very little other information is available.

Type 97 Ka-Ha

One of the most unique tank designs ever made the Ka-Ha was a Type 97 Chi-Ha with the main gun removed and replaced with a dummy, instead it was equipped with an dynamo which could generates a high voltage electric current. The tank would find and connected its self to enemy telegraph wires and then use the dynamo's electrical charge to overload and destroy the enemies communication equipment. Four of these tanks were built and used in China, at the time the Chinese army relied of the civilian communication systems which were unguarded and easy targets for such a tank. In D-day this tank fires electric bolts that can disable enemy units & buildings for a short time. Yep the Japanese have a tesla EMP tank!

Tomorrow things get even more interesting as I delve into the myth and legends that are the Japanese heavy tanks.

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